The Slovene ballad Animals Bury the Hunter is an animal narrative song of jocular character. It tells of the burial of a hunter and of a funeral procession not composed of humans but wild animals (a bear, foxes, hares, a wolf, cranes and partridges, song birds, etc.) who seem to derive great joy from the event. The analysis of the song's 31 variants reveals the changes made to the song over the course of time, as it survived through different historical periods and spread throughout Slovenia. I attempt to show that the ballad was used as a model for painted beehive panels featuring the same motif. In addition to the analysis, I am concerned with the sociological and ethical elements of the ballad. The paper proposes at least three possible theses: 1. The song is part of the conception of a topsy-turvy world, where the roles and mutual relationships of people and animals are reversed in an ironic sociological view of the world. 2. The song is a critique of one class by another: peasants mocking hunters who belong to a different social stratum. 3. The song is a representation of “pre-Cartesian” times, when animals were not “mere machines” without feelings, to be treated by man as objects with no ethical significance. It points to the ethical aspects of the human treatment of animals.
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Acta Ethnographica Hungarica
2020 Volume 65
Magyar Tudományos Akadémia
H-1051 Budapest, Hungary, Széchenyi István tér 9.
H-1117 Budapest, Hungary 1516 Budapest, PO Box 245.