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Ilya and Nightingale the Robber

    In the church of Murom, Ilya repeated his oath to renounce violence until his arrival in Kiev. Then he hastened on. Halfway to his destination his steed suddenly stopped and made a hole in the ground with his hoof. Living water bubbled up. Ilya cut a cross from an oak tree growing by the road and planted it in the earth next to the hole. He carved the following words onto the cross: 'Ilya Muromets, the son of a peasant and a bogatyr of Holy Russia, passed this way'. Later a chapel was built on that spot and animals fortified themselves with the water from the well.

 A.Kosterin."Ilya Muromets and Nightingale the Robber"

A.Kosterin."Ilya Muromets and Nightingale the Robber"
Box. 1963  Kholui

    In three leaps Ilya's stallion reached Chernigov. Three Tsars were besieging the city. Despite his indignation Ilya did not resort to armed violence. However, he tore a giant oak from the ground, much larger than the one which he had used to make the cross, and with this and his horse, which trampled on everything, he defeated the three armies of the Tsars. However, as he had no dungeon, he set the three Tsars free. He found the inhabitants of the city in the cathedral of Chernigov preparing to die. The young peasant bogatyr explained to them what had happened and that they were free. In gratitude they asked Ilya to rule over their city, but he refused twice with the words: "I am not a ruler and I do not wish to rest here. I am hastening to Kiev to serve Vladimir."
    He also refused their gold. The people of Chernigov told him that the shortest road to Kiev had been blocked for 30 years. There was grass growing between the stones. Three obstacles made the road absolutely impassable: the Brynski marshes, which sucked in every passer by; the Nightingale the Robber (Solovey Razboynik), who had been laying in wait by the so-called Levanidov cross on the Smorodina for 30 years, all the while hypocritically whistling like a nightingale in an intolerable manner; and finally, by the seven old oaks, there was the dragon's impassable house, wife, three large daughters and six small sons. However, llya was not to be discouraged, and went on his way.
    Thirty verst before Kiev, llya Muromets went to the Brynski marshes. He quickly built a bridge over the swamp with oak trees torn out of the ground and approached the Smorodina, which sprang from nowhere, where the Levanidov cross stood. This is the cross where Vladimir's bogatyrs had one sworn to each other to be brothers in spirit. A voice screeched: 'Who is the bold person who dares to ride past my nest?' llya picked some poppies and stopped up his ears with them so that he was unable to hear the roaring, hissing, and whistling of the Solovei
Ilya did not fall down dead from the terrible din, like every other bogatyr who had ever taken up the fight against this 'nightingale'. Instead he urged his frightened horse to continue undaunted. In order to catch sight of this miracle of endurance, Solovei leaned too far out of his nest. Ilya forgot his promise of peace and shot an arrow into the dragon's right eye so that the latter fell out of his nest. The hero caught him, tied him up, put him upside down on his steed, and continued on to Solovei house. This house was seven verst long and built on seven old oak trees. On every spike of the railings there was a hewn-off head of a knight.
    Solovei's wife, his three daughters and six sons saw the group approaching. The children thought that their father was coming home with another victim, but their mother could see more clearly. In order to save her husband, she sent her daughters to meet the peasant to distract him, but in vain. Ilya mowed them down and kicked them away. Solovei called out: "Children, ask your mother to offer this peasant the magic gifts and conclude an agreement with him."
    The mother, Akulina Dudenchevna, then sent her six sons to Ilya with all the stolen goods she had. However, they changed into ravens and attacked the hero. Then Ilya grasped his whip and beat them out of the air. Finally, the mother and daughters went to Ilya themselves with the magic gifts. However, he was intransigent and took Solovei with him to Kiev. He made the family promise that they would stop robbing and killing. When he came to a house of God, he asked a priest for forgiveness for violating his promise to temporarily renounce violence.
    From Karacharov, Ilya reached Kiev in an hour and a half, tied his horse and the giant Solovei to a post in front of the royal stables, and entered the palace. He was welcomed by King Vladimir, the Red Sun, and when asked, he told him who he was, where he had come from, and how he had been bedridden and paralysed for 30 years, but had recently been cured by three kaliki.
    Finally he said that he had decided to serve Holy Russia in the name of Christ for the rest of his life, without seeking any reward for this. He related how he had taken the shortest road from Karacharov to Kiev to offer the king his services ... Then the ever-suspicious Alyosha Popovich tired of his story and interrupted: "How did you say you came here?" He pointed out to the court that the invincible Solovei Razboniek had cut off the shortest road to the north for 30 years. Ilya answered: "What this bogatyr says is true. Or at least it was true, but I have defeated Solovei and brought him here. He is tied upside down to my horse. He was not invincible."
    All the bogatyrs went to the stables. The robber cowered. Vladimir challenged Solovei to prove the power of his terrible voice then and there. Solovei answered: " No one other than this peasant defeated me. I will listen only to him." Ilya then commanded him: "Solovei Razboniek, whistle, hiss, and roar with half your strength." However, Solovei demanded food and drink first. After a gigantic meal, he whistled, hissed, and roared, but to everyone's despair he did so with all his strength. Ilya ordered him to stop, and when he continued to whistle, immediately killed him with an arrow. Vladimir thanked Ilya and made him Russia's first bogatyr. The king had hardly finished speaking when Solovei's wife arrived unexpectedly with his three daughters, six sons and carts full of stolen valuables. Alyosha Popovich suggested to Vladimir that they accept the family's wish and take all this wealth in ransom for the father's body. Ilya ignored Alyosha's proposal, and on his own authority ordered the family to turn straight round with all the stolen goods: "Akulina Dudenchevna, take the body of your husband, bury it decently, and bring up your children properly." The family slunk off. The bogatyrs went back into the palace and made fun of Alyosha Popovich for misjudging the new bogatyr.

A.Sotskov."Ilya Muromets"

A.Sotskov."Ilya Muromets"
Box. 1972  Kholui

    As the central figure in the Russian epic tradition, Ilya Muromets is the subject of more songs and has a more complete epic biography than any other bogatyr.. His appearance dating from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries reveals that he was an established hero by that time in Kievan epics. Since that period the characteristics of Ilya Muromets as an epic hero have undoubtedly changed. For example, even though he is frequently referred to as an "old Cossack," folklorists believe that this appellation appeared in the sixteenth or seventeenth century. They also note that the adjective "old" does not indicate age but rather respect, experience, and seniority.
    The importance of Ilya Muromets in Russian culture is also shown by the act that his relics were long believed to lie in a Kiev monastery and he appeared in many tales circulated in chapbooks in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The song "Ilya Muromets and Nightingale the Robber" has been recorded 132 times and is one of the most popular Russian epics. Singers may more accurately call this bylina "The First Journey of Ilya Muromets” because in it he leaves his village of Karacharovo near the city of Murom, performs his first exploits, and for the first time come to Kiev, where he is accepted as a bogatyr at Prince Vladimir’s court.
    The bylina "Ilya Muromets and Nightingale the Robber" reflects a transitional period in the Russian epic tradition when mythological features were blended with historical features. The glorification of a hero who has defeated a monster no longer could satisfy the artistic sense of singers. As a result, a struggle with a monster was losing its heroic appeal, and only a person who fought a real historical opponent could become a bogatyr. Thus the mythological Nightingale acquires partial human characteristics and a Turkic patronymic; the hostile force near Chernigov dimly suggests struggles with the historical adversaries of Kievan Rus.

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Message of the site creator

F rom the city of Murom,
From the village of Karacharovo,
Rode a daring and stout good youth.
He attended matins in Murom,
He wanted to be in time for vespers in the capital city of Kiev.
He rode up to the famous city of Chernigov.
Near the city of Chernigov
A vast army had been assembled,
A vast army as black as a black raven.
No one walked past there on foot,
No one rode past there on a good steed,
No bird, no black raven flew past,
No gray animal scoured past.
Ilya rode up to this great army,
He attacked this great army,
He trampled it with his steed and jabbed it with his spear,
He defeated this great army.
He rode up to the famous city of Chernigov,
The men of Chernigov came out
And opened the gates to the city of Chernigov,
They invited Ilya to become voyevoda in Chernigov.
Ilya spoke these words to them:
"Hail to you, my men of Chernigov!
I won't become voyevoda in Chernigov.
Point out for me the straight-traveled road,
The straight-traveled road to the capital city ofKiev."
The men of Chernigov spoke to him:
"Hail to you, our daring stout good youth,
Famous Holy Russian bogatyr!
The straight-traveled road is filled with fallen wood,
The road is filled and is overgrown with grass,
Along that straight-traveled road
No one has passed on foot,
No one has ridden past on a good steed.
By that Swamp, by that Black Swamp,
By that birch, by that crooked birch,
By that stream, by Smorodina,
By that cross, by that cross of Lebanon
Sits Nightingale the Robber in a damp oak,
Sits Nightingale the Robber, Odikhmanty's son.
Nightingale whistles like a nightingale,*
He screams, the villain robber, like a wild animal,
And from the whistle of a nightingale,
And from the scream of a wild animal
All the grasses and meadows become entangled,
All the azure flowers lose their petals,
All the dark woods bend down to the earth,
And all the people there lie dead.
The straight-traveled road is five hundred versts,
But the round-about road is a whole thousand."

lya urged on his bogatyr's good steed,
He rode along the straight-traveled road.
His bogatyr's good steed
Jumped from mountain to mountain
And bounded from hill to hill,
It leaped across small streams and lakes.
He rode up to the stream Smorodina,
Up to that Swamp, up to that Black Swamp,
Up to that birch, up to that crooked birch,
Up to that cross, up to that famous Lebanese
Nightingale whistled like a nightingale,
The villain robber screamed like a wild animal
So that all the grasses and meadows became entangled,
The azure flowers lost their petals,
All the dark woods bent down to the earth.
His bogatyr's good steed stumbled against some roots.
The old Cossack Ilya Muromets
Took his silken whip in one white hand
And he beat his steed on its strong ribs.
Ilya spoke these words:
"You food for wolves and bag of grass!
Don't you want to walk or can't you carry me?
Dog, what are you stumbling against some roots for?
Haven't you heard the whistle of a nightingale?
Haven't you heard the scream of a wild animal?
Haven't you felt the blows of a bogatyr?"
Then the old Cossack Ilya Muromets
Took his taut supple bow,
He took it in his white hands,
He stretched the silken string,
He laid on a tempered arrow,
Then he shot it at Nightingale the Robber,
He knocked out Nightingale's right eye and temple,
He dropped Nightingale to the damp earth,
He tied him to his right steel stirrup,
He carried him through the famous open field,
He carried him past Nightingale's nest.
In Nightingale's nest ...
He came to the famous capital city of Kiev
And went to the wide courtyard of the famous Prince.
Vladimir the Prince had left God's church,
He had gone to his white-stone palace
To his hall, to his dining hall...
Vladimir the Prince then questioned the youth:
"Please tell me where you're from, stout good youth,
What name do they call the youth by,
What patronymic do they honor the daring youth by?"
The old Cossack Ilya Muromets spoke:
"I'm from the famous city of Murom,
From the village of Karacharovo,
I'm the old Cossack Ilya Muromets,
Ilya Muromets, the son of Ivan!"
Vladimir spoke these words to him:
"Hail to you, old Cossack Ilya Muromets,
Did you leave from Murom a long time ago
And by which road did you ride to the capital city of Kiev?"
Ilya spoke these words:
"Hail to you, our famous Vladimir of capital Kiev!
I attended Christ's matins in Murom
And I wanted to be in time for vespers in the
capital city of Kiev.
Then my journey was delayed.
I rode along the straight-traveled road,
Along the straight-traveled road I rode past the
city of Chernigov,
I rode past that Swamp, past that Black Swamp,
Past that famous stream Smorodina,
Past that famous crooked birch,
I rode past that famous Lebanese cross."
Vladimir spoke these words to him:
"Hail to you, my peasant bumpkin!
Peasant, you lie before my eyes,
Peasant, you mock me before my eyes!
Since an army of great number has been assembled
Near the famous city of Chernigov,
No one has walked past on foot,
And no one has ridden past on a good steed,
No gray beast has scoured past there,
No bird, no black raven has flown past.
By that cross, by that Lebanese cross
Sits Nightingale the Robber, Odikhmanty's son.
When Nightingale whistles like a nightingale,
When the villain robber screams like a wild animal,
Then all the grasses and meadows become entangled,
The azure flowers lose their petals,
All the dark woods bend down to the earth,
And all the people there lie dead..."
Ilya spoke these words to him: "
Vladimir, Prince of capital Kiev!
Nightingale the Robber is in your courtyard,
His right eye and temple have been knocked out,
And he's fastened to a steel stirrup..."
Then Vladimir, Prince of capital Kiev,
Quickly stood up on his nimble feet,
He threw his marten coat on one shoulder,
Then he threw his sable hat on one ear,
He went to his wide courtyard
To look at Nightingale the Robber.
Vladimir the Prince then spoke these words:
"Whistle, Nightingale, like a nightingale!
Scream, dog, like a wild animal!"
Nightingale the Robber, Odikhmanty's son, then spoke to him:
"Prince, I didn't eat dinner today with you,
You aren't the one I want to listen to,
I ate dinner with the old Cossack Ilya Muromets,
I want to listen to him."
Vladimir, Prince of capital Kiev, spoke:
"Hail to you, old Cossack Ilya Muromets!
Order Nightingale to whistle like a nightingale,
Order him to scream like a wild animal."
Nightingale then whistled like a nightingale,
The Robber screamed like a wild animal
The cupolas on the palaces were twisted,
And the windows in the palaces were shattered
From the nightingale's whistle,
And all the people there lay dead.
Vladimir, Prince of capital Kiev,
Took cover under his marten coat.
Then the old Cossack Ilya Muromets
Quickly mounted his good steed,
He took Nightingale to the open field
And he cut off his reckless head.
Ilya spoke these words:
"You've whistled enough like a nightingale,
You've screamed enough like a wild animal,
You've made enough fathers and mothers cry,
You've made enough young wives widows,
You've made enough little children orphans."
Since then a song of praise has been sung to Nightingale,
A song of praise has been sung to him for ever after.

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