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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 (Perunŭ), Khors (Xŭrsŭ), Dazhbog (Dažĭbogŭ), Stribog (Stribogŭ), Simargl (Simarĭglŭ), and Mokosh (Mokošĭ). Within this temple Vladimir apparently placed idols (kymiry) 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 (Volosŭ, Velesŭ), 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 (Perunŭ): 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 (Xŭrsŭ): thought to be a sun-god. He is mentioned as 'great' (velikŭ) in a difficult-to-interpret passage in the Igor Tale.
  • Dazhbog (Dažĭbogŭ): 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 Daždĭboža vnuka 'grandsons of Dazhbog', referring to the Russian people as a whole. We see in the second element the familiar term bogŭ '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 dažĭ of dati 'to give', leading to an interpretation as the 'giver of wealth'.
  • Stribog (Stribogŭ): perhaps a god of the winds. This is largely based on the fact that the Igor Tale refers to the winds as Striboži vnuci '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 (Simarĭglŭ): 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 (Mokošĭ): 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 (Volosŭ, Velesŭ): 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 Velesovŭ bnukŭ '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 bogŭ. 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 (divŭ, 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 čudo '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 (byliny, singular bylina, perhaps from bylĭ '(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 (skomoroxi, a modern plural; singular skomraxŭ or skoromoxŭ, 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 - V lěto ,dz. u. n d.

  • V -- preposition; <> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- In
  • lěto -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <lěto> year, summer -- the year
  • dz -- number; <dz> six; six thousand -- six thousand
  • u -- number; <u> four hundred -- four hundred
  • n -- number; <n> fifty -- fifty
  • d -- number; <d> four -- four

102-104 - Ōlĭga sŭ synomŭ svoimŭ svjatoslavomŭ sobra voi mnogo i xrabry i ide na derĭvĭsku zemlju.

  • Ōlĭga -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Olĭga> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • -- preposition; <> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- together with
  • synomŭ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <synŭ> son -- son
  • svoimŭ -- adjective; masculine instrumental singular of <svoi, svoe, svoja> own, one's own -- her
  • svjatoslavomŭ -- proper noun; masculine instrumental singular of <Svętoslavŭ> Svjatoslav, Svyatoslav, Sviatoslav (name of a prince) -- Svjatoslav
  • sobra -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <sŭbĭrati, -berǫ, -bereši> collect, gather -- gathered
  • voi -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <voji> fighter; (pl.) troops, army -- an army
  • mnogo -- adjective; neuter accusative singular of <mŭnogŭ> much, many -- great # For expected masculine accusative plural mŭnogy
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • xrabry -- adjective; masculine accusative plural of <xrabrŭ> (m.) fighter, soldier; (adj.) strong -- fierce
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • ide -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <iti, idǫ, ideši> go -- went
  • na -- preposition; <na> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- to
  • derĭvĭsku -- adjective; feminine accusative singular of <drěvĭskŭ> of Dereva, related to Dereva, Derevlian -- of Dereva
  • zemlju -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <zeml'ja> earth, land -- the land

104-106 - izidoša derevlęne protivu. sŭnemŭšemŭ sę ōběma polkoma na skupĭ sunu kopĭemŭ svjatoslavŭ na derevlęny.

  • izidoša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <iziti, -idǫ, -ideši> go out -- came out
  • derevlęne -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <drěvljaninŭ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- The Derevlians
  • protivu -- adverb; <protivŭ, protivǫ> (adv.) opposite; (prep. w. dat.) according to; to meet -- to meet (them)
  • sŭnemŭšemŭ -- past participle; masculine dative plural of <sŭnęti, sŭnĭmǫ, sŭnĭmeši> 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
  • -- pronoun; accusative singular of <sebe> -self, oneself -- ...
  • ōběma -- pronoun; masculine dative dual of <oba, obě, obě> both -- the two
  • polkoma -- noun; masculine dative dual of <plŭkŭ> crowd; people, population; cohort, troop -- forces
  • na -- preposition; <na> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- to-
  • skupĭ -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <sŭkupŭ> a joining; a convening, a coming together -- -gether
  • sunu -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <sunǫti, -nǫ, -neši> pour out -- lashed out
  • kopĭemŭ -- noun; neuter instrumental singular of <kopĭje> spear, lance; sword -- with a spear
  • svjatoslavŭ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Svętoslavŭ> Svjatoslav, Svyatoslav, Sviatoslav (name of a prince) -- Svjatoslav
  • na -- preposition; <na> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- against
  • derevlęny -- adjective used as substantive; masculine accusative plural of <drěvljaninŭ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians

106-108 - i kopĭe letě skvozě uši konevi udari v nogi konevi, bě bo děteskŭ.

  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- But
  • kopĭe -- noun; neuter nominative singular of <kopĭje> spear, lance; sword -- the spear
  • letě -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <letěti, -štǫ, -tiši> fly; run -- flew
  • skvozě -- preposition; <skvozě, skozě> (w. acc.) through -- past
  • uši -- noun; neuter accusative dual of <uxo, ušese> ear -- the ears
  • konevi -- noun; masculine dative singular of <konĭ> horse -- of the horse
  • udari -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <udariti, -rjǫ, -riši> strike, beat -- (and) struck
  • v -- preposition; <> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- against
  • nogi -- noun; feminine locative singular of <noga> 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 -y to -i.
  • konevi -- noun; masculine dative singular of <konĭ> horse -- horse's # Given the ending of nogi, this could alternately be interpreted as a feminine locative singular (or accusative dual, etc.) from the adjective konjevŭ 'of a horse, relating to a horse'.
  • -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <byti, bǫdǫ, bǫdeši> be, become -- he was (still)
  • bo -- conjunction; <bo> for -- for
  • děteskŭ -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <dětĭskŭ> childish -- a boy

108-110 - i reče svěneldŭ i asmoldŭ, knęzĭ uže počalŭ. potęgněte, družina, po knęzě. i pobědiša derevlęny.

  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- And
  • reče -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <rešti, rekǫ, rečeši> say, tell -- said # Note singular verb form, though the subject is plural (properly dual, in fact)
  • svěneldŭ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Svěnĭldŭ> Sveinald (Scandinavian name) -- Sveinald
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • asmoldŭ -- proper noun; masculine nominative singular of <Asmudŭ> Asmud, Asmund, Asmundr (Scandinavian name) -- Asmund
  • knęzĭ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <kŭnęzĭ> prince -- the prince
  • uže -- adverb; <juže, uže> already -- already
  • počalŭ -- past participle; masculine nominative singular of <počęti, -čĭnǫ, -čĭneši> begin, commence -- has... begun # Note use of the l-participle for the perfect tense, without an accompanying form of byti 'to be'
  • potęgněte -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <potęgnǫti, -nǫ, -neši> work, be useful, strive, be strong, be able -- move
  • družina -- noun; feminine vocative singular of <družina> retinue, band of retainers, troop -- guards # Nominative form for expected vocative družino
  • po -- preposition; <po> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- after
  • knęzě -- noun; masculine locative singular of <kŭnęzĭ> prince -- the prince
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- And
  • pobědiša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <poběditi, -ždǫ, -diši> conquer; fight, fight against; set in motion, hasten, incite; sally out -- they drove back
  • derevlęny -- adjective used as substantive; masculine accusative plural of <drěvljaninŭ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians

110-112 - derevlęne že poběgoša i zatvoriša sę vŭ graděxŭ svoixŭ.

  • derevlęne -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <drěvljaninŭ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- The Derevlians
  • že -- conjunction; <že> and, but -- ...
  • poběgoša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <poběgnǫti, -nǫ, -neši> flee, take flight -- fled
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • zatvoriša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <zatvoriti, -rjǫ, -riši> close, shut -- shut... up
  • -- pronoun; accusative singular of <sebe> -self, oneself -- themselves
  • -- preposition; <> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • graděxŭ -- noun; masculine locative plural of <gradŭ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- stronghold
  • svoixŭ -- adjective; masculine locative plural of <svoi, svoe, svoja> own, one's own -- their

112-115 - ōlĭga že ustremi sę sŭ synŭmŭ svoimŭ, a derevlęne zatvoriša sę vŭ gradě i boręxu sę krěpko izŭ grada, věděxu bo jako sami ubili knęzę i na čto sę predati.

  • ōlĭga -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Olĭga> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • že -- conjunction; <že> and, but -- ...
  • ustremi -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <ustrĭmiti sę, -mljǫ, -miši> hasten, rush; be eager -- set forth
  • -- pronoun; accusative singular of <sebe> -self, oneself -- ...
  • -- preposition; <> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • synŭmŭ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <synŭ> son -- son
  • svoimŭ -- adjective; masculine instrumental singular of <svoi, svoe, svoja> own, one's own -- her
  • a -- conjunction; <a> and, but; if -- but
  • derevlęne -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <drěvljaninŭ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • zatvoriša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <zatvoriti, -rjǫ, -riši> close, shut -- holed up
  • -- pronoun; accusative singular of <sebe> -self, oneself -- ...
  • -- preposition; <> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • gradě -- noun; masculine locative singular of <gradŭ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- (their) stronghold
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • boręxu -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <brati, borjǫ, borješi> fight -- fought
  • -- pronoun; accusative singular of <sebe> -self, oneself -- ...
  • krěpko -- adverb; neuter accusative singular of <krěpŭkŭ> (adj.) healthy, strong, powerful; (adv.) strenuously, vigorously -- strenuously
  • izŭ -- preposition; <iz> (w. gen.) from, out of -- from
  • grada -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <gradŭ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- (their) fortress
  • věděxu -- verb; 3rd person plural imperfect of <věděti, věmĭ, věsi> see, know -- they knew
  • bo -- conjunction; <bo> for -- for
  • jako -- conjunction; <jako> as, when; in order to; that; because; (introduces quotation) -- that
  • sami -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <samŭ> self, oneself -- they
  • ubili -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <ubiti, -bijǫ, -biješi> kill -- had killed # Note l-participle functioning as pluperfect without accompanying form of byti 'to be'
  • knęzę -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <kŭnęzĭ> prince -- the prince
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • na -- preposition; <na> (w. acc.) onto, against, for, to the extent; (w. loc.) on, at -- to
  • čto -- interrogative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <kŭto> who -- what
  • -- pronoun; accusative singular of <sebe> -self, oneself -- themselves
  • predati -- verb; infinitive of <prědati, -damĭ, -dasi> hand over, commend -- (they) would surrender # Infinitive with an accompanying (explicit or implied) form of byti 'to be' often connotes obligation or necessity. Compare English 'It is not for us to question why'.

115-117 - i stoja ōlĭga lěto, ne možaše vsęti grada. i umysli sice.

  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • stoja -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <stojati, stojǫ, stoiši> stand, stay in place -- stayed
  • ōlĭga -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Olĭga> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • lěto -- noun; neuter accusative singular of <lěto> year, summer -- for a year # Note the use of the accusative to denote extent of time
  • ne -- adverb; <ne> not -- un-
  • možaše -- verb; 3rd person singular imperfect of <mošti, mogǫ, možeši> be able, can -- was...-able
  • vsęti -- verb; infinitive of <vŭzęti, -zĭmǫ, -zĭmeši> pick up, take -- to take
  • grada -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <gradŭ> 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
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- And
  • umysli -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <umysliti, -šljǫ, -sliši> devise, contrive, invent -- she devised
  • sice -- pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <sicĭ, sice, sica> such, like this -- the following

117-120 - posla ko gradu glagoljušči, čto xočete dosěděti, a vsi gradi vaši predaša sę mně. i jali sę po danĭ i dělajutĭ nivy svoja i zemlě svoja.

  • posla -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <posŭlati, -l'jǫ, -l'ješi> send, summon -- She sent
  • ko -- preposition; <> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • gradu -- noun; masculine dative singular of <gradŭ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city
  • glagoljušči -- participle; feminine nominative singular of <glagolati, -l'jǫ, -l'ješi> say, speak -- saying
  • čto -- interrogative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <kŭto> who -- why
  • xočete -- verb; 2nd person plural present of <xotěti, xoštǫ, xošteši> want, wish -- do you want
  • dosěděti -- verb; infinitive of <dosěděti, -ždǫ, -diši> bring about by sitting, achieve through encamping or remaining in the field -- remain besieged
  • a -- conjunction; <a> and, but; if -- while
  • vsi -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <vĭsĭ> all, every; whole -- all
  • gradi -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <gradŭ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- (other) towns
  • vaši -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <vašĭ> of you, your (pl.) -- your
  • predaša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <prědati, -damĭ, -dasi> hand over, commend -- have surrendered # Note the Old Russian use of the aorist where English permits the perfect
  • -- pronoun; accusative singular of <sebe> -self, oneself -- ...
  • mně -- pronoun; dative singular of <azŭ> I -- to me
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • jali -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <jęti, imǫ, imeši> take, seize; (refl.) take to, set out, start on -- They have taken
  • -- pronoun; accusative singular of <sebe> -self, oneself -- ...
  • po -- preposition; <po> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- to
  • danĭ -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <danĭ> tribute -- tribute
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • dělajutĭ -- verb; 3rd person plural present of <dělati, -lajǫ, -laješi> work, toil; till; quarry -- they till... (quarry)
  • nivy -- noun; feminine accusative plural of <n'iva> field, ground -- fields
  • svoja -- adjective; feminine accusative plural of <svoi, svoe, svoja> own, one's own -- their
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • zemlě -- noun; feminine accusative plural of <zeml'ja> earth, land -- the land
  • svoja -- adjective; feminine accusative plural of <svoi, svoe, svoja> own, one's own -- their

120-121 - a vy xočete izŭmereti gladomŭ, ne imuče sę po danĭ.

  • a -- conjunction; <a> and, but; if -- But
  • vy -- pronoun; nominative plural of <ty> you, thou -- you # Note the use of the subject pronoun for emphasis, in contrast to the preceding statement
  • xočete -- verb; 2nd person plural present of <xotěti, xoštǫ, xošteši> want, wish -- wish
  • izŭmereti -- verb; infinitive of <izmrěti, -mrǫ, -mreši> die -- to die
  • gladomŭ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <gladŭ> hunger, famine -- of famine # Note Old Russian use of the instrumental: 'die by hunger' rather than English 'die of hunger'
  • ne -- adverb; <ne> not -- not
  • imuče -- participle; masculine nominative plural of <jęti, imǫ, imeši> take, seize; (refl.) take to, set out, start on -- taking
  • -- pronoun; accusative singular of <sebe> -self, oneself -- yourselves
  • po -- preposition; <po> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- to
  • danĭ -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <danĭ> tribute -- tribute

121-123 - derevlęne že rekoša, radi sę byxomŭ jali po danĭ, no xoščeši mĭščati muža svoego.

  • derevlęne -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <drěvljaninŭ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • že -- conjunction; <že> and, but -- And
  • rekoša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <rešti, rekǫ, rečeši> say, tell -- said
  • radi -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <radŭ> glad, happy -- gladly # Notice that Old Russian occasionally favors an adjective agreeing with the subject where English would employ an adverb
  • -- pronoun; accusative singular of <sebe> -self, oneself -- ...
  • byxomŭ -- verb; 1st person plural aorist of <byti, bǫdǫ, bǫdeši> be, become -- would... have
  • jali -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <jęti, imǫ, imeši> take, seize; (refl.) take to, set out, start on -- taken
  • po -- preposition; <po> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- to
  • danĭ -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <danĭ> tribute -- tribute
  • no -- conjunction; <> but -- but
  • xoščeši -- verb; 2nd person singular present of <xotěti, xoštǫ, xošteši> want, wish -- you want
  • mĭščati -- verb; infinitive of <mĭštati, -tajǫ, -taješi> defend against, revenge, avenge -- to avenge
  • muža -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <mǫžĭ> man, husband -- husband
  • svoego -- adjective; masculine genitive singular of <svoi, svoe, svoja> own, one's own -- your

123-126 - reče že imŭ ōlĭga, jako azŭ mĭstila uže ōbidu muža svoego kogda pridoša kievu, vtoroe i tretĭee kogda tvorixŭ tryznu muževi svoemu.

  • reče -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <rešti, rekǫ, rečeši> say, tell -- said
  • že -- conjunction; <že> and, but -- ...
  • imŭ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <*i> he -- to them
  • ōlĭga -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Olĭga> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • jako -- conjunction; <jako> as, when; in order to; that; because; (introduces quotation) -- ...
  • azŭ -- pronoun; nominative singular of <azŭ> I -- I
  • mĭstila -- past participle; feminine nominative singular of <mĭštati, -tajǫ, -taješi> defend against, revenge, avenge -- avenged
  • uže -- adverb; <juže, uže> already -- already
  • ōbidu -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <obida> injustice, outrage, injury -- the injustice
  • muža -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <mǫžĭ> man, husband -- against... husband
  • svoego -- adjective; masculine genitive singular of <svoi, svoe, svoja> own, one's own -- my
  • kogda -- adverb; <kogda> when; sometime -- when
  • pridoša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <priti, -idǫ, -ideši> come, arrive -- they came
  • kievu -- proper noun; masculine dative singular of <Kyevŭ> Kiev, Kyiv (name of a city) -- to Kiev
  • vtoroe -- adjective used as substantive; neuter nominative singular of <vŭtoryi, -roje, -raja> second, following -- the second
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • tretĭee -- adjective used as substantive; neuter nominative singular of <tretĭi, -tĭje, -tĭja> third -- third (times)
  • kogda -- adverb; <kogda> when; sometime -- when
  • tvorixŭ -- verb; 1st person singular aorist of <sŭtvoriti, -rjǫ, -riši> do, make -- I performed
  • tryznu -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <trizna, tryzna> contest, prize; stadium; trench, track; funeral repast, commemoration of the dead -- the wake
  • muževi -- noun; masculine dative singular of <mǫžĭ> man, husband -- for... husband # Note the adoption of the dative ending from the u-stem paradigm
  • svoemu -- adjective; masculine dative singular of <svoi, svoe, svoja> own, one's own -- my

126-128 - a uže ne xoščju mŭščati, no xoščju danĭ imati po malu. smirivši sę s vami poidu ōpętĭ.

  • a -- conjunction; <a> and, but; if -- ...
  • uže -- adverb; <juže, uže> already -- Now
  • ne -- adverb; <ne> not -- not
  • xoščju -- verb; 1st person singular present of <xotěti, xoštǫ, xošteši> want, wish -- I do... wish
  • mŭščati -- verb; infinitive of <mĭštati, -tajǫ, -taješi> defend against, revenge, avenge -- to avenge (him)
  • no -- conjunction; <> but -- but
  • xoščju -- verb; 1st person singular present of <xotěti, xoštǫ, xošteši> want, wish -- I wish
  • danĭ -- noun; feminine accusative singular of <danĭ> tribute -- tribute
  • imati -- verb; infinitive of <imati, jemljǫ, jemlješi> take, take up; acquire -- to receive
  • po -- preposition; <po> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- ...
  • malu -- adjective; feminine singular accusative of <malŭ> small, young -- a small # Feminine accusative agreeing with danĭ, both to be taken as governed by po. Alternatively we may view malu as a masculine or neuter dative singular, alone governed by po in a collocation po malu 'in a small degree'.
  • smirivši -- past participle; feminine nominative singular of <sŭmiriti, -rjǫ, -riši> make peace; come together, unite; reconcile -- After making peace
  • -- pronoun; accusative singular of <sebe> -self, oneself -- ...
  • s -- preposition; <> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • vami -- pronoun; instrumental plural of <ty> you, thou -- you
  • poidu -- verb; 1st person singular present of <poiti, -idǫ, -ideši> go, set out; go back, return -- I will go
  • ōpętĭ -- adverb; <opętĭ> back -- back

128-130 - rekoša že derevlęne, što xoščeši u nasŭ. radi daemŭ medomĭ i skoroju.

  • rekoša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <rešti, rekǫ, rečeši> say, tell -- responded
  • že -- conjunction; <že> and, but -- And
  • derevlęne -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <drěvljaninŭ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- the Derevlians
  • što -- interrogative pronoun; neuter accusative singular of <kŭto> who -- What
  • xoščeši -- verb; 2nd person singular present of <xotěti, xoštǫ, xošteši> want, wish -- do you want
  • u -- preposition; <u> (w. gen.) near, at, by -- from
  • nasŭ -- pronoun; genitive plural of <azŭ> I -- us
  • radi -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <radŭ> glad, happy -- happily
  • daemŭ -- verb; 1st person plural present of <dajati, dajǫ, daješi> give, provide -- We will... provide (you)
  • medomĭ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <medŭ, medu> honey -- with honey
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • skoroju -- noun; feminine instrumental singular of <skora> bark, shell; pine; skin, hide, pelt, leather -- hide(s)

130-131 - ōna že reče imŭ, nyně u vasŭ něstĭ medu ni skory. no malo u vasŭ prošju.

  • ōna -- demonstrative pronoun; feminine nominative singular of <onŭ, ono, ona> that, that one -- she
  • že -- conjunction; <že> and, but -- And
  • reče -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <rešti, rekǫ, rečeši> say, tell -- replied
  • imŭ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <*i> he -- to them
  • nyně -- adverb; <nyn'ja, nyně> now -- now
  • u -- preposition; <u> (w. gen.) near, at, by -- by
  • vasŭ -- pronoun; genitive plural of <ty> you, thou -- you
  • něstĭ -- adverb; <ne> not + verb; 3rd person singular present of <byti, bǫdǫ, bǫdeši> be, become -- There is... neither
  • medu -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <medŭ, medu> honey -- honey # Note genitive rather than nominative due to negation
  • ni -- conjunction; <ni> and not, nor, no; (repeated) neither... nor -- nor
  • skory -- noun; feminine genitive singular of <skora> bark, shell; pine; skin, hide, pelt, leather -- hide(s) # Note genitive rather than nominative due to negation
  • no -- conjunction; <> but -- But
  • malo -- adjective used as substantive; neuter accusative singular of <malŭ> small, young -- little
  • u -- preposition; <u> (w. gen.) near, at, by -- from
  • vasŭ -- pronoun; genitive plural of <ty> you, thou -- you
  • prošju -- verb; 1st person singular present of <prositi, -šǫ, -siši> ask, demand -- I seek

131-134 - daite mi ō^ dvora po .g. golubi da .g. vorobĭi. azŭ bo ne xoščju tęžĭki dani vŭzložiti, jako že i mužĭ moi, sego prošju u vasŭ malo.

  • daite -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <dajati, dajǫ, daješi> give, provide -- provide
  • mi -- pronoun; dative singular of <azŭ> I -- me
  • ō^ -- preposition; <otŭ> (w. gen.) of, from; by -- From
  • dvora -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <dvorŭ> court, courtyard; home, household -- house
  • po -- preposition; <po> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- (each)... with
  • g -- number; <g> three -- three
  • golubi -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <golǫbĭ> dove, pigeon -- pigeons
  • da -- conjunction; <da> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- and
  • g -- number; <g> three -- three
  • vorobĭi -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <vrabiji> sparrow -- sparrows
  • azŭ -- pronoun; nominative singular of <azŭ> I -- I
  • bo -- conjunction; <bo> for -- For
  • ne -- adverb; <ne> not -- not
  • xoščju -- verb; 1st person singular present of <xotěti, xoštǫ, xošteši> want, wish -- I do... wish
  • tęžĭki -- adjective; feminine genitive singular of <tęžĭkŭ> grave; burdensome; savage; intolerable -- burdensome # Note feminine genitive singular ending -i rather than -y, expected both based on the type of declension and on the fact that -i would historically have caused palatalization in the final velar. This, together with dani to which it refers, could also be taken as a feminine accusative plural. But on the one hand we would still expect the ending -y, and on the other hand we expect a genitive form due to negation.
  • dani -- noun; feminine genitive singular of <danĭ> tribute -- tribute
  • vŭzložiti -- verb; infinitive of <vŭzložiti, -žǫ, -žiši> throw upon, cast upon; impose -- to impose
  • jako -- conjunction; <jako> as, when; in order to; that; because; (introduces quotation) -- as
  • že -- conjunction; <že> and, but -- ...
  • i -- adverb; <i> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • mužĭ -- noun; masculine nominative singular of <mǫžĭ> man, husband -- husband
  • moi -- adjective; masculine nominative singular of <moi, moe, moja> my, mine -- my
  • sego -- demonstrative pronoun; neuter genitive singular of <sĭ, se, si> this, this one -- of this
  • prošju -- verb; 1st person singular present of <prositi, -šǫ, -siši> ask, demand -- (but) I seek
  • u -- preposition; <u> (w. gen.) near, at, by -- from
  • vasŭ -- pronoun; genitive plural of <ty> you, thou -- you
  • malo -- adjective used as substantive; neuter accusative singular of <malŭ> small, young -- a small part # Compare the construction with sego... mala in the following sentence.

134-135 - vy bo este izŭnemogli v osadě, da sego u vasŭ prošju mala.

  • vy -- pronoun; nominative plural of <ty> you, thou -- you
  • bo -- conjunction; <bo> for -- For
  • este -- verb; 2nd person plural present of <byti, bǫdǫ, bǫdeši> be, become -- have been
  • izŭnemogli -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <iznemošti, -mogǫ, -možeši> be unable; be weak; become wearied, be exhausted -- wearied
  • v -- preposition; <> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- by
  • osadě -- noun; feminine locative singular of <osada> siege -- siege
  • da -- conjunction; <da> in order to, that; may, let; and, then -- so that
  • sego -- demonstrative adjective; neuter genitive singular of <sĭ, se, si> this, this one -- this
  • u -- preposition; <u> (w. gen.) near, at, by -- from
  • vasŭ -- pronoun; genitive plural of <ty> you, thou -- you
  • prošju -- verb; 1st person singular present of <prositi, -šǫ, -siši> ask, demand -- I seek
  • mala -- adjective used as substantive; neuter genitive singular of <malŭ> small, young -- small portion # Note the use of the genitive with prositi 'to ask, demand'

136-138 - derevlęne že radi byvše i sobraša ō^ dvora po .g. golubi i po .g. vorobĭi i poslaša k olĭzě s poklonomŭ.

  • derevlęne -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <drěvljaninŭ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- The Derevlians
  • že -- conjunction; <že> and, but -- ...
  • radi -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <radŭ> glad, happy -- happy
  • byvše -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <byti, bǫdǫ, bǫdeši> be, become -- having become
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • sobraša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <sŭbĭrati, -berǫ, -bereši> collect, gather -- collected
  • ō^ -- preposition; <otŭ> (w. gen.) of, from; by -- from
  • dvora -- noun; masculine genitive singular of <dvorŭ> court, courtyard; home, household -- house
  • po -- preposition; <po> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- (each)...
  • g -- number; <g> three -- three
  • golubi -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <golǫbĭ> dove, pigeon -- pigeons
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • po -- preposition; <po> (w. dat.) on, about (motion on surface); (w. acc.) on, after, on account of; (w. loc.) after, following, for -- (each)...
  • g -- number; <g> three -- three
  • vorobĭi -- noun; masculine accusative plural of <vrabiji> sparrow -- sparrows
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • poslaša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <posŭlati, -l'jǫ, -l'ješi> send, summon -- sent
  • k -- preposition; <> (w. dat.) to, toward -- to
  • olĭzě -- proper noun; feminine dative singular of <Olĭga> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • s -- preposition; <> (w. gen.) (down) from; (w. instr.) with -- with
  • poklonomŭ -- noun; masculine instrumental singular of <poklonŭ> bow; worship; salutation, greeting -- a greeting

138-140 - volĭga že reče imŭ, se uže estĭ pokorili sę mně i moemu dětęti. a iděte vŭ gradŭ i pridu vŭ gradosĭ.

  • volĭga -- proper noun; feminine nominative singular of <Olĭga> Olga, Helga (Scandinavian name) -- Olga
  • že -- conjunction; <že> and, but -- And
  • reče -- verb; 3rd person singular aorist of <rešti, rekǫ, rečeši> say, tell -- said
  • imŭ -- pronoun; masculine dative plural of <*i> he -- to them
  • se -- interjection; <se> lo, behold -- Indeed
  • uže -- adverb; <juže, uže> already -- ...
  • estĭ -- verb; 3rd person singular present of <byti, bǫdǫ, bǫdeši> be, become -- have # For expected este
  • pokorili -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <pokoriti, -rjǫ, -riši> place under, submit, subject; be obedient, obey -- submitted
  • -- pronoun; accusative singular of <sebe> -self, oneself -- ...
  • mně -- pronoun; dative singular of <azŭ> I -- to me
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • moemu -- adjective; masculine dative singular of <moi, moe, moja> my, mine -- my
  • dětęti -- noun; neuter dative singular of <dětę> infant; breast, teat; child -- child
  • a -- conjunction; <a> and, but; if -- ...
  • iděte -- verb; 2nd person plural imperative of <iti, idǫ, ideši> go -- Go
  • -- preposition; <> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- to
  • gradŭ -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <gradŭ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • pridu -- verb; 1st person singular present of <priti, -idǫ, -ideši> come, arrive -- I will arrive
  • -- preposition; <> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • gradosĭ -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <gradŭ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city + demonstrative adjective; masculine accusative singular of <sĭ, se, si> 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 gradŭ finds itself in strong position and is vocalized as -o-.

140-143 - i derevlęne že radi byvše vnidoša vŭ gradŭ i povědaša ljudemŭ, i obradovaša sę ljudĭe vŭ gradě.

  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- ...
  • derevlęne -- adjective used as substantive; masculine nominative plural of <drěvljaninŭ> Derevlian, from Dereva -- The Derevlians
  • že -- conjunction; <že> and, but -- ...
  • radi -- adjective; masculine nominative plural of <radŭ> glad, happy -- happy
  • byvše -- past participle; masculine nominative plural of <byti, bǫdǫ, bǫdeši> be, become -- having become
  • vnidoša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <vŭniti, -idǫ, -ideši> go into, enter -- entered
  • -- preposition; <> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- into
  • gradŭ -- noun; masculine accusative singular of <gradŭ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • povědaša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <pověděti, -věmĭ, -věsi> announce, report, recount -- informed
  • ljudemŭ -- noun; masculine dative plural of <ljudĭje> (pl.) men, people; population, (a) people -- the people # Note the use of the dative with povědati 'to report, announce'
  • i -- conjunction; <i> and; also, too, even -- and
  • obradovaša -- verb; 3rd person plural aorist of <obradovati, -dujǫ, -duješi> show grace; rejoice, be merry -- rejoiced
  • -- pronoun; accusative singular of <sebe> -self, oneself -- ...
  • ljudĭe -- noun; masculine nominative plural of <ljudĭje> (pl.) men, people; population, (a) people -- the people
  • -- preposition; <> (w. loc.) in; (w. acc.) into -- in
  • gradě -- noun; masculine locative singular of <gradŭ> walled structure, walled fortification; garden, enclosed park; home, dwelling, household; city -- the city

Lesson Text

102 V lěto ,dz. u. n d. 102-104 -
Ōlĭga sŭ synomŭ svoimŭ svjatoslavomŭ sobra voi mnogo i xrabry i ide na derĭvĭsku zemlju. 104-106 -
izidoša derevlęne protivu. sŭnemŭšemŭ sę ōběma polkoma na skupĭ sunu kopĭemŭ svjatoslavŭ na derevlęny. 106-108 -
i kopĭe letě skvozě uši konevi udari v nogi konevi, bě bo děteskŭ. 108-110 -
i reče svěneldŭ i asmoldŭ, knęzĭ uže počalŭ. potęgněte, družina, po knęzě. i pobědiša derevlęny. 110-112 -
derevlęne že poběgoša i zatvoriša sę vŭ graděxŭ svoixŭ. 112-115 -
ōlĭga že ustremi sę sŭ synŭmŭ svoimŭ, a derevlęne zatvoriša sę vŭ gradě i boręxu sę krěpko izŭ grada, věděxu bo jako sami ubili knęzę i na čto sę predati. 115-117 -
i stoja ōlĭga lěto, ne možaše vsęti grada. i umysli sice. 117-120 -
posla ko gradu glagoljušči, čto xočete dosěděti, a vsi gradi vaši predaša sę mně. i jali sę po danĭ i dělajutĭ nivy svoja i zemlě svoja. 120-121 -
a vy xočete izŭmereti gladomŭ, ne imuče sę po danĭ. 121-123 -
derevlęne že rekoša, radi sę byxomŭ jali po danĭ, no xoščeši mĭščati muža svoego. 123-126 -
reče že imŭ ōlĭga, jako azŭ mĭstila uže ōbidu muža svoego kogda pridoša kievu, vtoroe i tretĭee kogda tvorixŭ tryznu muževi svoemu. 126-128 -
a uže ne xoščju mŭščati, no xoščju danĭ imati po malu. smirivši sę s vami poidu ōpętĭ. 128-130 -
rekoša že derevlęne, što xoščeši u nasŭ. radi daemŭ medomĭ i skoroju. 130-131 -
ōna že reče imŭ, nyně u vasŭ něstĭ medu ni skory. no malo u vasŭ prošju. 131-134 -
daite mi ō^ dvora po .g. golubi da .g. vorobĭi. azŭ bo ne xoščju tęžĭki dani vŭzložiti, jako že i mužĭ moi, sego prošju u vasŭ malo. 134-135 -
vy bo este izŭnemogli v osadě, da sego u vasŭ prošju mala. 136-138 -
derevlęne že radi byvše i sobraša ō^ dvora po .g. golubi i po .g. vorobĭi i poslaša k olĭzě s poklonomŭ. 138-140 -
volĭga že reče imŭ, se uže estĭ pokorili sę mně i moemu dětęti. a iděte vŭ gradŭ i pridu vŭ gradosĭ. 140-143 -
i derevlęne že radi byvše vnidoša vŭ gradŭ i povědaša ljudemŭ, i obradovaša sę ljudĭe vŭ gradě.

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 -utĭ or -jatĭ. 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 -uč- or -ušč-, derived from CS *-ǫtj-, to those verbs whose present tense third person plural ending is -utĭ;
  • Add the stem -jač- or -jašč-, derived from CS *-ętj-, to those verbs whose present tense third person plural ending is -jatĭ;
  • Class V verbs form an exception and employ the stem -uč- or -ušč-, even though their present tense third person plural ending is -jatĭ.

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: -y and . In Old Church Slavonic those verbs whose present tense stem (without the thematic vowel) ends in a hard consonant exhibit the ending -y 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 -a where OCS shows -y. And we generally find -ja 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 -i added to the present active participle stem.

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

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 -a. Given that these verbs have third person plural present ending -utĭ, except for Class V verbs, we expect the suffix -uč- or -ušč-. Consider the following table.

Class   Infinitive   Meaning   3rd Pl.   Masc. N Sg.   Stem
I   nesti   carry   nes-utĭ   nes-a   nes-uč-
II   dvignuti   move   dvign-utĭ   dvign-a   dvign-uč-
V   dati   give   dadjatĭ   dad-a   dad-uč-

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

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   ida   ida   iduči
A   idučĭ   iduče   idučju
G   idučja   idučja   idučě
L   iduči   iduči   iduči
D   idučju   idučju   iduči
I   idučemĭ   idučemĭ   idučeju
V   ida   ida   iduči
             
N Du.   idučja   iduči   iduči
A   idučja   iduči   iduči
G   idučju   idučju   idučju
L   idučju   idučju   idučju
D   idučema   idučema   idučjama
I   idučema   idučema   idučjama
V   idučja   iduči   iduči
             
N Pl.   iduče   idučja   idučě
A   idučě   idučja   idučě
G   idučĭ   idučĭ   idučĭ
L   idučixŭ   idučixŭ   idučjaxŭ
D   idučemŭ   idučemŭ   idučjamŭ
I   iduči   iduči   idučjami
V   iduče   idučja   idučě
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 -ja. Verbs with stem ending in a palatal consonant, however, often shown the ending -a. Since these verbs also have third person plural present tense in -jutĭ, we find the suffix -juč- or -jušč-, influenced by the stem-final glide. Consider the following table.

Class   Infinitive   Meaning   3rd Pl.   Masc. N Sg.   Stem
III.A   znati   know   zna-jutĭ   zna-ja   zna-juč-
III.B   pĭsati   write   pĭš-jutĭ   piš-a   piš-juč-

The verb znati 'to know', with stem zna- (phonetically [znaj-]) and third person plural present zna-jutĭ, has present active participle stem znajuč-. The declension is as follows.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   znaja   znaja   znajuči
A   znajučĭ   znajuče   znajučju
G   znajučja   znajučja   znajučě
L   znajuči   znajuči   znajuči
D   znajučju   znajučju   znajuči
I   znajučemĭ   znajučemĭ   znajučeju
V   znaja   znaja   znajuči
             
N Du.   znajučja   znajuči   znajuči
A   znajučja   znajuči   znajuči
G   znajučju   znajučju   znajučju
L   znajučju   znajučju   znajučju
D   znajučema   znajučema   znajučjama
I   znajučema   znajučema   znajučjama
V   znajučja   znajuči   znajuči
             
N Pl.   znajuče   znajučja   znajučě
A   znajučě   znajučja   znajučě
G   znajučĭ   znajučĭ   znajučĭ
L   znajučixŭ   znajučixŭ   znajučjaxŭ
D   znajučemŭ   znajučemŭ   znajučjamŭ
I   znajuči   znajuči   znajučjami
V   znajuče   znajučja   znajučě
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 -ja. As these verbs have third person plural present tense in -jatĭ, we find the suffix -jač- or -jašč-. Consider the following table.

Class   Infinitive   Meaning   3rd Pl.   Masc. N Sg.   Stem
IV   xod-i-ti   go   xod-jatĭ   xod-ja   xod-jač-

The verb prositi 'to ask', with stem pros- and third person plural present pros-jatĭ, has present active participle stem prosjač-. The declension is as follows.

    Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   prosja   prosja   prosjači
A   prosjačĭ   prosjače   prosjačju
G   prosjačja   prosjačja   prosjačě
L   prosjači   prosjači   prosjači
D   prosjačju   prosjačju   prosjači
I   prosjačemĭ   prosjačemĭ   prosjačeju
V   prosja   prosja   prosjači
             
N Du.   prosjačja   prosjači   prosjači
A   prosjačja   prosjači   prosjači
G   prosjačju   prosjačju   prosjačju
L   prosjačju   prosjačju   prosjačju
D   prosjačema   prosjačema   prosjačjama
I   prosjačema   prosjačema   prosjačjama
V   prosjačja   prosjači   prosjači
             
N Pl.   prosjače   prosjačja   prosjačě
A   prosjačě   prosjačja   prosjačě
G   prosjačĭ   prosjačĭ   prosjačĭ
L   prosjačixŭ   prosjačixŭ   prosjačjaxŭ
D   prosjačemŭ   prosjačemŭ   prosjačjamŭ
I   prosjači   prosjači   prosjačjami
V   prosjače   prosjačja   prosjačě
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 *i 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 iti 'to go' serves to illustrate the paradigm.

ORuss   Masculine   Neuter   Feminine
N Sg.   idai   idučeje   idučija
A   idučĭi   idučeje   idučjuju
G   idučjego   idučjego   idučjeě
L   idučjemĭ   idučjemĭ   idučjei
D   idučjemu   idučjemu   idučjei
I   idučimĭ   idučimĭ   idučjeju
V   idai   idučeje   idučija
             
N Du.   idučjaja   idučii   idučii
A   idučjaja   idučii   idučii
G   idučjeju   idučjeju   idučjeju
L   idučjeju   idučjeju   idučjeju
D   idučima   idučima   idučima
I   idučima   idučima   idučima
V   idučjaja   idučii   idučii
             
N Pl.   idučii   idučjaja   idučěě
A   idučěě   idučjaja   idučěě
G   idučixŭ   idučixŭ   idučixŭ
L   idučixŭ   idučixŭ   idučixŭ
D   idučimŭ   idučimŭ   idučimŭ
I   idučimi   idučimi   idučimi
V   idučii   idučjaja   idučěě
26.5. Present Participle Active: 'be'

The verb 'be' has stem jes- in all forms of the present tense except the third person plural: compare singular first person jesmĭ and second person jesi to the plural third person sutĭ. Removing the third person plural ending, we are left with s-, to which the present active participle stem is applied according to the rules outlined above: s-ušč-. In the nominative singular masculine, however, we find the form sy '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   bimĭ       bimŭ
2   bi       biste
3   bi      

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 byti 'to be', listed in the table below.

ORuss   Singular   Dual   Plural
1   byxŭ   byxově   byxomŭ
2   by   bysta   byste
3   by   bysta   byša

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 byti '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, ašče bo by Kyi perevozĭnikŭ bylŭ, to ne by xodilŭ Cěsarjugradu '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, da by Bogŭ povelělŭ i tvoja molitva, da byxomŭ postavili cĭrkŭvicju malu vŭně pečery '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 da. For example, da by Bogŭ povelělŭ i tvoja molitva, da byxomŭ postavili cĭrkŭvicju malu vŭně pečery 'May God and thy prayer order that we might build a small church outside of the cave' (Primary Chronicle).
  • Independent: The aorist forms of byti 'to be' may themselves denote a hypothetical situation. For example, Luce žŭ by potjatu byti... '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 bĭrati '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   beru   phero:
2   *bher-e-sei   *ber-e-si   *bereši   bereši   phereis
3   *bher-e-ti   *ber-e-tĭ       beretĭ   pherei
                     
1 Du.   *bher-o-ues   *ber-e-ue:   *berevě   berevě   -
2   *bher-e-tos   *ber-e-tas   *bereta   bereta   phereton
3   *bher-e-tos   *ber-e-te   *berete   bereta   phereton
                     
1 Pl.   *bher-o-mon   *ber-e-mu   *beremŭ   beremŭ   pheromen
2   *bher-e-te   *ber-e-te       berete   pherete
3   *bher-o-nti   *ber-o-ntĭ   *berǫtĭ   berutĭ   (Doric) pheronti

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

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 -a-:

  • Class IA: these verbs display a suffix neither in the present stem nor in the infinitive stem. Example: nesti 'to carry', with stem nes- appearing both in the infinitive stem (nes-ti) and in the present stem (nes-e-ši).
  • Class IB: these verbs display no suffix in the present stem, but they show the suffix -a- in the infinitive stem. Example: zŭvati 'to call', with stem zŭv-a- derived from the infinitive and showing the suffix -a-, but which loses the -a- in the present stem zov- (cf. 2nd sg. zov-e-ši).

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   gnesti   press   gnetu   gneteši   gnet-    
IA   vesti   lead   vedu   vedeši   ved-    
IA   greti   bury   grebu   grebeši   greb-    
IA   na-čjati   begin   načĭnu   načĭneši   na-čĭn-    
                         
IB   bĭrati   collect   beru   bereši   ber-   bĭr-a-
IB   žĭdati   expect   žĭdu   žĭdeši   žĭd-   žid-a-
IB   tŭkati   weave   tŭku   tŭčeši   tŭk-   tŭk-a-
IB   gŭnati   drive out   ženu   ženeši   žen-   gŭn-a-

The following table indicates the first conjugation paradigms with the Class IA verbs nesti 'to carry' (stem nes-), rešti or reči 'to say' (stem rek-), vŭz-jati 'to take' (stem vŭz-ĭm-); and the Class IB verb zŭvati (present stem zov-, infinitive stem zŭv-a-). Note that only the verb rešči 'to say' preserves a sigmatic aorist; the remaining verbs show only the new aorist formation. Moreover the -ja- of the verb vŭz-jati 'to take' derives from an original nasalized vowel (cf. OCS vŭz-ęti) and this nasal element reappears throughout the paradigm when followed by a vowel.

Class I   IA   IA   IA   IB
Stem   nes-   rek-   vŭz-ĭm-   zov-
Present                
1 Sg.   nesu   reku   vŭz-ĭmu   zovu
2   neseši   rečeši   vŭz-ĭmeši   zoveši
3   nesetĭ   rečetĭ   vŭz-ĭmetĭ   zovetĭ
                 
1 Du.   nesevě   rečevě   vŭz-ĭmevě   zovevě
2   neseta   rečeta   vŭz-ĭmeta   zoveta
3   neseta   rečeta   vŭz-ĭmeta   zoveta
                 
1 Pl.   nesemŭ   rečemŭ   vŭz-ĭmemŭ   zovemŭ
2   nesete   rečete   vŭz-ĭmete   zovete
3   nesutĭ   rekutĭ   vŭz-ĭmutĭ   zovutĭ
                 
Imperative                
1 Sg.   -   -   -   -
2   nesi   rĭci   vŭz-ĭmi   zovi
3   nesi   rĭci   vŭz-ĭmi   zovi
                 
1 Du.   nesěvě   rĭcěvě   vŭz-ĭměvě   zověvě
2   nesěta   rĭcěta   vŭz-ĭměta   zověta
3   -   -   -   -
                 
1 Pl.   nesěmŭ   rĭcěmŭ   vŭz-ĭměmŭ   zověmŭ
2   nesěte   rĭcěte   vŭz-ĭměte   zověte
3   -   -   -   -
                 
Pres. Act. Part.                
Masc./Neut. N   nesa   reka   vŭz-ĭma   zova
Fem. N   nesuči   rekuči   vŭz-ĭmuči   zovuči
                 
Pres. Pass. Part.                
Masc. N   nesomŭ   rekomŭ   vŭz-ĭmomŭ   zovomŭ
                 
Imperfect                
1 Sg.   nesjaaxŭ   rečaaxŭ   vŭz-ĭmjaaxŭ   zŭvaaxŭ
2   nesjaaše   rečaaše   vŭz-ĭmjaaše   zŭvaaše
3   nesjaaše   rečaaše   vŭz-ĭmjaaše   zŭvaaše
                 
1 Du.   nesjaaxově   rečaaxově   vŭz-ĭmjaaxově   zŭvaaxově
2   nesjaašeta   rečaašeta   vŭz-ĭmjaašeta   zŭvaašeta
3   nesjaašeta   rečaašeta   vŭz-ĭmjaašeta   zŭvaašeta
                 
1 Pl.   nesjaaxomŭ   rečaaxomŭ   vŭz-ĭmjaaxomŭ   zŭvaaxomŭ
2   nesjaašete   rečaašete   vŭz-ĭmjaašete   zŭvaašete
3   nesjaaxu   rečaaxu   vŭz-ĭmjaaxu   zŭvaaxu
                 
Sigmatic Aorist                
1 Sg.   -   rěxŭ   -   -
2   -   reče   -   -
3   -   reče   -   -
                 
1 Du.   -   rěxově   -   -
2   -   rěsta   -   -
3   -   rěsta   -   -
                 
1 Pl.   -   rěxomŭ   -   -
2   -   rěste   -   -
3   -   rěša   -   -
                 
New Aorist                
1 Sg.   nesoxŭ   rekoxŭ   vŭz-jaxŭ   zŭvaxŭ
2   nese   reče   vŭz-ja(tĭ)   zŭva
3   nese   reče   vŭz-ja(tĭ)   zŭva
                 
1 Du.   nesoxově   rekoxově   vŭz-jaxově   zŭvaxově
2   nesosta   rekosta   vŭz-jasta   zŭvasta
3   nesosta   rekosta   vŭz-jasta   zŭvasta
                 
1 Pl.   nesoxomŭ   rekoxomŭ   vŭz-jaxomŭ   zŭvaxomŭ
2   nesoste   rekoste   vŭz-jaste   zŭvaste
3   nesoša   rekoša   vŭz-jaša   zŭvaša
                 
Past Act. Part.                
Masc./Neut. N   nesŭ   rekŭ   vŭz-ĭmŭ   zŭvavŭ
Fem. N   nesŭši   rekŭši   vŭz-ĭmŭši   zŭvavŭši
                 
Resultative Part.                
Masc. N   neslŭ   reklŭ   vŭz-jalŭ   zŭvalŭ
                 
Past Pass. Part.                
Masc. N   nesenŭ   rečenŭ   vŭz-jatŭ   zŭvanŭ
                 
Infinitive   nesti   rešti/reči   vŭz-jati   zŭvati
                 
Supine   nestŭ   reštŭ   vŭz-jatŭ   zŭvatŭ
                 
Verbal Noun   (pri)nesenĭje   (na)rečenĭe   vŭz-jatĭje   zŭvanĭje
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.

  • poimalŭ esi vsju danĭ 'You have taken all the tribute' (Olga's Revenge).
  • poimemŭ ženu ego volĭgu za knęzĭ svoi malŭ 'Let us take his wife, Olga, for our prince Mal' (Olga's Revenge).
  • derevlene ubiša igorę i družinu ego 'The Derevlians killed Igor and his retinue' (Olga's Revenge). Note here that both igorę 'Igor' and družinu 'retinue' are direct objects of the verb ubiša 'killed', but igorę shows the genitive rather than accusative case. This typically occurs only when the direct object is a male human being.
  • orli klektomŭ na kosti zvěri zovutŭ '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.

  • slyšavŭ jaroslavŭ vlŭxvy, pride suždalju 'Jaroslav, having heard (about) the musicians, came to Suzdal' (Primary Chronicle). In Old Russian slyšati 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 slyšatĭ o, respectively.
  • pojutŭ vremja busovo 'They sing (about) the time(s) of Bus' (Igor Tale). Here again the basic verb "includes" the preposition: pěti 'to sing (about)', so that the theme sung appears in the accusative. Compare modern Russian petĭ o '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.

  • poide ko tĭstu svoemu Kievŭ 'he went to Kiev to his father-in-law' (Primary Chronicle, Laurentian Codex).
  • i pride Xolmŭ '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.

  • bišasja denĭ, bišasja drugyi, tretĭjago dni kŭ poludnju padoša stjazi igorevy 'They fought one day, they fought a second; on the third day toward midday Igor's standards fell' (Igor Tale).
  • osenĭ umre polovečĭskyi knjazĭ 'During the autumn the Polovtsian prince died' (Primary Chronicle, Laurentian Codex).
  • i stoja ōlĭga lěto ne možaše vsęti grada '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.

  • i posŭla kŭ drevljanomŭ, rekušči sice... 'And she sent for the Derevlians, speaking thus...' (Olga's Revenge). Here the present participle rekušči accompanies a past-tense verb (posŭla) 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.
  • oni že, to slyšavŭše, sŭvezoša medy mŭnogy zělo 'And they, having heard this, gathered very great (quantities of) honey' (Olga's Revenge). Here the past participle slyšavŭše shows that the action was started, and completed, before the action represented by the main verb sŭvezoša.

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: ideže krivo, bratije, ispravivŭše čĭtěte '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.

  • i na puti tomĭ stojaxu muži čĭrni velici vŭoruženi, kopija dĭržašče v ruku i strěžaxu putĭ tŭ, ne dadušče nikomu že minovati '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...'.
  • ženjaisja puščeniceju 'whosoever marries the divorced woman...' (Ostromir Gospel, Matthew 5.32, cf. Sreznevskij, 1898, vol. 1, p. 858). Here the participle ženjaisja '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.

  • slyšavĭše že drevljane jako opjatĭ idetĭ sdumavŭše so kŭnjazem svoim malom 'The Derevlians heard that he came back (and) they sought counsel with their prince Mal' (Death of Igor).
  • kŭnjazĭ našĭ ubienŭ '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.

  • a nyně vodja novuju ženu, a mně ne vŭdastĭ ničitože 'Now that (since) (he's) taking a new wife, he will give me nothing' (Novgorodskie berestjanye gramoty, cf. Vlasto, 1986, p.203).
  • ini že, ne sŭvědušče, rěša jako Kyi estĭ perevozĭnikŭ bylŭ '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: izmyvŭšesja, priděte kŭ mŭně '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:

  • vidimŭ 'visible';
  • nerazorimŭ 'indestructible';
  • sŭměrenŭ 'humble'.