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The Tale of the Campaign for the Russian Land by Lev Dmitriyev

Eight hundred years ago, in 1185, Prince Igor of Novgorod-Seversky set off with his allies on a campaign to the Polovtsian steppe, which bordered on the South Russian principalities and from which the nomadic Polovtsian tribes made frequent incursions into Russia. The Polovtsians defeated the Russian host; Igor and the other princes who had joined in the campaign were taken captive, and the Polovtsians, inspired by their victory, attacked the Russian principalities. Against the background of other events in the twelfth century Igor's campaign was not important enough to be known and remembered eight hundred years later not only by historians, but by many other people as well. So why is it so memorable? The year of 1185, the name of Igor and his supporters and the name of Igor's wife, Yaroslavna, have become so memorable because Igor's campaign against the Polovtsians provided the theme for the Tale of the Host of Igor, one of the finest literary works of the twelfth century. As a manifestation of human genius the Tale of the Host of Igor has become a great monument in the history of Russian culture.

The early feudal Kievan state reached the height of its efflorescence and power during the reign of Yaroslav the Wise (1019-1054). In the latter half of the eleventh century, after Yaroslav's death, three of his sons with the richest and strongest appanages reigned in South Russia: Svyatoslav in Chernigov, Izyaslav in Kiev and Vsevolod in Pereya-slavl (Yuzhny). On his death-bed Yaroslav warned his sons against feuding, but strife broke out between the three immediately after their father's death. Under Yaroslav's grandsons this strife developed into bitter internecine wars, in which Svyatoslav's son Oleg, "distinguished" himself in particular.

Under the same year as the chronicle entry on the death of Yaroslav (1054) we find the first reference to the Polovtsians, nomadic tribes which had come from the east to the steppe of the northern Black Sea area and the Caucasus. By the middle of the eleventh century the Polovtsian lands had reached the southeast borders of Russia, and the first Polovtsian incursions on Russian lands coincide with the beginning of the reign of Yaroslav's three sons. Thus the struggle of the rival princes was complicated by an external danger. During internecine war the Russian princes often concluded alliances with the Polovtsians and together with them destroyed and plundered the possessions of their rivals. But the Polovtsian threat, which hung over Russia until the Polovtsians themselves were defeated by the Mongols at the beginning of the thirteenth century, forced the Russian princes to join forces in the struggle against the nomads and kept alive among the people the idea of the need to unite the separate Russian principalities.

In 1097 on the initiative of Vladimir Monomakh an assembly of princes was held at Lyubech (a town on the Dnieper to the north of Kiev), the aim of which was to give each prince the legal right to his possessions and thereby prevent the further breaking up of the lands and put an end to internecine strife. But the feuding was resumed with fresh vigour immediately after the assembly, and the chronicler quotes the despairing plea of the people of Kiev to Monomakh: "We beseech you, oh, Prince, and your brothers - do not ruin the land of Russia. For if you begin war among yourselves, the infidels [the Polovtsians] will rejoice and will take our land, which had been defended by the great toil and courage of your fathers and your grandfathers, who had fought for the Russian land and sought other lands, but you wish to destroy the Russian land" (The Tale of Bygone Years) (The Tale of Bygone Years is a Russian chronicle compiled in Kiev in the 1110s and based on earlier chronicle compilations. In its turn the Tale of Bygone Years was later inserted as the first part of most subsequent Russian chronicles. Quoted from Памятники литературы Древней Руси. Начало русской литературы. XI - начало XII века (Monuments of Old Russian Literature. The Beginning of Russian Lit erature. The IIth to early 12th Century), Moscow, 1978, p. 255).

By the middle of the twelfth century the principalities of Chernigov, Galich, Polotsk and Rostov-Suzdal had completely broken away from Kiev. By this time Kiev had lost its former might, but the prince who held the throne of Kiev was considered the most senior, and the feuding over Kiev between the descendants of Oleg, son of Svyatoslav, and Vladimir Monomakh continued throughout the whole of the twelfth century.

In 1180 the struggle for the throne of the grand prince of Kiev between Oleg's grandson, Svyatoslav, and Vladimir Monomakh's great-grandson, Rurik, ended with the victory of the latter. However, on certain conditions that remain unknown Rurik gave Kiev to Svyatoslav, the most senior prince of his line at the time and of all the Russian princes in general, but kept the rest of the Kievan principality for himself. Thus a duumvirate was established: the principality was ruled by two princes, one descended from Oleg, the other from Monomakh.

Until then the descendants of Oleg had readily sought the Polovtsians' aid in their internecine wars; however, when Rurik came to the throne of Kiev their policy changed - they broke their alliances with the Polovtsian khans and began to join forces with Monomakh's descendants against the Polovtsians.

In the 1180s Rurik and Svyatoslav went on several joint campaigns to the Polovtsian steppe. Svyatoslav's cousin, Prince Igor of Novgorod-Seversky, could not take part in their successful campaigns against the Polovtsians in 1183 and 1184. So in 1185 he decided to march against the Polovtsians himself with his allies, neglecting to inform the Prince of Kiev in advance of his intention.

According to the detailed account in the Hypatian Chronicle (The Hypatian Chronicle is a South Russian codex of the end of the twelfth century. The account of Igor's campaign is in the second part of the chronicle, which is a Kiev codex of the late twelfth century. Quoted from Памятники литературы Древней Руси. XII век (Monuments of Old Russian Literature. 12th Century), Moscow, 1980, pp. 345-363) the events of Igor's campaign were as follows.

Igor left Novgorod-Seversky, the capital of his principality, on April 23, 1185 and went to the town of Putivl, then from Putivl south-east to the Polovtsian steppe. While he and his men were crossing the River Seversky Donets on May 1 there was a solar eclipse. The men watched this bad omen with trepidation. Igor addressed them, saying "Brothers and bodyguard! The secrets of the Lord are known to no man, and the eclipse is the work of God, like the rest of His world. And what God gives us - whether it is blessing or woe - that we shall see." Not far from the point where the River Oskol joins the Seversky Donets Igor waited two days for his brother Vsevolod who was coming by a different route from his town of Kursk. Apart from Vsevolod Igor's allies were his son Vladimir, Prince of Putivl, his nephew Svyatoslav, Prince of Rylsk and some hired bands of Chernigov Kovuis (Polovtsians in the bodyguard of Yaroslav of Chernigov) sent to help Igor by Prince Yarosav of Chernigov. These bands were led by voivode Olstin Oleksich.

When the army was near the River Salnitsa, men sent ahead to spy out the land reported: "We have seen the enemy, our enemies are riding out fully armed, so either advance without delay, or let us return home: it is not a good time for us now." Igor said to his men: "If we have to return without giving battle, it will be more shameful than death for us; so let it be as God gives unto us." All that night the Russian host advanced to meet the enemy. In the morning, on Friday, the Russians arrived at the River Siuurly to find the Polovtsians ready for battle on the opposite bank of the river. The detachments took up battle order: "Igor's men in the middle, and on the right hand the men of his brother Vsevolod, on the left those of his nephew Svyatoslav, in front of these detachments his son Vladimir's men and another detachment, Yaroslav's, the Kovuis under Olstin, and in front a third detachment of archers drawn from all the princes." Igor said to the men: "Brothers! We have sought this, so let us dare!" After a short spell of shooting with arrows, Igor's men crossed the river and the detachments of Svyatoslav, Vladimir and the Kovuis began to pursue the fleeing Polovtsians. Igor and Vsevolod followed slowly behind them with their detachments. Engrossed in the pursuit, the advance detachments went so far that they did not return to the assembly point until nightfall, laden with booty. Fearing the arrival of fresh enemy forces, Igor proposed withdrawing at once without waiting for the dawn. But Svyatoslav said "I galloped far after the Polovtsians, and my horses are tired; if I have to ride on now, I shall drop by the wayside." He was supported by Vsevolod. It was decided to spend the night at the assembly point. The next day, at dawn, on Saturday, large detachments of Polovtsians began to advance on the place where the Russians were camped. "I do believe that we have assembled the whole Polovtsian land against us," said Igor, "Konchak, and Koza Burno-vich, and Toksobich, and Kolobich, and Etebich and Tertrobich." The Russians decided to fight on foot and force their way through to the Donets. They dismounted. At the very beginning of the battle Igor was wounded in his left arm. The fighting went on all day and all night. There were many killed and wounded. On Sunday morning the Kovuis turned and fled. Igor galloped after them to try and turn them back, but in vain. On the way back to his men he was captured by the Polovtsians who had cut him off. Igor saw his brother Vsevolod fighting valiantly, "and he prayed to God for death so as not to see his brother perish." The chronicler remarks that Vsevolod fought so furiously "that he did not have enough weapons."

The rout was complete. Only a handful of warriors managed to flee; most of them were killed and many taken prisoner. The chronicler quotes a repentant speech by Igor in which the prince laments the Christian blood shed by him during the internecine wars. The Polovtsian khans divided the captured princes among themselves: "Igor was taken into captivity by a man called Chilbuk of the Targolovetses and Vsevolod, his brother, was captured by Roman Kzich, and Svyatoslav by Eldechuk of the Voburtseviches, and Vladimir by Kopti of the Ulasheviches. And then, on the battle-field, Konchak vouched for Igor, his son-in-law's father, for he was wounded."

Meanwhile Prince Svyatoslav of Kiev was in the Upper lands (the lands in the upper reaches of the Dnieper) gathering together men in preparation for a summer campaign against the Polovtsians on the Don. Coming to Novgorod-Seversky, he learned of Igor's campaign and was angry with him. The news of the defeat of Igor's host reached him in Chernigov. Then he wept and said: "Oh, my dear brothers, sons, and men of the Russian land! God gave me victory over the infidels, but you, not curbing the ardour of youth, have opened the gates to the Russian land. God's will be done in all things! And as I did vent my rage on Igor just now, so do I lament him now, my brother." Realising that the Polovtsians, encouraged by their victory over Igor, would advance on Russian lands, Svyatoslav prepared to defend them.

The Polovtsian khans Konchak and Gza could not agree on where to go. Konchak said: "Let's march on Kiev where our brothers and our Prince Boniak were killed," but Gzaretorted: "Let's go to the Seim where their wives and children are..., we'll seize their towns without fear of anyone." Konchak lay siege to Pereyaslavl, and Gza to Putivl, but both towns stood firm. During the fighting for Pereyaslavl Prince Vladimir of Pereyaslavl was badly wounded. On the way back from Pereyaslavl Konchak took the town of Rimov and Gza the Seim lands. Both khans seized a great deal of rich booty and many prisoners.

Igor was treated with respect in captivity: although the Russian prince was surrounded by guards, he was not restricted in any way and could even go hunting. The Polovtsian Ovlur (other sources have Lavor) urged Igor to run away with his assistance. After some hesitation Igor agreed. One day at sunset, when Igor's guards, having drunk too much koumiss (a fermented beverage made from mare's milk), were carousing, thinking that he was asleep, Igor "took his cross and icon, lifted the wall of the tent and crept out." He crossed the River Tor, where Ovlur was waiting for him with a horse. On the way their horses collapsed, and Igor and Ovlur walked for eleven days to the town of Donets, and from there to Novgo-rod-Seversky. From Novgorod-Seversky Igor went to Chernigov, and from Chernigov to Kiev "and Svyatoslav was overjoyed to see Igor, and so was Rurik."

If we compare the Tale of the Host of Igor with the chronicle account, we find that they are very close to each other in their exposition of the events and that they coincide not only in their reporting of the actual facts, but also in their poetic interpretation of them. This has suggested to specialists the possibility that one of these works is dependent on the other. The explanation of this similarity given by Academician Dmitry Likhachev is most convincing, however. "Both the chronicle and the Tale depend on oral accounts of the events and hearsay. The events have been 'organized' in the oral accounts of them and through these accounts have been reflected in both works." (Д. С. Лихачев, "Слово о полку Игореве" и культура его времени (D. S. Likhachev, The "Tale of the Host of Igor" and the Culture of Its Day), Leningrad, 1978, p. 125)

At the same time the chronicle account and the Tale of the Host of Igor are quite different works in respect of genre. The chronicle gives a detailed, chronological account of all the events of Igor's campaign. In his digressions from the main narrative the author of the chronicle story says that Igor's defeat and the Polovtsian incursions into the Russian principalities are divine punishment for people's sins: "And so on Sunday did the Lord send down his wrath upon us, condemning us to weeping instead of joy, to grief instead of merriment on the River Kayala." "All this," Igor exclaims, "did the Lord reward me for my transgressions and for my cruelty, and the sins committed by me did fall on my own head. Thus does God punish us for our sins, he has put the infidels upon us, not to gladden them, but to chastise us and summon us to repentance, to make us renounce our evil ways."

In his digressions, however, the author of the Tale recalls past events of Russian history in an attempt to understand what is taking place from the viewpoint of the historian and politician. He sees the cause of Igor's defeat and the hardships of the Russian people as lying not in divine wrath, but in real historical circumstances - in princely strife: the princes' feuding brings suffering to the people not only in itself, but also because it enables the Polovtsians to attack the Russian lands with impunity. And he summons people not to repentance, but to fight the enemy, he urges the princes to forget their differences and unite in their struggle against the Polovtsians. This explains the particularly sharp publicistic nature of the Tale, its ardour and civic fervour. The genius of the author of the Tale and his profound concern for the fate of his country are seen not only in his understanding of the historical causes of his troubled age, but also in the fact that he sensed the disasters that were imminent. It was Karl Marx who pointed to this foresight of the author of the Tale as the main ideological meaning of the work. "Essentially the poem is a summons to the Russian princes to unite on the very eve of the invasion of the Mongol hordes." (Карл Маркс, " Письмо к Энгельсу от 5 марта 1856 года", - в кн.: Карл Маркс и Фридрих Энгельс, Собрание сочинений (Karl Marx, "Letter to Engels of 5 March, 1856", in: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Collected Works, 2nd edition) vol. 29, p. 16) Thirty-eight years after Igor's campaign, in 1223, the first battle between the Russians and the Mongol-Tartars was fought on the River Kalka, and this battle proved to be a prologue to the Mongol-Tartar invasion.

But it is not only historical maturity, political wisdom and publicistic fervour that distinguish the Tale of the Host of Igor from the chronicle account. The author of the Tale does not so much recount the events of 1185 as reflects upon them. From beginning to end the Tale is imbued with the author's lyrical attitude to everything of which he speaks. Reading the Tale you get the impression that the author witnessed all the events, including those of much earlier times, and not only witnessed them but apparently either sympathized with them or condemned them.

Alexander Pushkin wrote: "The Tale of the Host of Igor towers up as an isolated monument in the wilderness of our early literature." (А. С. Пушкин, О ничтожестве литературы русской, Полное собрание сочинений в 16-ти томах (A. S. Pushkin, On the Worthlessness of Russian Literature, Complete Works in 16 volumes), vol. 11, Moscow, Leningrad, 1949, p. 268) The great Russian poet was right in noting the exceptional nature of the Tale: in its artistic level this work stands out sharply from all the other known monuments of early Russian literature. But in speaking of the wilderness of early Russian literature, Pushkin shared, without realizing it, the wrong view prevalent at the beginning of the nineteenth century that there was no high culture or developed literature at the time when the Tale of the Host of Igor was written. The study of the history of early Russian culture and literature begun in the nineteenth century and continuing in the present day has completely disproved this view.

The twelfth century was the Golden Age in the history of Russian culture. Architecture reached a high level of development in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Suffice it to recall that the 1160s saw the completion of the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl and the Bogoliubovo Palace and the late 1190s - the Cathedral of St Demetrius in Vladimir; the Cathedral of St George in the Yuriev Monastery in Novgorod was erected at the beginning and the Church of Our Saviour in Nereditsa at the end of the twelfth century. These monuments of early Russian architecture impress one with their majesty, perfection and beauty. No less striking are the frescoes adorning the walls of these and other old Russian churches. Some of the finest specimens of icon-painting also belong to this period. The articles fashioned by jewellers and other craftsmen at this time are remarkably refined.

Early Russian literature also enjoyed a great efflorescence: works created in the eleventh and twelfth centuries served as models for the various literary genres over many centuries. The Tale of Bygone Years for chronicles, the Tale of SS Boris and Gleb and the Life of St Theodosius of the Caves, written by Nestor, for hagiography, the Pilgrimage of Abbot Daniel for the "travel" genre describing journeys and voyages, and Cyril of Turov's Sermons for oratorical rhetoric. The numerous translations of Byzantine literary works also testify to the high level of literary development at this time. But it is not only the high artistic level of Russian literature in the eleventh to early thirteenth century that gives us grounds for correlating these works with the Tale. A comparative analysis of the vocabulary and phraseology of the Tale of the Host of Igor and monuments of Russian literature of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries made by Varvara Adrianova-Peretts led her to conclude "that the whole of the lexical material from which the Tale is constructed, for all its artistic originality, is fully in keeping with the means of expression recorded in the various types of scholarly and popular written language of the pre-Mongol period, in the various literary and official genres." (В. П. Адрианова-Перетц, "Слово о полку Игореве" и памятники русской литературы XI-XIII веков (V. P. Adrianova-Peretts, The "Tale of the Host of Igor" and Monuments of Russian Literature of the 11th to 13th Centuries), Leningrad, 1968, p. 43)

"The thrilling beauty and amazing depth of the Tale," wrote the well-known Soviet historian, Academician Boris Grekov, "is no miracle, but perfectly logical." (Б. Д. Греков, "Автор Слова о полку Игореве и его время" (В. D. Grekov, "The Author of the Tale of the Host of Igor and His Time"), Istorik-Marxist, 1938, No. 4, p. 10) And the more we learn about the history of Old Russian culture, the more we see that this really is the case: the Tale of the Host of Igor was preceded and accompanied by a highly developed culture. The exceptional nature of the Tale is explained by the poetic talent of its author.

The Tale of the Host of Igor is a literary work. At the same time, in no other monument of Old Russian literature does one see such a close connection with oral folklore as in the Tale. The exceptional, unique quality of the Tale of the Host of Igor lies, to a considerable extent, in this organic combination of the poetics of oral poetry with high achievements of written works. In turning to the devices of oral folk poetry, the author of the Tale does not simply copy them, but creatively re-fashions what are basically folk-epic images.

The author of the Tale presents internecine strife in scenes of agricultural work: he writes that during the internecine wars of Oleg Gorislavich "rarely the plowmen called, but often the ravens cawed", and compares the battles themselves with creative labour and sowing, "for this Oleg with his sword forged dissension and scattered his arrows over the land", "then in the time of Oleg Gorislavich intestine warfare was sown and grew rife, and the substance of Dazhbog's scion was destroyed." The author of the Tale also compares the epilogue of Igor's battle with the plowmen's toil: "The black earth under the hooves was strewn with bones and watered with blood, and as grief they come up throughout the land of Russia." The comparison of a battle with the peasants' toil is often found in Russian folklore, but there the battle is compared only with the process of cultivating land. In the Tale, however, this image is, as it were, made more complex: the earth is churned up by horses' hooves, sown with bones and watered with blood, and this sowing comes up as grief and sorrow for the land of Russia.

Stressing the courage and might of the princes, the author of the Tale uses hyperbole in his descriptions, and this makes the princes resemble the epic heroes of the byliny, oral heroic poems. Yaroslav of Chernigov, "wealthy" and "rich in warriors", with his men who have no shields and are armed only with hunting-knives, conquers the enemy with his "cries" alone. Vsevolod of Vladimir-Suzdal with his bodyguard can "scatter the Volga" with his oars and "drain the Don" with his helmets. The warriors of Rurik and David "bellow like bulls". The Galician Yaroslav Osmomysl with his "hosts of iron" "has stayed the Hungarian mountains" and from his father's golden throne shoots "at the Sultans many lands away." The warriors of Roman and Mstislav were so strong and numerous that "they made the earth quiver."

The hyperbole in the Tale both resembles that in the Russian epos and differs from it. In the Tale, as in the epos, it is not the external signs of strength and power that are hyperbolized but the manifestation of this strength in action, in the struggle against the foe; however, unlike the epos, which gives a generalized picture of the struggle of heroes with the enemy, behind the metaphorical exaggeration of the Tale stands historical fact. The main difference between the Tale and the epos in the portrayal of the heroes is that the author of the Tale, in keeping with the publicistic tenor of his work, not only stresses their military prowess with hyperbole, but also condemns them. He makes Svyatoslav of Kiev reproach the "mighty", "wealthy" Yaroslav of Chernigov, "rich in warriors", saying that he no longer sees his "power". As for Vsevolod, he accuses this strong prince of not wanting "to guard your father's golden throne." He accuses Yaroslav Osmomysl of shooting "at the Sultans many lands away", when he should be rising to the defence of the Russian land.

The figure of Prince Vsevolod, the cousin of Prince Igor, hero of the Tale, is closest in terms of portrayal to the figures of byliny heroes. This similarity is articularly evident in the account of how Vsevolod fights the Polovtsians. But in spite of the similarity in the description of Vsevolod fighting to the portrayal of a byliny hero on the field of battle, there is also an important difference between them. The hero of the byliny fights alone against vast numbers of the enemy. The author of the Tale also speaks only of Vsevolod, but from the context the reader understands that Vsevolod is fighting not alone, but at the head of his men of Kursk, who have already been described at the beginning of the Tale as particularly skilled and experienced warriors.

In oral folk songs and legends we often find the image of the falcon: the hero is compared with a falcon and his actions to the flight of the falcon and its behaviour in hunting. The author of the Tale also makes use of this poetic image, but here the image forms part of complex literary passages; in all cases the author of the Tale has in mind the hunting falcon and either gives a detailed picture of falcon hunting or refers to some specific behaviour of the hunting falcon.

The comparison of a battle with a feast, usually a wedding feast, is common in the oral epos, and those who have been killed in battle are likened to young men who became drunk at a feast. The phrase in the Tale that concludes the account of the battle between Igor's men and the Polovtsians would appear to be connected with this poetic folk tradition: "Here the two brothers were parted on the bank of the swift Kayala,/Here the bloody wine ran short,/Here they finished the feast, the valiant Russians:/They had given their guests to drink, and themselves lay down for the sake of the land of Russia." The image of the "battle-feast" was very common in early Russian literature. In the Tale it is closer to the oral epos than in other works of the early period.

In the oral folk tradition an important part was played by conventional epithets, recurring metaphors, set symbols and other poetic devices typical of the epos. Many metaphors, epithets, symbols and poetic devices in the Tale are close to the oral folk tradition.

The Tale contains a lot of epithets that are conventional in the oral epos: "grey wolf", "tawny eagle", "swift horse", "black clouds", "open plain", "black earth", "blue sea", "bright sun", "green grass", "beautiful maiden", "young moon", "golden stirrup", "golden helmet", "red-hot arrows", "bloody wounds", "sharp swords". What impression do these epithets make in the context of the Tale of the Host of Igor?

Describing the poetic manner of his predecessor Boyan, the author of the Tale says of him: "Boyan... would he hurtle in thought through the tree,/Like a grey wolf over the earth,/Like a tawny eagle under- the clouds." This description of Boyan is close to the poetic imagery of Russian folklore. Commentators often draw a parallel between this and a fragment of a bylina about Volga which describes Volga's magical ability to turn into a fish, bird or beast. What we have in the Tale, however, is a poetic comparison, and this comparison is bookish, even rhetorical rather than folkloric in nature. Boyan "in thought", that is, in his poetic imagination, would rush along the tree of poetry, hover in the clouds like an eagle and speed over the ground like a grey wolf. The image of the swift flight of poetic thought hovering like an eagle in the heavens finds analogues in early Russian literary works.

Throughout the whole of this description, which is bookish in the nature of its metaphors, the author has made use of the tripartite formula reminiscent of the epos and has used conventional epithets widespread in oral folklore. In this way the complex poetic comparison has become alive, graphically vivid, familiar and easily understood.

In the Tale we often find the epithet "golden": stirrups and helmets are golden; Yaroslav Osmomysl sits on a "throne forged of gold"; Igor's saddle is "of gold"; the necklet that adorns the princely attire is also called "golden"; the chamber of Prince Yaroslav of Kiev is "topped with gold". In many cases these epithets reflect real features of the age. But it is easy to see that the main thing in the Tale is not real objects, but the poetic associations that the epithet "golden" has: it is always used with princely objects and always appears in passages of a solemn, exalted nature. "Golden" is a favourite epithet in oral poetry, and possibly the fondness of the author of the Tale for it reflects his proximity to the poetics of folklore, but it is proximity, not the mechanical influence of folklore and not simple borrowing from it. In this connection it is characteristic that Svyatoslav of Kiev's address to the Russian princes urging them to avenge Igor's defeat and rise to the defence of the land of Russia is called "his golden word", because it is the word of the senior prince.

Academician Dmitry Likhachev notes the "ritual correspondence of these two concepts - 'princely' and 'golden' - as something specifically inherent in princely life." (D. S. Likhachev, op. cit., p. 181) The author of the Tale makes consistent use of the epithet "golden" in accordance with this ritual correspondence. And if the choice of this epithet reflects the oral poetic tradition, here, as in all other cases, the author uses it in keeping with the emotional significance with which he himself endows it.

The symbolic interpretation of natural phenomenon was common in oral folklore. We find love of one's native countryside and a lyrical attitude towards it in the Sermons of Cyril of Turov (1130-1182). The beauty and majesty of nature in the "radiantly fair and beautifully adorned" land of Russia are brilliantly described in the Tale of the Ruin of the Russian Land, a poetic work of the thirteenth century. For all that the Tale of the Host of Igor stands out among all the works of early Russian literature because of special skill of the author in the portrayal of nature. It is perhaps here that the literary talent of the author is seen most clearly. He was well acquainted with popular symbolism of nature and refashioned it in his own way; nature provides him with a source of inspiration and material for the creation of poetic images; in his descriptions of landscapes, birds and beasts he shows remarkable powers of observation.

In the oral folk tradition we often find the image of an approaching black cloud, symbolizing enemy forces advancing on Russia. This is how the author of the Tale describes the morning of the day on which the fatal battle begins: "On the following day, very early, a blood-red glow announces the dawn./Heavy black clouds approach from the ocean:/Their aim is to cover the four suns,/And in them are flickering deep-blue lightnings./ There will be a mighty thunderstorm!/The rain like arrows will come from the mighty Don." This is a brilliantly drawn sombre picture, which we take to be a perfectly realistic sketch of an approaching storm. Yet, at the same time, it is full of epic and bookish symbolism. The black clouds are an epic symbol of the enemy forces, the blood-red dawn is a bookish, rhetorical symbol of misfortune. The formula of the cruel, bloody battle was widesperead in early Russian literature: "The rain like arrows will come." In the context of the description of the approaching thunderstorm this usual formula acquires a new, more vivid ring. At the beginning of the account of the battle, the author of the Tale develops the formula "the rain like arrows will come" and makes use of expressions concerning turbidly flowing rivers and clouds of dust common in the epos: "Behold the winds, scions of Stribog, waft from the ocean arrows on the valiant hosts of Igor./The earth moans and the rivers flow turbid./The dust clouds cover the plains..."

In the oral tradition turbidly flowing rivers and clouds of dust usually symbolize the approach of the enemy and are a portent of misfortune. In the Tale, however, the moaning of the earth, turbidly flowing rivers and dust covering the plains only have symbolic undertones; in the overall picture of the battle depicted by the author they are real objects: the huge enemy host moving over the steppe really did muddy the rivers when it crossed them and raise clouds of dust.

Whereas in this case the symbolic significance of the poetic image is merely sensed behind a picture close to reality, in another passage, where we also find the motif of the turbidly flowing river, this motif of popular symbolism is made more complex in a literary way, but retains its vividness as a metaphor: "For now, the Sula no longer flows with silvery streams to the city of Pereyaslavl,/And the Dvina like a bog flows for those dread men of Polotsk under the shrieks of the pagans."

In the epos there are conventional images for expressing the sympathy of nature: trees bow to the ground with grief and sorrow and grass droops, while leaves fall from the trees as a token of misfortune and woe. These images of popular symbolism are also reflected in the Tale of the Host of Igor where they are re-fashioned and more complex. After Igor's defeat "droops the grass for pity and the tree is bowed to earth with sorrow." Describing the grief of Rostislav's mother lamenting her dead son, the author of the Tale makes the following change in this image to stress Rostislav's youth: "The flowers drooped for grief..."

While bearing in mind the symbolical, metaphorical significance of a number of images of nature, the author of the Tale of the Host of Igor always stays close to real nature, to life-like pictures of all the phenomena that accompany the events he describes. This skilful combination of the symbolical and metaphorical with the real in the description of nature is a distinctive feature of the Tale of the Host of Igor. Describing the advance of the Russian host into the steppe to meet the enemy and its own destruction, the author of the Tale creates vivid pictures of the surrounding countryside. All his sketches are realistic and accurate, giving a true picture of the South Russian steppe. At the same time, however, both the description of the sunrises and sunsets, the reference to the stilling of the nightingales' song and to the fact that the land of Russia is now beyond the hill, and a number of other small details create the disquieting feeling that Igor's warriors advancing into the Polovtsian steppe are doomed. The pictures of nature and description of the behaviour of beasts and birds in the account of Igor's flight with Ovlur from Polovtsian captivity are vivid and realistically accurate. But although the reader feels anxiety at the pursuit of the fugitives, everything is presented in bright, joyous tones: the Donets has "spread" green grass for Igor and clothed him with warm mists, "the nightingales with their merry songs proclaim the light" and so on.

The lyrical attitude of the author of the Tale towards nature creates strikingly expressive pictures in an extremely compressed and concise text.

A characteristic feature of the portrayal of nature in the Tale of the Host of Igor is its personification - it lives the same life as the heroes of the work, it does not accompany the events, but takes a most active part in them. The solar eclipse warns Igor of danger, the birds and beasts lie in wait for the misfortune about to befall the Russians. In her lament Yaroslavna reproaches the wind and sun for not helping Igor's host. She begs the Dnieper to "rock" her husband to her. The Donets helps Igor when he is fleeing from captivity. The river talks to the prince, praising him and rejoicing at his escape. Igor replies by praising it for helping him.

The personification of nature and the frequent references to pagan gods in the Tale of the Host of Igor may be connected with vestiges of pagan, animistic beliefs, but all in all they are poetic devices. Dmitry Likhachev writes as follows in connection with this problem: "The author of the Tale is a Christian, and the old pre-Christian beliefs have acquired a new poetic meaning for him. He personifies nature poetically, not in a religious way. For the author of the Tale Christian ideas lie outside poetry. In a number of cases... he rejects the Christian interpretation of events, but he does so not because he is alien to Christianity, but because for him poetry is still connected with pagan, pre-feudal roots. For him pagan ideas have an aesthetic value, whereas Christianity is not yet connected with poetry, although he himself is undoubtedly a Christian (Igor is helped to flee from captivity by God, on his return he goes to the Church of the Icon of the Holy Virgin, and so on)." (D. S. Likhachev, op. cit., p. 80)

The question of which genre the Tale belongs to is still disputed. Igor Yeriomin, a famous commentator of the Tale of the Host of Igor, who has devoted several special studies to this problem, concludes that the Tale belongs to the genre of political rhetoric oratory. He considers that proof of its oratorical nature is its political acuteness, the fact that it is an appeal addressed to the princes. Moreover, as he points out, the text is full of addresses to an audience, such as "brothers" and rhetorical questions. The fact that in Russian the work is called slovo (lay), povest (tale) and pesn (song) also suggests that it is a work of oratory. "This threefold terminology, slovo, pesn and povest, was not used anywhere in the literature of Kievan Russia to denote one and the same work. The only known exception is oratorical prose. It is only here that we find this terminology to denote one and the same work: or, to be more precise, only in literary oratorical prose, in works that belong to the so-called ceremonial oratory." (И. П. Еремин, "Слово о полку Игореве как памятник политического красноречия Киевской Руси", - в кн.: Слово о полку Игореве. Сборник исследований и статей под редакцией В. П. Адриановой-Перетц (I. P. Yeriomin, "The Tale of the Host of Igor as a Monument of Political Oratory of Kievan Rus", in: The Tale of the Host of Igor. Collected Studies and Articles Edited by V. P. Adrianova-Peretts), Moscow, Leningrad, 1950, p. 93. On the term "ceremonial oratory" Igor Yeriomin provides the folowing note: "ceremonial oratory" is a conventional term which is used to denote works of artistic oratotory intended for some feast or ceremony and very often specially dedicated - even in church religious oratory - to social and political problems.")

In spite of Yeriomin's convincing arguments in support of his hypothesis and in spite of the fact that the oratorical element in the Tale is undoubtedly very clearly expressed, the work as a whole can hardly be considered a monument of oratorical prose. The special proximity of the Tale to the oral folk tradition and the lyrical nature of the work would seem to contradict this.

At the very beginning of his work the author of the Tale talks about the singing of "glory": Boyan's psaltery "thundered glory to the princes." The descriptions which the author of the Tale gives of the princes are eulogies to them, and the Tale as a whole is a eulogy to Igor and the Russian warriors. It is no accident that the author ends his work with words about glory: "Glory to Igor, son of Svyatoslav, to fierce bull Vsevolod, to Vladimir, son of Igor!.../To the princes - glory! - and to the bodyguard!" But the author of the Tale not only extols the courage and bravery of his heroes, the Russian warriors. He also condemns the princes' feuding and laments the sufferings of the Russian people. A considerable part of the Tale is taken up by "laments". These are not only the laments inherent in the accounts of the sufferings of the Russian land, and the misfortunes that befell Igor's host, or Svyatoslav's "golden word" "commingled with tears", but also laments set out directly in the text - the lament of the Russian wives and Yaroslavna's lament.

Eulogies and laments were very common genres in the folk poetry of Old Russia and, as Dmitry Likhachev points out, "the connection of the Tale with the works of oral folk poetry can be felt most clearly in the two genres most frequently mentioned in the Tale: the 'laments' and the songs of praise, or eulogies." (Д. С. Лихачев, "Слово о походе Игоря Святославича", - в кн.: Слово о полку Игореве (D. S. Likhachev, "The Tale of the Campaign of Igor Svyatoslavich", in: The Tale of the Host of Igor), 2nd edition, Leningrad, 1967, pp. 31-32) However, as Likhachev stresses, the Tale "as a whole... is not a lament and not a eulogy, of course. Folk poetry does not permit a mixture of genres. It is a literary work, but close to these genres of folk poetry." (Ibid., p. 33) Literary works similar in this respect to the Tale appeared later than the Tale: these are the Eulogy to Roman Mistislavich of Galich, the Tale of the Ruin of the Russian Land and the Eulogy to the Princely House of Ryazan.

Specialists have advanced other suggestions as to the genre of the Tale of the Host of Igor. It has been called a song, a poem, a "military tale" and a "12th-century bylina". This variety is explained by the many levels of the Tale and by the fact that it was composed at a time when genres were still in the process of being formed. In this respect the Tale is not an exception: many works of early Russian literature do not have obvious genre analogues (the writings of Vladimir Monomakh, the Supplication of Daniel the Exile, the Tale of the Ruin of the Russian Land and a number of others).

The problem of the genre of the Tale is linked with the question of whether it was written in verse or prose. In spite of all attempts, it has not proved possible to establish any clear logical system of rhythmic organisation of the text. In certain passages of the Tale we can definitely sense a regular rhythm. This rhythm is produced by various devices: alternating sentences with the same syntactical construction, a subject having several predicates with the same ending, repetition of the same word in successive sentences, etc. Thus we can say that the Tale of the Host of Igor is written in rhythmical prose. Nevertheless shortly after the publication of the first edition of the Tale, verse renderings of it began to appear, and this tradition is still continuing up to the present day. This is explained by the rhythmical nature of the text, its high poetical quality. Another important reason is that the relatively small text is very rich in content and its language is unusually varied.

The author's excellent knowledge of the political situation in the 1180s, his accurate portrayal of a large number of minor historical facts and his attitude to the events that he describes all suggest that the Tale was written shortly after Igor's campaign. We have no precise information as to when this was, and in considering this problem we can proceed only from the text of the work itself. It can be stated without any doubt that the Tale was written during Igor's lifetime (the author relates his tale up to "the Igor of our time"), that is, before 1202, the year of Igor's death. Most commentators date it between 1185 and 1187. Among the princes to whom the author sings glory at the end of the work is Vladimir, Igor's son. From this it has been concluded that the Tale was written after his return from captivity, namely, not before September 1187. At the same time one of the princes whom the author urges to "rise up for the land of Russia" is Yaroslav Osmomysl, who died on October 1, 1187. If we proceed from these facts, the Tale was written in September - early October of 1187. But the arguments for dating it to 1185 are equally well-based. The Tale says of Prince Vladimir of Pereyaslavl "Grief and despair for the son of Gleb!", a reference to Vladimir's heavy wounds, but nothing is said about his death, and he died from wounds, received in 1185, in April 1187. Thus, it can be considered that the Tale was written during Vladimir's lifetime. Academician Boris Rybakov attaches considerable importance for dating the work to the phrase in the Tale which says that Prince Vsevolod of Vladimir-Suzdal has the sons of Prince Gleb of Ryazan entirely at his command ("For you on dry land can shoot with your living lances, with your valiant sons of Gleb.") Gleb's sons quarrelled with Vsevolod at the end of 1185, and the phrase about them in the Tale shows that it was written before this became known in South Russia. If we agree that the "glory" in honour of Igor's son, Vladimir, could have been proclaimed at a time before he had returned from Polovtsian captivity, the only dating factor left is the time of Igor's flight from captivity, most likely the summer of 1185. It is also possible that the very end of the Tale was written or reworked after Vladimir returned from captivity, and the main text of the work immediately after Prince Igor's return to Russia.

Many commentators believe that the author of the Tale took part in Igor's campaign and was with Igor in captivity, but others suggest that he heard all the details of the campaign from eyewitnesses and from Igor himself. It is unlikely that this question will be solved once and for all until some new sources come to light. As already mentioned, common hearsay was undoubtedly one of the sources of the author's information about the campaign. The feeling that the author was present as a living eyewitness of what he is describing is typical of episodes that mutually exclude the possibility of his "participating" in them: Igor's campaign and captivity and the story about Svyatoslav of Kiev and Yaroslavna's lament. The author probably did witness some of these episodes, but which? It is the writer's poetic genius that explains why everything is presented to the reader so vividly and directly.

The considerable erudition of the author of the Tale of the Host of Igor, his knowledge of political affairs and the family connections of the princes and his excellent understanding of the art of warfare suggest that he belonged to the milieu of the prince's bodyguard. The social status of the author of the Tale did not prevent him from reflecting popular ideals in his work. In his attitude to historical reality, his assessment of the events and people mentioned in the Tale, the author adopts the popular viewpoint. In the interests of the Russian land Kiev should be ruled by a strong and formidable prince, to whom all the other Russian princes were subject. This was the view of the finest section of the boyars of that age, but it was also in the interests of the broad masses of the people.

The author of the Tale of the Host of Igor describes the battles with considerable knowledge and gives vivid sketches of the princes and bodyguard, but he also speaks no less forcefully and compassionately of the hardships and cares of the common people. He feels and understands the grief of the Russian women mourning their husbands and sons whose bones are sown on the plains. With the same skill as he uses military terminology, the author of the Tale turns to the everyday concepts of agriculture and handicrafts. All this shows that he was well aware of the concerns and aspirations of the common man of his day.

If the social status of the author of the Tale as one of the boyar class does not give rise to doubt and dispute, this is not the case with the question as to which prince's entourage this boyar came from. But we cannot fail to see the deep sympathy he has for his hero, his hero's brother "fierce bull" Vsevolod, and all the descendants of Oleg, son of Svyatoslav, the founder of the Chernigov line of princes. These features in the Tale of the Host of Igor suggest that the author of the Tale was a man of Chernigov, a member of the bodyguard of the Chernigov princes, and most likely of Igor's bodyguard.

According to another hypothesis, the author of the Tale was a Kievan, a man close to the Grand Prince of Kiev. This is supported by the following arguments: the reflection of national Russian interests in the Tale could probably not have taken place unless the Tale was written in Kiev; the author condemns Igor's campaign and, at the same time, praises Prince Svyatoslav of Kiev out of proportion to his real historical importance. According to the hypothesis of Professor Rybakov, (Б. А. Рыбаков, Русские летописцы и автор "Слова о полку Игореве" (В. A. Rybakov, Russian Chroniclers and the Author of the "Tale of the Host of Igor"), Moscow, 1972) the author of the Tale was a Kievan boyar called Piotr Borislavich, the chronicler of two generations of princes "from the house of Mstislav" who reigned in Kiev in the latter half of the twelfth century: Izyaslav, his son Mstislav, and his nephew Rurik, son of Rostislav (who, as already mentioned, was the duumvir of Svyatoslav of Kiev during the events of 1185).

The supporters of the third point of view believe that the author of the Tale came from Chernigov, but wrote his work in Kiev. This hypothesis has been elaborated with particular care by Alexander Solovyov, who suggests that the author was in the retinue of Svyatoslav, son of Vsevolod, together with whom he moved from Chernigov to Kiev.

Some commentators consider that the author of the Tale came from Galician-Volhyni-an Russia. According to this hypothesis he was a member of Yaroslav Osmomysl's bodyguard and came to Igor in Novgorod-Seversky in the suite of Igor's wife Yefrosinia, the daughter of Yaroslav Osmomysl.

This multiplicity of hypotheses alone suggests that it is hardly likely that we shall obtain a final answer to this question. All the theories about the author of the Tale are based on the text of the actual work, and it is impossible to obtain the answer to these questions from the text alone. We do not find in the Tale of the Host of Igor a reflection of the interests of any one class or any one prince, nor do we detect any regional tendencies in it. "And this is first and foremost because the author of the Tale adopted his own patriotic standpoint, independent of the ruling circle of feudal society. He was alien to the local interests of the feudal upper classes and close to the interests of the broad masses of the working people of Russia - who were united everywhere and everywhere strove for the unity of Russia." (Д. С. Лихачев, Слово о полку Игореве. Историко-литературный очерк (D. S. Likhachev, The Tale of the Host of Igor. A Literary and Historical Study), Moscow, Leningrad, 1955, p. 144)

There is very little evidence that the Tale of the Host of Igor was known to the scribes of Old Russia. A Pskovian scribe by the name of Domid copied an Apostle in 1307 and inserted at the end a note on events which had taken place in his lifetime, paraphrasing the passage from the Tale describing the princes' feuding under Oleg Gorislavich. It is no accident that Domid should have turned to the Tale - he was speaking of the internecine strife between Prince Yuri Danilovich of Moscow and Prince Mikhail of Tver. The Tale of the Host of Igor influenced the author of the Don Tale (the tale of events beyond the Don), a work extolling the heroic Battle on the Kulikovo Field in 1380 (The victory of Demetrius of the Don, Grand Prince of Moscow, in this battle marked the beginning of the liberation of Russia from the Mongol-Tartar yoke). The author of the Don Tale drew on the Tale of the Host of Igor because he sensed the main message of the 12th-century work, the call to the Russian princes to unite. He saw the victory of Demetrius of the Don over the oppressors of Russia as the realization in practice of the author's appeal: the united forces of the Russian princes, led by Grand Prince Demetrius, managed to defeat the terrible enemy. In his work the author of the Don Tale refashioned the text of the Tale of the Host of Igor with respect to the events of 1380. We find whole passages from the Tale here, and repetition of its imagery, phrases and vocabulary. The Tale of the Ruin of the Russian Land, a poetic fragment from a work of the first half of the 13th century which has not survived in full, is similar in character and poetic structure to the Tale.

Specialists have claimed to find the reflection of individual images and expressions from the Tale of the Host of Igor in many other works of Old Russian literature, but these are just hypotheses and surmises. The only indisputable borrowing from the text of the Tale is in the Apostle of 1307 and the Don Tale.

In the late 1780s the well-known collector of antiquities, Ober-Procurator of the Holy Synod, Count Alexei Ivanovich Musin-Pushkin acquired in Yaroslavl for his collection of early Russian manuscripts a miscellany which, in addition to other works, contained the text of the Tale of the Host of Igor. Musin-Pushkin became interested in this text and in the 1790s made a copy of it, which, together with his translation of it into modern Russian and some notes on it, he presented to the Empress Catherine II. Catherine valued the Tale of the Host of Igor as an historical source, but did not understand the artistic and literary importance of the work. Musin-Pushkin made no secret of his find and soon copies of the translation of the Tale began to appear (three 18th-century copies of it have survived). As Musin-Pushkin himself stated, it was the dissemination of copies of the translation of the Tale that led him to the decision to publish it. To prepare the work for publication Musin-Pushkin sought the assistance of two experts on early Russian manuscripts, the well-known archaeographers Nikolai Bantysh-Kamensky and Alexei Malinovsky.

From the foregoing it is obvious that the Tale of the Host of Igor became known at the end of the eighteenth century and that it was already mentioned in publications at that time. However, the new life of this fine literary work of Old Russia really began in 1800, when the first edition of the Tale was published (The heading on the title-page of the first edition of the Tale was as follows: "The heroic song of the campaign against the Polovtsians of the appanage prince of Novgorod-Seversky, Igor, son of Svyatoslav, written in the Old Russian language at the end of the twelfth century with a rendering in the language of the present day. Moscow. Senate Printing House, 1800."). This book was to hold a special place in the history of Russian culture, because, together with Catherine's copy of the Tale, it had to take the place of the original manuscript. In 1812, during the Fire of Moscow, Musin-Pushkin's house was burnt down with his collection of antiquities, including the manuscript of the Tale (a considerable number of copies of the first edition were also lost).

In 1803 the first verse rendering of the Tale was composed by Ivan Siriakov. The prose translation in the first edition and Siriakov's verse rendering marked the beginning of numerous translations of the Tale into modern Russian which continue up to the present day. It was then that the Tale began its life in Russian culture and sholarship of the modern age. An immense amount of research has been done on the Tale and the study of it has played an important part in extending and deepening our knowledge of the culture and literature of Old Russia in general. From the year 1800 right up to the present day the Tale of the Host of Igor has been attracting the attention of writers, artists and composers.

The images and poetic pictures of the Tale have inspired many a poet and writer. Alexander Pushkin showed a great interest in the Tale. The poetic imagery of the Tale is reflected in the work of Nikolai Gogol. The Tale has been translated, in full or in part, by many writers and poets of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including Nikolai Karamzin, Vasily Zhukovsky, Fiodor Glinka, Nikolai Yazykov, Ivan Kozlov, Apollon May-kov, Alexander Ostrovsky, Ivan Bunin, Konstantin Sluchevsky, Vladimir Solovyov, Valery Briusov, Konstantin Balmont, Nikolai Zabolotsky, Sergei Gorodetsky, Alexander Prokofyev, Vissarion Sayanov, Pavel Antokolsky, Nikolai Rylelnkov and many others. One of the finest Russian operas, Prince Igor by Borodin, is based on the Tale. The Tale has inspired both artists and book illustrators. Among all the pictorial interpretations of the Tale the edition illustrated by the Palekh artist Ivan Golikov occupies a special place.

Ivan Golikov (1887-1937) was one of the founders of modern Palekh art. A talented painter with a splendid command of the traditional devices of Palekh icon-painting and an excellent knowledge of Old Russian art, Golikov, a man of great inherent artistic taste, developed in the 1920s new methods of painting articles made of papier mache, metal, stone and other materials, and introduced new devices and new subjects into Palekh art. He was the first Palekh artist to turn to book illustration, and his first major work of this nature was the Tale of the Host of Igor (On Golikov see: M. П. Сокольников, "Иван Голиков и его работа над Словом о полку Игореве" (М. P. Sokolnikov, "Ivan Golikov and His Work on the Tale of the Host of Igor"), Iskusstvo, 1938, No. 4, pp. 31-47; Иван Иванович Голиков. Автор текста А. Н. Рейнсон-Правдин {Ivan Ivanovich Golikov. Text written by A. N. Reinson-Pravdin), Moscow, 1956).

Golikov had often treated battle themes even before his work on the illustrations for the Tale: he had painted many different articles with scenes of battles and single combat, in particular a Battle on the Kulikovo Field casket in 1930. Golikov was also interested in literary subjects - he illustrated Nekrasov's poems and Pushkin's Tale of the Fisherman and the Fish and Ruslan and Liudmila. The Tale of the Host of Igor first attracted his attention in 1928: he executed a miniature of Yaroslavna's lament on papier mache.

At the beginning of the 1930s two well-known specialists on the history of early Russian literature, Viacheslav Rzhiga and Sergei Shambinago, were preparing an edition of the Tale of the Host of Igor for publication by the Academia publishing house. What in fact emerged in 1934 was two publications. This is what we read in the Publisher's Note to these publications: "Academia is bringing out the Tale of the Host of Igor... in two editions. One edition has purely artistic aims. It reproduces the Old Russian text and is embellished with exquisitely composed, striking and expressive illustrations by Golikov, who has applied the pictorial manner of the ancient Palekh mastery to the illustration of the literary monument of feudal Russia. The other edition, which is coming out in our Russian Literature Series, has the aim of introducing this monument to the Soviet reader by means of several parallel translations of its text and a scholarly interpretation of it... Thus both Academia editions complement each other." (Слово о полку Игореве. Редакция древнерусского текста и перевод С. Шамбинаго и В. Ржиги. Переводы С. Шервинского и Г. Шторма. Статьи и комментарии В. Ржиги и С. Шамбинаго (The Tale of the Host of Igor. Old Russian text edited by S. Shambinago and V. Rzhiga. Translations by S. Shervinsky and G. Shtorm. Commentaries by V. Rzhiga and S. Shambinago), Moscow, Leningrad, 1934, p. 7. In the book with Golikov's illustrations this note was printed on an insert) In all probability the original intention was to publish the Tale in a single edition, but during the preparation of this publication it was decided to bring it out in two books, because Golikov did not simply illustrate the text but created a book, a real work of art, in which the text and the illustrations form an integral unity; he also designed the cover and the flyleaf.

In the choice of the artist and, most important, the decision to entrust all the work on the book to one artist, a major role was played by Maxim Gorky. When Gorky learned of the decision to publish the Tale, he wrote "...I understand that you are proposing to enlist Palekh artists for the work on the Tale of the Host of Igor... But allow me to raise the following point for your consideration: in order to attain maximum unity in artistic treatment and, consequently, of its impact on the reader, it is essential to entrust one artist, the best one at that, rather than a group of variously talented artists, with the task of designing and illustrating the book. That most talented master is Ivan Ivanovich Golikov. His talent is recognized by all Palekh masters. He could provide the Tale not only with illustrations, but also with headpieces, tailpieces and initials. And his work would give the book artistic unity. I beg you earnestly to give this a serious thought." (M. Горький, Собрание сочинений в 30-ти томах (М. Gorky, Complete Works in Thirty Volumes), vol. 30, Moscow, 1955, p. 238) The programme outlined by Gorky was not only fulfilled, but to a certain extent even "over-fulfilled": Golikov not only illustrated the Tale of the Host of Igor and created the tailpieces and initials, but he also copied out the whole text.

Golikov worked on the Tale in 1932 and 1933, over a year on the whole (he dated all the illustrations included in the book 1933). The artist approached the work with a deep sense of responsibility and love. He studied Old Russian miniatures from the illuminated miscellanies in the manuscript collections of the Lenin Library and the History Museum. About the initial stage in Golikov's work on the illustrations Sokolnikov writes: "He began the illustrations for the Tale the hard way, trying out different pictorial manners and painfully searching for the right style. Up to ten sketches of Golikov's illustrations have survived, from which we can reconstruct the early period of his work on the Old Russian tale; these sketches were both the first and the last: having found a form to his liking, Golikov painted all the illustrations straight off." (M. P. Sokolnikov, op. cit., p. 40)

Golikov copied out the Old Russian text of the Tale, making use of Sabashnikovs' edition, that is, the facsimile reproduction of the first edition of the Tale of the Host of Igor (Слово о полку Игореве. Снимок с первого издания 1800 г. гр. А. И. Мусина-Пушкина под ред. А. Ф. Малиновского. Изд. М. и С. Сабашниковых (The Tale of the Host of Igor. Facsimile of the First Edition fo 1800 by Count A. I. Musin-Pushkin edited by A. F. Malinovsky. Published by M. and S. Sabashnikov), Moscow, 1920). The writing of the letters imitates the Old Russian uncials. It is a refined and beautiful stylisation of them. The text written by Golikov is a copy of the first edition in the forms of the individual words, the use of capital letters, and punctuation. The division of the text into sections also follows the first edition. At the beginning of each section Golikov puts a headpiece and begins the text with a decorated initial. The sections end in the shape of a "funnel" and, with two exceptions, an ornamented tailpiece. In all there are seven headpieces, the same number of decorated initials and five tailpieces. The ornament of the initials modifies that in the headpieces.

Thus, the text itself is a work of art. It must be said that in spite of the imitation of the Old Russian uncial script and the fact that a number of letters are written in a form that does not exist in the modern alphabet the text is easily read and understood.

There are ten illustrations in the book: one on the frontispiece and nine in the text. The first shows Boyan, Igor and Yaroslavna, the second - Igor's meeting with Vsevolod, the third - the solar eclipse, the fourth - the campaign, the fifth - the battle, the sixth - Igor's capture, the seventh - Svyatoslav telling his dream to the boyars, the eighth - Svyatoslav's "golden word", the ninth - Yaroslavna's lament, and the tenth - Igor's flight from captivity.

In the composition of the first illustration Igor occupies the central place, although the main, unifying figure in this illustration to the whole book is Boyan. The attributes characterizing Boyan's poetic manner (the tree under which he sits, the bird soaring in the sky and the wolf running along the ground) provide a kind of frame for the illustration on three sides (Cf. in the Tale: "Boyan the wizard, if he wished to compose a ballad for a man,/Then would he hurtle in thought through the tree,/Like a grey wolf over the earth,/Like a tawny eagle under the clouds." ). Evidently Golikov was seeking to create a generalized image of a bard of Old Russia and at the same time to portray Boyan as the author of the Tale (which is why Igor and Yaroslavna are depicted next to Boyan).

The second illustration shows the meeting of the two princes and demonstrates the warriors' readiness for battle. It corresponds exactly to the following passage in the text of the Tale: "Igor awaits his dear brother Vsevolod,/And that fierce bull Vsevolod says to him: 'My one brother, my one bright light are you, Igor..../And my men of Kursk are warriors of renown...' " Next to Vsevolod stands a young warrior, most likely Vladimir, Igor's son.

The third illustration relates to the passages in the Tale about the eclipse of the sun. "Then Igor looked up at the brilliant sun/And saw all his warriors covered with the darkness it cast.../Then did Igor the Prince step into his golden stirrup,/And he set out upon the open plains./The sun with its darkness barred the way against him..." Igor and Vsevolod (they are at the head of their advancing detachments in the bottom left-hand corner of the illustration) are looking at the eclipse.

The fourth illustration stresses the rapid advance of the warriors. Birds are soaring in the sky, and wolves and foxes are roaming round the earth. In the top left-hand corner, behind the trees that separate this part of the illustration from the rest, are the Polovtsians in a chariot and on horseback. Here, too, is a large bird that differs in size and character of portrayal from the other birds in the illustration. Most likely it is the Deev. This illustration contains many images from the Tale and corresponds to the following passage in the text: "Night... groaned and awakened the birds;/Howling of beasts arose,/Deev was enraged - /He calls in the top of the tree.../The Polovtsians hastened by unprepared ways to the mighty Don river./Their waggons cry out at midnight: swans, you would say, set at liberty./Igor to the Don his warriors is leading:/Already the birds in the oak-trees await his misfortunes,/The wolves raise their threatening cries in the gullies,/The eagles with squawks call the beasts to the bones,/The foxes yelp at the scarlet shields."

The fifth illustration, like the preceding ones, is connected with a specific passage in the text of the Tale: "From the dawning till the evening,/From the evening till the light/Fly the red-hot arrows,/Thunder the sabres on the helmets,/Crash the lances of tempered steel..." At the same time, the illustration is also of a generalizing nature - the portrayal of a battle in general. The flying arrows, the smiting swords, the crossed lances are characteristic attributes of the portrayal of a battle in Golikov's work.

The sixth illustration does not have a corresponding text in the Tale. Its source is the fact of Igor's capture and the account of this in the chronicle.

The seventh illustration shows Svyatoslav telling the boyars his dream and reveals the content of the dream. As in the fourth illustration, this drawing shows events taking place at different times. Both the central section of the drawing and Svyatoslav's dream portrayed in the top right-hand corner illustrate in detail the following passage in the text: "And Svyatoslav dreamed a troubled dream in Kiev on the mountains:/'Last night from evening onwards they clothed me,' he said,/'in a funeral robe upon a bed of yew wood./ They poured for me blue wine that was mingled with grief,/They strewed.../Great pearls upon my breast...'"

In the eighth illustration Svyatoslav is portrayed more sumptuously and solemnly than in the preceding one. He is surrounded by twelve princes to whom he is addressing an appeal to take up arms "for the land of Russia, for the wounds of Igor." (The Tale lists twelve princes to whom the appeal to take up arms for the land of Russia is addressed: Yaroslav of Chernigov, Vsevolod, Rurik and David, Yaroslav Osmomysl, Roman and Mstislav, Ingvar and Vsevolod, "and all three scions of Mstislav") The illustration is of a purely symbolical nature, for the appeal was addressed to princes who were in different principalities.

The'ninth illustration depicts Yaroslavna lamenting "in Putivl on the rampart" and the content of her lament. In the background Yaroslavna is wiping the wounds on Igor's body and addressing the sun, the wind and the Dnieper.

The tenth and last illustration is similar in character to the ninth. In the centre we see Igor creeping stealthily out of a tent around which there are sleeping guards. In the background, against a backcloth of the starry sky, hills and trees are episodes from the account in the Tale of Igor's flight: Ovlur meeting Igor across the river, the two of them galloping on horseback, and Gzak and Konchak riding in pursuit.

The traditions of early Russian miniatures and icon-painting are reflected in an interesting way in the work of the Palekh artists. It is essential to know this in order to understand Golikov's illustrations for the Tale of the Host of Igor.

Analyzing the principles of the early Russian miniature-painters, Dmitry Likhachev writes: "They do not so much portray a definite moment as relate Russian history with pictorial devices. It is a pictorial account parallel with the verbal one. Each miniature consists of several representations at once. The miniaturist seems to be trying to overcome the static quality of the representation, to develop it in time, to show as many elements of this or that event as possible and to present the elements themselves at several different moments in time... The miniaturist does not arrest the action in order to portray it. He actually portrays the action and envelops it in motion over a whole interval of time. But even this interval of time seems too little for him, and therefore in a single miniature the artist combines different episodes of the subject and portrays the same characters several times over." (Д. С. Лихачев, "Куликовская битва в миниатюрах XVI века",- в кн.: Повесть о Куликовской битве. Из Лицевого летописного свода XVI века (D. S. Likhachev, "The Battle on Kulikovo Field in 16th century Miniatures", in: The Tale of the Battle on Kulikovo Field. From the 16th-century Illuminated Chronicle), Leningrad, 1980, p. 174) Golikov's drawings are based precisely on this principle, which can be seen most clearly from the ninth and tenth illustrations.

Golikov's illustrations show a distinctive two-level structure: the main figure is portrayed in the foreground, while the other events connected with this personage are illustrated in small scenes in the background. This device reflects the principles characteristic of icons with scenes from a saint's life. The saint himself is shown close up in the central part of the icon, and the episodes from his life are depicted in small scenes around this central part. In Golikov's illustrations, too, the main figure is presented in the central part, as it were, and the individual episodes frame it as on an icon.

Of course, in Golikov's illustrations these principles and devices of early Russian pictorial art are reinterpreted. This fascinating combination of the traditions of early Russian art and the devices characteristic of Palekh painting with the individual features of the talented master Ivan Golikov has given a most distinctive stamp of originality to his illustrations of the Tale of the Host of Igor.

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