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Book chapter

Еще раз о мифоэпических устных источниках средневекового историописания: рассказы об основателях династий у Галла Анонима и Снорри Стурлусона

С. 565-592.
Щавелев А. С.

The paper deals with the problem of reflection of Slavic legends about first rulers in the text of the Polish chronicle Gesta principum Polonorum by Gallus

591

Anonymous (the early twelfth century). The author compares the story of the Piast dynasty’s coming to power in Poland with that of the rise to power of King Haraldr Fairhair in Norway (in Snorri Sturluson’s Heimskringla, c. 1230, and Flateyjarbók, 1387–1394). It is obvious that in the basis of both texts lays a common motif: “at a feast of a ruler food suddenly disappears, and then the ruler loses his power and dies”. All the basic and additional motifs in these two stories are the same. The plot is based on the juxtaposition of two feasts, one of which is meager, and the other is generous. In the both texts we clearly see a description of the pagan rite called potlatch — a periodic mandatory emulative public delivery of products and values, which requires the current ruler to outdone his opponent in generosity. We have two implementations of the same invariant plot. There can be two assumptions about the time of the formation of such a plot, common for the Scandinavian and the Slavic traditions. It is possible that it is a “wandering plot”, typical for the period of intensive contacts between the Slavs and the Scandinavians in the circum- Baltic area from the seventh till the eleventh century, or it could be a more ancient time when the contacts between the Germanic tribes and the Slavs are fixed linguistically: the periods of exchange between the Teutonic and Slavonic languages.

A comparison of the texts of Snorri Sturluson and Gallus Anonymous gives us an opportunity to confirm the hypothesis that oral legendary tradition underlays the first Polish chronicle. Even for Gallus, an educated foreign Benedictine monk, an appeal to the pagan past of the ruling dynasty, for which he was writing his chronicle, was actually necessary. We clearly see here a dictate of the local audience, the requests of which could not be ignored. Note also that chronicle was such a form of historiography that badly needed oral epic and folklore sources for its anecdotal narrations.

The early Polish historiography demontsrates a number of typological parallels, as well as a number of structural differences in comparison with the Old Rus chronicles. The arrangement of material in Gesta principum Polonorum seems remarkably close to that in the first Russian historiographical work, the so-called Oldest Tale (or Oldest Chronicle), written in the first half of the eleventh century. This non-extant text can be reconstructed in its main features from the text of the Primary Chronicle of the early twelfth century. The Russian Oldest Tale, just as the chronicle of Gallus, was a record of a series of episodes from the early history of the ruling dynasty. Both texts were purely secular in main topics, both aimed at glorifying the ruling prince and his ancestors, both lacked an annalistic framework.