Serbian epic poetry
Serb epic poetry (Serbian: Српске епске народне песме) is a form of epic poetry created by Serbs originating in today's Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro. The main cycles were composed by unknown Serb authors between the 14th and 19th centuries. They are largely concerned with historical events and personages. The instrument in performing the Serbian epic is the Gusle.
Serbian epic poetry helped in developing the Serbian national consciousness. The cycles of Prince Marko, the Hajduks and Uskoks inspired the Serbs to restore freedom and their heroic past. The hajduks are seen as an integral part of national identity; in stories, the hajduks were heroes: they had played the role of the Serbian elite during Ottoman rule, they had defended the Serbs against Ottoman oppression, and prepared for the national liberation and contributed to it in the Serbian Revolution.
In 1824, Vuk Karadžić sent a copy of his folksong collection to Jacob Grimm, who was particularly enthralled by The Building of Skadar. Grimm translated it into German, and described it as "one of the most touching poems of all nations and all times".
The corpus of Serbian epic poetry is divided into cycles:
- Non-historic cycle (Неисторијски циклус/Neistorijski ciklus) - poems about Slavic mythology, characteristically about dragons and nymphs
- Pre-Kosovo cycle (Преткосовски циклус/Pretkosovski ciklus) - poems about events that predate the Battle of Kosovo (1389)
- Kosovo cycle (Косовски циклус/Kosovski ciklus) - poems about events that happened just before and after the Battle of Kosovo
- Cycle of Kraljević Marko (циклус Краљевића Марка/ciklus Kraljevića Marka)
- Post-Kosovo cycle (Покосовски циклус/Pokosovski ciklus) - poems about post-Battle events
- Cycle of hajduks and uskoks (Хајдучке и ускочке песме) – poems about brigands and rebels
- Poems about the liberation of Serbia and Montenegro (Песме о ослобођењу Србије и Црне Горе) - poems about the 19th-century battles against the Ottomans
Poems depict historical events with varying degrees of accuracy.
People of Serbian epic poetry
- Benedikt Kuripečič — 16th century diplomat who traveled through Ottoman Bosnia and Serbia in 1530 and recorded that epic songs about Miloš Obilić are popular not only among Serbs on Kosovo but also in Bosnia and Croatia. He also recorded some legends about the Battle of Kosovo and explained that in the whole region new poetry on the topic was composed.
- Dimitrije Karaman - the oldest known Serbian gusle player, c. 1551.
- Avram Miletić (1755 – after 1826) was a merchant and songwriter who is best known for writing the earliest collection of urban lyric poetry in Serbian.
- Old Rashko - one of the most important sources of the epic poetry recorded by Vuk Karadžić.
- Filip Višnjić (1767–1834), dubbed the "Serbian Homer" both for his blindness and poetic gift, was a guslar (gusle player).
- Tešan Podrugović (1783—1815) was Serbian hayduk, storyteller and gusle player (Serbian: guslar) who participated in the First Serbian Uprising and was one of the most important sources for Serbian epic poetry.
- Živana Antonijević (Blind Živana) (died in 1822) was one of favorite female singers of Vuk Karadžić.
- Vuk Karadžić (1787—1864) was a Serbian philologist and linguist who was the major reformer of the Serbian language. He deserves, perhaps, for his collections of songs, fairy tales, and riddles to be called the father of the study of Serbian folklore.
- Petar Perunović (1880—1952), also known as 'Perun', he was a famous gusle player who played Gusle for Nikola Tesla and the first to record Serbian epic poetry in a studio.
- Medieval era
- Tsar Dušan, Emperor
- Prince Lazar, Prince and legendary Emperor
- Pavle Orlović, knight
- Milan Toplica, knight
- Ivan Kosančić, knight
- Jugović brothers, including Boško Jugović
- Beg Kostadin
- Miloš Vojinović
- Mali Radojica, hajduk
- Deli Radivoje
- "Zmaj Ognjeni Vuk" (Vuk the Fiery Dragon), based on Vuk Grgurević, the Serbian Despot (r. 1471–85)
- Ailing Dojčin, possibly based on despots John VII Palaiologos and Andronikos Palaiologos
- Relja the Winged
- Pop Milo Jovović
- Bajo Pivljanin
- Stari Vujadin
- Sibinjanin Janko
- Jug Bogdan
- Janko od Kotara
- Starina Novak (partly)
- Musa Kesedžija, enemy of Kraljević Marko, he is the result of merging several historical people including Musa Çelebi son of Bayezid I and Musa from the Muzaka Albanian noble family while Jovan Tomić believes he is based on the supporter of Jegen Osman Pasha
- Djemo the Mountaineer, enemy of Kraljević Marko, a member of Muzaka noble family (Gjin Muzaka) or maybe Ottoman military person Jegen Osman Pasha
- General Vuča, enemy of Kraljević Marko, Tanush Dukagjin, a member of Dukagjini noble family or Prince Eugene of Savoy or Peter Doci
- Philip the Magyar, enemy of Kraljević Marko, Pipo of Ozora, an Italian condottiero, general, strategist and confidant of King Sigismund of Hungary.
- Arnaut Osman
Many other heroes of Serbian epic poetry are also based upon historical persons:
- Strahinja Banović — Đurađ II Stracimirović Balšić
- Jug Bogdan — Vratko Nemanjić
- Beg Kostadin — Constantine Dragaš
- Sibinjanin Janko — John Hunyadi
- Petar Dojčin — Petar Doci
- Maksim Crnojević — Staniša Skenderbeg Crnojević
- Bajo Pivljanin - Bajo Nikolić
- Mihajlo Svilojević — Michael Szilágyi
- Janko od Kotara - Janko Mitrović
- Manojlo Grčić - Manuel I Komnenos
Some heroes are paired with their horses, such as Prince Marko—Šarac, Vojvoda Momčilo—Jabučilo (a winged horse), Miloš Obilić—Ždralin, Damjan Jugović—Zelenko, Banović Strahinja—Đogin, Hajduk-Veljko—Kušlja, Jovan Kursula—Strina, Srđa Zlopogleđa—Vranac.
|“|| There two pines were growing together,
and among them one thin-topped fir;
neither there were just some two green pines
nor among them one thin-topped fir,
but those two were just some two born brothers
one is Pavle, other is Radule
and among them little sis' Jelena.
- (Kraljević Marko speaks: )
|“|| "I'm afraid that there will be a brawl.
And if really there will be a brawl,
Woe to one who is next to Marko!"
|“|| "Thou dear hand, oh thou my fair green apple,
Where didst blossom? Where has fate now plucked thee?
Woe is me! thou blossomed on my bosom,
Thou wast plucked, alas, upon Kosovo!"
|“|| "Oh my bird, oh my dear grey falcon,
How do you feel with your wing torn out?"
"I am feeling with my wing torn out
Like a brother one without the other."
Modern example of Serbian epics as recorded in 1992 by film director Paweł Pawlikowski in a documentary for the BBC Serbian epics; an anonymous gusle singer compares Radovan Karadžić, as he prepares to depart for Geneva for peace talk, to Karađorđe, who had led the First Serbian Uprising against the Turks in 1804:
|“|| "Hey, Radovan, you man of steel!
The greatest leader since Karađorđe!
Defend our freedom and our faith,
On the shores of Lake Geneva."
|“||The ballads of Serbia occupy a high position, perhaps the highest position, in the ballad literature of Europe. They would, if well known, astonish Europe... In them breathes a clear and inborn poetry such as can scarcely be found among any other modern people.||”|
|“||Everyone in the West who has known these poems has proclaimed them to be literature of the highest order which ought to be known better.||”|
Modern Serbian epic poetry
Epic poetry is recorded still today. Some modern songs are published in books or recorded, and under copyright, but some are in public domain, and modified by subsequent authors just like old ones. There are new songs that mimic old epic poetry, but are humorous and not epic in nature; these are also circulating around with no known author. In the latter half of the 19th century, a certain MP would exit the Serbian parliament each day, and tell of the debate over the monetary reform bill in the style of epic poetry. Modern epic heroes include: Radovan Karadžić, Ratko Mladić and Vojislav Šešelj. Topics include: Yugoslav wars, NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, and the Hague Tribunal.
Popular modern Serbian epic performers, guslari (Guslars) include:
- Milomir "Miljan" Miljanić
- Djordjije 'Djoko' Koprivica
- Boško Vujačiċ
- Vlastimir Barać
- Sava Stanišić
- Miloš Šegrt
- Saša Laketić
- Milan Mrdović
|Part of a series on the|
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- Edited by Norman M. Naimarkand Holly Case; Norman M. Naimark (2003). Yugoslavia and Its Historians: Understanding the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. Stanford University Press. pp. 25–. ISBN 978-0-8047-8029-2.
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Бенедикт Курипечић. пореклом Словенаи, који између 1530. и 1531. путује као тумач аустријског посланства, у свом Путопису препричава део косовске легенде, спомиње епско певање о Милошу Обилићу у крајевима удаљеним од места догађаја, у Босни и Хрватској, и запажа настајање нових песама.
- Политикин забавник 3147, p. 4
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- Hero tales and legends of the Serbians by Woislav M. Petrovitch (1915) (Public Domain), illustrated
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- Perić Dragoljub Ž. (2013). "Temporal formulas in Serbian oral epic songs". Balcanica. 44: 159–180.
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- An article about Serbian oral tradition
- Songs from Kosovo cycle
- The Battle of Kosovo - Serbian Epic Poems Preface by Charles Simic Swallow Press/Ohio University Press, Athens 1987
- Heroic Ballads of Servia translated by George Rapall Noyes and Leonard Bacon, 1913