The article analyses two Russian ballads in which the hero and plot are close to those of epic songs. Human destiny is a central notion of the ballads; its portrayal is compared to the way destiny is shown in rites and epic songs. The portrayal of time characteristic of the epic song (historic present) acquires new function in the ballad where circular time is replaced by the portrayal of linear, irreversible human fate.
The placement of Helenus, the Trojan seer, near the end of Pythagoras’ speech in Ovid’s Metamorphoses 15, humorously comments on the Augustan projection of Rome’s predestined world conquest. In Metamorphoses 15, the philosopher Pythagoras casts himself in the light of the Vergilian Helenus. Among the various common characteristics Helenus and Pythagoras share outstanding is their metaliterary identity as conveyed in an interfusion of comprehensive knowledge, communication of uncontested truth but also adherence to deception: the Ovidian Pythagoras’ speech is ridden with inaccurate information and chronological fallacies, while Ovid’s Helenus is in fact the Vergilian Helenus, a confused individual who lives in the deceptive contentment of an a-chronic world of ghosts. By means of undermining the infallibility of prophesying through the lack of credibility of the prophet, Ovid undermines the standardization of the literary motif of epic prophecies about Rome’s world conquest, a much advertized theme in the various expressions of Augustan ideology of global conquest.
“All that an old song tells, really happened.” One of the traditional functions of performing epic songs is that of evoking the past. The act of performing is invested with the value of empathic communication with “old times” and with the ancestors. The agent who mediates between the audience and those who are evoked is the fiddler. These facts may place the performance in a context with a sacred dimension and funeral meanings. Being involved in this specific act of communication, the audience has to play an active role. It has to be trained in “listening”. The traditional coordinates of performing epic songs have changed. The category of epic song entered the passive repertoire of folklore. Using a questionnaire and interviews the author, together with a group of students, tried to draw the status of performing epic songs in Romanian contemporary society.
Apart from the Edige epic, the story of Čora Batir is the best-known and most popular Nogay epic of Kipchak origin. Since the first publication of a version by the Russian Turcologist, I. Berezin (1862), a large number of variants, among them Nogay, Crimean and Dobrudjan Tatar, Kazak, Karakalpak, Kazan Tatar, Bashkir and Karachay-Balkar versions, have cropped up and been brought to light. An early variant of the epic was recorded by the Hungarian Turcologist, Ignác Kúnos, but it has remained in manuscript. He collected his material from Crimean Tatar informants in a Russian prisoner-of-war camp near Esztergom (Hungary) in 1915. The present work, published for the first time in print, contains the original Crimean Tatar text and its translation, supplied with an introductory study and annotations. The main value of the epic variant recorded by Kúnos lies in that its content and plot show close relationship with the earliest recorded Nogay texts.
The author of this paper analyzes the inner world of certain Puškin's poems (motifs, topoi, characters) taking Byron's influence and the poet's reflections on history into consideration. Puškin inherited the structure of genre, the literary character of rebellious hero and the other "obligatory" elements of romantic epical poem (exotic surroundings, nocturnal scenes, extreme emotions etc.) from Byron. A closer influence of the English pattern can be observed only in the early poems of Puškin (The Prisoner of the Caucasus, The Fountain at Bakhchisarai). But the tricks, motifs and necessary "accessories" he employs become the vehicles of increasingly meaningful thoughts which allow the genre to rise to such a level that it could keep its canonised place in the Russian literature even after the vanishing of romanticism. From the mid-1820s the historic events of the period, the repression of the Dekabrist uprising and also the new direction in Puškin's interest are reflected in his works. Among them the epical poem Poltava is considered by the experts the example of overcoming Byron's previous influence. What is followed in this paper is the treatment of the different tragic connections between power and individual by Puškin.
Although in Amzulescu's "Catalogue of the Narrative Subjects and Variants" (1983) The Unfaithful Wife is rightly registered as a "family ballad", type 134 (291), with three sub-types, I will refer here to an epic or bravery song thematically belonging to the family ballad, but registered as a heroic epic song. The type 205 (286), Ghită Cătănută, knows hundreds of variants published in collections and magazines, or stored on tapes in the Archive of the "Constantin Brăiloiu" Institute of Ethnography and Folklore. Structural analysis of the poem led Amzulescu (1981) to the conclusion that this is a heroic ballad, the main character of which is a brave man who fights his enemy and wins, punishing at last his young wife who did not help him in a crucial, provoked or unprovoked episode of the struggle. The inter-play of the cultural, archaic context and the social, performing context shows how the singers, in different cultural and emotional contexts, slightly but firmly moved the emphasis either on the ethic or the heroic meaning of the story. As the ballad is mainly sung by men, and the traditional occasions of performing it were the wedding party (feast) or men gatherings, most of the versions of the ballad Ghia Catanut show a strongly male oriented attitude. The cruelty with which the young wife and her mother are punished stands, sometimes, against the moral values of the modern times.
The epic poem
(Tyrnaviae: Typis academicis 1706) was published in honour of the solemn graduation of the new bachelors of
that took place in 1706. Due to this fact we can say it belongs to a special group of occasional literary works usually published by the professors of the university in honour of the solemn graduations (
). Its author, Stephanus Csiba SJ celebrated in it foundation of Trnava as well as establishment of
. The traditional topic motifs we meet in the poem show deeper coherence with the traditional ways of composing an epic poem as well as they point out some of the classical models the author had followed. Even though showing a deep respect for the traditional techniques, the work of our poet can be in many ways regarded original.