The final element in our understanding of the history surrounding the "classical" period of Old Russian language and literature is the Tartar invasion. Linguistic change is rarely so drastic as political change or the incursion of an invading force upon a foreign land. We therefore cannot say that the "classical" period of Old Russian literature ends with the Tartar invasion. Nevertheless the Tartar invasion provides a particular event that nicely coincides with a general period in which we see the Old Russian language in transition. Moreover the Tartar invasion provides an impetus for political and cultural shifts that ultimately accentuate dialectal distinctions within the East Slavic speaking community, and at the same time it provides a catalyst for a transfer from Kiev to Moscow of the cultural center of literary production.
The Old Russian accounts of the Tartar invasion describe the onslaught as if it came out of nowhere. From the perspective of the Eastern Slavs, that was largely true: what drove the Tartars westward during that particular period were largely forces whose origin lay in the movements and stuggles within and between tribes located far away in the Central Asian expanse. The most obvious result of Slavic contact with marauding armies mirrored the impact of so many other so-called barbarian tribes as they impinged on Europe from the east: destruction and disarray. But the destruction wrought by the Tartars struck deep into the culture and the character of the Eastern Slavs. And part of the reason for the profound effect of Tartar subjugation within the land of the Rus may be sought in the general turn of events that happened to coincide with the Tartar advance. Below we seek to outline some of these events.
As it happens, the outlook was already bleak for the major powers then controlling commerce in and around the Black Sea. In particular the great empire of Byzantium was on the wane. Byzantium had formerly built itself into a fearsome military power armed with awe-inspiring weaponry, such as the renowned "Greek fire", a kind of flame-throwing technology that struck terror into the hearts of attacking navies. But in the centuries leading up to the Tartar invasion, Byzantium's military prowess had begun to lose its luster.
Old Russian sources tell us of various East Slavic sorties against Byzantium in the 10th century. By in large these were as often successful as not. But for the most part they do not seem to have had a lasting effect on the Empire as a whole: rather they often seem to have been used as a ploy by the Rus to better their terms of trade with their most important economic partner. But the 11th century brought a turn for the worse. In particular in the year 1071 the Seljuk Turks defeated Byzantine forces in Armenia and then proceeded to lay waste to the rest of Anatolia. As if this were not enough, the same year saw the Normans dispossess the Byzantines of their territories in Italy and from there proceed to harry their Balkan possessions (Adams et al., 1966).
The Turkic and Norman attacks, however, merely provided the aperitif. The year 1095 saw the opening of the Crusades, and the continual march of armies through Byzantine territory on their way to the Holy Land took its toll on the Empire. The same general mobilization of forces and shifting of supply lines was accompanied by an interruption of Byzantium's sea-borne trade. Weakened by decades of continual fighting, in the 12th century the the Empire enlisted the help of the Venetian navy to protect its sea routes. This however led to the adverse result in which the Venetians monopolized regional commerce, and so Byzantium eventually had recourse to luring in other Italian merchants to offset the Venetian monopoly. This could not, however, turn around Byzantine fortunes. The capstone of the Empire's decline finally came in the year 1204, when the Crusaders sacked Byzantium (Adams et al., 1966).
The decline of Byzantium was in turn a bad omen for Kiev, given the close economic ties between the two. Moreover, even what trade remained between the two cultural centers was further hindered by additional tribal migrations. Many of the same forces that spurred Tartar westward expansion, as well as the Tartar expansion itself, had also driven other tribes inhabiting the steppes to push westward. Among these are counted the Polovtsians (or Cumans, or Qipchaqs), a nomadic tribe of west Central Asia. During this general period of unrest they migrated into the region of the lower Dnieper. As with many of the steppe peoples, they displayed a keen military prowess, and they frequently attacked the Rus. Though, unlike the Tartars, they seem not to have displayed any imperial aspirations, their incessant attacks nevertheless drastically reduced the efficiency of trade with Byzantium.
Perhaps Kiev could have managed the severing of trade relations with its southern partner, were that the only major issue with which it had to contend. But at the same time throughout Rus we find a general collapse of the rota system, the rotation by which kingdoms were doled out to the various members of the ruling Rjurikid dynasty, and overall authority fell in turn to each according to seniority (Adams et al., 1966). Rivalries ultimately developed into internecine struggles, with brother killing brother within the dynasty. As a result of dynastic strife other principalities rose to prominence: Galicia and Volhynia to the southwest united under prince Roman; Novgorod expanded into the sparsely populated regions to the north and east in search of further sources of trade.
It is during this period that we see the first signs of the rise of Vladimir-Suzdal. This region developed in fits and starts. The first cultural and political center of note lay in Rostov. This soon passed to Suzdal. This in turn ceded authority to the city Vladimir. And finally, some time later, Moscow, early something of a backwater, rose to prominence. Though accessible by the water routes that greased the cogs of regional trade, the region's location within the forested stretches north of the steppe likely provided some protection from the raiding bands that harried more southerly neighbors like Kiev. Whatever the reason for its rise, the region's ascendence came into stark relief in the year 1169: in this year the prince Andrew Bogljubsky sent a force that sacked Kiev. But rather than relocate to this grand center of culture that was the shining jewel of old Rus, he was content to continue his rule from his current capital of Vladimir. This branded Kiev as a city in decline (Adams et al., 1966; Hingley, 2003).
From the perspective of the history of East and Central Asia, the Tartar invasion was just one more phase in the expansion of the great Mongol empire established by Chinggis Khan. As the Mongol empire expanded its army came to mirror the multitude of ethnicities incorporated within its borders. By the time the Empire's expansion necessitated the foray into the lands of the Rus, the ethnic Mongols largely remained confined to the nobility; the fighting force itself comprised numerous tribes, many among them Turkic, and among these the Tartars (or Tatars) formed a large component of the armies that pushed west along the steppe. Though the nobility could generally trace its lineage back to Chinggis Khan, intermarriage and the the heavy Turkic influence eventually compelled the nobility itself to adopt the Turkic tongue, and the term Tartar came to signify the multiethnic fighting force as a whole. Nevertheless the nobility maintained much of the cultural and political traditions handed down from Chinggis Khan (Ostrowski, 2009).
The first appearance of the multiethnic Mongol fighting force on the western Eurasian steppe came in the year 1222 under the leadership of the generals Jebe and Sube'etei (Subudei). They pushed around the Caspian Sea, through the Caucasus Mountains, and into the Crimea where they wintered. In the face of the new enemy, the Rus and the Polovtsians set aside their mutual animosity and equipped a force that set out to defend their mutual territory. The Mongols defeated the combined Rus-Polovtsian force north of the Black Sea in 1223, then pushed northeast to defeat the Volga Bulgars on their way home (Ostrowski, 2009). It would be another 14 years before the East Slavs would again need to brace themselves against Mongol attack.
December of the year 1237 saw the return of the Mongol army, which unleashed a fury of destruction on a scale unheard of up to that time. The general Sube'etei returned with this force, this time accompanied by Batu, grandson of Chinggis Khan. The Tartar wrath first fell upon the city of Rjazan; this yielded after a 5-day siege, was sacked and destroyed. The Tartar custom was to sieze a city, kill most of the inhabitants, sell the rest into slavery, loot the city, then set it ablaze (Hingley, 2003). And such was the fate of each Russian city in their path: next in line was Moscow, still a small outpost. But its relative unimportance was no aid in abetting Mongol ferocity, and they burned it to the ground. Next fell Vladimir, then Suzdal (Ostrowski, 2009).
Novgorod, however, provided a notable exception. Novgorod avoided the ransacking that the Tartars visited upon other Russian polities. Part of the reason may lie in the spring thaw that likely impeded the Tartar advance. But the principal reason seems to have been prince Alexander Nevsky's willingness to pay tribute. Sources suggest that he immediately agreed to submit to Tartar authority in order to avoid the ravages experienced by neighboring principalities.
Not satisfied with the extent of his conquests, Batu regrouped only to launch another offensive in 1240. This carried a wake of destruction no less massive than the first. Batu's army destroyed Kiev, Chernigov, Perejaslav, and other towns in the southern regions of Rus territory. His army then continued headlong into southern Europe, reaching Hungary before turning back upon news that the Great Khan Ugedey had died (Ostrowski, 2009). Guided by internal politics, Batu hastened to the imperial capital, only to be disappointed in his hopes to become Great Khan himself. Instead he was installed as khan over the western region, which included the Russian territories recently conquered. He established a capital at Saray on the lower Volga, and the realm, the Qipchaq Khanate, came to be known throughout Europe as the Golden Horde (Ostrowski, 2009).
Tales of the devastation wrought by the invading Tartars pervade numerous Saints' Lives in the East Slavic literature of the period. In the ecclesiastical world-view embodied by these early texts, the Russians seem to have initially interpreted the advent of the Tartars as divine punishment for their sins. But this interpretation appears to have fallen away within a couple decades of the original invasion (Ostrowski, 2009).
We also find accounts of the wretched state of the Russian lands after the initial invasion written by contemporary travelers to the region. In particular we find the travel journal of a Papal envoy, John of Plano Carpini (Giovanni da Pian del Carpine), who passed through the southern stretches of Russia on his was to the capital of the Golden Horde. One passage recounts a story illustrating the iron fist with which the Tartars imposed their rule, with general disregard for the lives of princes who submitted to their authority (Beazley, 1903, p.47).
|3||Et etiam ad meridiem tanquam Deo inclinant, & inclinare faciunt alios nobiles, qui se reddunt eisdem. Vnde nuper contigit quod Michael, qui fuit vnus de magnis ducibus Russiae, cum iuisset ad se reddendum Bati, fecerunt eum prius inter duos ignes transire : Post hoc dixerunt, quod ad meridiem Cyngis can inclinaret.||And moreover as they bow at midday to God, they also oblige those nobles who have surrendered to them to bow. Whence recently it happened that, when Michael, who was one of the great princes of Russia, had come to submit to Batu, they obliged him to pass among two fires; after this they ordered that he bow before Chinggis Khan at midday.|
|Qui respondit, quod Bati & seruis suis inclinaret libenter, sed imagini hominis mortui non inclinaret, quia non licet hoc facere Christianis. Et cum saepe diceretur, quod inclinaret, & nollet, mandauit ei praedictus per filium Ieroslai, quod occideretur si non inclinaret.||And he responded that he would bow freely to Batu and his servants, but that he would not bow to the image of a dead man, since it was not permitted for Christians to do this. And as he repeatedly stated that he would not bow, and that he refused, the aforementioned compelled him through the son of Jaroslav, that he should be cut down should he not bow.|
|Qui respondit, quod potius vellet mori, quam hoc faceret, quia non liceret. At ille satellitem vnum misit, qui tam diu contra cor eum in ventre calce percussit, quousque deficeret.||And he responded that he would rather die than do that, as it was not permitted. And so the other sent one of his guards, and he beat against the heart in his chest with his heel for as long as he refused.|
|Tunc quidam de suis militibus qui astabat confortans eum dixit : Esto robustos quia haec poena non diu tibi durabit, & statim sequetur gaudium sempiternum : post hoc fuit caput eius cultello praecisum. Militi vero praedicto fuit caput etiam cultello amputatum.||At that point a certain one of his soldiers, who was standing by, said as a comfort: be strong, since this punishment will not last long for you, and eternal joy will follow in short order; after this his head was cut off with a knife. Moreover the head of the aforementioned soldier was also cut off.|
We also find in John of Plano Carpini's account an explanation of the origin of the term Horde applied to Batu's realm. The word derives from the Turkic term for the camps set up by the generals (Beazley, 1903, p.75).
|3||Vnde cum ante ordam essemus (sic enim apud eos stationes Imperatoris & Principum appellantur) prae venti magnitudine in terra prostrati iacebamus, & videre propter pulueris magnitudine minime poteramus.||Whence, as we stood before the Orda (for such is their name for the camps of the Emperor and of the Princes), we were cast prostrate on the ground through the force of the wind, and we were hardly able to see on account of the quantity of dust.|
On their journey, the clergyman's retinue passed through Kiev itself, shortly after it had tried to withstand the Tartar onslaught. The account makes clear the wretched state of the remnants of the once great city (Beazley, 1903, p.87).
|15||Quo facto, contra Russiam perrexerunt, & magnam stragem in ea fecerunt, ciuitates & castra destruxerunt, & homines occiderunt. Kiouiam, Russiae metropolin, diu obsederunt, & tandem ceperunt, ac ciues interfecerunt.||And after this had passed, they overran Russia, and wreaked great havoc in it, destroyed the cities and camps, and killed the inhabitants. They long laid siege to Kiev, a metropolis of Russia, and finally they took it and killed off its citizens.|
|Vnde quando per illam terram ibamus, innumerabilia capita & ossa hominum mortuorum, iacentia super campum, inueniebamus. Fuerat enim vrbs valde magna & populosa, nunc quasi ad nihilum est redacta: vix enim domus ibi remanserunt ducente, quarum etiam habitatores tenentur in maxima seruitute.||Whence, as we travelled through that land, we encountered the innumerable heads and bones of dead men, strewn throughout the field. For it had been an exceedingly great and populous city, but now it had been reduced to next to nothing: for hardly remained in that place two hundred houses, whose inhabitants were held in the strictest servitude.|
Finally John of Plano Carpini's account provides a window into the utter destruction of the once formidable Russian fighting force. The retinue's general disregard for danger amongst the Russians speaks to how profoundly the populace had been subjugated and how severely the warlike spirit had been wounded. In this passage the term "Ruthenians" seems to refer to "Russians" (Beazley, 1903, p.92).
|19||Ibamus tamen in periculo capitis semper propter Lituanos, qui saepe faciebant insultum super terram Russiae, & in illis maxime locis, per quos debebamus transire. At per praedictum seruientem eramus securi a Ruthenis, quorum etiam maxima pars occisa vel captiuata erat Tartaris.||Nevertheless we traveled in continual fear for our lives on account of the Lithuanians, who frequently made incursions into the land of Russia, and particularly in those places through which we were supposed to pass. But according to the aforementioned servant we were safe from the Ruthenians [Russians], the major part of whom had been killed or captured by the Tartars.|
We now turn to the story of the first saints canonized in the East Slavic Christian tradition, Boris and Gleb. Sons of Vladimir, their siblings include the princes Svjatopolk and Jaroslav. As the story is told, Svjatopolk's ambition consumes him and, upon the death of their father, he plots to assassinate his brothers Boris and Gleb and usurp their realms. We join the narrative as Svjatopolk's henchmen come upon Boris and his attendants and strike the prince a deadly blow.
A small portion of the text has been omitted between lines 7 and 8.
1 - И ту же и проньзоша.
2 - И яко бысть ураненъ, и искочи изъ шатьра въ оторопѣ.
3 - И начаша глаголати стояще округъ его, "чьто стоите зьряще?
4 - Приступивъше, сконьчаимъ повелѣное намъ."
5 - Си слышавъ, блаженыи начатъ молитися и милъ ся имъ дѣяти, глаголя, "Братӏя моя милая и любимая!
6 - Мало ми время отдаите, да понѣ помолюся богу моему."
7 - И възьрѣвъ на небо съ сльзами и горцѣ въздъхнувъ, начатъ молитися сицими глаголы...
8 - Таче, възьрѣвъ къ нимъ умиленама очима и спадъшемь лицьмь, и вьсь сльзами облӏявъся, рече, "Братӏе, приступивъше, сконьчаите служьбу вашю, и буди миръ брату моему и вамъ, братӏе."
9 - Да елико слышаху словеса его, отъ сльзъ не можааху ни словесе рещи, отъ страха же и печали горькы и мъногыхъ сльзъ, нъ съ въздыханӏемь горькымь жалостьно плакаахуся и къжьдо въ души своеи глаголааше, "Увы мнѣ, къняже нашь милыи и драгыи и блаженыи, водителю слѣпыимъ, одеже нагымъ, старости жьзле, казателю не наказанымъ!
10 - Кто уже си вься исправить?
11 - Како не въсхотѣ славы мӏра сего, како не въсхотѣ веселитися съ чьстьныими вельможами, како не въсхотѣ величӏя, еже въ житӏи семь.
12 - Кто не почюдиться великууму его съмѣренӏю, кто ли не съмѣриться, оного съмѣрєнӏе видя и слыша?"
13 - И абӏе усъпе, предавъ душю свою въ руцѣ бога жива, мѣсяца ӏулӏя въ 24 день, преже 9 каландъ августа.
14 - Избиша же и отрокы многы.
15 - Съ Гєоргӏя же не могуще съняти гривьны и отсѣкъше главу, отъвьргоша и кромѣ; да тѣмь и послѣдь не могоша познати тѣла его.
16 - Блаженааго же Бориса обьртѣвъше въ шатьръ, възложивъше на кола, повезоша.
17 - И яко быша на бору, начать въскланяти святую главу свою.
18 - И се увѣдѣвъ Святопълкъ, пославъ два варяга и прободоста и мечьмь въ сьрдце.
19 - И тако съконьчасӏа и въспрӏӏатъ неувӏадаемыи вѣньць.
20 - И положиша тѣло его, принесъше Вышегороду, у цьркве святааго Василӏя въ зємли погребоша.
1 И ту же и проньзоша. 2 И яко бысть ураненъ, и искочи изъ шатьра въ оторопѣ. 3 И начаша глаголати стояще округъ его, "чьто стоите зьряще? 4 Приступивъше, сконьчаимъ повелѣное намъ." 5 Си слышавъ, блаженыи начатъ молитися и милъ ся имъ дѣяти, глаголя, "Братӏя моя милая и любимая! 6 Мало ми время отдаите, да понѣ помолюся богу моему." 7 И възьрѣвъ на небо съ сльзами и горцѣ въздъхнувъ, начатъ молитися сицими глаголы...
8 Таче, възьрѣвъ къ нимъ умиленама очима и спадъшемь лицьмь, и вьсь сльзами облӏявъся, рече, "Братӏе, приступивъше, сконьчаите служьбу вашю, и буди миръ брату моему и вамъ, братӏе."
9 Да елико слышаху словеса его, отъ сльзъ не можааху ни словесе рещи, отъ страха же и печали горькы и мъногыхъ сльзъ, нъ съ въздыханӏемь горькымь жалостьно плакаахуся и къжьдо въ души своеи глаголааше, "Увы мнѣ, къняже нашь милыи и драгыи и блаженыи, водителю слѣпыимъ, одеже нагымъ, старости жьзле, казателю не наказанымъ! 10 Кто уже си вься исправить? 11 Како не въсхотѣ славы мӏра сего, како не въсхотѣ веселитися съ чьстьныими вельможами, како не въсхотѣ величӏя, еже въ житӏи семь. 12 Кто не почюдиться великууму его съмѣренӏю, кто ли не съмѣриться, оного съмѣрєнӏе видя и слыша?"
13 И абӏе усъпе, предавъ душю свою въ руцѣ бога жива, мѣсяца ӏулӏя въ 24 день, преже 9 каландъ августа.
14 Избиша же и отрокы многы. 15 Съ Гєоргӏя же не могуще съняти гривьны и отсѣкъше главу, отъвьргоша и кромѣ; да тѣмь и послѣдь не могоша познати тѣла его.
16 Блаженааго же Бориса обьртѣвъше въ шатьръ, възложивъше на кола, повезоша. 17 И яко быша на бору, начать въскланяти святую главу свою. 18 И се увѣдѣвъ Святопълкъ, пославъ два варяга и прободоста и мечьмь въ сьрдце. 19 И тако съконьчасӏа и въспрӏӏатъ неувӏадаемыи вѣньць. 20 И положиша тѣло его, принесъше Вышегороду, у цьркве святааго Василӏя въ зємли погребоша.
1 And then they stabbed him. 2 And as he had risen early, he emerged from the tent in haste. 3 And they began to speak, standing round him, "What are you standing (there) looking at? 4 Having stepped forward, let us complete what was commanded to us." 5 Having heard this, the blessed one began to pray and to humble himself before them, saying, "My poor and dear brothers! 6 Give me just a little time, that I might at least pray to my God." 7 And having looked toward heaven with tears and having groaned bitterly, he began to pray with the following words...
8 Then, having looked to them with downcast eyes and with a fallen face and all covered with tears, he said: "Brothers, having stepped forward, complete your duty, and let there be peace to my brother and to you, brothers."
9 And as soon as they heard his words, they could not even say a word as a result of their tears, and of their trembling and bitter sadness and great quantities of tears, but with bitter wailing they wept pitifully and each was saying in his soul, "Woe to me, our pitiable and dear and blessed prince, leader to the blind, clothing to the naked, walking stick for old age, instructor to the uninstructed! 10 Who will carry out all these things? 11 Oh how he wanted not the glory of this world! How he wanted not to be merry with the venerable aristocrats! How he wanted not the greatness which was in this life! 12 Who does not marvel at his great humility? Who is not humbled, seeing and hearing that one's humility?"
13 And immediately he died, having conferred his soul into the hands of the living God, on the 24th day of the month of July, the 9th day before the calends of August.
14 And they also killed many servants. 15 Unable to remove the necklace from George and having cut off his head, they cast him aside, so that then and after they could not identify his body.
16 And having wrapped the blessed Boris in the tent, and having laid him upon wheels, they towed (him). 17 And as they came upon the forest, he began to raise up his holy head. 18 And Svjatopolk, having seen this, sent two Varangians and they stabbed him with a sword through the heart. 19 And in this way he was finished, and he received the unfading crown. 20 And they placed his body, having carried (it) to Vyshegorod, (and) they buried it in the ground near the church of St. Basil.
Old Russian shares with Old Church Slavonic a particular formation of an abstract verbal noun or verbal substantive. This noun represents the abstract action denoted by the verbal root to which it is constructed. In this sense it parallels the formation of the English gerund by means of the suffix -ing. For example, from the root know we build an abstract noun, knowing, by adding the suffix, and the resulting noun denotes the action represented by the root in its most abstract sense: Knowing is half the battle.
This particular abstract noun derives from the past passive participle of a given verb. Specifically, given the past passive participle stem, one further adds the ending -ьѥ [-ĭje] to form a soft neuter noun representing the action. For example, the verb знати 'to know' shows past passive participle знанъ 'known'. The abstract verbal noun then becomes знаньѥ 'knowing', i.e. 'knowledge'. Moreover intransitive verbs, which generally do not exhibit past passive participles, nevertheless frequently show verbal nouns constructed by the same formal procedure. For example, въскрьснути 'to rise from the dead' has verbal abstract въскрьсєньѥ or въскрьсновєньѥ 'rising from the dead, resurrection'. In those situations in which the the verb displays multiple past passive participle formations, verbal nouns may be built from each, frequently with a slightly different meaning for each formation. The chart below lists further examples.
|Infinitive||Meaning||Past Pass. Part.||Verbal Noun||Meaning|
The third conjugation comprises those verbs which, from a historical perspective, show *-je/jo- appended to the verbal root in the present tense. That is, the thematic vowel familiar from the first and second conjugations is immediately preceded by the glide *-j-. In this sense, little is new when compared with the first conjugation: we find the remnants of the *o-theme in the the first person singular and third person plural, and the *e-theme appears elsewhere. The difference consists simply in the preceding glide, *-j-. This however has a dramatic effect on the appearance of some verbal paradigms because this glide will trigger j-palatalization of the immediately preceding consonant (cf. Section 6.4). As an example, compare the present tense paradigms of мєт-а-ти 'to throw' in both Old Russian and Old Church Slavonic.
The verbs of the third conjugation fall into three basic subcategories, based largely on the shape of the infinitive:
The following table lists some verbs of each subclass, along with the forms from the present tense and the suffixed stem derived from the infinitive.
|Class||Infinitive||Meaning||1st Sg.||2nd Sg.||Pres. Stem||Suffixed Stem|
Note that we often find forms such as знаѥть 'he knows' written without the iotated ligature ѥ: знаєть. The palatal glide between vowels is left implicit.
The table below lists example paradigms of verbs from the respective subcategories. The verbs колоти (клати) 'to split' and знати 'to know' illustrate the forms of verbs of Class IIIA. The verb глаголати 'to say' illustrates the forms of verbs belonging to Class IIIB, while умѣти 'to understand' illustrates those of Class IIIC.
|Pres. Act. Part.|
|Pres. Pass. Part.|
|1 Sg.||знахъ||колохъ, клахъ||глаголахъ||умѣхъ|
|1 Du.||знаховѣ||колоховѣ, клаховѣ||глаголаховѣ||умѣховѣ|
|1 Pl.||знахомъ||колохомъ, клахомъ||глаголахомъ||умѣхомъ|
|Past Act. Part.|
|Masc./Neut. N||знавъ||коловъ, клавъ||глаголавъ||умѣвъ|
|Fem. N||знавъши||коловъши, клавъши||глаголавъши||умѣвъши|
|Masc. N||зналъ||кололъ, клалъ||глаголалъ||умѣлъ|
|Past Pass. Part.|
|Masc. N||знанъ||кол҄єнъ, клатъ||глаголанъ||умѣнъ|
The Old Russian locative case provides, in some sense, a box within which an event is situated. When the noun in the locative denotes physical space, it provides the place at, on, or within which the event being described takes places. When the noun in the locative denotes some unit of time, then it provides the time span within which, or the point of time at which, the event occurs. Consider the following examples of the locative of place at which or time within which.
The locative also forms the complement of certain verbs. Consider the following examples.
Though the use of the locative is common and widespread in Old Russian, we already see a tendency for its use in conjuction with prepositions such as на 'in, into' or при 'at, near'. Generally the sense elicited by the prepositions coincides with the basic sense of the locative case itself denoting spatial or temporal location or position.
The Old Russian dative case shows a dazzling variety of functions. Nearly all the functions, however, exhibit a common theme: reference. The dative generally serves to mark an entity with reference to which an event takes place. Frequently this notion of reference overlaps with the notion of the indirect object, as in English He gave the book to me. But the notion of reference may be more general: That doesn't bode well for me. Consider the following examples of the dative marking the indirect object.
At times the dative can mark a point of reference with such close association as to overlap with the sense of the genitive. Compare the following example of the so-called dative of possession: единому имѧ кии, а другому щекъ, а третьєму хоривъ, сестра ихъ лъӏбедь 'To the first the name was Kii, but to the second Shchek, and to the third Khoriv, (and) their sister was Lybed' (Primary Chronicle). Note the use of the dative in demonstrating possession of the names of the individual brothers, but the possessive construction shifts to the genitive ихъ when referring to their sister.
However at times the use of dative marks an interested party, one with reference to whom the statement as a whole is valid. Such uses of the dative often form the complements to certain adjectives. The following statements provide examples of the dative of reference.
In some situations the use of the dative overlaps with that of the accusative in denoting the endpoint of directed motion. This parallels English usage of the preposition to, which can either denote the indirect object (Give it to me) or the destination (I'm going to the store). The following provide examples of the dative marking the goal of directed motion.
Moreover, the dative often forms the complement of certain verbs, where one might expect an accusative to mark a direct object. Consider the use of the dative with certain verbs in the following examples.
One important use of the dative in Old Russian occurs with the infinitive. In particular, where Old Russian employs an infinitive to denote an action, the subject of that infinitive (when not the same as the subject of the finite verb of the clause) typically appears in the dative. This parallels English usage of the preposition for: It's not easy for me to admit it. Here English employs the prepositional phrase for me to denote the subject of the action represented by the infinitive to admit. Old Russian employs the dative in a similar construction. Consider the following examples of the dative with infinitive construction.
Absolute constructions run rife through ancient Indo-European languages. The term absolute refers to the fact that such constructions generally have no grammatical relation to the surrounding material. Rather they serve to set the tone, so to speak: the absolute construction generally provides some attendant circumstances for the event described, or it elaborates some conditions necessary for the event to take place. Even English has its absolute constructions, made famous -- or infamous -- by the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States:
|A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.|
The italicised section, a ... militia being necessary..., forms an absolute construction. Grammatically it bears no relation to the remainder of the sentence (after the comma). It nevertheless provides important information relevant to the interpretation of the remainder of the sentence, and thereby we understand the reason for their use: absolute constructions provide a means of adding extra information without adding an entire sentence.
The format for an absolute construction is rather formulaic: a noun plus an accompanying adjective form the nucleus of an absolute construction. Typically the adjective is a participle; when it is a bare adjective (i.e. not obviously derived from a verbal root), the reader generally supplies an appropriate participial form of the verb 'to be'. In the Second Amendment, we see that the nucleus is a... militia being necessary, i.e. a noun (militia), an accompanying adjective (necessary), and here an explicit participial form of 'to be' (being, the present participle). The remaining phrases of the italicized absolute above are, grammatically speaking, window-dressing: they add extra information to the absolute construction, but they are not essential to its structure.
As the Second Amendment shows, English just tacks the absolute construction on to the accompanying sentence. This is rather simple for English, which shows rather simplified case-marking when compared to Old Russian. But if we try to do the same in Old Russian, that is tack a noun and accompanying adjective or participle onto a sentence, we immediately confront a fundamental issue: what case should the noun and adjective be in? If they take the nominative case, they might be construed as the subject of the accompanying sentence, and so they would not be absolute (grammatically isolated from the remainder). If the accusative, they might be construed as the direct object. Almost any other case might work, and other Indo-European languages employ one or other of them in their own absolute constructions: Greek chooses the genitive (and the accusative at times!), Sanskrit the locative (and the genitive at times), Latin the ablative, Gothic the dative. Old Russian, like Gothic, places a noun and accompanying adjective in the dative for absolute constructions. Hence the terminology: the dative absolute.
When in doubt as to how to translate, a standard formula using the English preposition with often works. Supposing a nucleus consisting of the noun cookie and the adjective (past passive participle) eaten, we might render an absolute in English by means of the formula with the cookie eaten, or more explicitly with the cookie (having been) eaten. If the participle were the present passive, being eaten, then the corresponding absolute might be rendered with the cookie being eaten. From there one might add further refinements: with the cookie being eaten by my sister right this very instant.
The following selections provide examples of the dative absolute in Old Russian.
From the earliest periods, however, we find examples in which the structure of the dative absolute, as outlined above, begins to break down. We find that the participles fail to agree with the noun (in the dative) forming the nucleus of the absolute construction. Consider the following example: идуще же ємѹ въспѧть размъӏсливъ рече дрѹжинѣ своєи 'Having gone back (and) having considered he said to his retinue...' (Olga's Revenge).
The isolated participial forms that result in this way, which do not display agreement with their referents, comprise the raw material from which arises later the Russian gerund (cf. Section 46).
Old Russian possesses two basic negative particles: не and ни. To distinguish between them, we might characterize не as the basic negative adverb, similar in function to English not or Latin no:n. The particle ни, by contrast generally serves as a negative conjunction, similar to English neither or nor, or similar to Latin neque. Thus Old Russian не generally negates the item before which it stands, or the clause as a whole; ни, on the other hand, connects one clause to another, or one phrase to another, while negating the clause in which it stands or the element before which it stands. Such is the tendency though, as with most things, Old Russian allows for variation. The following excerpts provide examples of the coordination between не and ни.
Between clauses and phrases, then, Old Russian employs ни. But within a clause or phrase Old Russian uses не. Within a larger clause containing both не and ни, the negative не generally occurs once, while ни may be repeated. Consider the following example of repeated ни with a single не: ни хытру ни горазду, ни птицю горазду суда божиа не минути '(It is) neither for the clever nor for the smart man, nor (even) for the smart bird to escape God's judgement' (Igor Tale).
In addition to its role as a negative conjunction, we also find ни employed as a prefix with certain indefinite pronouns or adverbs to create negative pronouns or adverbs. For example, whereas къто can be the interrogative 'who?' or the indefinite 'anyone', the prefixed form никъто has the sense 'no one'. Similarly: чьто 'what?' or 'anything', but ничьто 'nothing'; къде 'where?' or 'wherever', but никъде 'nowhere'. The same applies to interrogative adjectives such as кыи 'which?': thus никыи 'no, not a, not any'. When Old Russian employs such negative pronouns, adverbs, and adjectives, the clause as a whole may still contain не without double negation as in Standard English. Consider the following use of не with the ни-prefix: нє вѣдущю никому 'with no one knowing', i.e. 'unbeknownst to anyone' (Uspenskiji Sbornik). The two negatives reinforce one another, rather than cancelling each other out as in Standard English: e.g. with no one not knowing is equivalent to with everyone knowing in Standard English.
Moreover Old Russian may drop the negative не when the ни-prefix appears elswhere in the clause. The following example shows the use of the ни-prefix without не: никто же приходилъ къ нимъ 'nobody came to them' (Uspenskiji Sbornik).
Other sections in this series discuss in greater detail the switch from accusative to genitive marking of direct objects in the presence of negation (cf. Sections 15, 29, 34). However when the negation is clearly confined to one particular item or phrase, this may fail to trigger use of the genitive-accusative. Consider the following examples of negating a single item.
Finally we find a composite conjuction неже 'than'. This may clearly be analyzed as не же 'and not', and frequently it may be translated as such. This particle generally appears in the context of comparisons. Consider the following example of the use of неже 'than': лице жъ бы потяту быти неже полонену быти 'It would be better (for one) to be slain than to be captured' (Igor Tale). The conjunction неже here could easily be translated with 'and not': 'it is better... to be slain and not to be captured'. The past passive participles потяту 'slain' and полонену 'captured', here in the dative, agree with the implicit dative subject of the infinitives быти (cf. Section 39).