A bogatyr (Russian: богатырь; Old East Slavic богатырь, Ukrainian: богатир; from baghatur, a historical Turco-Mongol honorific) or vityaz (Russian: витязь) is a stock character in medieval East Slavic legends (byliny), akin to a Western European knight-errant.
Russian word богатырь (bogatýr’) is derived from a Turkic language, probably Khazar, from Old Turkic bagatur (“hero”), from Proto-Turkic *bAgatur (“hero”), possibly from Proto-Altaic *mi̯àga ("glory, praise"). Compare Turkish bahadır, Mongolian баатар (baatar), Tatar баһадир (bahadir). Cf. the name of the Xiongnu Chanyu, MC 冒頓 (*maɣu-tur). This Turkic word was borrowed into numerous surrounding languages (Iranian, Mongolian etc.). Modern forms like batɨr, batur are back-borrowings from Mongolian. Forms of the type baxatir are back-borrowings from Persian. Cognate with Middle Mongolian maqta-, maxta- (“to laud, carol”), from Proto-Mongolic *magta- (“to praise, glorify”), Evenki migdi- ("to be noisy, produce noise"), Oroch magui- ("to shamanize"), from Proto-Tungus-Manchu *m[ia]g-, Middle Korean 말 (māl, “speech”) (from Proto-Korean *mār < *maga-r), Old Japanese 申す (mawos-, “to speak (polite)”) (from Proto-Japonic *màw). The word stem tor which does not occur except in the word baγator in Turkic, continues to survive in Korean in the form of tori meaning 'a brave boy'.
Many Kievan Rus' epic poems, called Bylinas, prominently featured stories about these heroes, as did several chronicles, including the 13th century Galician–Volhynian Chronicle. Some bogatyrs are presumed to be historical figures, while others, like the giant Svyatogor, are purely fictional and possibly descend from Slavic pagan mythology.
Most of the stories about bogatyrs revolve around the court of Vladimir I of Kiev (958–1015). There served the most notable bogatyrs or vityazes: the trio of Alyosha Popovich, Dobrynya Nikitich and Ilya Muromets. Each of them tends to be known for a certain character trait: Alyosha Popovich for his wits, Dobrynya Nikitich for his courage, and Ilya Muromets for his physical and spiritual power and integrity, and for his dedication to the protection of his homeland and people.
An early usage of the word bogatyr was recorded in Sernitskiy's book "Descriptio veteris et novae Poloniae cum divisione ejusdem veteri et nova," ("A description of the Old and the New Poland with the old, and a new division of the same,") printed in 1585 at an unknown location, in which he says, "Rossi… de heroibus suis, quos Bohatiros id est semideos vocant, aliis persuadere conantur." ("Russians... try to convince others about their heroes whom they call Bogatirs, meaning demigods.")
- Ilya Muromets, regarded as the greatest of the bogatyrs, from Murom
- Dobrynya Nikitich – from Ryazan (based on a historical warlord of Vladimir I)
- Alyosha Popovich – from Rostov
- Svyatogor, a giant knight who bequeath his strength to Ilya Muromets (purely fictional)
- Gavrila Alexich of Novgorod, who served Alexander Nevsky in Battle of Neva (historical)
- Ratmir of Novgorod, who served Alexander Nevsky in Battle of Neva (historical)
- Vasili Buslayev of Novgorod
- Peresvet, who sacrificed himself against the Tatars at the Battle of Kulikovo (historical)
- Anika the Warrior
- Duke Stepanovich
- Dunaj Ivanovich
- Volga Svyatoslavovich (possibly based on Oleg of Novgorod)
- Sukhman The Bogatyr
- Nikita the Furrier
- Mikula Selyaninovich ("Mikula the Villager's Son")
Bogatyrs in films
- Films by Alexander Ptushko:
- Soyuzmultfilm animated films (directed by Ivan Aksenchuk):
- Ilya Muromets (1975)
- Ilya Muromets and Nightingale the Robber (1978)
- Melnitsa Animation series "The Three Bogatyrs":
- Alyosha Popovich and Tugarin the Serpent (Алёша Попович и Тугарин Змей, 2004)
- Dobrynya Nikitich and Zmey Gorynych (Добрыня Никитич и Змей Горыныч, 2006)
- Ilya Muromets and Nightingale the Robber (Илья Муромец и Соловей-Разбойник, 2007)
- The Three Bogatyrs and Shamakhan Queen (Три богатыря и Шамаханская царица, 2010)
- The Three Bogatyrs on Distant Shores (Три богатыря на дальних берегах, 2012)
- Other films:
- Prince Vladimir (Князь Владимир, 2006)
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- Bylina, oral epics of the Slavic world
- Victor Vasnetsov (1848–1926), Russian folk revivalist painter, famous for his depictions of bogatyrs.
- Slavic mythology
- Богатыри и витязи Русской земли: По былинам, сказаниям и песням. (1990) Moscow: "Moskovsky Rabochy" publishers (Russian)
- "богатир" in Etymological Dictionary of the Ukrainian Language, "Naukova Dumka", Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Kyiv 1982 (Ukrainian)
- "богатырь" in Vasmer's Etymological Dictionary (Russian)
- Эрванд Севортян (ред.) (1974–), Этимологический словарь тюркских языков, Москва
- Sergei Starostin, Vladimir Dybo, Oleg Mudrak (2003), Etymological Dictionary of the Altaic Languages, Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers (ToB Etymology: *mi̯àga)
- A Study of the Proto-Turkic tor 'general', by Choi Han-Woo, Handong University, Korea. International Journal of Central Asian Studies, Volume 10-1, 2005, page.220. ISSN 1226-4490.