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The Tale of the Armament of Igor

By Magnus, Leonard A.

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Book Id: WPLBN0003468156
Format Type: PDF eBook :
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Reproduction Date: 2014

Title: The Tale of the Armament of Igor  
Author: Magnus, Leonard A.
Language: English
Subject: Sacred Texts, Legends and Sagas, Slavic and Eastern European
Collections: Sacred Texts
Publication Date:
Publisher: Oxford University Press


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A, M. L. (1915). The Tale of the Armament of Igor. Retrieved from

Description: The Story of Igor is a long Russian ballad from the 12th century. This work is often referred to simply as the Slovo, the Tale (from its Russian title Slovo o pol'ku Igoreve). In the 12th century Russia was a small feuding group of city states, without central authority or cohesion. Fifty years hence, the Mongolians would roll over the Russians and rule them with an iron fist for two centuries. But at that time the most persistent enemies of the Russians were the fierce Polovtsi nomads. They roamed the wide grassy plains of the Don and Dnepr down to the inland seas, to the south of Russian territory. In 1185 a minor skirmish between the Polovtsi and Igor Svyatoslavich, a noble of Chernigov, a city in what it today the Ukraine, was immortalized in this poem. This was not a strategic battle: Igor had marched with his brothers on a grudge, having been excluded from a larger expedition, and the encounter with the enemy was purely impromptu. Nor was it a victory: Igor was wounded and captured in battle, later escaping to walk back to Chernigov. Out of this incident, however, was built one of the first treasures of Russian literature. There are vivid natural metaphors, the evocation of Slavic pagan deities, and the stirring description of combat. There an appeal for Russian national unity, as the poet pleads for each of the factions to support Igor in his hour of need. Even more striking is the fact that we know nothing about the author of the Slovo, other than that he was a contemporary of the events he wrote about--perhaps even a witness.


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