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Old Russian Online

Lesson 6

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

IV.ii Pre-Christian Beliefs

Interestingly Vladimir had also sought previously to unite his people under the banner of religion, but not that of Christianity. Rather a few years before Vladimir's famous conversion to Christianity, he had made a concerted effort to unify his people under the auspices of paganism. The failure of this effort and the abrupt change of direction as a result of ideological shifts or political expediency marks the first of a handful of such changes of course that charge the fitful history of Russia with its unique character.

Not for lack of effort the scholarly community has been able to elucidate few of the details surrounding the East Slavic brand of paganism and its origin. The Indo-Iranian, Italic, and Hellenic branches of the Indo-European language family display pantheons whose individual actors are not only in close functional correspondence, but also whose nomenclature shows clear etymological correspondence. For example we may clearly identify a Sky god in each tradition, and at the same time we find exacting parallelism in the terminology: the PIE phrase *dyeus pHte:r 'Sky father' has corresponding reflexes in the set phrases of Greek Zeus pate:r, Latin Iu:-(p)piter, and Sanskrit Dyaus pita:. And the reflexes extend further to branches such as Germanic, with gods such as Tiwaz derived from the *o-stem variant *deiuos, and beyond. But when we look to reconstruct the origins of the early Slavic pantheon we find the road laden with pitfalls.

IV.ii.i The Pantheon

We do find clear evidence of an early East Slavic pantheon. The most notable reference to this pantheon comes from the very descriptions of Vladimir's attempt to codify the paganism of his people. The Primary Chronicle mentions that he built a temple on one of the Kievan hills and dedicated it to a collection of pagan deities: Perun (Пєрунъ), Khors (Хърсъ), Dazhbog (Дажьбогъ), Stribog (Стрибогъ), Simargl (Симарьглъ), and Mokosh (Мокошь). Within this temple Vladimir apparently placed idols (кымиры) representing the deities. We even find in the archaeology surrounding Kiev some tentative support for the event: the foundation of a rectangular structure with "six rounded symmetrical projections shaped like flower petals." (Tolochko, 1987) Three of these gods also resurface in the Igor Tale, an epic poem with heroic and pagan overtones. The gods mentioned are Dazhbog, Stribog, and Khors. The references are made in passing, with little explanation. For example, the Eastern Slavs are called the "grandsons of Dazhbog". The Igor Tale also mentions another god, Volos or Veles (Волосъ, Вєлєсъ), who seems to have been an important member of the early pantheon.

The primary sources have little to offer by way of explaining either the origins of this pantheon or the relationships between its members. The following list offers some comments on what can be said for each in turn (cf. Warner, 2002, and Mallory & Adams, 2006).

  • Perun (Пєрунъ): Perhaps the principal god of the East Slavic pantheon. Encountered as guarantor of the oaths solidifying the peace treaties with Byzantium after Kievan attacks on the imperial center. Likely a war god, as Igor and his men set their weapons before his idol after agreeing to a peace treaty with Byzantium in 945. The cult of Perun was evidently important and observed throughout the lands of the Eastern Slavs: when Vladimir erected his idol in Kiev, Vladimir's uncle simultaneously erected an idol of Perun on the Volkhov river near Novgorod. The name probably derives from PIE *perkunos, yielding Old Norse Fjǫgyn, mother of the thunder god Thor, and also providing Lithuanian thunder god Perku:nas. This might be a formation derived from PIE *per- 'strike'.
  • Khors (Хърсъ): thought to be a sun-god. He is mentioned as 'great' (вєликъ) in a difficult-to-interpret passage in the Igor Tale.
  • Dazhbog (Дажьбогъ): also thought to be a sun-god, largely based on a comparison to Greek Helios in the Primary Chronicle. He is also mentioned in the Igor Tale in the phrase Даждьбожа внука 'grandsons of Dazhbog', referring to the Russian people as a whole. We see in the second element the familiar term богъ 'god', likely adopted from early contact with Iranian peoples. Though various sources have been proposed for the first element, it likely derives from the imperative дажь of дати 'to give', leading to an interpretation as the 'giver of wealth'.
  • Stribog (Стрибогъ): perhaps a god of the winds. This is largely based on the fact that the Igor Tale refers to the winds as Стрибожи внуци 'Stribog's descendants' (literally 'grandchildren'). By the same token, the phrase could be taken as a vocative referring to those listening, the Russians in general. Possibly related to PIE *pHte:r 'father', cf. Lat. Iu:(p)piter, through a shift PIE *pHtr- > *ptr- > *str-, though this etymology is dubious. Alternatively the name as a whole might be a borrowing of a possible Iranian *sri:baga- (cf. Skt. Sri:deva, literally the 'noble god'), with early East Slavic inserting an epenthetic *-t- in the sequence *sr-.
  • Simargl (Симарьглъ): No convincingly plausible etymologies. Most probably a borrowing, perhaps recalling the Iranian Si:murg, a deity that is part bird, part dog, and part lion or griffin. Some bracelets from Kiev and elsewhere, dating roughly to the 12th and 13th centuries, depict a dog-headed, winged creature that has been interpreted by some as Simargl.
  • Mokosh (Мокошь): No convincing etymologies. Variously interpreted as a fertility goddess, receiving her name from the root mok- 'moist', or as a female household spirit and patroness of weaving.
  • Volos or Veles (Волосъ, Вєлєсъ): a god of cattle, and likely of commerce and prosperity in general. Frequently paired with Perun as guarantor of treaties struck between Byzantium and the Kievan Rus. In those treaties in which he is invoked, it is likely for the purpose of securing favorable conditions in commerce. His idol was placed in the merhant quarter of Kiev where ships often moored along the river Pochaina. There was also an idol of Volos placed in the north in Rostov. In the Igor Tale, the great poet Bojan is referred to as as Вєлєсовъ бнукъ 'Veles's descendant' (literally 'grandson'). This has raised speculation that Volos was understood as a patron deity of musicians, completing an apparent functional parallel with the Greek god Apollo.

The common pan-Slavic word for 'god' is богъ. We suppose a PIE ancestral form *bhagos 'apportioner', whose only clearly divine reflex comes from the Indo-Iranian family, where we find Sanskrt bhaga- and Avestan baga-. This latter was likely transferred to the Slavs through their mostly prehistoric interaction on the Eurasian steppe. The term also occurs in Phrygian Bagaios as an epithet of Zeus, but with a clear sense of 'apportioner' and no necessarily divine connotation. Similarly we find in Tocharian B pa:ke 'share, portion' (Mallory & Adams, 2006). Another apparent shared feature between the early Iranians and early Slavs is the shift undergone by the PIE root *deiuos: where across the rest of the Indo-European family its reflexes signify 'god', within Iranian (e.g. Avestan dae:va-) and Slavic (дивъ, also mentioned in the Igor Tale) the sense has shifted to the gods' evil counterpart and takes on the sense of 'demon'.

IV.ii.ii Mythic Traditions

Early sources remain difficult to interpret when it comes to the pre-Christian religious and spiritual practices of the laypeople. For more information on such practices scholars have often had recourse to traditional practices encountered in modern times in rural areas. To be sure the extension of understanding gained from modern practices to the period of the early Rus is fraught with difficulty, and any conclusions to be drawn must be taken as tentative at best. But we nevertheless find some practices whose origins can plausibly be traced backed to Kievan Rus.

The pre-Christian culture early held a reverence for the forces of the natural world. This is illustrated by the associations of the gods of the pantheon mentioned above, several of which recall natural phenomena. We also find in the lexicon an isogloss with Greek: OCS чѹдо 'wonder' and its homophonic relative in Russian derive from the PIE root *keudes- 'magic force' that gives Greek ku:dos 'renown'.

Rural society also preserves a tradition of byliny (былины, singular былина, perhaps from быль '(a) noble, aristocrat'), which are heroic tales often recounting the exploits of the early defenders of Kievan Rus and of the saints of the early Eastern Slavs (Warner, 2002). One of the puzzling facts of this tradition, however, is that, though it often treats exploits of the ancient Slavs, particularly those centered on the kingdom of Kiev, nevertheless this tradition seems absent from modern Kiev.

A possible resolution to this dilemma perhaps lies in the curious travels and travails of the skomorokhi. The skomorokhi (скоморохи, a modern plural; singular скомрахъ or скоромохъ, literally 'vagabond') were musicians, and they may have been responsible for the transplantation of traditional byliny from Kiev in the south to the northern reaches of Russia. Evidence suggests the skomorokhi were already present in pre-Christian Kiev performing at ceremonies and festivals. Some textual sources exist to associate the skomorokhi with the singing of heroic songs. In particular (Zguta, 1972),

  • The Igor Tale mentions the poet Bojan and says that his fame was such that he sang the praises of Jaroslav the Wise and others;
  • The singer Mitus is mentioned in the Ipatievskaia letopis' as being taken prisoner by the prince of Galich in 1241.

It appears that, after the conversion of the Rus to Christianity under Vladimir, the clergy singled out the skomorokhi and associated them with pre-Christian traditions that they were trying to eradicate. We find in 1465 a church painting which depicts the Antichrist as a wandering musician or actor (Andreyev, 1962), presumably in part because such performers continued to portray pagan themes and personages.

Originally the skomorokhi coexisted with the gusliari, who were court poets. The former were renowned for flamboyant dress, while the latter wore standard dress of the period. But as persecution continued and opportunities to perform became more scarce, eventually the roles of gusliari and skomorokhi merged into the personage of the minstrel-entertainer. The skomorokhi gradually transformed the originally courtly and elegant byliny to lighter tunes with more entertaining stories to suit the changing tastes of the audience (Zguta, 1972). By the end of the 11th century the clergy had driven the skomorokhi from Kiev and they migrated to the more tolerant atmosphere of Novgorod.

Reading and Textual Analysis

Here begins the entry in the Primary Chronicle for the year 946. Casting aside the cunning with which she has exacted revenge until now, Olga mobilizes her army for a full scale assault against the Derevlians. The Derevlians hole themselves up in their fortress and refuse further combat. To break the stalemate, Olga devises yet another plan. She negotiates so that the Derevlians drop their guard. The following passage lists lines 102-143.

102 - В лѣто ,ѕ. у. н д.

  • 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
  • д -- number; <д> four -- four

102-104 - Ѡльга съ съӏномъ своимъ свӏатославомъ собра вои много и храбръӏ и иде на дерьвьску землю.

  • Ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • съ -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- together with
  • съӏномъ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <съӏнъ> son -- son
  • своимъ -- adjective; masculine instrumental singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- her
  • свӏатославомъ -- proper noun; masculine instrumental singular of <Свѧтославъ> Svjatoslav, Svyatoslav, Sviatoslav (name of a prince) -- Svjatoslav
  • собра -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <събьрати, -бєрѫ, -бєрєши> collect, gather -- gathered
  • вои -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <вой> fighter; (pl.) troops, army -- an army
  • много -- adjective; neuter accusative singular of <мъногъ> much, many -- great # For expected masculine accusative plural мъногъӏ
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • храбръӏ -- adjective; masculine accusative plural of <храбръ> (m.) fighter, soldier; (adj.) strong -- fierce
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • иде -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- went
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- to
  • дерьвьску -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <дрѣвьскъ> of Dereva, related to Dereva, Derevlian -- of Dereva
  • землю -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <зємл҄ӏа> earth, land -- the land

104-106 - изидоша деревлѧне противу. сънемъшемъ сѧ ѡбѣма полкома на скупь суну копьємъ свӏатославъ на деревлѧнъӏ.

  • изидоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <изити, -идѫ, -идєши> go out -- came out
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- The Derevlians
  • противу -- adverb; <противъ, противѫ> (adv.) opposite; (prep. w. dat.) according to; to meet -- to meet (them)
  • сънемъшемъ -- past participle; masculine dative plural of <сънѧти, съньмѫ, съньмєши> take away from, remove; go down, descend; lead down; (refl.) come together, collect, gather -- When... had gathered # Dative absolute. Note here the dative plural, though what follows suggests this should be a dual form
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • ѡбѣма -- pronoun; masculine dative dual of <оба, обѣ, обѣ> both -- the two
  • полкома -- noun; masculine dative dual of <плъкъ> crowd; people, population; cohort, troop -- forces
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- to-
  • скупь -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <съкѹпъ> a joining; a convening, a coming together -- -gether
  • суну -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <сѹнѫти, -нѫ, -нєши> pour out -- lashed out
  • копьємъ -- noun; neuter instrumental singular of <копьѥ> spear, lance; sword -- with a spear
  • свӏатославъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Свѧтославъ> Svjatoslav, Svyatoslav, Sviatoslav (name of a prince) -- Svjatoslav
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- against
  • деревлѧнъӏ -- adjective used as substantive; masculine accusative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians

106-108 - и копьє летѣ сквозѣ ѹши коневи ѹдари в ноги коневи, бѣ бо дѣтескъ.

  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- But
  • копьє -- noun; neuter nominative singular of <копьѥ> spear, lance; sword -- the spear
  • летѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <лєтѣти, -штѫ, -тиши> fly; run -- flew
  • сквозѣ -- preposition; <сквозѣ, скозѣ> (w. acc.) through -- past
  • ѹши -- noun; neuter accusative dual of <ѹхо, ѹшєсє> ear -- the ears
  • коневи -- noun; masculine dative singular of <конь> horse -- of the horse
  • ѹдари -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <ѹдарити, -рѭ, -риши> strike, beat -- (and) struck
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- against
  • ноги -- noun; feminine locative singular of <нога> foot -- the... leg # Note the ending, not properly belonging to the a-stem declension. Likely an importation of the locative ending from the i-stem declension, though potentially also an accusative dual imported from the same declension, or even a shift of the accusative plural to .
  • коневи -- noun; masculine dative singular of <конь> horse -- horse's # Given the ending of ноги, this could alternately be interpreted as a feminine locative singular (or accusative dual, etc.) from the adjective конѥвъ 'of a horse, relating to a horse'.
  • бѣ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- he was (still)
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- for
  • дѣтескъ -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <дѣтьскъ> childish -- a boy

108-110 - и рече свѣнелдъ и асмолдъ, кнѧзь ѹже почалъ. потѧгнѣте, дружина, по кнѧзѣ. и побѣдиша деревлѧнъӏ.

  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said # Note singular verb form, though the subject is plural (properly dual, in fact)
  • свѣнелдъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Свѣньлдъ> Sveinald (Scandinavian name) -- Sveinald
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • асмолдъ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Асмудъ> Asmud, Asmund, Asmundr (Scandinavian name) -- Asmund
  • кнѧзь -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- the prince
  • ѹже -- adverb; <южє, ѹжє> already -- already
  • почалъ -- past participle; masculine nominative singular of <почѧти, -чьнѫ, -чьнєши> begin, commence -- has... begun # Note use of the l-participle for the perfect tense, without an accompanying form of быти 'to be'
  • потѧгнѣте -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <потѧгнѫти, -нѫ, -нєши> work, be useful, strive, be strong, be able -- move
  • дружина -- noun; feminine vocative singular of <дрѹжина> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- guards # Nominative form for expected vocative дружино
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- after
  • кнѧзѣ -- noun; masculine locative singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- the prince
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • побѣдиша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <побѣдити, -ждѫ, -диши> conquer; fight, fight against; set in motion, hasten, incite; sally out -- they drove back
  • деревлѧнъӏ -- adjective used as substantive; masculine accusative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians

110-112 - деревлѧне же побѣгоша и затвориша сѧ въ градѣхъ своихъ.

  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- The Derevlians
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • побѣгоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <побѣгнѫти, -нѫ, -нєши> flee, take flight -- fled
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • затвориша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <затворити, -рѭ, -риши> close, shut -- shut... up
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- themselves
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • градѣхъ -- noun; masculine locative plural of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- stronghold
  • своихъ -- adjective; masculine locative plural of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- their

112-115 - ѡльга же ѹстреми сѧ съ съӏнъмъ своимъ, а деревлѧне затвориша сѧ въ градѣ и борѧху сѧ крѣпко изъ града, вѣдѣху бо ӏако сами ѹбили кнѧзѧ и на что сѧ предати.

  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • ѹстреми -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <ѹстрьмити сѧ, -млѭ, -миши> hasten, rush; be eager -- set forth
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • съ -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • съӏнъмъ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <съӏнъ> son -- son
  • своимъ -- adjective; masculine instrumental singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- her
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- but
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • затвориша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <затворити, -рѭ, -риши> close, shut -- holed up
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • градѣ -- noun; masculine locative singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- (their) stronghold
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • борѧху -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <брати, борѭ, борѥши> fight -- fought
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • крѣпко -- adverb; neuter accusative singular of <крѣпъкъ> (adj.) healthy, strong, powerful; (adv.) strenuously, vigorously -- strenuously
  • 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 -- (their) fortress
  • вѣдѣху -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <вѣдѣти, вѣмь, вѣси> see, know -- they knew
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- for
  • ӏако -- conjunction; <ӏако> as, when; in order to; that; because; (introduces quotation) -- that
  • сами -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <самъ> self, oneself -- they
  • ѹбили -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <ѹбити, -биѭ, -биѥши> kill -- had killed # Note l-participle functioning as pluperfect without accompanying form of быти 'to be'
  • кнѧзѧ -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <кънѧзь> prince -- the prince
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • на -- preposition; <на> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- to
  • что -- interrogative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <къто> who -- what
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- themselves
  • предати -- verb; infinitive of <прѣдати, -дамь, -даси> hand over, commend -- (they) would surrender # Infinitive with an accompanying (explicit or implied) form of быти 'to be' often connotes obligation or necessity. Compare English 'It is not for us to question why'.

115-117 - и стоӏа ѡльга лѣто, не можаше всѧти града. и ѹмъӏслӏ сице.

  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • стоӏа -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <стоӏати, стоѭ, стоиши> stand, stay in place -- stayed
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • лѣто -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <лѣто> year, summer -- for a year # Note the use of the accusative to denote extent of time
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- un-
  • можаше -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <мошти, могѫ, можєши> be able, can -- was...-able
  • всѧти -- verb; infinitive of <възѧти, -зьмѫ, -зьмєши> pick up, take -- to take
  • града -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- (their) fortress # Note the use of the genitive in place of the accusative with negation
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- And
  • ѹмъӏслӏ -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <ѹмъӏслити, -шлѭ, -слиши> devise, contrive, invent -- she devised
  • сице -- pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <сиць, сицє, сица> such, like this -- the following

117-120 - посла ко граду глаголющи, что хочете досѣдѣти, а вси гради ваши предаша сѧ мнѣ. и ӏали сѧ по дань и дѣлають нивъӏ своӏа и землѣ своӏа.

  • посла -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- She sent
  • ко -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • граду -- noun; masculine dative singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city
  • глаголющи -- participle; feminine nominative singular of <глаголати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> say, speak -- saying
  • что -- interrogative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <къто> who -- why
  • хочете -- verb; 2nd person plural present of <хотѣти, хоштѫ, хоштєши> want, wish -- do you want
  • досѣдѣти -- verb; infinitive of <досѣдѣти, -ждѫ, -диши> bring about by sitting, achieve through encamping or remaining in the field -- remain besieged
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- while
  • вси -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <вьсь> all, every; whole -- all
  • гради -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- (other) towns
  • ваши -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <вашь> of you, your (pl.) -- your
  • предаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <прѣдати, -дамь, -даси> hand over, commend -- have surrendered # Note the Old Russian use of the aorist where English permits the perfect
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • мнѣ -- pronoun; dative singular of <азъ> I -- to me
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • ӏали -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <ѩти, имѫ, имєши> take, seize; (refl.) take to, set out, start on -- They have taken
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- to
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • дѣлають -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <дѣлати, -лаѭ, -лаѥши> work, toil; till; quarry -- they till... (quarry)
  • нивъӏ -- noun; feminine accusative plural of <н҄ива> field, ground -- fields
  • своӏа -- adjective; feminine accusative plural of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- their
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • землѣ -- noun; feminine accusative plural of <зємл҄ӏа> earth, land -- the land
  • своӏа -- adjective; feminine accusative plural of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- their

120-121 - а въӏ хочете изъмерети гладомъ, не имуче сѧ по дань.

  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- But
  • въӏ -- pronoun; nominative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you # Note the use of the subject pronoun for emphasis, in contrast to the preceding statement
  • хочете -- verb; 2nd person plural present of <хотѣти, хоштѫ, хоштєши> want, wish -- wish
  • изъмерети -- verb; infinitive of <измрѣти, -мрѫ, -мрєши> die -- to die
  • гладомъ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <гладъ> hunger, famine -- of famine # Note Old Russian use of the instrumental: 'die by hunger' rather than English 'die of hunger'
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • имуче -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <ѩти, имѫ, имєши> take, seize; (refl.) take to, set out, start on -- taking
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- yourselves
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- to
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute

121-123 - деревлѧне же рекоша, ради сѧ бъӏхомъ ӏали по дань, но хощеши мьщатӏ мужа своєго.

  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • рекоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • ради -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <радъ> glad, happy -- gladly # Notice that Old Russian occasionally favors an adjective agreeing with the subject where English would employ an adverb
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • бъӏхомъ -- verb; 1st person plural aorist of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- would... have
  • ӏали -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <ѩти, имѫ, имєши> take, seize; (refl.) take to, set out, start on -- taken
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- to
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute
  • но -- conjunction; <нъ> but -- but
  • хощеши -- verb; 2nd person singular present of <хотѣти, хоштѫ, хоштєши> want, wish -- you want
  • мьщатӏ -- verb; infinitive of <мьштати, -таѭ, -таѥши> defend against, revenge, avenge -- to avenge
  • мужа -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- husband
  • своєго -- adjective; masculine genitive singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- your

123-126 - рече же имъ ѡльга, ӏако азъ мьстӏла ѹже ѡбиду мужа своєго когда придоша києву, второє и третьєє когда творихъ тръӏзну мужєви своєму.

  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <> he -- to them
  • ѡльга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • ӏако -- conjunction; <ӏако> as, when; in order to; that; because; (introduces quotation) -- ...
  • азъ -- pronoun; nominative singular of <азъ> I -- I
  • мьстӏла -- past participle; feminine nominative singular of <мьштати, -таѭ, -таѥши> defend against, revenge, avenge -- avenged
  • ѹже -- adverb; <южє, ѹжє> already -- already
  • ѡбиду -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <обида> injustice, outrage, injury -- the injustice
  • мужа -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- against... husband
  • своєго -- adjective; masculine genitive singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- my
  • когда -- adverb; <когда> when; sometime -- when
  • придоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- they came
  • києву -- proper noun; masculine dative singular of <Къӏєвъ> Kiev, Kyiv (name of a city) -- to Kiev
  • второє -- adjective used as substantive; neuter nominative singular of <въторъӏи, -роѥ, -раӏа> second, following -- the second
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • третьєє -- adjective used as substantive; neuter nominative singular of <трєтьи, -тьѥ, -тьӏа> third -- third (times)
  • когда -- adverb; <когда> when; sometime -- when
  • творихъ -- verb; 1st person singular aorist of <сътворити, -рѭ, -риши> do, make -- I performed
  • тръӏзну -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <тризна, тръӏзна> contest, prize; stadium; trench, track; funeral repast, commemoration of the dead -- the wake
  • мужєви -- noun; masculine dative singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- for... husband # Note the adoption of the dative ending from the u-stem paradigm
  • своєму -- adjective; masculine dative singular of <свои, своє, своӏа> own, one's own -- my

126-128 - а ѹже не хощю мъщати, но хощю дань имати по малу. смиривши сѧ с вами поиду ѡпѧть.

  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- ...
  • ѹже -- adverb; <южє, ѹжє> already -- Now
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • хощю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <хотѣти, хоштѫ, хоштєши> want, wish -- I do... wish
  • мъщати -- verb; infinitive of <мьштати, -таѭ, -таѥши> defend against, revenge, avenge -- to avenge (him)
  • но -- conjunction; <нъ> but -- but
  • хощю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <хотѣти, хоштѫ, хоштєши> want, wish -- I wish
  • дань -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute
  • имати -- verb; infinitive of <имати, ѥмлѭ, ѥмлѥши> take, take up; acquire -- to receive
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- ...
  • малу -- adjective; feminine singular accusative of <малъ> small, young -- a small # Feminine accusative agreeing with дань, both to be taken as governed by по. Alternatively we may view малу as a masculine or neuter dative singular, alone governed by по in a collocation по малу 'in a small degree'.
  • смиривши -- past participle; feminine nominative singular of <съмирити, -рѭ, -риши> make peace; come together, unite; reconcile -- After making peace
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • с -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • вами -- pronoun; instrumental plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • поиду -- verb; 1st person singular present of <поити, -идѫ, -идєши> go, set out; go back, return -- I will go
  • ѡпѧть -- adverb; <опѧть> back -- back

128-130 - рекоша же деревлѧне, што хощеши ѹ насъ. ради даємъ медомь и скорою.

  • рекоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- responded
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • што -- interrogative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <къто> who -- What
  • хощеши -- verb; 2nd person singular present of <хотѣти, хоштѫ, хоштєши> want, wish -- do you want
  • ѹ -- preposition; <ѹ> (w. gen.) near, at, by -- from
  • насъ -- pronoun; genitive plural of <азъ> I -- us
  • ради -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <радъ> glad, happy -- happily
  • даємъ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <даӏати, даѭ, даѥши> give, provide -- We will... provide (you)
  • медомь -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <мєдъ, мєдѹ> honey -- with honey
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • скорою -- noun; feminine instrumental singular of <скора> bark, shell; pine; skin, hide, pelt, leather -- hide(s)

130-131 - ѡна же рече имъ, нъӏнѣ ѹ васъ нѣсть меду ни скоръӏ. но мало ѹ васъ прошю.

  • ѡна -- demonstrative pronoun; feminine nominative singular of <онъ, оно, она> that, that one -- she
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- replied
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <> he -- to them
  • нъӏнѣ -- adverb; <нъӏн҄ӏа, нъӏнѣ> now -- now
  • ѹ -- preposition; <ѹ> (w. gen.) near, at, by -- by
  • васъ -- pronoun; genitive plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • нѣсть -- adverb; <нє> not + verb; 3rd person singular present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- There is... neither
  • меду -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <мєдъ, мєдѹ> honey -- honey # Note genitive rather than nominative due to negation
  • ни -- conjunction; <ни> and not, nor, no; (repeated) neither... nor -- nor
  • скоръӏ -- noun; feminine genitive singular of <скора> bark, shell; pine; skin, hide, pelt, leather -- hide(s) # Note genitive rather than nominative due to negation
  • но -- conjunction; <нъ> but -- But
  • мало -- adjective used as substantive; neuter accusative singular of <малъ> small, young -- little
  • ѹ -- preposition; <ѹ> (w. gen.) near, at, by -- from
  • васъ -- pronoun; genitive plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • прошю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <просити, -шѫ, -сиши> ask, demand -- I seek

131-134 - даите ми ѿ двора по .г. голуби да .г. воробьи. азъ бо не хощю тѧжьки дани възложити, ӏако же и мужь мои, сего прошю ѹ васъ мало.

  • даите -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <даӏати, даѭ, даѥши> give, provide -- provide
  • ми -- pronoun; dative singular of <азъ> I -- me
  • ѿ -- preposition; <отъ> (w. gen.) of, from; by -- From
  • двора -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- house
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- (each)... with
  • г -- number; <г> three -- three
  • голуби -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <голѫбь> dove, pigeon -- pigeons
  • да -- conjunction; <да> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- and
  • г -- number; <г> three -- three
  • воробьи -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <врабий> sparrow -- sparrows
  • азъ -- pronoun; nominative singular of <азъ> I -- I
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- For
  • не -- adverb; <нє> not -- not
  • хощю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <хотѣти, хоштѫ, хоштєши> want, wish -- I do... wish
  • тѧжьки -- adjective; feminine genitive singular of <тѧжькъ> grave; burdensome; savage; intolerable -- burdensome # Note feminine genitive singular ending rather than , expected both based on the type of declension and on the fact that would historically have caused palatalization in the final velar. This, together with дани to which it refers, could also be taken as a feminine accusative plural. But on the one hand we would still expect the ending , and on the other hand we expect a genitive form due to negation.
  • дани -- noun; feminine genitive singular of <дань> tribute -- tribute
  • възложити -- verb; infinitive of <възложити, -жѫ, -жиши> throw upon, cast upon; impose -- to impose
  • ӏако -- conjunction; <ӏако> as, when; in order to; that; because; (introduces quotation) -- as
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • и -- adverb; <и> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • мужь -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <мѫжь> man, husband -- husband
  • мои -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <мои, моє, моӏа> my, mine -- my
  • сего -- demonstrative pronoun; neuter genitive singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- of this
  • прошю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <просити, -шѫ, -сиши> ask, demand -- (but) I seek
  • ѹ -- preposition; <ѹ> (w. gen.) near, at, by -- from
  • васъ -- pronoun; genitive plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • мало -- adjective used as substantive; neuter accusative singular of <малъ> small, young -- a small part # Compare the construction with сего... мала in the following sentence.

134-135 - въӏ бо єсте изънємогли в осадѣ, да сего ѹ васъ прошю мала.

  • въӏ -- pronoun; nominative plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • бо -- conjunction; <бо> for -- For
  • єсте -- verb; 2nd person plural present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- have been
  • изънємогли -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <изнємошти, -могѫ, -можєши> be unable; be weak; become wearied, be exhausted -- wearied
  • в -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- by
  • осадѣ -- noun; feminine locative singular of <осада> siege -- siege
  • да -- conjunction; <да> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- so that
  • сего -- demonstrative adjective; neuter genitive singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- this
  • ѹ -- preposition; <ѹ> (w. gen.) near, at, by -- from
  • васъ -- pronoun; genitive plural of <тъӏ> you, thou -- you
  • прошю -- verb; 1st person singular present of <просити, -шѫ, -сиши> ask, demand -- I seek
  • мала -- adjective used as substantive; neuter genitive singular of <малъ> small, young -- small portion # Note the use of the genitive with просити 'to ask, demand'

136-138 - деревлѧне же ради бъӏвше и собраша ѿ двора по .г. голуби и по .г. воробьи и послаша к ользѣ с поклономъ.

  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- The Derevlians
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • ради -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <радъ> glad, happy -- happy
  • бъӏвше -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- having become
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • собраша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <събьрати, -бєрѫ, -бєрєши> collect, gather -- collected
  • ѿ -- preposition; <отъ> (w. gen.) of, from; by -- from
  • двора -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <дворъ> court, courtyard; home, household -- house
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- (each)...
  • г -- number; <г> three -- three
  • голуби -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <голѫбь> dove, pigeon -- pigeons
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • по -- preposition; <по> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- (each)...
  • г -- number; <г> three -- three
  • воробьи -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <врабий> sparrow -- sparrows
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • послаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <посълати, -л҄ѭ, -л҄ѥши> send, summon -- sent
  • к -- preposition; <къ> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • ользѣ -- proper noun; feminine dative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • с -- preposition; <съ> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • поклономъ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <поклонъ> bow; worship; salutation, greeting -- a greeting

138-140 - вольга же рече имъ, се ѹже єсть покорили сѧ мнѣ и моєму дѣтѧти. а идѣте въ градъ и приду въ градось.

  • вольга -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Ольга> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- And
  • рече -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <рєшти, рєкѫ, рєчєши> say, tell -- said
  • имъ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <> he -- to them
  • се -- interjection; <сє> lo, behold -- Indeed
  • ѹже -- adverb; <южє, ѹжє> already -- ...
  • єсть -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- have # For expected єсте
  • покорили -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <покорити, -рѭ, -риши> place under, submit, subject; be obedient, obey -- submitted
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • мнѣ -- pronoun; dative singular of <азъ> I -- to me
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • моєму -- adjective; masculine dative singular of <мои, моє, моӏа> my, mine -- my
  • дѣтѧти -- noun; neuter dative singular of <дѣтѧ> infant; breast, teat; child -- child
  • а -- conjunction; <а> and, but; if -- ...
  • идѣте -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <ити, идѫ, идєши> go -- Go
  • 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 -- the city
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • приду -- verb; 1st person singular present of <прити, -идѫ, -идєши> come, arrive -- I will arrive
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • градось -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city + demonstrative adjective; masculine accusative singular of <сь, сє, си> this, this one -- that city # Note the combination of the noun and postposed demonstrative adjective. Since they are pronounced as a phonological unit, the final of the accusative singular of градъ finds itself in strong position and is vocalized as -о-.

140-143 - и деревлѧне же ради бъӏвше внидоша въ градъ и повѣдаша людємъ, и обрадоваша сѧ людьє въ градѣ.

  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • деревлѧне -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <дрѣвлянинъ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- The Derevlians
  • же -- conjunction; <жє> and, but -- ...
  • ради -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <радъ> glad, happy -- happy
  • бъӏвше -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <бъӏти, бѫдѫ, бѫдєши> be, become -- having become
  • внидоша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <вънити, -идѫ, -идєши> go into, enter -- entered
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- into
  • градъ -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • повѣдаша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <повѣдѣти, -вѣмь, -вѣси> announce, report, recount -- informed
  • людємъ -- noun; masculine dative plural of <людьѥ> (pl.) men, people; population, (a) people -- the people # Note the use of the dative with повѣдати 'to report, announce'
  • и -- conjunction; <и> and; also, too, even -- and
  • обрадоваша -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <обрадовати, -дѹѭ, -дѹѥши> show grace; rejoice, be merry -- rejoiced
  • сѧ -- pronoun; accusative singular of <сєбє> -self, oneself -- ...
  • людьє -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <людьѥ> (pl.) men, people; population, (a) people -- the people
  • въ -- preposition; <въ> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • градѣ -- noun; masculine locative singular of <градъ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city

Lesson Text

102 В лѣто ,ѕ. у. н д. 102-104 -
Ѡльга съ съӏномъ своимъ свӏатославомъ собра вои много и храбръӏ и иде на дерьвьску землю. 104-106 -
изидоша деревлѧне противу. сънемъшемъ сѧ ѡбѣма полкома на скупь суну копьємъ свӏатославъ на деревлѧнъӏ. 106-108 -
и копьє летѣ сквозѣ ѹши коневи ѹдари в ноги коневи, бѣ бо дѣтескъ. 108-110 -
и рече свѣнелдъ и асмолдъ, кнѧзь ѹже почалъ. потѧгнѣте, дружина, по кнѧзѣ. и побѣдиша деревлѧнъӏ. 110-112 -
деревлѧне же побѣгоша и затвориша сѧ въ градѣхъ своихъ. 112-115 -
ѡльга же ѹстреми сѧ съ съӏнъмъ своимъ, а деревлѧне затвориша сѧ въ градѣ и борѧху сѧ крѣпко изъ града, вѣдѣху бо ӏако сами ѹбили кнѧзѧ и на что сѧ предати. 115-117 -
и стоӏа ѡльга лѣто, не можаше всѧти града. и ѹмъӏслӏ сице. 117-120 -
посла ко граду глаголющи, что хочете досѣдѣти, а вси гради ваши предаша сѧ мнѣ. и ӏали сѧ по дань и дѣлають нивъӏ своӏа и землѣ своӏа. 120-121 -
а въӏ хочете изъмерети гладомъ, не имуче сѧ по дань. 121-123 -
деревлѧне же рекоша, ради сѧ бъӏхомъ ӏали по дань, но хощеши мьщатӏ мужа своєго. 123-126 -
рече же имъ ѡльга, ӏако азъ мьстӏла ѹже ѡбиду мужа своєго когда придоша києву, второє и третьєє когда творихъ тръӏзну мужєви своєму. 126-128 -
а ѹже не хощю мъщати, но хощю дань имати по малу. смиривши сѧ с вами поиду ѡпѧть. 128-130 -
рекоша же деревлѧне, што хощеши ѹ насъ. ради даємъ медомь и скорою. 130-131 -
ѡна же рече имъ, нъӏнѣ ѹ васъ нѣсть меду ни скоръӏ. но мало ѹ васъ прошю. 131-134 -
даите ми ѿ двора по .г. голуби да .г. воробьи. азъ бо не хощю тѧжьки дани възложити, ӏако же и мужь мои, сего прошю ѹ васъ мало. 134-135 -
въӏ бо єсте изънємогли в осадѣ, да сего ѹ васъ прошю мала. 136-138 -
деревлѧне же ради бъӏвше и собраша ѿ двора по .г. голуби и по .г. воробьи и послаша к ользѣ с поклономъ. 138-140 -
вольга же рече имъ, се ѹже єсть покорили сѧ мнѣ и моєму дѣтѧти. а идѣте въ градъ и приду въ градось. 140-143 -
и деревлѧне же ради бъӏвше внидоша въ градъ и повѣдаша людємъ, и обрадоваша сѧ людьє въ градѣ.

Translation

102 In the year 6454.
102-104 Olga, together with her son Svjatoslav, gathered an army great and fierce and went to the land of Dereva. 104-106 The Derevlians came out to meet them. When the two forces had gathered together, Svjatoslav lashed out with a spear against the Derevlians. 106-108 But the spear flew past the ears of the horse and struck against the horse's leg, for he was (still) a boy. 108-110 And Sveinald and Asmund said, "The prince has already begun, so, guards, move after the prince!" And they drove back the Derevlians. 110-112 The Derevlians fled and shut themselves up in their stronghold. 112-115 Olga set forth with her son, but the Derevlians holed up in their stronghold and fought strenuously from their fortress, for they knew they had killed the prince and to what they would surrender themselves. 115-117 Olga remained for a year, (but) she was unable to take the city. And she devised the following. 117-120 She sent to the city, saying, "Why do you want to remain besieged, while all your other towns have surrendered to me? They have taken to tribute, and they till their fields and quarry their land. 120-121 But you wish to die of famine, not taking yourselves to tribute." 121-123 The Derevlians responded, "We would gladly have undertaken tribute, but you want to avenge your husband." 123-126 Olga said to them, "I already avenged the injustice against my husband when they came to Kiev, the second and third (times) when I performed the wake for my husband. 126-128 Now I do not wish to avenge (him), but rather I wish to receive a small tribute. After making peace with you, I will go back." 128-130 And the Derevlians responded, "What do you want from us? We will happily provide (you) with honey and hide(s)." 130-131 And she replied to them, "There is by you now neither honey nor hide(s). But I seek little from you. 131-134 From (each) house provide me with 3 pigeons and 3 sparrows. For I do not wish to impose a burdensome tribute, as my husband, but I seek a small part of this from you. 134-135 For you have been wearied by siege, so that I seek this small portion from you." 136-138 The Derevlians, having become happy, collected from (each) house 3 pigeons and 3 sparrows and sent to Olga with a greeting. 138-140 And Olga said to them, "Indeed you have submitted to me and my child. Go to the city and I will arrive in that city." 140-143 The Derevlians, having become happy, entered into the city and informed the people, and the people rejoiced in the city.

Grammar

26. The Present Active Participle

The present active participle is a particular verbal adjective which denotes an action that is ongoing at the time of the main verb of the clause in which it occurs. As such the term "present" in the name is a misnomer: better terminology would perhaps be "concurrent active participle". The fact that the participle is active denotes that the noun modified by the participle is the one doing, rather than receiving, the action represented by the underlying verb.

The present active participle of Old Russian parallels the English participle in -ing. Consider for example the sentence Walking into the store yesterday, I saw the man you mentioned. Here walking is a present active participle, modifying the subject I of the main verb saw. The main verb itself is in the past tense, and it is clear from the context that the entire statement speaks about past time. Thus walking cannot refer to any action of the present time, even though it is still called the present active participle. Rather the participle walking represents an action that was still developing, or ongoing, when the action represented by the main verb saw occurred.

The Old Russian present active participle is formed by means of adding one of two similar suffixes to the present tense stem of the verb. We have discussed in Section 4.1 how to obtain this stem. A convenient way of viewing the process in the context of the present active participle is: take the third person plural of the present tense, and remove the ending -- either -уть or -ять. What remains is the present tense stem. To this stem Old Russian adds either of the two suffixes, each of which has two forms, according to the following rules:

  • Add the stem -уч- or -ущ-, derived from CS *-ǫtj-, to those verbs whose present tense third person plural ending is -уть;
  • Add the stem -яч- or -ящ-, derived from CS *-ętj-, to those verbs whose present tense third person plural ending is -ять;
  • Class V verbs form an exception and employ the stem -уч- or -ущ-, even though their present tense third person plural ending is -ять.

To these stems we append endings which for the most part follow the twofold nominal declension.

The nominative singular is special. In Old Church Slavonic we see the preservation of two different options for the common ending of the masculine and neuter nominative singular: -ъӏ and . In Old Church Slavonic those verbs whose present tense stem (without the thematic vowel) ends in a hard consonant exhibit the ending -ъӏ for the masculine and neuter nominative singular. Verbs whose stem ends in a palatal glide take the ending . In Old Russian, by contrast, we typically find where OCS shows -ъӏ. And we generally find where OCS shows , i.e. in those verbs whose present tense stem ends in a palatal glide. For all verbs, the feminine nominative singular derives from the ending added to the present active participle stem.

It is important to note that both -уч- and -ущ- are extremely common in the Old Russian texts. Even though the paradigms that follow will show exclusively the stem -уч-, the reader should not get the impression that -ущ- occurs less frequently. The same applies to the variants -яч- and -ящ-.

26.1. Present Participle Active: Classes I, II, V

The verbs of classes I, II, and V have present tense stems ending in a hard consonant. We therefore expect a masculine and neuter nominative singular in . Given that these verbs have third person plural present ending -уть, except for Class V verbs, we expect the suffix -уч- or -ущ-. Consider the following table.

Class   Infinitive   Meaning   3rd Pl.   Masc. N Sg.   Stem
I   нєсти   carry   нєс-уть   нєс-а   нєс-уч-
II   двигнути   move   двигн-уть   двигн-а   двигн-уч-
V   дати   give   дадять   дад-а   дад-уч-

The forms of the verb ити 'to go', with stem ид- (cf. third person plural present ид-уть), serve to illustrate the paradigm of the present active participle.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   ида   ида   идучи
A   идучь   идучє   идучю
G   идучя   идучя   идучѣ
L   идучи   идучи   идучи
D   идучю   идучю   идучи
I   идучємь   идучємь   идучєю
V   ида   ида   идучи
             
N Du.   идучя   идучи   идучи
A   идучя   идучи   идучи
G   идучю   идучю   идучю
L   идучю   идучю   идучю
D   идучєма   идучєма   идучяма
I   идучєма   идучєма   идучяма
V   идучя   идучи   идучи
             
N Pl.   идучє   идучя   идучѣ
A   идучѣ   идучя   идучѣ
G   идучь   идучь   идучь
L   идучихъ   идучихъ   идучяхъ
D   идучємъ   идучємъ   идучямъ
I   идучи   идучи   идучями
V   идучє   идучя   идучѣ
26.2. Present Participle Active: Class III

The verbs of class III have present tense stems ending either in a glide or in a palatal consonant. We therefore expect a masculine and neuter nominative singular in . Verbs with stem ending in a palatal consonant, however, often shown the ending . Since these verbs also have third person plural present tense in -ють, we find the suffix -юч- or -ющ-, influenced by the stem-final glide. Consider the following table.

Class   Infinitive   Meaning   3rd Pl.   Masc. N Sg.   Stem
III.A   знати   know   зна-ють   зна-я   зна-юч-
III.B   пьсати   write   пьш-ють   пиш-а   пиш-юч-

The verb знати 'to know', with stem зна- (phonetically [znaj-]) and third person plural present зна-ють, has present active participle stem знаюч-. The declension is as follows.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   зная   зная   знаючи
A   знаючь   знаючє   знаючю
G   знаючя   знаючя   знаючѣ
L   знаючи   знаючи   знаючи
D   знаючю   знаючю   знаючи
I   знаючємь   знаючємь   знаючєю
V   зная   зная   знаючи
             
N Du.   знаючя   знаючи   знаючи
A   знаючя   знаючи   знаючи
G   знаючю   знаючю   знаючю
L   знаючю   знаючю   знаючю
D   знаючєма   знаючєма   знаючяма
I   знаючєма   знаючєма   знаючяма
V   знаючя   знаючи   знаючи
             
N Pl.   знаючє   знаючя   знаючѣ
A   знаючѣ   знаючя   знаючѣ
G   знаючь   знаючь   знаючь
L   знаючихъ   знаючихъ   знаючяхъ
D   знаючємъ   знаючємъ   знаючямъ
I   знаючи   знаючи   знаючями
V   знаючє   знаючя   знаючѣ
26.3. Present Participle Active: Class IV

Finally we have the verbs of class IV. These verbs also have present tense stems ending in a palatal glide. We again expect a masculine and neuter nominative singular in . As these verbs have third person plural present tense in -ять, we find the suffix -яч- or -ящ-. Consider the following table.

Class   Infinitive   Meaning   3rd Pl.   Masc. N Sg.   Stem
IV   ход-и-ти   go   ход-ять   ход-я   ход-яч-

The verb просити 'to ask', with stem прос- and third person plural present прос-ять, has present active participle stem просяч-. The declension is as follows.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   прося   прося   просячи
A   просячь   просячє   просячю
G   просячя   просячя   просячѣ
L   просячи   просячи   просячи
D   просячю   просячю   просячи
I   просячємь   просячємь   просячєю
V   прося   прося   просячи
             
N Du.   просячя   просячи   просячи
A   просячя   просячи   просячи
G   просячю   просячю   просячю
L   просячю   просячю   просячю
D   просячєма   просячєма   просячяма
I   просячєма   просячєма   просячяма
V   просячя   просячи   просячи
             
N Pl.   просячє   просячя   просячѣ
A   просячѣ   просячя   просячѣ
G   просячь   просячь   просячь
L   просячихъ   просячихъ   просячяхъ
D   просячємъ   просячємъ   просячямъ
I   просячи   просячи   просячями
V   просячє   просячя   просячѣ
26.4. Present Participle Active: Long Form

The present active participle also appears in a long, or definite, form. This follows the pattern outlined in Section 17, whereby the underlying construction involves appending the corresponding case form of the third person pronoun to the participle. In particular the present active participle follows the pattern of the soft long-form adjectives as in Section 17.2. The present active participle of ити 'to go' serves to illustrate the paradigm.

ORuss   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   идаи   идучєѥ   идучия
A   идучьи   идучєѥ   идучюю
G   идучѥго   идучѥго   идучѥѣ
L   идучѥмь   идучѥмь   идучѥи
D   идучѥму   идучѥму   идучѥи
I   идучимь   идучимь   идучѥю
V   идаи   идучєѥ   идучия
             
N Du.   идучяя   идучии   идучии
A   идучяя   идучии   идучии
G   идучѥю   идучѥю   идучѥю
L   идучѥю   идучѥю   идучѥю
D   идучима   идучима   идучима
I   идучима   идучима   идучима
V   идучяя   идучии   идучии
             
N Pl.   идучии   идучяя   идучѣѣ
A   идучѣѣ   идучяя   идучѣѣ
G   идучихъ   идучихъ   идучихъ
L   идучихъ   идучихъ   идучихъ
D   идучимъ   идучимъ   идучимъ
I   идучими   идучими   идучими
V   идучии   идучяя   идучѣѣ
26.5. Present Participle Active: 'be'

The verb 'be' has stem ѥс- in all forms of the present tense except the third person plural: compare singular first person ѥсмь and second person ѥси to the plural third person суть. Removing the third person plural ending, we are left with с-, to which the present active participle stem is applied according to the rules outlined above: с-ущ-. In the nominative singular masculine, however, we find the form сы 'being', showing the ending common to Old Church Slavonic.

27. The Conditional Construction

Common Slavic apparently inherited the Indo-European optative in certain forms of the verb 'to be'. The Indo-European optative was originally a separate verbal mood used for hypothetical or non-factual situations, like the subjunctive, but generally restricted in its use to clauses expressing some notion related to wish or desire. These forms were retained in Old Church Slavonic in a paradigm called the conditional, and we list them here for purposes of reference.

OCS   Singular   Dual   Plural
1   бимь       бимъ
2   би       бистє
3   би       бѫ

The dual forms are unattested.

In East Slavic, however, we find no remnants of these specifically conditional forms. Rather they seem to have been replaced by the aorist forms of быти 'to be', listed in the table below.

ORuss   Singular   Dual   Plural
1   быхъ   быховѣ   быхомъ
2   бы   быста   быстє
3   бы   быста   быша

Thus we see the substitution of an irrealis mood, the optative, by what is properly an indicative mood. We find a parallel in modern English, where colloquial speech commonly replaces the subjunctive If I were you... with the past indicative If I was you....

With these forms Old Russian frequently constructs a hypothetical mood known as the conditional or conditional-optative mood. The periphrastic construction typically involves the l-participle. The most frequent use of the conditional-optative is to mark situations as contrafactual (contrary-to-fact), parallel to English constructions such as If you had only told me... (the construction implying that, in fact, you did not tell me). In addition we find the conditional-optative used in clauses denoting purpose, similar to English I gave him money so that he might buy candy. Moreover we occasionally find the conditional-optative in clauses, even independent clauses, denoting a wish: cf. English Would that you might heed my call... or If only you would heed my call.... Finally, the aorist forms of быти 'to be' may be used alone to lend hypothetical force to a clause. The following list provides some examples of the various uses.

  • Contrafactual: The conditional-optative may denote events supposed by the speaker not to have happened. For example, ащє бо бъӏ Къӏи пєрєвозьникъ бъӏлъ, то нє бъӏ ходилъ Цѣсарюграду 'For if Kyi had been a ferryman, then he would not have gone to Constantinople' (Primary Chronicle).
  • Purpose clause: The conditional-optative in a subordinate clause may denote the purpose of the main or governing clause. For example, да бы Богъ повєлѣлъ и твоя молитва, да быхомъ поставили цьркъвицю малу вънѣ пєчєры 'May God and thy prayer order that we might build a small church outside of the cave' (Primary Chronicle).
  • Wish: The conditional-optative may be used to mark an independent clause as a wish. The clause is frequently introduced by the conjunction да. For example, да бы Богъ повєлѣлъ и твоя молитва, да быхомъ поставили цьркъвицю малу вънѣ пєчєры 'May God and thy prayer order that we might build a small church outside of the cave' (Primary Chronicle).
  • Independent: The aorist forms of быти 'to be' may themselves denote a hypothetical situation. For example, Луцє жъ бы потяту быти... 'It would be better to be killed...' (Igor Tale).
28. First Conjugation

Old Russian verbs fall into five basic classes based on their conjugation patterns in the present tense. Here we explain the basic pattern characterizing Class I verbs.

The first conjugation of verbs in Old Russian comprises those verbs which show in the present tense the results of an original PIE *-e/o-, known as the thematic vowel, applied directly to the original verbal root. The thematic vowel *-o- historically appeared in the 1st person of all numbers and in the 3rd person plural; the thematic vowel *-e- appeared before all other endings. However in Slavic it appears that the thematic *-o- of the 1st person dual and plural was early replaced by *-e-. The paradigm of бьрати 'to take, collect' illustrates the evolution. For comparison, the table lists the forms of Greek phero: 'I carry', from the same Indo-European root.

    PIE   Early CS   Late CS   Old Russian   Greek
1 Sg.   *bher-o-mi   *ber-o-m   *berǫ   бєру   phero:
2   *bher-e-sei   *ber-e-si   *bereši   бєрєши   phereis
3   *bher-e-ti   *ber-e-tĭ       бєрєть   pherei
                     
1 Du.   *bher-o-ues   *ber-e-ue:   *berevě   бєрєвѣ   -
2   *bher-e-tos   *ber-e-tas   *bereta   бєрєта   phereton
3   *bher-e-tos   *ber-e-te   *berete   бєрєта   phereton
                     
1 Pl.   *bher-o-mon   *ber-e-mu   *beremŭ   бєрємъ   pheromen
2   *bher-e-te   *ber-e-te       бєрєтє   pherete
3   *bher-o-nti   *ber-o-ntĭ   *berǫtĭ   бєруть   (Doric) pheronti

This shows the origin of the overarching pattern in the Old Russian Class I present paradigm: and -уть in the 1st person singular and 3rd person plural, and -є- before every other ending in the paradigm. Root-final consonants naturally show the results of palatalization before the front vowel -є-.

Within Old Russian the verbs that belong to Class I fall into two broad categories, typically termed A and B. The distinction is based on whether or not the infinitive shows the suffix -а-:

  • Class IA: these verbs display a suffix neither in the present stem nor in the infinitive stem. Example: нєсти 'to carry', with stem нєс- appearing both in the infinitive stem (нєс-ти) and in the present stem (нєс-є-ши).
  • Class IB: these verbs display no suffix in the present stem, but they show the suffix -а- in the infinitive stem. Example: зъвати 'to call', with stem зъв-а- derived from the infinitive and showing the suffix -а-, but which loses the -а- in the present stem зов- (cf. 2nd sg. зов-є-ши).

The chart below provides some examples of Class I verbs of type A and B. Note that the first person singular form shows the stem-final consonant before the palatalizing effects of the thematic vowel *-e-.

Class   Infinitive   Meaning   1st Sg.   2nd Sg.   Pres. Stem   Suffixed Stem
IA   гнєсти   press   гнєту   гнєтєши   гнєт-    
IA   вєсти   lead   вєду   вєдєши   вєд-    
IA   грєти   bury   грєбу   грєбєши   грєб-    
IA   на-чяти   begin   начьну   начьнєши   на-чьн-    
                         
IB   бьрати   collect   бєру   бєрєши   бєр-   бьр-а-
IB   жьдати   expect   жьду   жьдєши   жьд-   жид-а-
IB   тъкати   weave   тъку   тъчєши   тък-   тък-а-
IB   гънати   drive out   жєну   жєнєши   жєн-   гън-а-

The following table indicates the first conjugation paradigms with the Class IA verbs нєсти 'to carry' (stem нєс-), рєшти or рєчи 'to say' (stem рєк-), въз-яти 'to take' (stem въз-ьм-); and the Class IB verb зъвати (present stem зов-, infinitive stem зъв-а-). Note that only the verb рєщи 'to say' preserves a sigmatic aorist; the remaining verbs show only the new aorist formation. Moreover the -я- of the verb въз-яти 'to take' derives from an original nasalized vowel (cf. OCS въз-ѧти) and this nasal element reappears throughout the paradigm when followed by a vowel.

Class I   IA   IA   IA   IB
Stem   нєс-   рєк-   въз-ьм-   зов-
Present                
1 Sg.   нєсу   рєку   въз-ьму   зову
2   нєсєши   рєчєши   въз-ьмєши   зовєши
3   нєсєть   рєчєть   въз-ьмєть   зовєть
                 
1 Du.   нєсєвѣ   рєчєвѣ   въз-ьмєвѣ   зовєвѣ
2   нєсєта   рєчєта   въз-ьмєта   зовєта
3   нєсєта   рєчєта   въз-ьмєта   зовєта
                 
1 Pl.   нєсємъ   рєчємъ   въз-ьмємъ   зовємъ
2   нєсєтє   рєчєтє   въз-ьмєтє   зовєтє
3   нєсуть   рєкуть   въз-ьмуть   зовуть
                 
Imperative                
1 Sg.   -   -   -   -
2   нєси   рьци   въз-ьми   зови
3   нєси   рьци   въз-ьми   зови
                 
1 Du.   нєсѣвѣ   рьцѣвѣ   въз-ьмѣвѣ   зовѣвѣ
2   нєсѣта   рьцѣта   въз-ьмѣта   зовѣта
3   -   -   -   -
                 
1 Pl.   нєсѣмъ   рьцѣмъ   въз-ьмѣмъ   зовѣмъ
2   нєсѣтє   рьцѣтє   въз-ьмѣтє   зовѣтє
3   -   -   -   -
                 
Pres. Act. Part.                
Masc./Neut. N   нєса   рєка   въз-ьма   зова
Fem. N   нєсучи   рєкучи   въз-ьмучи   зовучи
                 
Pres. Pass. Part.                
Masc. N   нєсомъ   рєкомъ   въз-ьмомъ   зовомъ
                 
Imperfect                
1 Sg.   нєсяахъ   рєчаахъ   въз-ьмяахъ   зъваахъ
2   нєсяашє   рєчаашє   въз-ьмяашє   зъваашє
3   нєсяашє   рєчаашє   въз-ьмяашє   зъваашє
                 
1 Du.   нєсяаховѣ   рєчааховѣ   въз-ьмяаховѣ   зъвааховѣ
2   нєсяашєта   рєчаашєта   въз-ьмяашєта   зъваашєта
3   нєсяашєта   рєчаашєта   въз-ьмяашєта   зъваашєта
                 
1 Pl.   нєсяахомъ   рєчаахомъ   въз-ьмяахомъ   зъваахомъ
2   нєсяашєтє   рєчаашєтє   въз-ьмяашєтє   зъваашєтє
3   нєсяаху   рєчааху   въз-ьмяаху   зъвааху
                 
Sigmatic Aorist                
1 Sg.   -   рѣхъ   -   -
2   -   рєчє   -   -
3   -   рєчє   -   -
                 
1 Du.   -   рѣховѣ   -   -
2   -   рѣста   -   -
3   -   рѣста   -   -
                 
1 Pl.   -   рѣхомъ   -   -
2   -   рѣстє   -   -
3   -   рѣша   -   -
                 
New Aorist                
1 Sg.   нєсохъ   рєкохъ   въз-яхъ   зъвахъ
2   нєсє   рєчє   въз-я(ть)   зъва
3   нєсє   рєчє   въз-я(ть)   зъва
                 
1 Du.   нєсоховѣ   рєкоховѣ   въз-яховѣ   зъваховѣ
2   нєсоста   рєкоста   въз-яста   зъваста
3   нєсоста   рєкоста   въз-яста   зъваста
                 
1 Pl.   нєсохомъ   рєкохомъ   въз-яхомъ   зъвахомъ
2   нєсостє   рєкостє   въз-ястє   зъвастє
3   нєсоша   рєкоша   въз-яша   зъваша
                 
Past Act. Part.                
Masc./Neut. N   нєсъ   рєкъ   въз-ьмъ   зъвавъ
Fem. N   нєсъши   рєкъши   въз-ьмъши   зъвавъши
                 
Resultative Part.                
Masc. N   нєслъ   рєклъ   въз-ялъ   зъвалъ
                 
Past Pass. Part.                
Masc. N   нєсєнъ   рєчєнъ   въз-ятъ   зъванъ
                 
Infinitive   нєсти   рєшти/рєчи   въз-яти   зъвати
                 
Supine   нєстъ   рєштъ   въз-ятъ   зъватъ
                 
Verbal Noun   (при)нєсєньѥ   (на)рєчєньє   въз-ятьѥ   зъваньѥ
29. The Accusative Case

In its most basic interpretation the accusative case in Old Russian marks the direct object of a transitive verb. That is, of course, if the verb is not negated or if the direct object is not a male human being, whereby Old Russian generally prefers to mark the direct object with the genitive case. This use of the accusative coincides with its use in other archaic Indo-European languages such as Greek and Latin. The verb need not be in a finite (conjugated) form, but can typically also be in a non-finite form such as the infinitive. The verbal noun may occasionally take the accusative as well. Consider the following examples of the accusative as direct object.

  • поималъ єси всю дань 'You have taken all the tribute' (Olga's Revenge).
  • поимємъ жену єго вольгу за кнѧзь свои малъ 'Let us take his wife, Olga, for our prince Mal' (Olga's Revenge).
  • деревлене ѹбиша игорѧ и дружину єго 'The Derevlians killed Igor and his retinue' (Olga's Revenge). Note here that both игорѧ 'Igor' and дружину 'retinue' are direct objects of the verb ѹбиша 'killed', but игорѧ shows the genitive rather than accusative case. This typically occurs only when the direct object is a male human being.
  • орли клектомъ на кости звѣри зовутъ 'The eagles with their cry summon the animals to the bones' (Igor Tale). The example illustrates how nouns representing animals, as opposed to humans, generally do not take the genitive when functioning as direct objects. But this rule is not strict within Old Russian (cf. the discussion of the genitive, Section 34).

The Old Russian usage of the accusative case, and of other cases in general, does not necessarily coincide with the use of the accusative in modern Russian. For instance some verbs in Old Russian take a direct object in the accusative where the modern Russian equivalent would require a preposition. Consider the examples below.

  • слышавъ ярославъ влъхвы, приде суждалю 'Jaroslav, having heard (about) the musicians, came to Suzdal' (Primary Chronicle). In Old Russian слышати by itself meant 'to hear (about)', its meaning in essence "including" the preposition which both English and modern Russian must make explicit with the phrases hear about and слышать о, respectively.
  • поютъ врємя бусово 'They sing (about) the time(s) of Bus' (Igor Tale). Here again the basic verb "includes" the preposition: пѣти 'to sing (about)', so that the theme sung appears in the accusative. Compare modern Russian петь о 'to sing about'.

The accusative nevertheless appears also in statements which include no transitive verb, or in clauses where the accusative case does not mark the direct object. Heuristically speaking, such uses of the accusative generally serve to denote some sort of direction or extent in space or time, or the goal or endpoint of motion in a particular direction. The following samples provide examples of the accusative marking the goal of directed motion.

  • поиде ко тьсту своєму Киевъ 'he went to Kiev to his father-in-law' (Primary Chronicle, Laurentian Codex).
  • и приде Холмъ 'and came to Kholm' (Primary Chronicle, Laurentian Codex).

The examples below, by constrast, show instances in which the phrase in the accusative denotes the duration in time over which an event takes place. The accusative may similarly express the extent in space. Consider the following examples of the accusative of extent of time or space.

  • бишася дєнь, бишася другыи, трєтьяго дни къ полудню падоша стязи игорєвы 'They fought one day, they fought a second; on the third day toward midday Igor's standards fell' (Igor Tale).
  • осень умре половечьскыи князь 'During the autumn the Polovtsian prince died' (Primary Chronicle, Laurentian Codex).
  • и стоӏа ѡльга лѣто не можаше всѧти града 'And Olga stayed for a year, (but) was unable to take the city' (Olga's Revenge).
30. Participles

Old Russian is enamored of participles. Participles find far greater use in Old Russian than in English. Broadly speaking, Old Russian participles come in two basic flavors: present and past participles. Present participles typically denote an action which is ongoing at the time of the main verb of the clause. Past participles typically denote an action already started by, and usually completed before, the time of the main verb of the clause. In this sense the terms present and past are misnomers when applied to participles: a present participle used in conjuction with a past tense verb, say, will denote an action also in the past; the present participle merely says the action is contemporaneous with the main verb, so that if the finite verb is in the past, associated present participles will also refer to past actions. The terms present and past, as applied to participles, simply denote the relative state of completion of the action with respect to the main verb. The following excerpts provide some examples of the distinction of relative states of completion.

  • и посъла къ дрєвляномъ, рєкущи сице... 'And she sent for the Derevlians, speaking thus...' (Olga's Revenge). Here the present participle рєкущи accompanies a past-tense verb (посъла) and so itself refers to a past action, though one that happened to be ongoing when the action represented by the finite verb took place.
  • они же, то слышавъше, съвєзоша меды мъногы зѣло 'And they, having heard this, gathered very great (quantities of) honey' (Olga's Revenge). Here the past participle слышавъше shows that the action was started, and completed, before the action represented by the main verb съвєзоша.

One motivation for the frequent use of participles found in Old Russian, especially in the narrative texts which are so abundant in the corpus, is that they provide a simple way of relating a sequence of actions without being redundant. For example in a narrative text dealing with events occurring in the past, we might run accross numerous uses of the imperfect tense. But after the first use of the imperfect tense, the time frame becomes clear: we are talking about the past. What then becomes important, supposing for the sake of argument that the subject does not change between actions, is not the marking of past time, which is what finite verb conjugation achieves, but rather the relative ordering of events. An imperfect accompanied, say, by a past participle then makes clear that the action denoted by the past participle preceded the action represented by the imperfect; but the speaker or writer need not redundantly employ imperfect morphology to place the events. In fact, simply using two imperfects would be ambiguous: each imperfect would mark the fact that each action occurred before the composition of the sentence (i.e. before the present), but they would not, by themselves, say which of the two actions came first. One would need additional adverbs to place the imperfects in time relative to one another. By contrast the combination of an imperfect with another past participle immediately solves the problem.

Many instances of participle use in Old Russian occur where in English one might expect a full clause with a conjugated verb. Consider the following example of a participle in place of a finite clause: идеже криво, братиѥ, исправивъше чьтѣте 'wherever (it is) wrong, brothers, having corrected (it), read (on)' (Sbornik Svjatoslava Jaroslaviča). This instead of 'wherever it is wrong, brothers, correct it and read on', which would amount to two parallel imperatives.

Often Old Russian uses the participle to stand for a relative clause. Consider the following examples.

  • и на пути томь стояху мужи чьрни велици въоружени, копия дьржаще в руку и стрѣжаху путь тъ, не дадуще никому же миновати 'and beside that road were standing black, huge, armed men, brandishing spears in (their) hands, and they were guarding that road, not permitting anyone to pass' (Žitije Nifonta, 1219). Typical English phrasing might render this '... men, who were brandishing spears... and did not permit...'.
  • жєняися пѹщеницею 'whosoever marries the divorced woman...' (Ostromir Gospel, Matthew 5.32, cf. Sreznevskij, 1898, vol. 1, p. 858). Here the participle жєняися 'the one marrying' corresponds to Greek use of the relative pronoun hos with a finite verb: hos ean apolelumene:n game:se:i 'he who would marry a divorced woman'.

Occasionally in Old Russian the participle forms the only verbal element in a clause. In such instances we take the participle as complete predicate. The following excerpts provide examples.

  • слышавьше же древляне яко опять идеть сдумавъше со кънязем своим малом 'The Derevlians heard that he came back (and) they sought counsel with their prince Mal' (Death of Igor).
  • кънязь нашь убиєнъ 'our prince (has been) killed' (Olga's Revenge).

As Old Russian employs participles where English might employ a full clause, the participles often take on connotations appropriate to different types of subordinate clauses in English. In particular participles may have causal force (as in English 'because...'), concessive (English 'although...'), temporal (English 'when...' or 'after...'), or conditional (English 'if...'). For example, the following excerpts show participles displaying a causal force.

  • а нынѣ водя новую жену, а мнѣ не въдасть ничитожє 'Now that (since) (he's) taking a new wife, he will give me nothing' (Novgorodskie berestjanye gramoty, cf. Vlasto, 1986, p.203).
  • ини же, не съвѣдѹще, рѣша яко Кыи есть перевозьникъ былъ 'And they said, not knowing, that Kyi had been a ferryman' (Primary Chronicle). Rendered with a finite clause: 'And, because they did not know, they said that Kyi had been a ferryman'.

By contrast, the following example shows a participle with temporal force: измывъшеся, придѣте къ мънѣ 'Having washed yourselves, come to me' (Olga's Revenge). Rendered by a finite clause: 'After you have washed yourselves, come to me'.

At times certain participles appear to have lost most of their verbal force and seem to function simply as adjectives. Such participles are typically passive. When built from the present passive participle, they frequently denote the possibility of the verbal action. When built from past passive participles, they usually denote the result of the verbal action and lose the verbal force altogether. Consider the following participles which function as simple adjectives:

  • видимъ 'visible';
  • нєразоримъ 'indestructible';
  • съмѣрєнъ 'humble'.