Russian Fairy Tales | Annotated Tale

COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in October 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Sozh and Dnieper

In White-Russia there is a legend about two rivers, the beginning of which has evidently been taken from the story of Jacob and Esau:--


THERE was once a blind old man called Dvina. He had two sons--the elder called Sozh, and the younger Dnieper. Sozh was of a boisterous turn, and went roving about the forests, the hills, and the plains; but Dnieper was remarkably sweet-tempered, and he spent all his time at home, and was his mother's favorite. Once, when Sozh was away from home, the old father was deceived by his wife into giving the elder son's blessing to the younger son. Thus spake Dvina while blessing him:--

                 "Dissolve, my son, into a wide and deep river. Flow past towns, and bathe villages without number as far as the blue sea. Thy brother shall be thy servant. Be rich and prosperous to the end of time!"

                 Dnieper turned into a river, and flowed through fertile meadows and dreamy woods. But after three days, Sozh returned home and began to complain.

                 "If thou dost desire to become superior to thy brother," said his father, "speed swiftly by hidden ways, through dark untrodden forests, and if thou canst outstrip thy brother, he will have to be thy servant!"

                 Away sped Sozh on the chase, through untrodden places, washing away swamps, cutting out gullies, tearing up oaks by the roots. The Vulture [1] told Dnieper of this, and he put on extra speed, tearing his way through high hills rather than turn on one side. Meanwhile Sozh persuaded the Raven to fly straight to Dnieper, and, as soon as it had come up with him to croak three times; he himself was to burrow under the earth, intending to leap to the surface at the cry of the Raven, and by that means to get before his brother. But the Vulture fell on the Raven; the Raven began to croak before it had caught up the river Dnieper. Up burst Sozh from underground, and fell straight into the waves of the Dnieper. [2]



[1] Yastreb = vulture or goshawk

[2] Quoted from Borichefsky (pp. 183-5) by Afanasief.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Sozh and Dnieper
Tale Author/Editor: Ralston, William Ralston Shedden
Book Title: Russian Fairy Tales
Book Author/Editor: Ralston, William Ralston Shedden
Publisher: Hurst & Co.
Publication City: New York
Year of Publication: 1873
Country of Origin: Russia
Classification: unclassified

Back to Top