Table of contents:

The confrontation between paganism and Christianity in the X century
The confrontation between paganism and Christianity in the X century

The official point of view on the opposition of paganism and Christianity in the 10th century is set forth in the book by B.A. Rybakov "Paganism of Ancient Rus". An example of dating events according to Scaliger's chronology.

The Byzantine Empire was directly interested in the Christianization of the young but mighty power of Russia, which believed that every people who adopted the Christian faith from the hands of the emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople was thereby becoming a vassal of the Orthodox empire. By the X century. Christianity became a major political force in the medieval world. The combination of the New Testament, which preached humility and obedience to the authorities, with the archaic militant, tough and dodgy Old Testament, the law of biblical books, made Christianity extremely convenient for the nascent feudal statehood of the countries of Europe and the Middle East.

The adaptation of paganism to the needs of the emerging state took place in conditions of rivalry with such world religions as Christianity and Islam, which was reflected in the legend "about the choice of faith."

Ties with Christian lands were especially close. Christian was the population of the shores of the Black ("Russian") Sea: Chersonesos, Kerch, Tmutarakan; Christianity was adopted by a kindred Bulgaria in the 860s.

Using the terminology of the Kiev Metropolitan Hilarion, who wrote in the middle of the 11th century. "A word about law and grace", we can say that the state power of empires and kingdoms widely used the biblical "law" for its establishment in the country and for wars with neighbors, and provided the masses with the gospel "grace" with its strongest core argument - the restoration of justice in the future afterlife.

By the time of Igor and Svyatoslav, Russian retinue-merchant expeditions in their annual travels of thousands of kilometers came into contact with many Christian countries. The Russians spent six months in Constantinople, selling off the results of the winter polyuda brought here and stocking up on such Greek goods as "pavoloks (silk), gold, wine and vegetables (fruits) of various kinds". Naturally, with such a stable contact with Christian lands, Christianity could penetrate into the Russian environment, which we see from a number of documents of the 9th century, especially from the 860s. (Levchenko M.V. Essays on the history of Russian-Byzantine relations. M., 1956, p. 73 - 78; Sakharov A. H. Diplomacy of ancient Russia. M., 1980, p. 59 - 65 (historiography of the issue).)

The missionary activity of the Greek Orthodox Church arises: Metropolitan Michael (Bulgarian) was sent to Russia, who baptized the Kiev prince Oskold.

The well-known historian of the Russian Church E. E. Golubinsky rightly believes that one of the ways for Christians to penetrate into Kiev is the arrival of the Varangians from the Constantinople Norman community, baptized Scandinavians, to the service of the Kiev prince. The Scandinavian Varangians had their own, well-trodden by these sailors, a sea route to

Constantinople, which for some reason for two centuries in our scientific and popular literature has been mixed with the path through Eastern Europe. Nestor in his text leads the reader from the Black Sea up the Dnieper and further to the Baltic Sea, pointing out that from the Varangian Baltic it is possible by sea, without any drag, to reach Rome and Constantinople. Historians are still confused by the general title of this paragraph; since the question of the Varangians is directly related to our topic, I will quote the text of Nestor:

"Be the way from the Varangians to the Gryky and from the Gryk Along the Dnieper and the Dnieper vykh, dragged to Lovoti and along Lovoti to the Ilmer the great lake, from which the river the Vlhov would flow and flow into the great Nevo (Ladoga Sea) and the Ustyazhye Ustyazhye (Baltic and Northern) ".

This part of the paragraph describes the journey through Eastern Europe from Byzantium, "from the Greek", to Scandinavia.The following is a description of the path "from the Varangians to the Greeks":

"And go along that sea even to Rome (the way around Europe), and from Rome come along the same sea to Caesaryugrad." (Shakhmatov A.A. The Tale of Bygone Years. Pg., 1916, p. 6.)

The route from the Varangians to the Greeks is designated as the well-known route of the Scandinavian flotillas through a single water space (along the same sea) from the Baltic and the North Sea through the Channel, past Normandy, through Gibraltar in the Mediterranean to the Norman possessions in Italy and to Constantinople, where the Normans served in the imperial palace guard. These Varangians of the Byzantine service naturally adopted Christianity, to some extent knew the Greek language. We can completely agree with E. E. Golubinsky that it was from these Constantinople Varangians that the hired squads of the Kiev princes were recruited: “Varangians in a very large number moved from Constantinople to Kiev.” (E. E. Golubinsky History of the Russian Church. M., 1901, vol. I, first half of the volume, p. 70.)

The chronicler took care of his readers and, in the above geographical paragraph, indicated that it actually existed in the 9th-10th centuries. the way of the Normans to Constantinople by a single sea route past Italy and Africa ("the lot of Hamov").

Probably it was precisely these, partially Byzantinized, Varangians that the Kiev princes sent to Constantinople on diplomatic missions.

In the princely embassy of Igor in 944 there were "people of Rus (Russian subjects) Khrstians", and during the taking of the oath by the prince himself in Kiev, part of the squad took the oath in the church of St. Elijah on Podol - "Muzi bo besha Varyazi and Kozar Khrst'yane". Christianity here appears not as a Russian faith, but as the faith of hired foreigners ("varazi") or the Greek-speaking population of Khazaria. In the future, we will repeatedly see that the confrontation of Russian paganism with Byzantine Christianity is inextricably intertwined with the theme of opposition to violent detachments of Varangian mercenaries. The design of the pagan pantheon in 980 was immediately preceded by the expulsion of the Varangians from Kiev by the young prince Vladimir, described in the chronicle under the same year. "Having shown the way" to the mercenaries who were striving for Byzantium, the prince informed the emperor: "Behold, go to thee of the lords. Do not bother them in the city - if you do evil in the city, as well as in the city (in Kiev). and semo (to Russia) do not let a single one. "(Shakhmatov A. A. The Tale of Bygone Years, p. 95.)

The first pagan action described in the chronicle was the sacrifice of a Christian youth-Varangian to Perun. "Be the same Varangian (the father of the young man) sent from Grk and drzhash the faith of the Khrstiyanska in secret." The Varyag was, as we can see, one of those Constantinople Normans about whom Golubinsky wrote. The reason that the Varangians confessed the Christian faith at this time in secret, we will find out in the future. The reason for the dissatisfaction with the Vikings was not that they were Christians, but that they "did evil." In the same way, the reason for the confrontation between paganism and Christianity lay deeper, and the Christian Varangians were only a special case.

The basis of the fears of the Kiev princes and their wariness towards Christianity was the policy of the Byzantine Empire. For Russia, interspersed with peaceful trade ties with military pressure on Byzantium (for the sake of these same ties), the adoption of Christianity could mean an involuntary vassalage, and the strengthening of Christianity in Russia - an increase in the number of potential allies of Orthodox Byzantium. (Sakharov A. H. Diplomacy of Ancient Russia, p.. 273-275.) Therefore, for several decades of the X century. we observe within Russia a significant increase in paganism, as if deliberately opposed to Byzantine Christianity.

The religious issue was raised to the level of international politics. This was especially clearly manifested after Igor's campaign against Byzantium in 943 and the conclusion of a treaty in 944, already during the reign of Igor's widow Olga (from 945). The chronicle texts do not say a word about the priestly estate, about the pagan sorcerers in Russia and about their actions at that time, but without taking into account this social element, so well described by the Western Slavs, it will be difficult for us to comprehend many events. Olga began her reign as an ardent and merciless pagan, and later adopted Christianity and became an ardent supporter of the new faith.

According to the Suzdal Chronicle, called the Tatishchev Chronicle of Bishop Simon. Olga favored Christians and intended to be baptized in Kiev, "but it was in no way possible to do it to her without extreme fear from the people.For this, they advised her to go to Constantinople, ostensibly for other needs and be baptized there."

To resolve the issue of the place and time of Olga's baptism, we have only Russian sources: the chronicle story about Olga and "In memory and praise to the Russian prince Volodimer", written by Jacob Mnich in the middle of the 11th century. Jacob Mnikh, a contemporary of the chronicler Nikon, made extensive use of chronicle data (differing in dates from the Tale of Bygone Years). He attributes the baptism of Olga to 955 ("According to the holy baptism of B, the blessed princess Olga lives for 15 years … and the month of July, on the 11th day in the summer of 6477." whole years, then the date of baptism is 955, if he scrupulously counted the number of months, then - 954. Usually, with such a count, the year of the event was considered the first year; then we should stop at 955)

Chronicle date - 6463 (955). Both sources speak of Olga's baptism in Constantinople. Jacob has a lot of rhetoric but very little factual evidence. The chronicle story is full of interesting, but by no means always reliable details: the princess adopted Christianity in Constantinople itself, "and the tsar is the patriarch." At baptism, Olga received the name of Elena. A legendary detail is that Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus, admiring Olga, wanted to marry her: “And upon the christening of the Cesar’s call and say to her:“I want to sing to my wife.”Constantine was married at that time and a similar proposal to make Russian The chronicle legend continues: Olga told the Tsar that since he became her godfather, he could not legally marry her. A. The Tale of Bygone Years, pp. 70 - 71.)

It is possible that such a catch phrase was uttered by Constantine, but, of course, on a different occasion, since Olga's trip to Constantinople did not bring diplomatic success to either side, and Olga, returning to Kiev, refused to send military aid to the Greeks, although she had promised it earlier. It was on this occasion that the word of the Caesar could appear. This is all the more likely since Olga's baptism in Constantinople is not supported by Byzantine sources.

In Constantinople, what the Russian people feared so much - the Byzantine emperor regarded Olga the Christian, the regent of the Russian state with a young son, as his vassal: the tsar "give her many gifts … and let you go and call her the daughters sobe." If the emperor really baptized the Russian princess, then by this she already became his goddaughter, but according to the text of the chronicle he called her daughter not in the church, but in the political sense (Sakharov A.I.Diplomacy of Ancient Rus, p. 278. I can't agree with the author only that the title of the daughter of the emperor "extremely elevated secular power in Russia" (p. 279).) We know many examples in the chronicle when the word "father" was used in a feudal, hierarchical sense and a brother called his brother "father ", thus recognizing his suzerainty.

The story of the chronicle is not structured in such a way that Olga, having completed her affairs, left Constantinople on her own; here it is indicated that the emperor let her go, obliging her to send military aid and valuable goods and reminding her of her vassal status as a "daughter". Olga was frightened by the situation, she was afraid to return to Russia as a traitor to great-grandfather's customs and the "daughter" of the Greek king. Coming to the patriarch to ask him for his blessing to leave home ("ask for blessings at home"), the princess confessed her fear: "My people are bastards (pagans) and my son is a filthy thing, let God take me out of all evil!" (Shakhmatov A.A. The Tale of Bygone Years, p. 71.)

The patriarch consoles the princess with a number of biblical examples of divine help to righteous people, briefly listing their names. If we take into account the content of these legends about biblical characters, we will see that in most cases we are talking about the confrontation of two different faiths.David, persecuted by Saul and hiding in the wilderness and forests, attracts the local priests to his side. Daniel fights with priests of other faiths, prays to God, and the lions, to whom he was thrown to be devoured, lick his hands. Three youths, who refused to worship the golden pagan idol, were thrown to be burned in the "cave of fire," but the angel guarded them, and they remained unharmed.

All these examples of divine patronage given by the patriarch were supposed to strengthen the spirit of the princess, who was leaving for a pagan country, where idols were worshiped, where priests of pagan gods could control the fate of people.


The chronicle story about the baptism of Princess Olga was created or strongly processed much later than the time she says: firstly, her grandchildren are already mentioned here, who could not have been in 955, since Svyatoslav, who was born in 942., was then only 13 years old. Secondly, the author of the story confuses the emperors Constantine and John Tzimiskes (who reigned much later). (Shakhmatov A.A.

The story is artificially inserted into the chronicle in the middle of the empty years 948-963, marked only with numbers, without any events whatsoever. It is impossible to trust the chronicle date of Olga's trip to Constantinople, but meanwhile, to understand the essence of the events that took place in the middle of the 10th century, which preceded the creation of the pagan pantheon in 980, the date of the princess's baptism is very important.

V. H. Tatishchev, relying on the late Joachimov chronicle, believed that Princess Olga was baptized in 945 (Tatishchev V. H. Russian History. M., 1962, vol. I, p. 106.)

Other scholars of the 18th century also began to doubt the reliability of the date of the "Tale of Bygone Years" and suggested, relying on the composition of Constantine "On Ceremonies", to accept 946, but this aroused objections at the same time and another date was proposed - 956, close to the chronicle. (Bulgar Eugene. Historical search about the time of the baptism of the Russian Grand Duchess Olga. SPb., 1812, p. 73, 83, 99.)

Subsequently, by calculating the numbers, months and days of the week (Wednesday 9 September and Sunday 18 October) of Olga's receptions and Konstantin Porphyrogenitus, the date was set to 957.14 (Golubinsky E.E. History of the Russian Church, p. 102.)

At present, G. G. Litavrin, having studied the history of the issue anew and revising the Byzantine sources, cleverly substantiated the once rejected date - 946 (Litavrin G. G. About the dating of Olga's embassy to Constantinople. - History of the USSR, 1981, No. 5, p.. 180 - 183.)

This date can be supported by a number of other considerations. As for the place of Olga's baptism, one should agree with Golubinsky that the princess arrived in Constantinople already baptized and with her priest (confessor?) Gregory, and was baptized, according to the researcher, in Kiev. (Golubinsky E.E. History of the Russian Church, p. 77.)

Presumably, we can talk about Chersonesos as the place where the princess was baptized on the way to Constantinople, but there is no data for this.

Thus, in the mid-940s, a whole bunch of events related to both Christianity and paganism falls:

943. Igor's campaign to Byzantium. Receiving tribute from the Greeks.

944. Treaty with Byzantium on "renewal of the old world".

944-945. Polyudye Igor and his murder by the Drevlyans. Olga's revenge to the Drevlyans.

944/945. The campaign of the Kiev troops to the land of the Drevlyans. 946. Olga's trip to Constantinople, which coincides with the adoption of Christianity by the princess. (The dates given are not accurate enough. So, the treaty dates back to 944, and in the annals it is placed under the year 6453, that is, 945.

Second song


The second half of the epic about Mikhail Potok tells about a long confrontation between the hero and his wife after they left the grave.

Since the heroine is still Marya Lebed Belaya, in essence the second part of the epic can only be a continuation of the version where Marya does not die like a werewolf snake, but is resurrected as a person.

There are epics consisting only of the first song without a continuation (Ancient Russian poems …, p. 150; Onega epics, vol. II, p.100.), but there are epics that include episodes of only the second song (Onega epics, vol. II, pp. 491-498.)

The basic scheme of the second canto is as follows: a foreign tsar attacks Kiev; Mikhail is beaten off by the hitting, but "the beautiful Tsar Ivan Okulevich" takes Marya with him with her consent ("I called, went to marry him"). Kiev heroes refused to help Mikhail: "It's not an honor for us, brave praise, we follow someone else's wife after a woman …". The stream travels to Marya three times, and each time she drinks him and bewitches him. On two occasions, the heroes release Mikhail. The last time he was freed by Anastasia, the sister of Ivan Okulevich, whom Potok married, and executed Mary Lebed Belaya. (Epics, pp. 289-324.)

As you can see, the main thing in this song (as in the first one) is not in the heroic deeds. The run over to Kiev is beaten off by someone unknown - "the heroes did not happen here at home"; the Stream itself fought with an unknown force "far off in the open field." Mikhail's trips to the city of the seducer, the beautiful Tsar Ivan Okulevich, and to his royal palace amaze in a number of versions with their unjustified peacefulness: the bogatyr walks without an army, does not speak with the tsar himself, does not threaten anything, does not expose weapons; everything ends only with meetings with Marya Lebeda Belaya herself. When Marya, having drunk the bogatyr three times, asks her new husband: "And you’re a little head for Mikhail’s compartments," Ivan Okulevich answers her quite chivalrously: "It’s not an honor to me, brave praise, but a sleepy beat that is dead to me." Marya deals with the hero in her own way. The final reprisal of the Stream with Marya and the king is depicted outside of reality - Stream, as always, without an army, there is no battle, and the victory goes to him on the principle of Byzantine palace coups.

An extensive song of more than 500 lines is dedicated to the tense, albeit devoid of military concreteness, the struggle of two forces - paganism in the person of the merciless enchantress Marya Swan Belaya and Christianity in the person of the Kiev hero Mikhail Potok. The beautiful Tsar Ivan Okulovich is an inactive, neutral person who does not take part in the struggle. The Kiev heroes are Mikhail's allies only in regiment combat affairs; they deliberately do not want to intervene in his relationship with the sorceress Marya, and they are powerless to destroy her witchcraft. Michael's real allies are Michael the Archangel or St. Nicholas and the tsar's sister Anastasia. Judging by the fact that at the end of the epic, Anastasia, unlike Mary, without a change of faith, goes with Mikhala "to God's church," where they received the "golden crowns," the hero's ally was a Christian. It is logical to assume that her brother, the "beautiful king," who did not seek to chop off the sleepy one, was also baptized. Marya Lebed Belaya achieves victory three times thanks to cunning and sorcery. She meets Potok with a charm of green wine with sleepy poison and assures him that Ivan Okulevich is "lucky enough" to be her. her flattering persuasions each time become more and more poetic and convincing. Seeing the hero at the royal chambers of Ivan Okulevich:

As she poured a drink she sleepy

And the wine is green …

How does she come close here?

And Michael is leaning low

- And you, young Mikhail Potok, son of Ivanovich!

- The beautiful Tsar Ivan Okulevich took Silom away

- How nunechka was still now

- A low-water (warm, summer) day cannot be alive, - And without that without red without the sun

- And so I am without you, young Mikhail Potok, son Ivanovich.

- But I can’t, but I’m still alive, - But I can't be alive, something to eat or drink, - Now your lips were sad, - And you’re in the great

- And drink from melancholy you from annoyance

- And nunechku is green wine as a charm.

For the first time, Marya buried a sleepy hero, who had drunk three spells under the persuasion of a sorceress, into a pit as if he were dead. His saddled horse galloped to Kiev, and his friends-heroes realized that trouble had happened. The horse pointed out to them the place where Mikhail was buried, and they dug him up, "and he slept there, got drunk, and got drunk."

The second witchcraft was stronger than the first: Marya, having drunk Mikhail again, turned him into a "white, combustible pebble".The heroes went to rescue a friend. On the way, they met an old kalik, and all the heroes, disguised as pedestrian kaliks, arrived at the palace of Ivan Okulevich, where Marya, without giving them anything, sent them to her husband: "Take the kalik to you, feed, feed!" The king generously rewarded the pilgrims, which is further proof of his Christianity. The old Kalika, who turned out to be Saint Nicholas (or Michael the Archangel), helped to restore the human form to Michael Stream, which the heroes could not do.

The third massacre of Marya was unusual: she nailed the Stream, who had been drunk with the spell of sleepy drinking, "the policemen" were on the wall. With four nails the sorceress crucified the hero on the fortress wall; she lacked the main "nail of the heart" to finally take his life. This strange massacre could have been inspired by the visual image of the icon of the Archangel Michael or the crucifixion of Christ somewhere on the city gates (remember that St. Michael was the coat of arms of Kiev) or on the gates of the courtyard of Princess Olga in those fifteen years (946 - 961), when it was opened, not hiding yet, professed Christianity. Such crucifixion of a Christian hero was the evil irony of a "sorceress" - a "heretic". Here, in the epic, a new, bright face appears - the Tsar's sister Anastasia. She frees the hero by taking iron tongs from the forge. Then she takes him out of the city and supplies him with a horse and weapons. When Marya Lebed Belaya saw Mikhail driving up to the palace alive, she tried to drink him for the fourth time. And again the savior of Mikhail with the symbolic name Anastasia appears. Either she plaintively reminds him of his promise to marry her, then she resolutely discards the poison spell:

Nastasya heard the prince, Opened a slanting window, She cried out in a pitiful voice, - Oh, you, Mikhail Potok, son of Ivanovich, - To know you forgot your commandment ?!

How is it that Mikhailushka Potyk-on

He raised his right hand for the charm, How is this Nastasya Okulevna

And she pushed him by the arm -

The melting spell flew away far away.

The baptized hero is saved. He cut off the heads of Marya and Ivan Okulevich and got married in the church of God with his savior Anastasia. Suddenly it turns out that "Mikhailushka fell for the kingdom here."

In the whole second song, the opposition of Christianity to paganism continues, but this is not an open struggle, not a call to a new faith, not reproaches against the filthy serpentine race. Three times paganism wins, and again wins not with weapons, not with speeches, but with the spell of green wine. Mikhailushka drank nine spells of wine during his visits to Marya, and each time after that he found himself helpless before the power of pagan witchcraft.

The enchantment of green wine in a number of epics is mentioned not only in that part of the second song, where Marya, saving herself, brings Michael a "forgetting drink" - the hero began to drink as soon as he began living together with the "sorceress" and continues after leaving the grave:

He went for a walk and through the tsars' taverns, Drinking wine and he is penniless, Go in a circle and a semicircle, Where it is in a quarter, but where it is in a half bucket, And when the time comes, he is a whole bucket.

All this wine expanse goes without money, like payment for heroic service, for the successful delivery of tribute to the prince. Given the Christian orientation of the epic, its confrontation with paganism, often expressed in a cautious allegorical form, it is suggested that the epic about Mikhail Potok (especially its second song) is a condemnation of those pagan feasts, which were not only a form of communication and consultation between the prince and his warriors. not only by the form of compensation for marching losses and damages, but also by the fulfillment of an obligatory pagan ritual that remained in Russia until the 16th-17th centuries. (see below chapter 13).

E.V. Anichkov was right, who in his book "Paganism and Ancient Russia" devoted three whole chapters to such a topic as "Feasts and games, as the main subject of denunciation" of paganism by the clergy. (Anichkov E.V. Paganism and ancient Russia. St. Petersburg., 1914, ch. VII, VIII, IX, p.155-224.) We know very well the famous feasts of Vladimir the Sun of Stolnokievsky. Both epics and chronicles speak about these feasts, noting that the prince feasted sometimes for 8 days in a row, "calling his own bolyars and posadniks and elders all over the city … calling out an immense multitude of people" (A. A. Shakhmatov, The Tale of Bygone Years, p. 158-159.), And The Praise of Jacob Mnich. After the adoption of Christianity, these wide festivities were timed to coincide with the church calendar dates, but the pagan essence of the feast remained and was reflected in fierce disputes over the so-called "meat-eating". The fact is that church rules prescribed fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays of each week, that is, they forbade fast meat food on these days. Meat was the main ritual food of the pagans, as it was part of those sacrifices that were offered to the gods. Until the XX century. In Russian families, the obligatory custom for Christmas and Easter was to serve pork (a ham or a whole pig) to the table, as it was a very ancient tradition coming from primitive times. In Russia in the middle of the XII century. perplexity arose - what if the church holiday falls on a fast day? To refuse the meat (previously ritual) festive food consecrated by the ancient custom, or to violate the prescriptions of the clergy and the Greek-Rigorists, which forbade "curry"? Many princes openly supported their pagan antiquity.

Before the baptism of Russia, princely feasts, which continued the tradition of common tribal pagan sacrifices and treasures, were an important element in public life. And during the confrontation between paganism and Christianity, they could become a powerful weapon in the hands of the pagan squad and priesthood, since feasts were also a form of meeting of the boyar duma of the Kiev prince.

It is hardly correct to attribute the origin of the epic about Mikhail Potok entirely to the era of Vladimir. The name of Vladimir is not always mentioned in the epic; often a certain nameless "prince of the capital of Kiev" acts. The first song about the joint burial of Mikhail and Marya Likhodeevna should be dated to that relatively short period when some of the Rus had already refused the pagan cremations, but still continued to bury his “voluntarily” deceased wife with the noble boyar. (The quality of archaeological excavations does not allow establishing, in all cases, paired burials are simultaneous. The second spouse could be reburied. To do this, it was enough to excavate the "yellow sands" of the mound and disassemble the log "ceiling" of the chamber.) … Three rich mounds with "cages" and paired burials are dated: mound No. 110 by dirgem around 914 (a sword and a turium horn were found here); mound No. 36 - dirgem 927; mound No. 61 (with a seal with the image of Jesus Christ) - dirgem of 936. Two mounds (with coins of 896 and 914) contained only female burials, which, given the presence of a large number of cenotaphs in this cemetery, can be explained as the graves of widows whose husbands died in the campaigns. (Blifeld D. I. Long-term memorials …, p. 128; 150-155; 160-163; 171-172; 175-176.)

As you can see, all the paired burials, correlated with the main plot of the first song, are dated by coins of the first third of the 10th century, that is, historically by the era of Igor, when a "cathedral church" existed in Kiev (where there are also similar log-cut tombs). The second song could have arisen a little later, already during the aggravated relations between pagans and Christians in Kiev squad circles. Christian Mikhail Potok is no longer here the third boyar of the Kiev prince, conquering "languages ​​of other faiths"; here he is depicted as a lonely knight trying to return his witch-wife, married to him in the church of God. He is just a rider without an army, without companions, and the pagan Marya Swan White is already a queen, living in a palace and sometimes even having control over her inert husband.

The attitude of other warriors to Mikhail Potok is also interesting. When it comes to the pursuit of Marya, about opposing the pagan sorceress, the comrades refuse to help Michael, they do not fight Marya. They act only when their military assistance is needed for the Stream itself, in trouble. But they are powerless against the sorcery of Marya, they never remember God, they don’t get baptized, they don’t threaten the evil spirits that brought their comrade into trouble - they are pagans, although the influence of later epics influenced the fact that they were not called brothers, but cross brothers. This is the same Svyatoslav squad, about which the young prince told his mother that she would all mock him if he decided to accept the Christian faith. The heroes also laughed at the Stream. Ultimately, Michael is helped either by a Christian saint or by a Christian woman named Anastasia.

There is one more feature that can indirectly indicate the middle of the X century. In the second song Marya asks Ivan Okulevich three times to cut off the head of the Stream lying in a drunken dream. Perhaps this should be regarded as a veiled reproach to the pagan Olga, who drunk the Drevlyans at a funeral feast and ordered to kill 5,000 drunken guests. This song, with her heroes who do not want to persecute the pagan, with reproaches about ritual murders, and most importantly, showing the danger that the obsequiously offered charms of green wine represent, is directed against the princely feasts, although the feasts themselves are not shown.

Two songs about the Christian Mikhail Potok, the action of which takes place in some forests inhabited by pagans (polyudye), in Kiev and its cathedral church, then somewhere in another kingdom, where a witch taken from the forests, who has become a queen, rules everything, - this is a poetic tale about the beginning of Christianity in Russia in the 9th - first half of the 10th century. The first canto is clearly directed against such remnants of paganism among newly converted Russian Christians as joint burials (approximately in the reign of Igor), and the second canto allegorically, but very colorfully, warns against the spell of green wine, in all likelihood, referring to pagan ritual feasts (maybe, reign of Svyatoslav). Thanks to the epics about Ivan Godinovich and Mikhail Potok, we know the oral work of two rival squads. The Magi renewed the ancient pagan myths - "blasphemers", clothed them in a new, just-born form of epics, and "Russia, who was baptized like that," be, mainly pagans) in the ruin of pagan feasts, at which, in addition to their ritual side, important state affairs were decided: which of the heroes and where should go, who are given certain instructions, where something happened that requires immediate intervention. Feasts at the prince's table "for all the bogatyrs of the Holy Russian" were one of the primary forms of meetings of the boyar duma, and their condemnation by Christians continued until the prince himself and his heroes converted to the Orthodox faith. Then the church began to flamboyantly praise the feasts of St. Vladimir, timed to coincide with church holidays.

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