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 4

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

III.iii Documentary Evidence for the Term 'Rus'

The internal evidence for the use of the term Rus is mixed at best: in the Primary Chronicle the term early refers clearly to foreign-born princes, only later to be applied to their descendants together with the people over which they ruled. The Novgorod Chronicle, another literary source for our knowledge of the early East Slavs, by contrast applies the term Rus consistently to the people in and around Kiev, relatively far to its south and removed from the original Baltic homeland of the imported Scandinavians. Because of this lack of clarity, scholars have also sought out the use of terms similar to Rus in works whose authors came from some of the surrounding cultures with which the Eastern Slavs had interaction.

III.iii.i The Annals of St. Bertin

Numerous historical documents actually employ terms which can plausibly be identified with the term Rus (Rusĭ) found in the Primary Chronicle. The earliest among these is the Annals of St. Bertin (Latin Annales Bertiniani), like the Primary Chronicle a written account of historical events organized by their year of occurrence. We find under the year 839 AD mention of an embassy sent by the Byzantine emperor Theophilus to the court of the emperor Louis the Pious in Ingelheim. The account (Waitz, 1883, p.19) states that

    Latin   English
    Misit etiam cum eis quosdam, qui se, id est gentem suam, Rhos vocari dicebant, quos rex illorum chacanus vocabulo ad se amicitiae, sicut asserebant, causa direxerat, petens per memoratam epistolam, quatenus benignitate imperatoris redeundi facultatem atque auxilium per imperium suum toto habere possent, quoniam itinera, per quae ad illum Constantinopolim venerant, inter barbaras et nimiae feritatis gentes inmanissimas habuerant, quibus eos, ne forte periculum inciderent, redire noluit. Quorum adventus causam imperator diligentius investigans, comperit, eos gentis esse Sueonum.   [Theophilus] sent with them certain men who called themselves, that is (called) their people, the Rhos; and whom, by their account, their king, or kagan in their terminology, sent to [Theophilus] in friendship. [Theophilus] requested in the previously mentioned letter that on account of the emperor's graciousness they be granted permission to return and an escort through his empire, since the roads by which they had arrived at Constantinople had fallen to the barbarians and exceedingly wild tribes, and by which (roads) he did not wish for them to return, lest they chance upon danger. The emperor, upon diligently investigating the reasons for their arrival, established that they were from the people of the Sueoni.

The passage demonstrates a link between the Rhos, or Rus, and the Sueoni, who were in fact Swedes. This falls in line with the account in the Primary Chronicle. In this period much of Western Europe still felt the sting of Viking Age and the pervasive fear of Viking attacks, many of which began with trickery and cunning as disguised Scandinavians arrived at unsuspecting villages (Coupland, 2003). Thus Louis the Pious would have been well advised to investigate the origin of these particular Scandinavians before offering any assistance. In addition it is worth noting that St. Bertin's account of the Rhos, dating to 839, precedes the Primary Chronicle's Invitation to the Varangians, which is recorded under the year 862.

III.iii.ii Liutprand of Cremona

Another early source comes from Liutprand of Cremona, writing in the 10th century. He writes of Russi who attacked Byzantium in 941 AD. Liutprand (Reuber, 1584, p.92) states that

    Latin   English
    Constantinopolitana urbs, quae prius Byzantium, nova nunc dicitur Roma, inter ferocissimas gentes est constituta.   The city Constantinople, formerly Byzantium, now called New Rome, is situated among the fiercest of peoples.
    Habet quippe ab Aquilone Hungaros, Pizenacos, Chazaros, Russios, quos alio nomine nos Nortmannos apellamus, atque Bulgaros nimium sibi vicinos   It has to the north the Hungarians, the Pizenaci, the Khazars, the Russii, whom by a different name we call Normans, and the Bulgars as close neighbors.

Later Liutprand expands on the relation between Russii and "Normans" (ibid., p. 144):

    Latin   English
    Gens quaedam est sub Aquilonis parte constituta, quam a qualitate corporis Graeci vocant Russos, nos vero a positione loci vocamus Nordmannos.   There is a certain people situated in a region of the North, which the Greeks call the Russii on account of their physical quality, but which we call Normans on account of their geographical location.
    Lingua quippe Teutonum Nord aquilo, man autem mas seu vir dicitur: unde & Nordmannos Aquilonares homines dicere possumus.   In the German language Nord (means) 'north', and man means 'male' or 'man': whence we are also able to call the Normans the 'Northern men'.
    Huius denique gentis rex Inger vocabulo erat, qui collectis mille & eo amplio navibus Constantinopolim venit.   And the king of this group went by the name Inger, who gathered a thousand and more ships and came to Constantinople.

The comment on the Greek reason for the name Russii relates to a play on words. Latin russus and russeus mean 'reddish', as does Greek rousios.

These passages from Liutprand's work make clear that he himself understood the term "Russii" as a particular name for Normans. But moreover, he shows that in this context the term Norman (literally Normanni) still carries its literal sense: north-men. This generally falls in line with the accounts of the Rus as Scandinavians, or Norsemen. But as Liutprand's account focuses on the situation in Byzantium, it is not altogether certain whether 'north' should be taken in the general sense of 'in the north of Europe', i.e. Scandinavia, or in the more specific sense of 'to the north of Byzantium'. This latter, in principle, would allow even the inhabitants of Kiev to be called "north-men" from the perspective of the Byzantines. However it is more likely that by this time Normanni in Latin had taken on the connotation of Normans or Norsemen specifically, given that their fame as raiders had already long been spreading throughout Europe.

III.iii.iii Ibn Fadlan

A handful of accounts also survive from the Arabic- and Persian-speaking worlds which mention a people likely to be associated with the Rus. One such account was written by Ibn Fadlan, a diplomat sent by the caliph of Baghdad on a mission to the Volga Bulgars. In recounting his travels he mentions the customs of a people, whom he calls Ru:siyyah, that he chanced upon in Atil (the Khazar city of Itil, located at the mouth of the Volga as it spills into the Caspian Sea). The following is an excerpt from his Risa:la, or 'writing' (Montgomery, 2000):

    I saw the Ru:siyyah when they had arrived on their trading expedition and had disembarked at the River Atil. I have never seen more perfect physiques than theirs -- they are like palm trees, are fair and reddish, and do not wear the qurtaq or the caftan. The man wears a cloak with which he covers one half of his body, leaving one of his arms uncovered. Every one of them carries an axe, a sword and a dagger and is never without all of that which we have mentioned. Their swords are of the Frankish variety, with broad, ridged blades. Each man, from the tip of his toes to his neck, is covered in dark-green lines, pictures and suck like. Each woman has, on her breast, a small disc, tied <around her neck>, made of either iron, silver, copper or gold, in relation to her husband's financial and social worth. Each disc has a ring to which a dagger is attached, also lying on her breast.

The above passage, admittedly, does not provide sufficient information to decide whether the Ru:siyyah are to be understood as Scandinavians or as Slavs, or as some other unspecified people. It is not until later in the account that Ibn Fadlan describes the burial practices of this people, and here we find clear Scandinavian overtones (Montgomery, 2000):

    I was told that when their chieftains die, the least they do is to cremate them. I was very keen to verify this, when I learned of the death of one of their great men. They placed him in his grave (qabr) and erected a canopy over it for ten days, until they had finished making and sewing his <funeral garments>.
    In the case of a poor man they build a small boat, place him inside and burn it. In the case of a rich man, they gather together his possessions and divide them into three, one third for his family, one third to use for <his funeral> garments, and one third with which they purchase alcohol which they drink on the day when his slave-girl kills herself and is cremated together with her master. (They are addicted to alcohol, which they drink night and day. Sometimes one of them dies with the cup still in his hand.)

This provides evidence of burial practices common among the Scandinavians of the era. Moreover the account goes on to describe in detail the ship burial of a particularly important group member.

III.iii.iv Commentary

The documentary evidence leaves tantalizing traces of the interaction between the Rus and cultures spread across their trade routes. However we would do well to keep in mind Mongomery's (2000) warning:

    I am not convinced that by Ru:s/Ru:siyyah our text means either the Vikings or the Russians specifically. I am neither a Normanist nor an anti-Normanist. The Arabic sources in general quite simply do no afford us enough clarity. The tendency among scholars is to presume that different Arab authors mean the same thing when they apply the names Ru:s or Maju:s to the people they describe. After a perusal of the sources, this strikes me as a perilous presumption.

This displays well deserved caution, one which applies beyond the sources written from the perspective of the Arabic- and Persian-speaking worlds. It is not clear that all of the passages listed above truly are talking about the same people. On the one hand, it is not clear whether they distinguish Eastern Slavs from the Scandinavians that passed through their midst. On the other hand, it is not clear that the Eastern Slavs were sufficiently uniform amongst themselves to be distinguishable by cultural "outsiders" from Scandinavians often living in close quarters with them.

One point that does remain clear, however, is that the earliest East Slavic texts speak of an original distinction between the two peoples. A particular group of Scandinavians did evidently come to the East Slavic homeland and play an important role in the establishment of the early ruling class of the first dominant East Slavic cultural centers. But over the course of the succeeding century they seem to have blended with the indigenous Slavs to sufficient degree for the two cultures to form one distinct culture of Rus, with Old Russian and its spoken variants as the principal means of communication in the region.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The following passage relates the arrival of the Derevlians in Olga's court. After an exchange of greetings, Olga sets the stage and exacts her revenge. The extract lists lines 38-70.

38-40 - и повѣдаша ѡльзѣ ӏако деревлѧне придоша. и возва є ѡльга к собѣ и рече имъ добри гостьє придоша.

  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • повѣдаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <повѣдѣти, -вѣмь, -вѣси> announce, report, recount -- they announced
  • ѡльзѣ -- proper noun; feminine dative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- to Olga
  • ӏако -- conjunction; <ӏако> as, when; in order to; that; because; (introduces quotation) -- that
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • придоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- had arrived # Note the use of the Old Russian aorist where English permits a pluperfect
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • возва -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <възвати, -зовѫ, -зовєши> call, summon -- summoned
  • є -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <> he -- them # Note є where we expect я, OCS ѩ
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- before
  • собѣ -- pronoun; dative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- her
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <> he -- to them
  • добри -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <добръ> good -- The welcome
  • гостьє -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <гость> guest -- guests
  • придоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- have arrived # Note the use of the Old Russian aorist where English permits a perfect. Compare with the previous usage of this same form.

40-41 - и рѣша деревлѧне придохомъ кнѧгине.

  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- replied
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • придохомъ -- verb; 1st person plural aorist of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- We have arrived
  • кнѧгине -- noun; feminine vocative singular of <кънѧгъӏни> princess -- princess

41-42 - и рече имъ ѡльга, да глаголите что ради придосте сѣмо.

  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <> he -- to them
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • да -- conjunction; <да> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- ...
  • глаголите -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <глаголати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> say, speak -- Tell
  • что -- interrogative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <къто> who -- what
  • ради -- postposition; <ради> (w. gen.) for, for the sake of, because of -- for # Governs что, though the genitive чесо is expected
  • придосте -- verb; 2nd person plural aorist of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- have you come # Again an Old Russian aorist where English might employ a perfect
  • сѣмо -- adverb; <сѣмо> to here, here -- here

42-45 - рѣша же древлѧне посла нъӏ дерьвьска зємлѧ рькуще сице, мужа твоєго ѹбихомъ, бѧше бо мужь твои аки волкъ восхищаӏа и грабѧ.

  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- responded
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • древлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • посла -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- sent
  • нъӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <азъ> I -- us
  • дерьвьска -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <дрѣвьскъ> of Dereva, related to Dereva, Derevlian -- of Dereva
  • зємлѧ -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <зємл҄ӏа> earth, land -- the nation
  • рькуще -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- speaking # Note the shift to masculine plural, rather than feminine singular: either agreeing with the plurality of people represented by the term зємлѧ or another example of the genesis of the gerund.
  • сице -- adverb; <сицє> thus, so -- thus
  • мужа -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- husband
  • твоєго -- adjective; masculine genitive singular of <твои, твоє, твоӏа> thy, thine, your, of you (sg.) -- your
  • ѹбихомъ -- verb; 1st person plural aorist of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- We have killed
  • бѧше -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- for
  • мужь -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- husband
  • твои -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <твои, твоє, твоӏа> thy, thine, your, of you (sg.) -- your
  • аки -- adverb; <акъӏ> as, like -- like # Note the appearance of -и- in place of -ъӏ-, which on historical grounds would be unexpected after a velar consonant
  • волкъ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <влъкъ> wolf -- a wolf
  • восхищаӏа -- participle; masculine nominative singular of <въсхъӏтати, -таѭ, -таѥши> seize, snatch -- robbing
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • грабѧ -- participle; masculine nominative singular of <грабити, -блѭ, -биши> seize, snatch -- plundering

45-48 - а наши кнѧзи добри суть, иже распасли суть деревьску зємлю. да поиди за кнѧзь нашь за малъ. бѣ бо имѧ єму малъ кнѧзю дерьвьску.

  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- But
  • наши -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <нашь> our, of us -- our
  • кнѧзи -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <кънѧзь> prince -- princes
  • добри -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <добръ> good -- good
  • суть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- are
  • иже -- relative pronoun; masculine nominative plural of <ижє> who, which -- who
  • распасли -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <распасти, -сѫ, -сєши> pasture, feed -- cultivated
  • суть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- ... # Note the use of the Old Russian perfect where English allows a simple past
  • деревьску -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <дрѣвьскъ> of Dereva, related to Dereva, Derevlian -- of Dereva
  • зємлю -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <зємл҄ӏа> earth, land -- the land
  • да -- conjunction; <да> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- ...
  • поиди -- verb; 2nd person singular imperative of <поити, -идѫ, -идєши> go, set out; go back, return -- Come (and marry) # A common idiomatic turn of phrase encountered in this text: жена (по)идеть за мужь 'a woman marries a man', more literally 'a woman goes after a man'.
  • за -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of -- ...
  • кнѧзь -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince
  • нашь -- adjective; masculine accusative singular of <нашь> our, of us -- our
  • за -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of -- ...
  • малъ -- proper noun; masculine accusative singular of <Малъ> Mal (name of a prince) -- Mal
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- was
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- For
  • имѧ -- noun; neuter nominative singular of <имѧ> name -- (his) name
  • єму -- pronoun; masculine dative singular of <> he -- his
  • малъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Малъ> Mal (name of a prince) -- Mal
  • кнѧзю -- noun; masculine dative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince # Dative agreeing with єму
  • дерьвьску -- adjective; masculine dative singular of <дрѣвьскъ> of Dereva, related to Dereva, Derevlian -- Derevlian

48-51 - рече же имъ ѡльга, люба ми єсть рѣчь ваша. ѹже мнѣ мужа своєго не крѣсити, но хочю въӏ почтити наутриӏа предъ людьми своими.

  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <> he -- to them
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • люба -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <любъ> dear; pleasing; choice, chosen -- pleasing
  • ми -- pronoun; dative singular of <азъ> I -- to me
  • єсть -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- is
  • рѣчь -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <рѣчь> speech -- proposal
  • ваша -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <вашь> of you, your (pl.) -- your
  • ѹже -- adverb; <южє, ѹжє> already -- Now (there is)
  • мнѣ -- pronoun; dative singular of <азъ> I -- for me
  • мужа -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- husband
  • своєго -- adjective; masculine genitive singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- my
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- no (way)
  • крѣсити -- verb; infinitive of <крѣсити, -шѫ, -сиши> rouse, wake, raise -- to raise
  • но -- conjunction; <нъ> but -- but
  • хочю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <хотѣти, хоштѫ, хоштєши> want, wish -- I want
  • въӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • почтити -- verb; infinitive of <почьстити, -штѫ, -стиши> cultivate, care for, honor -- to honor
  • наутриӏа -- noun; neuter genitive singular of <наѹтрьѥ> morning, morrow, tomorrow -- tomorrow # Note use of genitive to specify time
  • предъ -- preposition; <прѣдъ> (w. acc. or instr.) before, in front of -- before
  • людьми -- noun; masculine instrumental plural of <людьѥ> (pl.) men, people; population, (a) people -- people
  • своими -- adjective; masculine instrumental plural of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- my

52-53 - а нъӏне идѣте в лодью свою и лѧзите в лодьӏ величающе сѧ. азъ ѹтро послю по въӏ.

  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- ...
  • нъӏне -- adverb; <нъӏн҄ӏа, нъӏнѣ> now -- For now
  • идѣте -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- go
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- to
  • лодью -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <лодья> boat -- boat
  • свою -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- your
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • лѧзите -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <лєшти, лѧгѫ, лѧжєши> lie down, recline -- take your repose
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • лодьӏ -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- the boat
  • величающе -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <вєличати, -чаѭ, -чаѥши> raise; (refl.) be raised, be exalted, be elated, be conceited -- exulting
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • азъ -- pronoun; nominative singular of <азъ> I -- I
  • ѹтро -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <ютро, ѹтро> dawn, daybreak; morning, morrow, tomorrow -- in the morning # Note accusative to specify (extent of) time
  • послю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- I will send
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- for
  • въӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you

53-56 - въӏ же рьцѣте не єдемъ на конѣхъ, ни пѣши идемъ, но понесѣте нъӏ в лодьѣ. и възнесуть въӏ в лодьи. и ѿпусти ӏа в лодью.

  • въӏ -- pronoun; nominative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- ...
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- But
  • рьцѣте -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- say
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • єдемъ -- verb; 2nd person plural present of <ӏахати (ӏад-), -хаѭ, -хаѥши> be carried, ride, go -- We will... be carried
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- on
  • конѣхъ -- noun; masculine locative plural of <конь> horse -- horses
  • ни -- conjunction; <ни> and not, nor, no; (repeated) neither... nor -- nor
  • пѣши -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <пѣшь> on foot, foot-borne, standing -- on foot
  • идемъ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- will we go
  • но -- conjunction; <нъ> but -- but
  • понесѣте -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <понєсти, -сѫ, -сєши> carry, transport -- carry
  • нъӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <азъ> I -- us
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- on
  • лодьѣ -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- a boat
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • възнесуть -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <възнєсти, -сѫ, -сєши> carry, transport, transfer -- they will carry
  • въӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- on
  • лодьи -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- the boat
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • ѿпусти -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <отъпѹстити, -штѫ, -стиши> allow, let, free; send (away) -- she released
  • ӏа -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <> he -- them
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- to
  • лодью -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <лодья> boat -- the boat

56-58 - ѡльга же повелѣ ископати ӏаму велику и глубоку на дворѣ теремьстѣмь внѣ града.

  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- But
  • повелѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <повєлѣти, -лѭ, -лиши> give a command, command -- ordered
  • ископати -- verb; infinitive of <ископати, -паѭ, -паѥши> dig, dig out, excavate -- to be dug
  • ӏаму -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <ӏама> pit, hole -- a hole
  • велику -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <вєликъ> big, large, great -- wide
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • глубоку -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <глѫбокъ> deep -- deep
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- in
  • дворѣ -- noun; masculine locative singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- the... court
  • теремьстѣмь -- adjective; masculine locative singular of <трѣмьнъ> of a tower, relating to a tower, relating to a castle -- tower
  • внѣ -- preposition; <внѣ> (w. gen.) outside (of) -- outside
  • града -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city

58-60 - и заѹтра волга сѣдѧщи в теремѣ посла по гости. и придоша к нимъ глаголюще, зоветь въӏ ѡльга на честь вєлику.

  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • заѹтра -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of + noun; neuter genitive singular of <ютро, ѹтро> dawn, daybreak; morning, morrow, tomorrow -- the next morning
  • волга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • сѣдѧщи -- participle; feminine nominative singular of <сѣдѣти, -ждѫ, -диши> sit, remain -- sitting
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • теремѣ -- noun; masculine locative singular of <трѣмъ> tower, castle; home, residence -- the tower
  • посла -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- sent
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- for
  • гости -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <гость> guest -- the guests
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • придоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- they came
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • нимъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <> he -- them
  • глаголюще -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <глаголати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> say, speak -- saying
  • зоветь -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <звати, зовѫ, зовєши> cry out; call, summon -- summons
  • въӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- for
  • честь -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <чьсть> honor, rank, reverence, feast, device, pattern -- a... honor
  • вєлику -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <вєликъ> big, large, great -- great

60-62 - ѡни же рѣша не єдемъ на конихъ, ни на возѣхъ. понесѣте нъӏ в лодьи.

  • ѡни -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine nominative plural of <онъ, оно, она> that, that one -- they
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- responded
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • єдемъ -- verb; 2nd person plural present of <ӏахати (ӏад-), -хаѭ, -хаѥши> be carried, ride, go -- We will... be carried
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- on
  • конихъ -- noun; masculine locative plural of <конь> horse -- horses # Note the change of declension between конихъ here and конѣхъ earlier, lines 53-56
  • ни -- conjunction; <ни> and not, nor, no; (repeated) neither... nor -- nor
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- on
  • возѣхъ -- noun; masculine locative plural of <возъ> chariot, wagon, cart -- carts
  • понесѣте -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <понєсти, -сѫ, -сєши> carry, transport -- Carry
  • нъӏ -- pronoun; accusative plural of <азъ> I -- us
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • лодьи -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- the boat

62-64 - рѣша же киӏане, намъ неволѧ; кнѧзь нашь ѹбьєнъ. а кнѧгини наша хоче за вашь кнѧзь. и понесоша ӏа в лодьи.

  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • киӏане -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <къӏӏанинъ> of Kiev, of Kyiv, Kievan -- The Kievans
  • намъ -- pronoun; dative plural of <азъ> I -- We (have) # Literally 'to us there is (need)'
  • неволѧ -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <нєволӏа> need, necessity -- need
  • кнѧзь -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince
  • нашь -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <нашь> our, of us -- our
  • ѹбьєнъ -- past passive participle; masculine nominative singular of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- (is) killed
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- But
  • кнѧгини -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <кънѧгъӏни> princess -- princess
  • наша -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <нашь> our, of us -- our
  • хоче -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <хотѣти, хоштѫ, хоштєши> want, wish -- longs
  • за -- preposition; <за> (w. acc.) after, by, because of, for; (w. instr.) behind; (w. gen.) because of -- after
  • вашь -- adjective; masculine accusative singular of <вашь> of you, your (pl.) -- your
  • кнѧзь -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- prince
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • понесоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <понєсти, -сѫ, -сєши> carry, transport -- they carried
  • ӏа -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <> he -- them
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • лодьи -- noun; feminine locative singular of <лодья> boat -- the boat

64-67 - ѡни же сѣдѧху в перегъбѣхъ в вєликихъ сустугахъ гордѧще сѧ, и принесоша ӏа на дворъ к ользѣ.

  • ѡни -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine nominative singular of <онъ, оно, она> that, that one -- they
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • сѣдѧху -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <сѣдѣти, -ждѫ, -диши> sit, remain -- sat
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- on
  • перегъбѣхъ -- noun; masculine locative plural of <прѣгъбъ> (meaning unclear) a bending; a bending backward, vain glory, pomposity; a piece of cloth, decorative cloak with bejeweled clasp; cross-bench (of a Viking ship) -- on the cross-benches
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • вєликихъ -- adjective; feminine locative plural of <вєликъ> big, large, great -- great
  • сустугахъ -- noun; feminine locative plural of <сътѫга> (meaning unclear) a binding; clasp, buckle; fibula -- robes
  • гордѧще -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <гръдити сѧ, -ждѫ, -диши> be haughty, be arrogant -- exalted with pride
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • принесоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <принєсти, -сѫ, -сєши> bring, carry -- they brought
  • ӏа -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <> he -- them
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- into
  • дворъ -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- the court
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • ользѣ -- proper noun; feminine dative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga

67 - несъше вринуша є въ ӏаму и с лодьєю.

  • несъше -- past participle; masculine nominative singular of <нєсти, -сѫ, -сєши> bring -- Having carried (them)
  • вринуша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <въринѫти, -нѫ, -нєши> thrust in; throw, throw in; cast away -- they cast
  • є -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <> he -- them
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- into
  • ӏаму -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <ӏама> pit, hole -- the pit
  • и -- adverb; <и> and; also, too, even -- too
  • с -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • лодьєю -- noun; feminine instrumental singular of <лодья> boat -- the boat

68-69 - приникъши ѡльга и рече имъ, добра ли въӏ чєсть.

  • приникъши -- past participle; feminine nominative singular of <приникнѫти, -нѫ, -нєши> stoop to look, peer, look -- peered
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <> he -- to them
  • добра -- adjective; feminine nominative singular of <добръ> good -- good (enough)
  • ли -- adverb; <ли> or; whether -- (Is)
  • въӏ -- pronoun; dative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- for you
  • чєсть -- noun; feminine nominative singular of <чьсть> honor, rank, reverence, feast, device, pattern -- (that) honor

69-70 - ѡни же рѣша, пущи нъӏ игоревъӏ смерти. и повелѣ засъӏпати ӏа живъӏ. и посъӏпаша ӏа.

  • ѡни -- demonstrative pronoun; masculine nominative plural of <онъ, оно, она> that, that one -- they
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • рѣша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- replied
  • пущи -- comparative adjective; neuter nominative singular of <пѹштий> more pitiable, more wretched -- worse
  • нъӏ -- pronoun; dative plural of <азъ> I -- to us (it's)
  • игоревъӏ -- adjective; feminine genitive singular of <игорєвъ> of Igor, Igor's, relating to Igor -- Igor's
  • смерти -- noun; feminine genitive singular of <съмрьть> death -- than... death # Note the use of the genitive with comparison
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • повелѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <повєлѣти, -лѭ, -лиши> give a command, command -- she commanded
  • засъӏпати -- verb; infinitive of <засъӏпати, -плѭ, -плѥши> cover, cover over, hide, bury -- (that they) bury
  • ӏа -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <> he -- them
  • живъӏ -- adjective; masculine accusative plural of <живъ> alive, living -- alive
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • посъӏпаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <посъӏпати, -плѭ, -плѥши> cover, cover over, hide, bury -- they covered
  • ӏа -- pronoun; masculine accusative plural of <> he -- them

Lesson Text

38-40 -
и повѣдаша ѡльзѣ ӏако деревлѧне придоша. и возва є ѡльга к собѣ и рече имъ добри гостьє придоша. 40-41 -
и рѣша деревлѧне придохомъ кнѧгине. 41-42 -
и рече имъ ѡльга, да глаголите что ради придосте сѣмо. 42-45 -
рѣша же древлѧне посла нъӏ дерьвьска зємлѧ рькуще сице, мужа твоєго ѹбихомъ, бѧше бо мужь твои аки волкъ восхищаӏа и грабѧ. 45-48 -
а наши кнѧзи добри суть, иже распасли суть деревьску зємлю. да поиди за кнѧзь нашь за малъ. бѣ бо имѧ єму малъ кнѧзю дерьвьску. 48-51 -
рече же имъ ѡльга, люба ми єсть рѣчь ваша. ѹже мнѣ мужа своєго не крѣсити, но хочю въӏ почтити наутриӏа предъ людьми своими. 52-53 -
а нъӏне идѣте в лодью свою и лѧзите в лодьӏ величающе сѧ. азъ ѹтро послю по въӏ. 53-56 -
въӏ же рьцѣте не єдемъ на конѣхъ, ни пѣши идемъ, но понесѣте нъӏ в лодьѣ. и възнесуть въӏ в лодьи. и ѿпусти ӏа в лодью. 56-58 -
ѡльга же повелѣ ископати ӏаму велику и глубоку на дворѣ теремьстѣмь внѣ града. 58-60 -
и заѹтра волга сѣдѧщи в теремѣ посла по гости. и придоша к нимъ глаголюще, зоветь въӏ ѡльга на честь вєлику. 60-62 -
ѡни же рѣша не єдемъ на конихъ, ни на возѣхъ. понесѣте нъӏ в лодьи. 62-64 -
рѣша же киӏане, намъ неволѧ; кнѧзь нашь ѹбьєнъ. а кнѧгини наша хоче за вашь кнѧзь. и понесоша ӏа в лодьи. 64-67 -
ѡни же сѣдѧху в перегъбѣхъ в вєликихъ сустугахъ гордѧще сѧ, и принесоша ӏа на дворъ к ользѣ. 67 несъше вринуша є въ ӏаму и с лодьєю. 68-69 -
приникъши ѡльга и рече имъ, добра ли въӏ чєсть. 69-70 -
ѡни же рѣша, пущи нъӏ игоревъӏ смерти. и повелѣ засъӏпати ӏа живъӏ. и посъӏпаша ӏа.

Translation

38-40 And they announced to Olga that the Derevlians had arrived. And Olga summoned them before her and said to them, "The welcome guests have arrived." 40-41 And the Derevlians replied, "We have arrived, princess." 41-42 And Olga bade them, "Tell: for what have you come here?" 42-45 And the Derevlians responded, "The nation of Dereva sent us, speaking thus: 'We have killed your husband, for your husband was like a wolf, robbing and plundering. 45-48 But our princes are good, who cultivated the land of Dereva. Come (and marry) our prince, Mal.'" For his name was Mal, the Derevlian prince. 48-51 And Olga said to them, "Your words are dear to me. Now (there is) no (way) for me to raise my husband. But I want to honor you tomorrow before my people. 52-53 For now go to your boat and take your repose in the boat, exulting. In the morning I will send for you. 53-56 But say this: 'We will not be carried on horses, nor will we go on foot, but carry us on a boat.' And they will carry you on the boat." And she released them to the boat. 56-58 But Olga ordered a hole to be dug wide and deep in the tower court outside of the city. 58-60 And the next morning, sitting in the tower, Olga sent for the guests. And they came to them, saying, "Olga summons you for a great honor." 60-62 And they responded, "We will not be carried on horses, nor on carts. Carry us in the boat." 62-64 The Kievans said, "We have need; our prince is killed. But our princess longs after your prince." And they carried them in the boat. 64-67 And they sat on the cross-benches (?) in great robes, exalted with pride. And they brought them into the court to Olga. 67 Having carried them, they cast them into the pit with the boat too. 68-69 Olga peered in and said to them, "Is that honor good (enough) for you?" 69-70 And they replied, "To us it's worse than Igor's death." And she commanded that (they) bury them alive. And they covered them.

Grammar

16. Consonant-Stem Nouns

Consonant-stem nouns form the "other" declension of Old Russian. Really the consonant-stem nouns descend from a wide variety of Indo-European formations. But within Common Slavic in general, and Old Russian in particular, these formations have coalesced into a fairly unified declensional type. Speaking generally, the Old Russian nouns of this declension show a nominative singular that can take one of a handful of shapes, each appearing more or less "strange" or "unique" from the viewpoint of the nominal declensions we have seen heretofore. This unique nominative singular is then stripped from the noun and replaced with a suffix that then persists throughout the remainder of the paradigm.

To this suffix Old Russian adds a specific set of endings which, though somewhat distinct from the declension types we have seen, remains consistent throughout all the individual consonant-stem declensions. Foremost among these endings is the genitive singular in , for which some scholars call these the e-declension. Such nomenclature is specific to Slavic studies and does not refer, in contrast to other declensions, to any thematic vowel dating to the Indo-European period. It does however recall the *-e- found in the PIE genitive singular ending *-es.

16.1. v-Stem Nouns

The v-declension in Indo-European terms should more properly be called the long-u-declension. This declension comprises a handful of exclusively feminine nouns whose inflectional type harkens back to that of nouns with a long-*u in Proto-Indo-European. In the nominative singular the final *-s of the regular inflection fell away in Common Slavic and the long-u evolved into Common Slavic *-y, hence Old Russian ы. In the remainder of the paradigm, however, where this long-*u preceded vowel-initial endings, the long-*u was reanalyzed as the sequence *-uu-, and hence *-uō(t) before the following vowel. This leaves a distinctive stem suffix -ъв- that permeates the paradigm of v-stem nouns. Examples of nouns belonging to this declension are свєкры 'mother-in-law', любы 'love', and смокы 'fig'. The forms of црькы 'church' illustrate the v-stem declension.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
N   црькы   црькъви   црькъвє
A   црькъвь   црькъви   црькъви
G   црькъвє   црькъву   црькъвъ
L   црькъвє   црькъву   црькъвахъ
D   црькъви   црькъвама   црькъвамъ
I   црькъвью   црькъвама   црькъвами
V   црькы   црькъви   црькъвє

In the locative, dative, and instrumental plural we see the influence of the a-declension with forms such as црькъвамъ. The same applies to the dative and instrumental dual forms. In particular we note that the v-declension forms an exception to the rule of thumb that the thematic vowel appears in the dative plural.

We also find the ending -ью in the instrumental singular, a form influenced both by the a-declension and by the feminines of the i-declension. Moreover the i-declension shows a strong influence on nouns of the v-declension, so that we also find forms such as genitive and locative singular црькъви alongside the expected црькъвє. In fact the influence of the i-stems is so pervasive in some nouns that the nominative singular itself has been reformed. An example of this is provided by кры 'blood', which properly belongs to the v-declension, but whose forms show a strong influence from the i-declension.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
N   кръвь   -   кръви
A   кръвь   -   кръви
G   кръвє, кръви   -   кръвьи, кръвъ, кръвы
L   кръви   -   кръвьхъ
D   кръви   -   кръвьмъ
I   кръвью   -   кръвьми
V   кръвь   -   кръви

Note that jers in tense position, such as in кръвьи and црькъвью, may be written with -и-: кръвии and црькъвию.

16.2. n-Stem Nouns

The n-stem declension contains the remnants of what was a very important class of nouns in the Indo-European parent language. In Proto-Indo-European many nouns of the core vocabulary showed *n-stem inflection; some seemed to alternate between *r-stem and *n-stem: English r-stem water corresponds to Hittite r-stem wadar with the same meaning; however the Hittite noun shows an n-stem in many oblique forms, such as genitive singular wedenas, which in turn corresponds to the n-stem preserved in Old Norse vatn 'water'.

As with the v-stem declension, the forms split between a unique form for the nominative singular and a relatively stable stem throughout the rest of the paradigm. For the n-stems, a nominative singular with -n- preceded by a long-*o in PIE resulted in Old Russian ; meanwhile a nominative singular with -n- preceded by long-*e in PIE resulted in a nasalized in Old Church Slavonic, but in Old Russian with the typical loss of nasalization. In the remainder of the paradigm, the sequence *-en- typically preceded a vowel, and so persisted unchanged. This yields the stem suffix -єн- characteristic of the n-declension. Examples from this declension include the masculine noun камы 'stone', as well as the neuter nouns врѣмя (вєрємя) 'time' and чисмя 'number'.

The masculine noun камъӏ 'stone', whose nominative derives from an original form with long-*o, and the neuter noun имя 'name', whose nominative harkens back to the long-*e grade, serve to illustrate the n-stem declension.

    Singular   Dual   Plural           Singular   Dual   Plural
N   камы   камєни   камєнє           имя   имєнѣ   имєна
A   камєнь   камєни   камєни           имєнь   имєнѣ   имєна
G   камєнє   камєну   камєнъ           имєнє   имєну   имєнъ
L   камєнє   камєну   камєньхъ           имєнє   имєну   имєньхъ
D   камєни   камєньма   камєньмъ           имєни   имєньма   имєньмъ
I   камєньмь   камєньма   камєньми           имєньмь   имєньма   имєны
V   камы   камєни   камєни           имя   имєнѣ   имєна

Note in this declension the reappearance of the ending -ьмь in the instrumental singular, as well as -ь- in the locative, dative, and instrumental plural where the v-declension employed -а-. In the paradigm for the neuter noun имя, however, we see the instrumental plural appears as имєн-ы, employing the ending familiar from the o-stems. We also find the expected ending for the plural nominative, accusative, and vocative of neuter nouns.

As with the v-stems, the i-stem declension strongly influenced the n-stem declension. As a result we also find forms such as камєни for the genitive singular камєнє. Occasionally we also find an innovative nominative singular камєнь based on the stem found throughout the rest of the paradigm and the nominative singular ending typical of i-stem nouns (a shape reinforced by its being the same as the accusative singular).

The common noun дьнь 'day' shows considerable influence both from the i-stem and the v-stem nouns. Consider its declension as illustrated below.

    Singular   Dual   Plural
N   дьнь   дьни   дьнє, дьньє
A   дьнь   дьни   дьни
G   дьнє, дьни   дьну, дьнью   дьнъ, дьновъ, дьньи
L   дьнє, дьни   дьну, дьнью   дьньхъ
D   дьни   дьньма   дьньмъ
I   дьньмь, дьнью   дьньма   дьньми
V   дьнь   дьни   дьни

We find in this paradigm the importing of the instrumental singular ending -ью from the feminine i-stems, while the nominative plural дьньє shows the influence of the masculine i-stems. Moreover we also see the genitive plural дьновъ formed by analogy with the u-stem nouns.

17. Compound Forms of Adjectives

The compound adjectives, also termed long-form or definite adjectives, exhibit endings which derive from a combination of the short-form, twofold endings and the endings of the third person pronoun [*jĭ]. At the most basic level, Old Russian simply appends the pronominal forms after the corresponding form of the simple adjective. But the result becomes a phonological unit, and so the resulting combination often undergoes phonetic changes obscuring to some degree the origin of the form.

We may illustrate the basic structure with the nominative and genitive singular forms of the adjective добръ 'good'. Here we treat the Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic forms in parallel. There are two primary reasons for this:

  • The indigenous Old Russian forms have typically undergone further simplification by the time of the Old Russian texts, making the underlying elements of the compound more difficult to identify;
  • At all early stages of Old Russian the Old Church Slavonic literary tradition exerted a strong influence on the writing, and so we still encounter OCS forms in the Old Russian texts.

With that in mind, consider the following table.

    Underlying Form   OCS   Old Russian
N Sg.            
Masc.   dobrŭ+jĭ   добръи   добрыи
Neut.   dobro+je   доброѥ   доброѥ
Fem.   dobra+ja   добрая   добрая
             
G            
Masc.   dobra+jego   добраѥго   доброго
Neut.   dobra+jego   добраѥго   доброго
Fem.   dobry+jeję   добръӏя   доброѩ

If w look at the OCS forms, we see from the masculine and neuter forms that the simple adjective forms and the corresponding pronominal forms sit side by side. However, given that the back jer is now in tense position in the masculine nominative form, we expect to find the variant добръӏи, which is actually the more typical form. Moreover, the feminine genitive form shows that elision of the initial elements of the pronominal forms often accompanies the composition of elements. In the Old Russian forms this tendency towards simplification has been extended. While even within OCS we find assimilation in the masculine and neuter genitive singular leading to forms such as добрааго and then contraction leading to добраго, Old Russian has greatly reduced this form in доброго. Here we find no trace of the twofold genitive singular ending . The resulting ending parallels the pronominal ending. The same holds for many of the other forms throughout the paradigm.

17.1. Hard Compound Adjectives

The hard stem compound adjectives derive, straightforwardly enough, from the composition of the hard stem simple adjective forms with the third person pronominal forms. Because of their greater transparency in terms of compositional analysis, as well as for their ubiquity in Old Russian texts, we first list for convenience the proper Old Church Slavonic forms of the adjective добръ 'good'.

OCS   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   добръӏи   доброѥ   добраӏа
A   добръӏи   доброѥ   добрѫѭ
G   добраѥго   добраѥго   добръӏѩ
L   добрѣѥмь   добрѣѥмь   добрѣи
D   добруѥму   добруѥму   добрѣи
I   добръӏимь   добръӏимь   добрѫѭ
V   добръӏи   добоѥ   добраӏа
             
N Du.   добраӏа   добрѣи   добрѣи
A   добраӏа   добрѣи   добрѣи
G   добрую   добрую   добрую
L   добрую   добрую   добрую
D   добръӏима   добръӏима   добръӏима
I   добръӏима   добръӏима   добръӏима
V   добраӏа   добрѣи   добрѣи
             
N Pl.   добрии   добраӏа   добръӏѩ
A   добръӏѩ   добраӏа   добръӏѩ
G   добръӏихъ   добръӏихъ   добръӏихъ
L   добръӏихъ   добръӏихъ   добръӏихъ
D   добръӏимъ   добръӏимъ   добръӏимъ
I   добръӏими   добръӏими   добръӏими
V   добрии   добраӏа   добръӏѩ

The proper Old Russian forms, listed below, show a greater tendency toward simplifying the junction between adjectival and pronominal endings.

ORuss   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   добрыи   доброѥ   добрая
A   добрыи   доброѥ   добрую
G   доброго   доброго   доброѩ
L   добромь   добромь   добрѣи
D   доброму   доброму   доброи
I   добрыимь   добрыимь   доброю
V   добрыи   добоѥ   добрая
             
N Du.   добрая   добрѣи   добрѣи
A   добрая   добрѣи   добрѣи
G   доброю   доброю   доброю
L   доброю   доброю   доброю
D   добрыима   добрыима   добрыима
I   добрыима   добрыима   добрыима
V   добрая   добрѣи   добрѣи
             
N Pl.   добрии   добрая   добрыѣ
A   добрыѣ   добрая   добрыѣ
G   добрыихъ   добрыихъ   добрыихъ
L   добрыихъ   добрыихъ   добрыихъ
D   добрыимъ   добрыимъ   добрыимъ
I   добрыими   добрыими   добрыими
V   добрии   добрая   добрыѣ

We find the greatest simplification, as compared to the OCS forms, in the singular oblique cases. As mentioned earlier we note the reformulation of the masculine and neuter genitive singular ending -а-єго as -ого, with an initial -о- otherwise unexpected from the combining elements -а- and -є-. Similarly we find the feminine genitive singular доброѩ contains о-vocalism where the OCS form does not. We find a similar situation in the dative, with masculine and neuter доброму, and feminine доброи.

Most of the remaining forms are subject to further contraction. For example we often find добръӏми for добръӏими in the instrumental plural, and likewise for other forms of similar shape in the dual and plural.

We also find the results of second palatalization in certain forms of the compound adjective where the stem ends in a velar consonant. The following table lists those forms of вєликъ 'great' which exhibit palatalization.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
L Sg.   вєлицѣмь   вєлицѣмь   вєлицѣи
D           вєлицѣи
             
N A V Du.       вєлицѣи   вєлицѣи
             
N Pl.   вєлиции        
17.2. Soft Compound Adjectives

The soft compound adjectives correspond to the composition of soft simple twofold adjectives with the corresponding pronominal forms. As above, we list first the Old Church Slavonic forms because of their transparency of composition and their frequent occurrence in the Old Russian texts. The adjective ништь 'poor' serves to illustrate the paradigm.

OCS   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   ништьи   ништєѥ   ништаӏа
A   ништьи   ништєѥ   ништѫѭ
G   ништаѥго   ништаѥго   ништѧѩ
L   ништиимь   ништиимь   ништии
D   ништюѥму   ништюѥму   ништии
I   ништиимь   ништиимь   ништѫѭ
V   ништьи   ништєѥ   ништаӏа
             
N Du.   ништаӏа   ништии   ништии
A   ништаӏа   ништии   ништии
G   ништюю   ништюю   ништюю
L   ништюю   ништюю   ништюю
D   ништиима   ништиима   ништиима
I   ништиима   ништиима   ништиима
V   ништаӏа   ништии   ништии
             
N Pl.   ништии   ништаӏа   ништѧѩ
A   ништѧѩ   ништаӏа   ништѧѩ
G   ништиихъ   ништиихъ   ништиихъ
L   ништиихъ   ништиихъ   ништиихъ
D   ништиимъ   ништиимъ   ништиимъ
I   ништиими   ништиими   ништиими
V   ништии   ништаӏа   ништѧѩ

The following chart list the proper Old Russian forms for the adjective син҄ь 'blue'.

ORuss   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   син҄ьи   син҄єѥ   син҄яя
A   син҄ьи   син҄єѥ   син҄юю
G   син҄ѥго   син҄ѥго   син҄ѥѣ
L   син҄ѥмь   син҄ѥмь   син҄ѥи
D   син҄ѥму   син҄ѥму   син҄ѥи
I   син҄имь   син҄имь   син҄ѥю
V   син҄ьи   син҄єѥ   син҄яя
             
N Du.   син҄яя   син҄ии   син҄ии
A   син҄яя   син҄ии   син҄ии
G   син҄ѥю   син҄ѥю   син҄ѥю
L   син҄ѥю   син҄ѥю   син҄ѥю
D   син҄има   син҄има   син҄има
I   син҄има   син҄има   син҄има
V   син҄яя   син҄ии   син҄ии
             
N Pl.   син҄ии   син҄яя   син҄ѣѣ
A   син҄ѣѣ   син҄яя   син҄ѣѣ
G   син҄ихъ   син҄ихъ   син҄ихъ
L   син҄ихъ   син҄ихъ   син҄ихъ
D   син҄имъ   син҄имъ   син҄имъ
I   син҄ими   син҄ими   син҄ими
V   син҄ии   син҄яя   син҄ѣѣ

We see in the soft stems the same tendency toward reduction as in the hard stems. In the soft stems, however, we tend to find є-vocalism where in the hard stems we found о-vocalism: e.g. masculine genitive singular син҄ѥго versus доброго.

18. The l-Participle

Old Russian, along with Old Church Slavonic and other Slavic languages, employs a particular past participle based on an l-suffix, a suffix with remnants in a handful of other Indo-European branches, Italic most notably among them. This participle, known variously as the l-participle, resultative participle, or the second past participle, does not enjoy as free a use as other past participle formations in Old Russian. Rather, this participle almost exclusively finds employ as the participial component of periphrastic, or compound, verbal formations of the past tense. As such, it exhibits only case endings of the nominative, in agreement with the subject of the periphrastic verb. These endings come from the twofold hard-stem adjective declension. The l-suffix is typically attached to the aorist-infinitive stem of the verb. The following table provides some examples.

Conjugation   Infinitive   Nom. Sg.   Meaning
I   нєс-ти   нєс-лъ, -ла, -ло   having carried
II   двиг-ну-ти   двиг-лъ, -ла, -ло   having moved
        двиг-ну-лъ, -ла, -ло    
III   зна-ти   зна-лъ, -ла, -ло   having known
IV   ход-и-ти   ходи-лъ, -ла, -ло   having gone
V   да-ти   да-лъ, -ла, -ло   having given

As depicted in the above chart, the l-participle of verbs containing the -ну- suffix can be built onto the stem including the suffix or directly onto the root without the suffix.

The resultative participle of ити 'to go' is built from the special stem шьд-: with regular loss of -д- before -л-, this yields шьлъ, шьла, шило. We see a similar sound change in other verbs with stems ending in a dental. For example у-вяд-ну-ти 'to fade' has resultative participle увялъ, etc.

One interesting feature of the Old Russian resultative participle is the use of endings other than when the nominative singular masculine is called for. This occurs particularly with the Birchbark Writs. In these documents we find the endings -лє, -лѣ, -ль, -лѧ, -ло in place of the expected -лъ. For example, we find in number 345 the form звало єсмь 'I called' for expected *зъвалъ єсмь.

19. Prefixes & Prepositions

Old Russian, like other Slavic languages in general, and like Old Church Slavonic in particular, employs numerous particles to color the meaning of clauses and phrases. Among these particles verbal prefixes and prepositions factor prominently. We discuss these two types of particles below.

19.1. Prefixes

Old Russian verbal prefixes form an indispensible part of the language. Frequently verbal prefixes double as prepositions, and their use in many ways parallels their use in English. In English verbal prefixes can at times dramatically change the meaning of a verb: compare the unprefixed stand with the prefixed understand. At other times the prefix only changes the original verb's sense slightly if at all: compare stretch to outstretch. The same situation obtains in Old Russian, where some prefixes substantially change the original verb's meaning, while others provide almost no perceptible distinction in sense.

However prefixes in Old Russian also serve in another role: to change the aspect of a verb. In particular, where an unprefixed verb is generally imperfective, the addition of (any) prefix will serve to make the new prefixed verb perfective. Debate surrounds the question as to what degree this had become systematized within the earliest stages of East Slavic, but we do see in the texts the beginning of what has become one of the hallmarks of Russian verbal inflection. We will discuss verbal aspect in somewhat more detail later in these lessons.

For the most part Old Russian displays the same set of verbal prefixes as that found in Old Church Slavonic. Moreover, these prefixes do typically correspond to self-standing prepositions. But there are some noteworthy differences. In particular, вы- is a specifically East and North Slavic prefix, perhaps borrowed from Gothic ut (cf. Eng. out), with the final -t dropping before following consonants. The preposition из often introduces the prepositional phrase which complements or completes the meaning of the associated verb with prefix вы-. And the particle въз- appears only as a prefix within East Slavic. Likewise пєрє- only assumes the role of a prefix in East Slavic.

The following table lists some of the most pervasive verbal prefixes, along with the basic sense each one imparts to the verb to which it is affixed. Finally the last two columns provide examples of these senses and an accompanying translation.

Prefix   Sense   Example   Meaning
вы-   out   въӏходити из...   to go out of
             
из-   out, thoroughly   изѣдати   to eat up, devour
             
въз-   (inception)   възлюбити   to fall in love
    (iteration, 're-')   въздати   to return, give back
             
за-   (inception)   зажєщи   to ignite, catch fire
             
на-   (accumulation)   насъӏтити сѧ   to eat one's fill
             
о-, об-   (pftv. of state change)   окамєнити   to turn to stone, petrify
             
пєрє-, прѣ-   through, over   прѣступити   to cross a threshold
    excessively (adj.)   прѣмъного   exceedingly much
             
по-   forth (direction)   поити   to set out
    (perfective)   почьстити   to honor
19.2. Prepositions

In the parent language Proto-Indo-European, what we now call prepositions functioned for the most part as self-standing adverbs that would color a sentence as a whole, but which would not be associated with any particular word in the sentence. It seems that the case system was robust enough to distinguish sufficiently the grammatical functions of the various substantives in a sentence. We still see this adverbial use of later prepositions in some of the most archaic documents of the language family, namely in the Homeric epics of Greece and the Vedas of India.

But as the various daughter languages evolved, we see that many of them began to simplify the case system, sometimes drastically. Slavic for its part preserves many of the cases reconstructed for PIE, though it does lose the ablative case for example. As cases fell away, the remaining cases ended up taking up the slack: for example not only does the Old Russian genitive denote possession, as the PIE genitive, but it can also denote the origin or source, a sense originally denoted by the ablative. As a given case came to denote a variety of different meanings, the adverbs served to pluck out from among the different choices the particular meaning intended. And as this became more frequent, and more necessary, the adverbs gravitated closer and closer to the nouns until, in Slavic, they came to stand directly before the noun as a preposition.

Old Russian prepositions often govern a variety of cases. Because of the development described above, the sense a preposition imparts often corresponds closely to the case governed: in fact it is the preposition-case unit that has meaning, and not the preposition alone within Old Russian. For example, the preposition въ can mean either 'in' or 'into'. But since the locative case naturally denotes the location, then въ only means 'in' when governing the locative. Likewise, since the accusative can denote the goal of directed motion, then въ only means 'into' when governing the accusative.

Of course any language is much more robust than any theoretical description, and this is particularly true of Old Russian. Hence we find some preposition-case combinations where it is not clear how the original meaning of the case would correspond naturally to the overall sense imparted. We must therefore learn the preposition-case combinations together by rote. The following chart provides a list of the most common prepositions in Old Russian texts, along with the cases they govern and the particular sense elicited in combination with each case. The last two columns provide examples together with translations.

Preposition   Case   Sense   Example   Meaning
въ   A   into (direction)   въ деревѣ   to Dereva
    L   in (place)   въ деревѣхъ   in Dereva
                 
до   G   until, up to   до сєго дьнє   up to this day
                 
за   A   for, after, behind (direction)   за кънязь   after the prince
    G   because of   за обычая   by (force of) habit
    I   after, behind (place)   за морємъ   across the sea
                 
из   G   from, out of, out from   из града   out from the city
                 
къ   D   to, toward   къ цѣсарю   to the emperor
                 
на   A   onto (direction)   на чьсть вєлику   for a great honor
    L   on (place)   на горѣ   on the hill
                 
надъ   A   over, above (direction)   надъ вєрхъ   over the top
    I   over, above (place)   надъ гробъмь єго   over his grave
                 
о, об   A   over, round, about (direction)   о зємлю   over the earth
    L   over, round, about (place)   о собѣ   by themselves
                 
отъ   G   from, out of (source)   отъ града   out from the city
    G   by, by means of (agent)   отъ Бога   by God
                 
по   A   below, through, for   по дань   in pursuit of tribute
    L   after, because of, for   по мужи своємь   for her husband
    D   on, about (direction, extent)   по странамъ   across the lands
                 
подъ   A   under (direction)   подъ кровъ мои   (enter) under my roof
    I   under (place)   подъ ногами вашими   under your feet
                 
при   L   near, at the time of   при вєчєрѣ   toward evening
                 
прѣдъ   A   before, in front of (direction)   прѣдъ Богъ   before God
    L   before, in front of (place)   пєрєдъ людьми   in the presence of good people
                 
съ   A   for the extent of   съ другую сторону   on the other side
    G   down from, away, off   съ Дону вєликаго   from the great Don
    I   with (association)   съ съӏнъмь своимь   with her son
                 
у   G   at (place)   у гроба   at the tomb
20. Adjective Use

We have seen that adjectives fall into two broad categories: definite and indefinite. This distinction has a clear morphological realization: the indefinite forms of the adjective take endings derived from the twofold nominal declension, while definite adjectives append to these twofold forms the corresponding forms of the third person pronoun . Old Russian in fact further refines the definite forms of the adjectives by blurring the boundary between nominal and pronominal endings.

But originally the distinction between definite and indefinite adjectives lies on another, perhaps more fundamental, level, one which becomes clearer upon comparison with other early remnants of the Slavic languages. In particular, the indefinite adjectives originally served to modify an as yet unspecified referent, whereas the definite adjectives modified specific referents. We may compare with English. The Old Church Slavonic phrase добръ мѫжь, employing an indefinite adjective form, most closely parallels the English phrase 'a good man'. By contrast the Old Church Slavonic phrase добръи мѫжь, employing a definite adjective form, most closely parallels the English phrase 'the good man'. In the simplest sense, the addition of the pronoun to the simple adjective forms serves the same function as the definite article the serves in English. The lack of the pronominal forms corresponds to the English use of the indefinite article a or an. More generally, compound adjectival forms generally modify nouns whose referents have already been introduced into the narrative at an earlier stage and are assumed known to the reader or listener: the compound adjectives point back to that previously introduced element.

However when we look closely at the situation in Old Russian, this distinction seems early to have started breaking down. In fact we find that the particular case form involved seems to play a role in the choice between definite and indefinite adjective forms: the definite adjective forms seem to be prevalent in the masculine and neuter instrumental singular, and in the genitive and locative of all genders (Schmalstieg 1996).

Modern Russian usage employs the long-form (definite) adjective in attributive position, the short-form (indefinite) in predicate position. We find this tendency already in place in Old Russian texts. For example we find in the Primary Chronicle: отроци Свѣньлжи изодѣлися сѹть... а мъӏ нази "Sveinald's retainers are clothed... but we (are) naked." In this example нази 'naked' is the short-form adjective, here used predicatively. But we also find such short-forms used attributively, as in the following example, also from the Primary Chronicle: тъӏ кънязь єси мудръ и съмъӏсльнъ "You are a wise and prudent prince". Here мудръ 'wise' and съмъӏсльнъ 'prudent' modify кънязь 'prince' attributively. Moreover we find instances of the long-form (definite) adjective used predicatively: кто посль живъӏи ѡстанѣть сѧ 'whoever will remain alive afterwards'. Here the long-form живъӏи of живъ 'alive' is predicate to кто 'whoever'.