The Legend of Sadko and The Sea Tsar

23 September, 2013

The Legend of Sadko and The Sea Tsar

Byliny (Былины) are East Slavic oral epic narrative poems from the Medieval era. They take historical elements and turn it into fictional stories. A very famous legend in Byliny is the one of Sadko (Садко).

Sadko was a musician who played the gusli (a multichord Russian instrument) on a lake shore. That way, he attracted the attention of the Sea Tsar, who offered to help him and to make him rich. The Tsar told him to make a bet with local merchants about catching a certain fish in the lake.

After he caught the fish and became  rich, he started trading on the seas. However, he didn’t pay proper respects to the Tsar who made him rich. That way, the Tsar stopped Sadko’s ship in the sea. In order to get rid of the grudge, Sadko’s crew forced him to jump into water. Mermaids under the sea trapped him, but he eventually managed to escape with the help of Saint Nicola.

The legend of Sadko inspired many works by artists and musicians. Alexei Korsakov (Алексей Корсаков) composed an opera called “Sadko”, which was also turned into a film in the Soviet period. However, the most famous work of art on the legend is a beautiful painting by Ilya Repin (Иля Репин), one of the finest pictures contained in the Russian Museum.

This post was brought to you by Zoran, currently studying Russian at Liden & Denz

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