Three of the most famous bogatyrs, Dobrynya Nikitich, Ilya Muromets and Alyosha Popovich, are represented together in Victor Vasnetsov's 1898 painting Bogatyrs.

A bogatyr (Russian: богатырь, IPA: [bəɡɐˈtɨrʲ] ( listen)) or vityaz (Russian: витязь, IPA: [ˈvʲitʲɪsʲ]) is a stock character in medieval East Slavic legends, akin to a Western European knight-errant. In modern Russian, the word is used to describe a knight, a warrior or, figuratively, a strong person.

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The Russian word is derived from from Proto-Slavic words бог [bog] (god), by way of the adjective богатый [bogatyi] (rich).

An early non-Russian usage of the word bogatyr was recorded in Stanisław Sarnicki's book Descriptio veteris et novae Poloniae cum divisione ejusdem veteri et nova, (A description of the Old and the New Poland with the old, and a new division of the same,) printed in 1585 in Cracow (in the Aleksy Rodecki's printing house), in which he says, "Rossi… de heroibus suis, quos Bohatiros id est semideos vocant, aliis persuadere conantur." ("Russians... try to convince others about their heroes whom they call Bogatirs, meaning demigods.")

Overview[edit | edit source]

Many Rus epic poems, called Bylinas, prominently featured stories about these heroes, as did several chronicles, including the 13th century Galician–Volhynian Chronicle. Some bogatyrs are presumed to be historical figures, while others, like the giant Svyatogor, are purely fictional and possibly descend from Slavic pagan mythology.

Many of the stories about bogatyrs revolve around the court of Vladimir I of Kiev. There served the most notable bogatyrs or vityazes: the trio of Alyosha Popovich, Dobrynya Nikitich and Ilya Muromets. Each of them tends to be known for a certain character trait: Alyosha Popovich for his wits, Dobrynya Nikitich for his courage, and Ilya Muromets for his physical and spiritual power and integrity, and for his dedication to the protection of his homeland and people. Most of those bogatyrs adventures are fictional, and often included fighting dragons, giants and other mythical creatures. However, the bogatyrs themselves were often based on real people. Historical prototypes of both Dobrynya Nikitich (the warlord Dobrynya) and Ilya Muromets are proven to have existed.

The Novgorod Republic produced a specific kind of hero, an adventurer rather than a noble warrior. The most prominent examples were Sadko and Vasili Buslayev.

Later notable bogatyrs also include those who fought by Aleksandr Nevsky's side and those who fought in the Battle of Kulikovo.

Epic bogatyrs[edit | edit source]

Knight at the Crossroads, Viktor Vasnetsov (1882)

Bogatyrs in films[edit | edit source]

Bogatyrs in books[edit | edit source]

  • Books by Jennifer Estep
    • Crimson Frost (2013)
    • Midnight Frost (2013)
    • Killer Frost (2014)

See also[edit | edit source]

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References[edit | edit source]

Citations[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ Всеслав Брячиславич // Биографический справочник — Мн.: «Белорусская советская энциклопедия» им. Петруся Бровки, 1982. — Т. 5. — С. 129. — 737 с.

Sources[edit | edit source]

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