The University of Texas at Austin; College of Liberal Arts
Hans C. Boas, Director :: PCL 5.556, 1 University Station S5490 :: Austin, TX 78712 :: 512-471-4566
LRC Links: Home | About | Books Online | EIEOL | IE Doc. Center | IE Lexicon | IE Maps | IE Texts | Pub. Indices | SiteMap

Old Russian Online

Lesson 3

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

III. External Influence on the Early Russian State

While the archaeological evidence provides us with some understanding of the breadth of cultures present in the surrounding region and the extent of the commercial networks tying them to one another, it necessarily provides incomplete information as to how the Eastern Slavs rose from this cultural milieu to obtain some measure of prominence in the 10th century AD. For this we turn to the literary record.

Our principal source for the emergence of the Eastern Slavs as a cultural and political entity distinguishing itself, often by force, from the neighboring tribes is the Russian Primary Chronicle, also known as the Nestorian Chronicle after its author, or as the Tale of Bygone Years. For the purposes of understanding the earliest period of the nascent Russian state, this text too presents numerous difficulties, not least of which is the fact that it was composed in the early 12th century, centuries removed from the earliest events of the Russian polity that it purports to record.

One of the signature events marked down in the Primary Chronicle is the episode narrating the Invitation to the Varangians. From the narrative it is clear that the author considers the Varangians to be a Scandinavian people. They had formerly resided for a time among the Eastern Slavs, demanding tribute. But the dissatisfied Slavs ousted the unwelcome lot and they were forced to return to their homeland across the Baltic. For a time the Slavs enjoyed their freedom from tribute, but the Chronicle tells that they soon began to fight amongst themselves. Ultimately the strife increased to such a point that they sought an external arbiter: they invited the Varangians back to rule over them once more and stamp out the tribal discord.

The Chronicle records these events under the year 862 AD. This marks what scholars take to be the first indications of a rising Russian state. The Chronicle describes how three brothers from among the Rus, which the text notes is a particular subgroup among the Varangians, heeded the call and came to take their place as princes of their own respective territories among the Eastern Slavs. Quickly two of the brothers died, and the surviving brother, Rjurik, gained control over their territories as well. This marks the beginning of the first ruling dynasty in Russian history. From this lone Scandinavian prince the first several generations of Russian princes draw their heritage. But as we see from the development of the Chronicle, within a couple generations the names of the rulers have dropped their Scandinavian appearance in favor of clearly Slavic names, beginning with Svjatoslav, son of Igor, in turn son of Rjurik.

One of the principal questions, therefore, surrounding the nascent Russian state is what exactly was the nature of the relation between the Scandinavians and the Eastern Slavs as the Rus came to rule over them. After the purported arrival of the Scandinavian princes, to what degree did these foreign-born nobles assimilate into the Eastern Slavic culture? When does the term Rus truly cease to apply solely to an imported gentry and begin to apply to a uniform culture of Eastern Slavs as distinct from other ethnicities in the region? In seeking to answer these questions, we must understand something of the mix of cultures surrounding the Eastern Slavs, as well as the particular interaction with the Scandinavians and the early use of the term Rus.

III.i Surrounding Peoples

The region between the Carpathians and the Urals during the 9th and 10th centuries was surely not inhabited only, nor even predominantly, by the Eastern Slavs. From the 7th century BC onward Greek and Latin sources speak of the Scythians, an Iranian people, above the northern shores of the Black Sea. They in turn yielded to the Sarmatians, another group arriving from the Iranian-speaking expanses of the Near East. By the 4th century AD we find that the Goths, a Germanic people, have moved into this region. But with the encroachment of the nomadic Huns driving in from the east, the Goths pushed west with disastrous consequences for the Roman Empire.

A similar story holds for the following centuries, with the Eurasian steppe proving as effective for the movement of peoples and invading armies as for the transport of fine silks and precious metals. The Huns in their turn were displaced by the Avars, a Turkic people who likewise swept in across the steppe. But by the 7th century this group too was pushed aside by the newly arrived Khazars. Their newly founded dominion, or khaganate, sat astride the northern shores of the Black and Caspian Seas. As such, Kiev found itself subject to Khazar influence, although it seems that this relationship showed more signs of mutual benefit through commerce than subjugation through strife. Though the Khazars were in origin a Turkic people, their seat of power Itil, at the mouth of the Volga on the Caspian shore, developed into a multicultural hub of regional trade. The ruling dynasty ultimately adopted Judaism as its official religion, in stark contrast to the wave of Christianity that emanated from Byzantium and ultimately engulfed early Russia.

Nor does the region become any more homogenous as we move northward. Spread throughout the forested regions of the north central plain we encounter numerous vestiges of Finno-Ugric tribes. Along the Kama river we find mentioned the Permians. Near the confluence of the Oka and Volga rivers early documents locate a tribe called the Meria. The Vesh, also a tribe of the Finno-Ugric family, inhabit the area surrounding the source of the Volga in the central Uplands. To the west, where the Baltic coast gradually begins to rise northward, sources place the Chud, probably to be identified with the Estonians. The many Finno-Ugric tribes left their impression on the Old Russian language and the placenames of the region.

III.ii Scandinavians

Scholars generally agree that, in this earliest period of the dawn of Russian history, no people had a more profound and enduring impact than the Scandinavians. However the nature and scope of that impact has incited virulent scholarly debate that has only recently begun to subside. We have already seen that the Scandinavians early injected themselves into the burgeoning trade that was rising throughout Eastern Europe and the Eurasian Steppe. Archaeological finds confirm beyond doubt the presence of Scandinavian traders as early as the beginning of the 9th century, if not before.

A sober reading of the archaeological evidence admits that the Scandinavians maintained an early and consistent presence within the Eastern European forested lands and their waterways. But they were clearly one among many different ethnicities taking advantage of the natural bounty of the region, together with the rising trade network in the 8th and 9th centuries AD. Nevertheless artifacts and burial practices show that Scandinavians occupied an important place among these various ethnicities: often, if not themselves the founders, they were present close to the founding of many of the major trading outposts along the Baltic, the inland lakes, and the waterways. And their skill at mercantile enterprise greased the works of the nascent trading economy.

Where the true debate arises is in the prominence the Old Russian literary accounts afford the Scandinavians. In its most heated form, the debate for decades divided the scholarly community into "Normanist" and "anti-Normanist" camps: the former assigned to the Scandinavians a primary impetus for the formation of the emerging Russian state, while the latter largely rejected any notable influence whatsoever of Scandinavians on the Eastern Slavic peoples. In particular the debate surrounds the terms Rus (Rusĭ) and Varangian (Varjagi) and whether these terms should be taken to apply (solely) to Scandinavians or (also) to Slavs. The Old Russian Primary Chronicle recounts how the Rus and Varangians were Scandinavian people "from across the (Baltic) sea". Thus one of the principal documents on which scholars base their understanding of the early East Slavs makes a distinction between the Rus and Varangians, on the one hand, and the native East Slavic culture on the other. The implication is that, not only are the Rus a different people, but the are from a very different place.

But as the Old Russian narrative continues we see a shift in the use of the term Rus. Where in the initial invitation it clearly provided, from the perspective of the Slavic author, a differentiation between "us" and "them", its subsequent use blurs that distinction. As the story progresses, Rus seems to refer to groups which, although they certainly contained an element derived from that original Varangian influx, must also have contained members of local heritage. That is, the term Rus eventually applies to people who must be, and must always have been, Eastern Slavs.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The following extract, together with those from Lessons 4-7, form one continuous narrative. The narrative stems from a particular self-contained episode within the Primary Chronicle. The particular edition of the text we follow here is reproduced in Charles E. Gribble's excellent collection Medieval Slavic Texts. Volume 1: Old and Middle Russian Texts (1973), pages 158-160.

The episode below recounts the events surrounding the death of the prince Igor, son of Rjurik, and at that time ruler of Kiev. We find that Igor's wife Olga, angered by the death of her husband, seeks to exact revenge. The passage contains a description of the journey of the Derevlians as they travel to the court of Olga. We find a brief description of some of the geographic features of the region. The events are listed under the year 945 AD in the chronicle. The excerpt below lists lines 1-38 from Gribble's text.

1 - В лѣто ,ѕ. у. н г.

  • В -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- In
  • лѣто -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <лѣто> year, summer -- the year
  • ѕ -- number; <ѕ> six; six thousand -- six thousand
  • у -- number; <у> four hundred -- four hundred
  • н -- number; <н> fifty -- fifty
  • г -- number; <г> three -- three

2-5 - В се же лѣто рекоша дружина игореви ѡтроци свѣньлъжи исодѣли сѧ суть ѡружьємъ и порты а мъӏ нази. поиди кнѧжє с нами в дань да и ты добудеши и мъӏ.

  • В -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- In
  • се -- demonstrative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- this
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • лѣто -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <лѣто> year, summer -- year
  • рекоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • дружина -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- the retinue
  • игореви -- proper noun; masculine dative singular of <Игорь> Igor, Ingvar (Scandinavian name) -- to Igor
  • ѡтроци -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <отрокъ> boy, servant -- retainers
  • свѣньлъжи -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <свѣньлжь> of Sveinald, relating to Sveinald, Sveinald's -- Sveinald's
  • исодѣли -- past participle; masculine nominative singular of <изодѣӏати сѧ, -одѣѭ сѧ, -одѣѥши сѧ> be dressed up, be adorned -- clothed
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • суть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- are
  • ѡружьємъ -- noun; neuter instrumental singular of <орѫжьє> weapon, sword -- with swords
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • порты -- noun; masculine instrumental plural of <пъртъӏ> (pl.) dress, clothes, garments -- garments
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- but
  • мъӏ -- pronoun; nominative plural of <азъ> I -- we
  • нази -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <нагъ> naked -- naked
  • поиди -- verb; 2nd person singular imperative of <поити, -идѫ, -идєши> go, set out; go back, return -- Go
  • кнѧжє -- noun; masculine vocative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince
  • с -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • нами -- pronoun; instrumental plural of <азъ> I -- us
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- after
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute
  • да -- conjunction; <да> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- that
  • и -- adverb; <и> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • ты -- pronoun; nominative singular of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • добудеши -- verb; 2nd person singular present of <добъӏти, -бѫдѫ, -бѫдєши> get, attain -- obtain (it)
  • и -- adverb; <и> and; also, too, even -- as
  • мъӏ -- pronoun; nominative plural of <азъ> I -- we

5-7 - послуша ихъ игорь. иде в дерева в дань и примъӏшлѧше къ первои дани насилѧше имъ и мужи єго.

  • послуша -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <послѹшати, -аѭ, -аѥши> hear, listen -- heeded
  • ихъ -- pronoun; masculine genitive plural of <> he -- them
  • игорь -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Игорь> Igor, Ingvar (Scandinavian name) -- Igor
  • иде -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- he went
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- to
  • дерева -- proper noun; masculine accusative plural of <Дєрєвъӏ> Dereva (placename) -- Dereva
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- after
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • примъӏшлѧше -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <примъӏслити, -шлѭ, -слиши> devise, contrive, invent; add to, increase -- he added
  • къ -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • первои -- adjective; feminine dative singular of <пръвъ> first -- the first
  • дани -- noun; feminine dative singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute
  • насилѧше -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <насилити, -лѭ, -лиши> do violence to, force, oppress (w. dat.) -- oppressed
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <> he -- them
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • мужи -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <мѫжь> man, husband -- men
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <> he -- his

7-11 - возьємавъ дань поиде въ градъ свои. идуще же ємѹ въспѧть размъӏсливъ рече дружинѣ своєи идѣте съ данью домови, а я возъвращю сѧ похожю и єще.

  • возьємавъ -- past participle; masculine nominative singular of <възьмати, -ємл҄ѭ, -ємл҄ѥши> take, take up -- Having seized
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- the tribute
  • поиде -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <поити, -идѫ, -идєши> go, set out; go back, return -- he went
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- to
  • градъ -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- city
  • свои -- adjective; masculine accusative singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- his
  • идуще -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- having come # Should be dative singular to agree with pronoun; here frozen as gerund.
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • ємѹ -- pronoun; masculine dative singular of <> he -- ... # Together with the preceding participle, this should form a dative absolute. The construction is not absolute, however, since this pronoun refers to Igor, who is also the subject of the main clause.
  • въспѧть -- adverb; <въспѧть> back, toward the back, in reverse, in return -- back
  • размъӏсливъ -- past participle; masculine nominative singular of <размъӏслити, -шлѭ, -слиши> think, consider -- (and) having changed (his) mind
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- he said
  • дружинѣ -- noun; feminine dative singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- to... retinue
  • своєи -- adjective; feminine dative singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- his
  • идѣте -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- Go
  • съ -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • данью -- noun; feminine instrumental singular of <дань> tribute -- the tribute
  • домови -- noun; masculine dative singular of <домъ> house -- home
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- but
  • я -- pronoun; nominative singular of <азъ> I -- I
  • возъвращю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <възвратити, -штѫ, -тиши> give back; (refl.) come back -- I will turn back
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • похожю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <походити, -ждѫ, -диши> go, go around -- (and) will walk back
  • и -- adverb; <и> and; also, too, even -- yet
  • єще -- adverb; <єщє> still -- again

11-13 - пусти дружину свою домови. съ маломъ же дружинъӏ возъврати сѧ желаӏа больша имѣньӏа.

  • пусти -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <пѹстити, -штѫ, -стиши> allow, let, free; send (away) -- He sent
  • дружину -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- retinue
  • свою -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- his
  • домови -- noun; masculine dative singular of <домъ> house -- home
  • съ -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • маломъ -- adjective used as substantive; neuter instrumental singular of <малъ> small, young -- a small (part)
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- and
  • дружинъӏ -- noun; feminine genitive singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- of (his) retinue
  • возъврати -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <възвратити, -штѫ, -тиши> give back; (refl.) come back -- he returned
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • желаӏа -- participle; masculine nominative singular of <жєлати, -лаѭ, -лаѥши> desire, want, wish for -- desiring
  • больша -- comparative adjective; neuter accusative plural of <бол҄ьи> bigger, more -- more
  • имѣньӏа -- noun; neuter accusative plural of <имѣньє> having, possession, property -- possessions

13-19 - слъӏшавше же деревлѧне ӏако ѡпѧть идеть. сдумавше со кнѧземъ своимъ маломъ, аще сѧ въвадить волкъ в овцѣ, то въӏносить все стадо, аще не ѹбьють єго. тако и се -- аще не ѹбьємъ єго, то все нъӏ погубить -- послаша к нему глаголюще, почто идеши ѡпѧть. поималъ єси всю дань.

  • слъӏшавше -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <слъӏшати, -шѫ, -шиши> hear -- heard # With this and the following participle, note the frequent use of participles in Old Russian in place of a finite (conjugated) verb form.
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- But
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • ӏако -- conjunction; <ӏако> as, when; in order to; that; because; (introduces quotation) -- that
  • ѡпѧть -- adverb; <опѧть> back -- back
  • идеть -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- he (was) coming
  • сдумавше -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <съдѹмати, -аѭ, -аѥши> deliberate, consider, take counsel -- (and) sought counsel
  • со -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • кнѧземъ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince
  • своимъ -- adjective; masculine instrumental singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- their
  • маломъ -- proper noun; masculine instrumental singular of <Малъ> Mal (name of a prince) -- Mal
  • аще -- conjunction; <аштє> if, whether -- If
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- itself
  • въвадить -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <въвадити, -важдѫ, -вадиши> join; (refl.) introduce oneself, enter -- introduces
  • волкъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <влъкъ> wolf -- a wolf
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- among
  • овцѣ -- noun; feminine accusative plural of <овьца> sheep -- the sheep
  • то -- conjunction; <то> but, then, therefore -- then
  • въӏносить -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <въӏносити, -шѫ, -сиши> carry off, make off with -- make away with
  • все -- adjective; neuter accusative singular of <вьсь> all, every; whole -- the whole
  • стадо -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <стадо> herd -- flock
  • аще -- conjunction; <аштє> if, whether -- if
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • ѹбьють -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- they do... kill
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <> he -- it
  • тако -- adverb; <тако> thus, in this way -- So
  • и -- adverb; <и> and; also, too, even -- also
  • се -- demonstrative pronoun; neuter nominative singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- (with) this
  • аще -- conjunction; <аштє> if, whether -- if
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • ѹбьємъ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- we do... kill
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <> he -- him
  • то -- conjunction; <то> but, then, therefore -- then
  • все -- adjective; masculine accusative plural of <вьсь> all, every; whole -- all # Note the masculine plural ending instead of the expected or .
  • нъӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <азъ> I -- us
  • погубить -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <погѹбити, -блѭ, -биши> destroy -- will destroy
  • послаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- They sent
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • нему -- pronoun; masculine dative singular of <> he -- him
  • глаголюще -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <глаголати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> say, speak -- saying
  • почто -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for + interrogative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <къто> who -- For what
  • идеши -- verb; 2nd person singular present of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- do you return
  • ѡпѧть -- adverb; <опѧть> back -- ...
  • поималъ -- past participle; masculine nominative singular of <поимати, -ѥмл҄ѭ, -ѥмл҄ѥши> take, take away -- taken
  • єси -- verb; 2nd person singular present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- you have
  • всю -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <вьсь> all, every; whole -- all
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- the tribute

19-21 - и не послуша ихъ игорь. и въӏшедше изъ града изъкоръстѣнѧ деревлене ѹбиша игорѧ и дружину єго, бѣ бо ихъ мало.

  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- But
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • послуша -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <послѹшати, -аѭ, -аѥши> hear, listen -- did... heed
  • ихъ -- pronoun; masculine genitive plural of <> he -- them
  • игорь -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Игорь> Igor, Ingvar (Scandinavian name) -- Igor
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • въӏшедше -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <вънити, -идѫ, -идєши> go into, enter -- having set forth
  • изъ -- preposition; <из> (w. gen.) from, out of -- from
  • града -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city
  • изъкоръстѣнѧ -- proper noun; masculine genitive singular of <Искоростѣнь> Iskorosten (name of a city) -- Iskorosten
  • деревлене -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • ѹбиша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- killed
  • игорѧ -- proper noun; masculine genitive singular of <Игорь> Igor, Ingvar (Scandinavian name) -- Igor
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • дружину -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- retinue
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <> he -- his
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- there were
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- for
  • ихъ -- pronoun; masculine genitive plural of <> he -- of them
  • мало -- adjective used as substantive; neuter nominative singular of <малъ> small, young -- (just) a few

21-23 - и погребєнъ бъӏсть игорь. єсть могила єго ѹ искоръстѣнѧ града в деревѣхъ и до сего дне.

  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • погребєнъ -- past passive participle; masculine nominative singular of <погрєти, -грєбѫ, -грєбєши> bury -- buried # Note the use of the past passive participle in a true passive construction
  • бъӏсть -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • игорь -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Игорь> Igor, Ingvar (Scandinavian name) -- Igor
  • єсть -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- is
  • могила -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <могъӏла> grave, tomb, burial mound -- grave # Note the use of -и- after a velar consonant where -ъӏ- is expected
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <> he -- his
  • ѹ -- preposition; <ѹ> (w. gen.) near, at, by -- near
  • искоръстѣнѧ -- proper noun; masculine genitive singular of <Искоростѣнь> Iskorosten (name of a city) -- Iskorosten
  • града -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • деревѣхъ -- proper noun; masculine locative plural of <Дєрєвъӏ> Dereva (placename) -- Dereva
  • и -- adverb; <и> and; also, too, even -- even
  • до -- preposition; <до> (w. gen.) to, up to; (with numerals) about -- up to
  • сего -- demonstrative adjective; masculine genitive singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- this
  • дне -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <дьнь> day -- day

23-26 - вольга же бѧше в києвѣ съ съӏнъмъ съ дѣтьскомъ свѧтославомъ и кормилець єго асмудъ. воєвода бѣ свѣнелдъ, тоже ѡтьць мистишинъ.

  • вольга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga # Note the insertion of в- before initial о-.
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- But
  • бѧше -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • києвѣ -- proper noun; masculine locative singular of <Къӏєвъ> Kiev, Kyiv (name of a city) -- Kiev
  • съ -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • съӏнъмъ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <съӏнъ> son -- (her) son
  • съ -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- ...
  • дѣтьскомъ -- adjective; masculine instrumental singular of <дѣтьскъ> childish -- the child
  • свѧтославомъ -- proper noun; masculine instrumental singular of <Свѧтославъ> Svjatoslav, Svyatoslav, Sviatoslav (name of a prince) -- Svjatoslav # Note here and frequently elsewhere in the text the back jer in the instrumental singular ending, rather than the expected front jer : -омь. Such alternation is frequent both in Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic texts. One must be careful not to confuse such forms with the dative plural.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- as well as
  • кормилець -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <кръмильць> tutor, teacher, pedagogue -- tutor
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <> he -- his
  • асмудъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Асмудъ> Asmud, Asmund, Asmundr (Scandinavian name) -- Asmund
  • воєвода -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <воєвода> (military) commander, vojevoda -- (His) commander
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • свѣнелдъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Свѣньлдъ> Sveinald (Scandinavian name) -- Sveinald
  • тоже -- conjunction; <тожє> also, and -- ...
  • ѡтьць -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <отьць> father -- father
  • мистишинъ -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <мистишинъ> of Mistisha, relating to Mistisha, Mistisha's -- of Mistisha

26-29 - рѣша же деревлѧне, се кнѧзѧ ѹбихомъ рускаго. поимемъ жену єго вольгу за кнѧзь свои малъ и свѧтослава, и створимъ єму ӏако же хощемъ.

  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • се -- interjection; <сє> lo, behold -- Lo!
  • кнѧзѧ -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- the... prince
  • ѹбихомъ -- verb; 1st person plural aorist of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- We have killed
  • рускаго -- adjective; masculine genitive singular of <рѹсьскъ> Rus (Rus'), of the Rus, relating to the Rus, Rusian, Russian -- Russian
  • поимемъ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <поѩти, -имѫ, -имєши> take, seize -- (Let us) take # Either a present form used with imperative force, or поимемъ a variant spelling of поимѣмъ
  • жену -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <жєна> woman, wife -- wife
  • єго -- pronoun; masculine genitive singular of <> he -- his
  • вольгу -- proper noun; feminine accusative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • за -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of -- for
  • кнѧзь -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince
  • свои -- adjective; masculine accusative singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- our # Note the use of the 3rd person reflexive pronominal adjective when the referent is 1st person
  • малъ -- proper noun; masculine accusative singular of <Малъ> Mal (name of a prince) -- Mal
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- as well as # Linking the two direct objects of the verb, жену and свѧтослава.
  • свѧтослава -- proper noun; masculine genitive singular of <Свѧтославъ> Svjatoslav, Svyatoslav, Sviatoslav (name of a prince) -- Svjatoslav # This is a second direct object of поимємъ, parallel to жену. Note the use of the genitive instead of the accusative for Свѧтослава, whereas we find the expected accusative form Малъ after за.
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • створимъ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <сътворити, -рѭ, -риши> do, make -- we will do
  • єму -- pronoun; masculine dative singular of <> he -- with him
  • ӏако же -- conjunction; <ӏакожє> as, like, than, so as to -- as
  • хощемъ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <хотѣти, хоштѫ, хоштєши> want, wish -- we wish

29-31 - и послаша деревлѧне лучьшиє мужи числомъ .к. въ лодьи к ользѣ.

  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • послаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- sent
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • лучьшиє -- comparative adjective; masculine accusative plural of <лѹчьи, лѹчє, лѹчьши> better -- (their) best
  • мужи -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <мѫжь> man, husband -- men
  • числомъ -- noun; neuter instrumental singular of <число> number -- by number
  • к -- number; <к> twenty -- 20
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • лодьи -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- a boat
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • ользѣ -- proper noun; feminine dative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga

31-35 - и присташа подъ боричєвъӏмъ в лодьи. бѣ бо тогда вода текущи въздолѣ горъӏ києвьскиӏа и на подольи не сѣдѧху людьє, но на горѣ. градъ же бѣ києвъ, идеже єсть нъӏнѣ дворъ гордѧтинъ и никифоровъ.

  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • присташа -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <пристати, -станѫ, -станєши> stand near; be near, be present; come, arrive -- they arrived
  • подъ -- preposition; <подъ> (w. acc.) under, below (object of motion); (w. instr.) under, below (location) -- below
  • боричєвъӏмъ -- adjective used as substantive; masculine instrumental singular of <боричєвъ> of Boris, relating to Boris; (subst. m.) the Borichev (a trail between upper and lower reaches of Kiev) -- the Borichev
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • лодьи -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- a boat
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- there was
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- For
  • тогда -- adverb; <тогда> then -- at that time
  • вода -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <вода> water -- water
  • текущи -- participle; feminine nominative singular of <тєшти, тєкѫ, тєчєши> run, rush, flow; follow, pursue -- flowing
  • въздолѣ -- preposition; <въздолѣ> (w. gen.) below, at the bottom of -- at the foot
  • горъӏ -- noun; feminine genitive singular of <гора> mountain -- of the... hill
  • києвьскиӏа -- adjective; feminine genitive singular of <кыѥвьскъ> of Kiev, of Kyiv, Kievan -- Kievan
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- at
  • подольи -- noun; neuter locative singular of <подольѥ> valley, vale; base, foundation -- the base
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • сѣдѧху -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <сѣдѣти, -ждѫ, -диши> sit, remain -- had not settled
  • людьє -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <людьѥ> (pl.) men, people; population, (a) people -- the people
  • но -- conjunction; <нъ> but -- but
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- on
  • горѣ -- noun; feminine locative singular of <гора> mountain -- the hill
  • градъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- a city
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- there was
  • києвъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Кыѥвъ> Kiev, Kyiv -- Kiev
  • идеже -- adverb; <идє> where; since; however + conjunction; <жє> and, but -- where
  • єсть -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- is
  • нъӏнѣ -- adverb; <нъӏн҄ӏа, нъӏнѣ> now -- now
  • дворъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- the court
  • гордѧтинъ -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <гордӏатинъ> of Gordjata, of Gordyata -- of Gordjata
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • никифоровъ -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <никифоровъ> of Nicephorus -- Nicephorus

35-38 - а дворъ кнѧжь бѧше в городѣ идеже єсть дворъ демьстиковъ за свѧтою богородицею надъ горою. дворъ теремъӏи, бѣ бо ту теремъ каменъ.

  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- But
  • дворъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- the... court
  • кнѧжь -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <кънѧжь> of a prince, relating to a prince, princely -- prince's
  • бѧше -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • городѣ -- noun; masculine locative singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city # Note the alternation, within a few lines, between градъ and городъ.
  • идеже -- adverb; <идє> where; since; however + conjunction; <жє> and, but -- where
  • єсть -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- is
  • дворъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- the court
  • демьстиковъ -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <деместиковъ> of the domesticus, relating to the domesticus (originally within Byzantine tradition a term denoting the leader of certain guard units; later a term applied to certain civil and ecclesiastical posts, in particular to the choir leader) -- of the domesticus
  • за -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of -- behind
  • свѧтою -- adjective; feminine instrumental singular of <свѧтъ> holy, blessed -- the Holy
  • богородицею -- noun; feminine instrumental singular of <богородица> mother of God -- Mother of God # Likely the title of a church.
  • надъ -- preposition; <надъ> (w. acc. or instr.) over, above -- above
  • горою -- noun; feminine instrumental singular of <гора> mountain -- the hill
  • дворъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- (It is) the... court
  • теремъӏи -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <трѣмьнъ> of a tower, relating to a tower, relating to a castle -- tower
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- for
  • ту -- adverb; <тѹ> there; then -- there
  • теремъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <трѣмъ> tower, castle; home, residence -- a tower
  • каменъ -- noun; masculine genitive plural of <камъӏ> stone, rock -- of stones

Lesson Text

1 В лѣто ,ѕ. у. н г.

2-5 -
В се же лѣто рекоша дружина игореви ѡтроци свѣньлъжи исодѣли сѧ суть ѡружьємъ и порты а мъӏ нази. поиди кнѧжє с нами в дань да и ты добудеши и мъӏ. 5-7 -
послуша ихъ игорь. иде в дерева в дань и примъӏшлѧше къ первои дани насилѧше имъ и мужи єго. 7-11 -
возьємавъ дань поиде въ градъ свои. идуще же ємѹ въспѧть размъӏсливъ рече дружинѣ своєи идѣте съ данью домови, а я возъвращю сѧ похожю и єще. 11-13 -
пусти дружину свою домови. съ маломъ же дружинъӏ возъврати сѧ желаӏа больша имѣньӏа. 13-19 -
слъӏшавше же деревлѧне ӏако ѡпѧть идеть. сдумавше со кнѧземъ своимъ маломъ, аще сѧ въвадить волкъ в овцѣ, то въӏносить все стадо, аще не ѹбьють єго. тако и се -- аще не ѹбьємъ єго, то все нъӏ погубить -- послаша к нему глаголюще, почто идеши ѡпѧть. поималъ єси всю дань. 19-21 -
и не послуша ихъ игорь. и въӏшедше изъ града изъкоръстѣнѧ деревлене ѹбиша игорѧ и дружину єго, бѣ бо ихъ мало. 21-23 -
и погребєнъ бъӏсть игорь. єсть могила єго ѹ искоръстѣнѧ града в деревѣхъ и до сего дне. 23-26 -
вольга же бѧше в києвѣ съ съӏнъмъ съ дѣтьскомъ свѧтославомъ и кормилець єго асмудъ. воєвода бѣ свѣнелдъ, тоже ѡтьць мистишинъ. 26-29 -
рѣша же деревлѧне, се кнѧзѧ ѹбихомъ рускаго. поимемъ жену єго вольгу за кнѧзь свои малъ и свѧтослава, и створимъ єму ӏако же хощемъ. 29-31 -
и послаша деревлѧне лучьшиє мужи числомъ .к. въ лодьи к ользѣ. 31-35 -
и присташа подъ боричєвъӏмъ в лодьи. бѣ бо тогда вода текущи въздолѣ горъӏ києвьскиӏа и на подольи не сѣдѧху людьє, но на горѣ. градъ же бѣ києвъ, идеже єсть нъӏнѣ дворъ гордѧтинъ и никифоровъ. 35-38 -
а дворъ кнѧжь бѧше в городѣ идеже єсть дворъ демьстиковъ за свѧтою богородицею надъ горою. дворъ теремъӏи, бѣ бо ту теремъ каменъ.

Translation

1 In the year 6453.
2-4 In this year the retinue said to Igor, "Sveinald's retainers are clothed with swords and garments, but we are naked. Go, prince, with us after tribute, that you obtain (it) as we." 5-7 Igor heeded them: he went to Dereva after tribute, and he added to the first tribute. He and his men oppressed them. 7-11 Having seized the tribute, he returned to his city. Having come back (and) having changed his mind, he said to his retinue, "Go home with the tribute. But I will turn back (and) will walk back yet again." 11-13 He sent his retinue home and with a small (part) of his retinue he returned, desiring more possessions. 13-19 But the Derevlians heard that he (was) coming back, (and) sought counsel with their prince Mal, "If a wolf introduces itself among the sheep, then it will make away with the whole flock, if they do not kill it. So also (with) this: if we do not kill him, he will destroy us all." They sent to him, saying, "For what do you return? You have taken all the tribute." 19-21 But Igor did not heed them. And having set forth from the city Iskorosten, the Derevlians killed Igor and his retinue, for there were (just) a few of them. 21-23 And Igor was buried. His grave is near the city Iskorosten in Dereva even to this day. 23-26 But Olga was in Kiev with her son, the child Svjatoslav, as well as his tutor Asmund. His commander was Sveinald, father of Mistisha. 26-29 And the Derevlians said, "Lo! We have killed the Russian prince. (Let us) take his wife Olga for our prince Mal, as well as Svjatoslav, and we will do with him as we wish." 29-31 And the Derevlians sent their best men, 20 by number, in a boat to Olga. 31-35 And they arrived below the Borichev in the boat. For at that time there was water flowing at the foot of the Kievan hill and the people had not settled at the base, but rather on the hill. And there was a city, Kiev, where the court of Gordjata and Nicephorus now is. 35-38 But the prince's court was in the city, where the court of the domesticus is behind the Holy Mother of God above the hill. (It is) the tower court, for there was a tower of stones.

Grammar

11. i- and u-Stem Nouns

After the o, jo- and a, ja-declensions the next most numerous class of nouns is the i-stem declension. Not only does it contain a large number of very common words, but over time words from less well-represented declensions often had a tendency to adopt endings from the i-declension. The u-declension by contrast contains very few words; the words it does contain, however, often come from the inherited core vocabulary of the language.

11.1. i-Stem Nouns

The i-stem declension ultimately derives its name from its role as representing the reflexes of the original declension of short-*i-stem nouns in Proto-Indo-European. But by a lucky twist of fate, or of historical phonology, the name remains apropos due to the fact that appears in a large number of the declensional endings, and those endings which do not contain often contain -ь- [-ĭ-]: in particular we see this in the dative plural, where we found the historical thematic vowel in the twofold declension. Thus, in contrast to the twofold or o, jo-declension, the name of the i-declension serves as a useful mnemonic device. Less helpful is the alternate terminology employed by some scholars: the simple nominal declension.

For the most part the nouns of the i-declension are feminine, though some masculine nouns also belong to this declension. For example, гость 'guest' and господь 'lord' are masculine i-stems, while вьсь 'village' and кѹпѣль 'bath' are feminine. The feminine noun кость 'bone' and the masculine noun путь 'way, path' serve to illustrate the declension.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
N   кость   кости   кости           путь   пути   путьє
A   кость   кости   кости           путь   пути   пути
G   кости   костью   костьи           пути   путью   путьи
L   кости   костью   костьхъ           пути   путью   путьхъ
D   кости   костьма   костьмъ           пути   путьма   путьмъ
I   костью   костьма   костьми           путьмь   путьма   путьми
V   кости   кости   кости           пути   пути   путьє

As we have seen numerous times in other declensions, the rules pertaining to strong/weak and tense jers apply. For example the front jer in the instrumental singular костью [kostĭju] is tense, so we often find the sequence -ĭj- vocalized as -и-: костию. Moreover, in the instrumental singular путьмь, the first (penultimate) jer falls in strong position, so that we occasionally find this form written as путємь. Similarly for other forms throughout the paradigm.

One also encounters situations in which i-stem nouns adopt endings from the twofold declension: whereas господь 'lord' typically shows the form господи in both genitive and dative singular, we occasionally find twofold forms господа and господу, respectively.

11.2. u-Stem Nouns

The u-declension consists of a handful of nouns, exclusively masculine, which maintain reflexes of the original Proto-Indo-European *u-stem nominal inflection. For example, the following masculine nouns belong to the u-declension: домъ 'house', чинъ 'order', станъ 'camp'. In Indo-European terms, the inflectional endings of this declension broke down into two types: those forms showing stem-final *-u- and those showing stem-final *-oō(t) or *-eō(t). The former provides the zero-grade of the root, the latter the *o- and *e-grades, respectively. In the linguistic evolution of Common Slavic we find that tautosyllabic *oō and *eō yield *u, while in heterosyllabic position they yield *-ov-. The latter occurs in particular before endings beginning with a vowel. This distinction provides for the characteristic alternation between endings showing -у- and endings showing -ов- that runs through the u-declension paradigm.

The masculine noun сынъ 'son' serves to illustrate the inflectional pattern followed by u-stem nouns.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
N   сынъ   сынъӏ   сыновє
A   сынъ   сынъӏ   сынъӏ
G   сыну   сынову   сыновъ
L   сыну   сынову   сынъхъ
D   сынови   сынъма   сынъмъ
I   сынъмь   сынъма   сынъми
V   сыну   сынъӏ   сыновє

In this declension we find one of the few instances in which Old Russian texts appear more conservative than those of Old Church Slavonic. In particular, as is typical of Old Russian declensions, we see the Proto-Indo-European thematic vowel appear in the dative plural: сын-ъ-мъ, where the penultimate -ъ- is the regular Common Slavic reflex of PIE short *-u-, and hence also in both Old Church Slavonic and Old Russian. But in this particular form, we never find this reflex; rather we always find OCS съӏномъ. We would expect such a form in both Old Church Slavonic and Old Russian, either by virtue of the fact that the penultimate back jer is in strong position and so would vocalize as -о-, or because, owing to the relatively small number of u-stem nouns, we might expect conflation with the endings of the much more common o-stem nouns. In Old Russian we do in fact find the dative plural съӏномъ alongside съӏнъмъ for just this reason (whichever of the two choices it happens to be); but in Old Church Slavonic, as it happens, the more archaic reflex never appears in the extant texts. This applies as well for the instrumental singular съӏнъмь: this archaic form appears in Old Russian, but never in Old Church Slavonic, which retains only the fully vocalized form съӏномь.

As the above discussion might lead one to believe, Old Russian texts commonly show u-stem nouns with forms inflected along the lines of o-stems: thus the u-stem домъ 'home' shows an o-stem dative singular дому alongside the normal u-stem dative домови. This process works in both directions, so that the proper name Ольгъ 'Oleg', an o-stem noun, shows dative singular Ольгови.

Moreover, in a palatalized environment the sequence -jov- often fronts to -jev-. Thus instead of *конови (unattested) as an alternate to the expected dative коню 'to the horse', we find конєви; similarly we find воробиєвє 'sparrows' for the nominative plural of воробии. In addition, we even find the -ов- suffix inserted as if part of the nominal stem before another full ending: e.g. dative plural сыновомъ 'to the sons'.

12. o- and a-Stem Adjectives

Adjectives in Old Russian fall broadly into two categories: definite and indefinite, sometimes called long-form and short-form, or compound and simple, respectively. The indefinite category is the more basic in the sense that its formation is simpler, while the definite category derives its forms from a process of composition. In the broadest terms, the indefinite adjectives employ the endings of o- and jo-stem nouns for masculine and neuter forms, while they employ the endings of a- and ja-stem nouns for feminine forms. By contrast, definite adjectives employ not only the endings of the indefinite adjectives just described, but they append to these corresponding forms of the third person pronoun .

This section treats the indefinite adjectives. As with the nouns whose endings they employ, the indefinite adjectives fall into two basic classes: hard and soft stems.

12.1. Hard Indefinite Adjectives

The hard indefinite adjectives, or hard simple twofold adjectives, take their masculine and neuter forms from the o-stem nominal paradigm as outlined in Section 3.1 and their feminine forms from the a-stem nominal paradigm as outlined in Section 3.2. The adjective добро 'good' serves to illustrate the paradigm.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   добръ   добро   добра
A   добръ   добро   добру
G   добра   добра   добры
L   добрѣ   добрѣ   добрѣ
D   добру   добру   добрѣ
I   добромь   добромь   доброю
V   добръ   добро   добра
             
N Du.   добра   добрѣ   добрѣ
A   добра   добрѣ   добрѣ
G   добру   добру   добру
L   добру   добру   добру
D   доброма   доброма   добрама
I   доброма   доброма   добрама
V   добра   добрѣ   добрѣ
             
N Pl.   добри   добра   добры
A   добры   добра   добры
G   добръ   добръ   добръ
L   добрѣхъ   добрѣхъ   добрахъ
D   добромъ   добромъ   добрамъ
I   добры   добры   добрами
V   добри   добра   добры

As with the twofold nominal declension, palatalization of stem-final velars occurs in those positions where historically they followed a front vowel. For example the adjective вєликъ 'great' has masculine genitive singular вєлика, but locative singular вєлицѣ and nominative plural вєлици. Moreover, note that the vocative of adjectives always remains identical to the corresponding nominative form; there is no special vocative ending in the singular, unlike the twofold declension of nouns.

12.2. Soft Indefinite Adjectives

The soft indefinite adjectives, or soft simple twofold adjectives, by contrast, derive their masculine and neuter forms from the jo-stem nominal paradigm of Section 3.1 and their feminine forms from the ja-stem nominal paradigm of Section 3.2. The adjective син҄ь 'blue' serves to illustrate the paradigm.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   син҄ь   син҄є   син҄я
A   син҄ь   син҄є   син҄ю
G   син҄я   син҄я   син҄ѣ
L   син҄и   син҄и   син҄и
D   син҄ю   син҄ю   син҄и
I   син҄ємь   син҄ємь   син҄єю
V   син҄ь   син҄є   син҄я
             
N Du.   син҄я   син҄и   син҄и
A   син҄я   син҄и   син҄и
G   син҄ю   син҄ю   син҄ю
L   син҄ю   син҄ю   син҄ю
D   син҄єма   син҄єма   син҄яма
I   син҄єма   син҄єма   син҄яма
V   син҄я   син҄и   син҄и
             
N Pl.   син҄и   син҄я   син҄ѣ
A   син҄ѣ   син҄я   син҄ѣ
G   син҄ь   син҄ь   син҄ь
L   син҄ихъ   син҄ихъ   син҄яхъ
D   син҄ємъ   син҄ємъ   син҄ямъ
I   син҄и   син҄и   син҄ями
V   син҄и   син҄я   син҄ѣ

Some adjective stems end in a front glide, such as божи- [božĭj-] 'of god, divine'. In such instances the masculine nominative singular ending [] combines with the glide to yield : божьи [božĭjĭ], or due to the tense position of the first jer, божии.

13. Pronominal Declension

The first introduction in this series to the more general paradigm of pronominal declension was with the third person pronoun 'he'. There we first encountered the surest marker of pronominal declension, namely the masculine and neuter genitive singular ending in -го. Old Russian contains a wide range of pronouns, all of which employ this genitive ending and many of the remaining features exhibited by the third person pronoun. Moreover several adjectives, both possessive and other, follow the pronominal declension rather than the twofold declension of nouns. Generally speaking, pronouns and adjectives exhibiting the pronominal declension fall into two categories: hard and soft, based largely on whether the genitive singular ending -го is preceded by the vowel -о- or -є-, respectively.

13.1. Hard Stem Pronominal Declension

The hard stem pronominal declension is characterized by a masculine and neuter genitive singular in -ого. The same declension also typically exhibits a genitive and locative plural in -ѣхъ for all genders. The distal deictic pronoun онъ 'that one there' serves to illustrate the paradigm.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   онъ   оно   она
A   онъ   оно   ону
G   оного   оного   оноѣ, оноя
L   ономь   ономь   онои
D   оному   оному   онои
I   онѣмь   онѣмь   оною
V            
             
N Du.   она   онѣ   онѣ
A   она   онѣ   онѣ
G   оною   оною   оною
L   оною   оною   оною
D   онѣма   онѣма   онѣма
I   онѣма   онѣма   онѣма
V            
             
N Pl.   они   она   оны
A   оны   она   оны
G   онѣхъ   онѣхъ   онѣхъ
L   онѣхъ   онѣхъ   онѣхъ
D   онѣмъ   онѣмъ   онѣмъ
I   онѣми   онѣми   онѣми
V            

The common deictic pronoun тъ 'that one' also declines according to the hard stem pronominal declension, as well as the correlative demonstratives овъ... овъ 'this... that, the one... the other' and овъ... инъ 'this one here... that one there'. The adjective мъногъ 'much, many' follows the same declension, showing the effects of second palatalization in certain case forms, such as masculine dative plural мънозѣмъ and instrumental plural мънозѣми.

13.2. Soft Stem Pronominal Declension

A masculine and neuter genitive singular in -єго characterizes the soft stem pronominal declension. This declension also typically exhibits a genitive and locative plural in -ихъ for all genders. The proximal deictic pronoun сь 'this one here' illustrates the paradigm.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   сь, сьи   сє, сьє   си, сия
A   сь   сє, сьє   сю, сью
G   сєго   сєго   сєѣ, сєя
L   сємь   сємь   сєи
D   сєму   сєму   сєи
I   симь   симь   сєю
V            
             
N Du.   сия   сии   сии
A   сия   сии   сии
G   сєю   сєю   сєю
L   сєю   сєю   сєю
D   сима   сима   сима
I   сима   сима   сима
V            
             
N Pl.   си, сии   си, ся   сиѣ
A   сиѣ   си, ся   сиѣ
G   сихъ   сихъ   сихъ
L   сихъ   сихъ   сихъ
D   симъ   симъ   симъ
I   сими   сими   сими
V            

We see in the above paradigm the introduction of a secondary form сьи. Phonetically this represents [sĭjĭ], and as usual the sequence -jĭ- is represented as -и-. Since the first jer, inasmuch as it precedes a yod, is tense, it may also be written as -и-, and so we frequently find the form сии. Alternately, since the first jer is strong, yet soft, we may find it vocalized as -є-: сєи. The same rules apply throughout the remainder of the paradigm, leading to a large list of possible variant forms.

In addition the personal possessive adjectives follow the above paradigm of the soft declension. The adjective мои 'my' serves to illustrate the paradigm.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   мои   моє   моя
A   мои   моє   мою
G   моєго   моєго   моєѣ, моєя
L   моємь   моємь   моєи
D   моєму   моєму   моєи
I   моимь   моимь   моєю
V            
             
N Du.   моя   мои   мои
A   моя   мои   мои
G   моєю   моєю   моєю
L   моєю   моєю   моєю
D   моима   моима   моима
I   моима   моима   моима
V            
             
N Pl.   мои   моя   моѣ
A   моѣ   моя   моѣ
G   моихъ   моихъ   моихъ
L   моихъ   моихъ   моихъ
D   моимъ   моимъ   моимъ
I   моими   моими   моими
V            

We also find in the declension of possessive adjectives the introduction of plural endings proper to the hard pronominal declension, such as genitive and locative plural моѣхъ, as well as dative plural моѣмъ.

The remaining personal possessive adjectives follow the same declension: твои 'thy, your'; свои 'one's own'; нашь 'our'; вашь 'your'; and even the relative-interrogative possessive adjective чьи 'whose'.

13.3. Mixed Pronominal Declension

The extremely common adjective вьсь 'all, every, whole' displays a declensional paradigm which contains a mixture of elements from both the hard and soft pronominal declensions. The paradigm is as follows.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   вьсь   вьсє   вься
A   вьсь   вьсє   вьсю
G   вьсєго   вьсєго   вьсєѣ, вьсєя
L   вьсємь   вьсємь   вьсєи
D   вьсєму   вьсєму   вьсєи
I   вьсѣмь   вьсѣмь   вьсєю
V            
             
N Du.   вься   вьси   вьси
A   вься   вьси   вьси
G   вьсєю   вьсєю   вьсєю
L   вьсєю   вьсєю   вьсєю
D   вьсѣма   вьсѣма   вьсѣма
I   вьсѣма   вьсѣма   вьсѣма
V            
             
N Pl.   вьси   вься   вьсѣ
A   вьсѣ   вься   вьсѣ
G   вьсѣхъ   вьсѣхъ   вьсѣхъ
L   вьсѣхъ   вьсѣхъ   вьсѣхъ
D   вьсѣмъ   вьсѣмъ   вьсѣмъ
I   вьсѣми   вьсѣми   вьсѣми
V            
14. The Aorist System

The term aorist denotes a past tense formation which, in contrast to the imperfect, serves to represent a completed past action, with no reference to the so-called internal structure of the action. By internal structure we mean such characteristics as the temporal duration of an action (i.e. whether or not it requires an extended period of time to occur) or its continuity (i.e. whether it is a single, continuous action that unfolds over an unbroken time interval; or whether it amounts to a sequence of repeated actions, each individual one being more or less instantaneous, and only the sequence as a whole requiring an extended time interval to occur). By saying that the aorist denotes a completed past action with no reference to internal structure, we are stipulating

  1. that, by virtue of being completed, both the beginning and end of the action have occurred, so that there is no possibility that the action may be viewed as potentially continuing up until the time of utterance; and
  2. that, by virtue of excluding reference to internal structure, the beginning and end of the action, and hence the middle as well, cannot be distinguished from one another.

These two stipulations combine to render the aorist an essentially point-like past tense, whereas the imperfect by contrast suggests an open-ended interval beginning in the past. In concrete terms, while the imperfect might have the connotation in English of a form like I was jogging, the aorist would be rendered by I jogged. In the former, the grammatical form itself highlights that the action took place over an interval of time; in the latter, there is no such reference: only the lexical content of the verb jog provides the connotation of an expanse of time, inasmuch as one generally finds it difficult to jog instantaneously.

Proto-Slavic inherited two types of aorist construction from Proto-Indo-European. In the first, the endings follow directly upon the verbal root, or upon the thematic vowel appended to the verbal root. Naturally this formation has received the name root aorist. In the second, the suffix *-s- intervenes between the root and thematic vowel. As this formation pervades Greek past tense formation, and as the *-s- appears as sigma in Greek, this formation has been termed the sigmatic aorist.

Within Proto-Slavic, however, we find the advent of a new aorist formation, aptly titled the new aorist, or the ox-aorist after its characteristic suffix. Though Old Church Slavonic retains both the root and sigmatic aorists alongside the new aorist, Old Russian has largely eliminated the earlier formations in favor of the later. We will nevertheless discuss briefly the two more archaic aorists, since those verbs which retain those forms still occur frequently in the Old Russian texts.

Construction of the aorist, regardless of the particular formation, begins with identification of the infinitive-aorist stem. We have already outlined in the discussion of the imperfect in Section 4.2 how one arrives at this stem. Briefly, one takes the infinitive, undoes any sound changes that resulted from the addition of the infinitive marker -ти, and then removes the -ти altogether. The remaining verbal stem serves as the stem for the construction of the aorist.

14.1. Asigmatic Aorist

The root aorist is often termed the asigmatic aorist, to distinguish it from its sigmatic cousin, or merely the simple aorist to highlight the fact that it has no distinguishing suffix. This formation has all but completely disappeared from Old Russian by the time the extant texts were written down, except in two situations:

  1. isolated remnants of the aorist of a pair of common verbs, and
  2. in the second and third person singular aorist of most verbs, where the root aorist forms seem to have replaced the etymologically expected forms in both the sigmatic and ox-aorist paradigms.

Of the true root aorists that survive into Old Russian, the most prevalent is that built to ити 'to go', with stem ид-. The root aorist paradigm of this verb is listed below.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
1   (идъ)   (идовѣ)   (идомъ)
2   идє   (идєта)   (идєтє)
3   идє   (идєта)   (иду)

In the chart above, those forms listed in parentheses do not occur in the Old Russian texts.

The second verb to exhibit a root aorist formation is рєчи 'to speak', with stem рєк-. Again, the root aorist forms occur only in the second and third person singular, and they are identical: рєчє, derived from CS *rekes in the second person, from *reket in the third.

14.2. Sigmatic Aorist

The sigmatic aorist derives its name from the addition of *-s- to the root preceding the thematic vowel. Though several verbs show conjugations following this pattern in Old Church Slavonic, only one such verb remains in Old Russian: рєчи 'to speak', with stem рєк-. The sigmatic aorist paradigm of this verb is as follows.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
1   рѣхъ   рѣховѣ   рѣхомъ
2   рєчє   рѣста   рѣстє
3   рєчє   рѣста   рѣша

Again we see the intrusion of the root aorist in the second and third person singular with the common form рєчє. But in the remaining forms we see the presence of the s-suffix. The first person singular рѣхъ follows via the ruki rule (cf. Section 6.5) from *re:k-s-om > *rěksŭ > рѣхъ, though the front environment prevents this retraction in the third person plural: *re:k-s-nt > *rěksę > рѣша. Note the lengthening of the root vowel that typically accompanies the addition of the sigmatic suffix. This lengthening occurred in the Proto-Indo-European period, so that its result in Old Russian is not a change in vowel quantity, but rather in vowel quality. In this instance we see the natural reflex PIE *e: > CS of the long vowel, rather than of the expected short root vowel PIE *e > CS *e.

14.3. New Aorist

By far the most common aorist formation in Old Russian is the new aorist or ox-aorist. As with other aorist formations, construction of the new aorist begins with the infinitive-aorist stem. To this Old Russian adds a suffix which appears mostly as -ox-, but as -os- before endings beginning with a consonant, and as -ош- in the third person plural. The ox-suffix does not appear at all in the second and third person singular. To this suffix Old Russian then adds the endings encountered above in other aorist formations. Where the infinitive-aorist stem ends in a vowel, the -o- of the the ox-suffix does not appear. The verbs рєчи 'to speak', with infinitive-aorist stem рєк-, and знати 'to know', with infinitive-aorist stem зна-, serve to illustrate the paradigm.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
1   рєкохъ   рєкоховѣ   рєкохомъ           знахъ   знаховѣ   знахомъ
2   рєчє   рєкоста   рєкостє           зна   знаста   знастє
3   рєчє   рєкоста   рєкоша           зна   знаста   знаша

In the second and third person singular we once again note the retention of root aorist forms. We see that the ending of these forms does not appear when the stem ends in a vowel. We also see clearly that the infinitive-aorist stem, here рєк- for the verb рєчи, contains stem-final sounds in the form that precedes any sound changes that might occur upon adding the infinitive suffix -ти. Thus, for example, грє-ти 'to row', from *greb-ti, builds the aorist on the stem грєб-. The verb ити 'to go' also builds a new aorist, with stem ид-. The forms of these verbs are as follows.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
1   грєбохъ   грєбоховѣ   грєбохомъ           идохъ   идоховѣ   идохомъ
2   грєбє   грєбоста   грєбостє           идє   идоста   идостє
3   грєбє   грєбоста   грєбоша           идє   идоста   идоша

Certain anomalies, however, present themselves. For example, рєчи 'to speak' also shows signs of a stem рьк- alongside the more common рєк-: ркоша 'they said'. Similarly the verbs тєчи 'to run' and жєчи 'to burn' show stems тьк- and жьг-, respectively.

Moreover verbs whose stem derives from an etymological nasal, or -r-, among a handful of others, often show an ending -тъ in the second and third person singular. Athematic verbs, such as дати 'to give' and вѣдѣти 'to know', also show an alternate suffix -стъ in these forms, which in certain instances may derive originally from a stem-final followed by the -тъ suffix just mentioned. Consider the following examples.

Infinitive   Meaning   Stem   2nd/3rd Sg.   OCS
въз-я-ти   take   възя-   възятъ   възѧти
на-чя-ти   begin   начя-   начятъ   нацѧти
у-мєрє-ти   die   умрѣ-   умрѣтъ   ѹмрѣти
да-ти   give   да(д)-   дастъ   дати
вѣд-ѣ-ти   know   вѣд-   вѣстъ   вѣдѣти

Verbs with the -ну- suffix show two different aorist formations. In one formation, the ox-aorist is built from the stem including the ну-suffix. In the other formation, the ну-suffix itself is dropped and the ox-aorist is built directly to the remaining stem. The verb двиг-ну-ти 'to move' illustrates the forms.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
1   двигъ   двигоховѣ   двигохомъ           двигнухъ   двигнуховѣ   двигнухомъ
2   движє   двигоста   двигостє           двигну   двигнуста   двигнустє
3   движє   двигоста   двигоша           двигну   двигнуста   двигнуша

We find in the above paradigm another illustration of the fact that the -o- of the ox-suffix does not appear when the aorist stem ends in a vowel.

15. Genitive Objects & Negation

Old Russian shares with Old Church Slavonic some special uses of the genitive case that are somewhat unexpected when viewed in comparison to other ancient sister languages within the Indo-European family. These uses occur with sufficient frequency that they merit attention early in the study of Old Russian.

15.1. Genitive Objects

Old Russian shows the emergence of a special treatment of direct objects. Old Russian generally places the direct object of a transitive verb in the accusative, as do others of the ancient Indo-European languages. But when the direct object happens to be human and male -- i.e. a man -- Old Russian regularly puts the direct object in the genitive case. For example: убиша Игоря и дружину єго "They killed Igor and his retinue" (Primary Chronicle). Here we see that the aorist убиша 'they killed' takes the direct object дружину 'retinue' (from the feminine noun дружина) in the accusative as expected. But rather than employing the normal accusative Игорь of the proper noun Игорь 'Igor', we see that Old Russian places the male human direct object in the genitive case. The following example shows that Old Russian makes a clear distinction between women and men: поимѣмъ жєну єго Ольгу за кънязь свои Малъ, и Святослава... "Let us take his wife, Olga, for our prince, Mal, and Svjatoslav..." (Primary Chronicle). Here жєну (from жєна 'wife') and Ольгу (from Ольга 'Olga') show the distinct accusative singular appropriate to feminine nouns. But Святослава (from Святославъ 'Svjatoslav'), also the direct object of поимѣмъ 'let us take', clearly shows the genitive singular ending.

It seems that this tendency to distinguish direct objects that are men does not always extend to groups. In the previous example we saw that дружина 'retinue' retains the accusative, even though it clearly represents a group of men. But in such a situation we might argue that the noun represents a collection, and so not men per se. Consider however the following example: то присълитє мужа нарочитъӏ, да въ вєлицѣ чисти поиду за вашь кънязь "... then send me your best men, that I marry your prince in great honor" (Primary Chronicle). Here we clearly have direct reference to men, but the word мужа (from мужь 'man'), together with the adjective нарочитъӏ (from the adjective нарочитъ 'distinguished'), distinctly show the endings of the accusative plural.

15.2. Genitive with Negation

Another striking feature of Old Russian is the interaction of the genitive case with negation. In particular, the direct object of a transitive verb takes the genitive in the presence of negation. For example: и нє послуха ихъ Игорь "and Igor didn't listen to them", or slightly more literally "and Igor didn't hear them", emphasizing the fact that послуха expects a direct object (Primary Chronicle). Rather than the proper accusative plural ѣ or я (cf. OCS ѩ), we find the direct object in the genitive plural ихъ. Similarly нє вѣси закона "You don't know the law" (Primary Chronicle), where the proper accusative would be законъ 'law'.

Even more noteworthy is the extension of this trend to the actual subject of a sentence. Specifically, in the presence of negation the subject of the verb may take the genitive rather than the nominative. This typically occurs in statements concerning the existence of some quantity, or the lack thereof, where the verb is a copula like 'be'. For example: нынѣ у васъ нѣсть мєду ни скоры "Now there is neither honey nor wine in your possession" (Primary Chronicle). Here меду is the genitive singular, rather than the expected nominative of the u-stem noun медъ 'honey'. Likewise скоры is the genitive singular of the feminine noun скора 'fur'.