Tugarin Zmeyevich

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Tugarin Zmey is a mythical creature in East European bylinas and fairy tales, which personifies evil and cruelty and appears in the form of a bogatyr of a dragon-like nature.

Tugarin Zmeyevich has many different names in East Slavic mythology, such as Zmey Tugarin, Zmey Tugaretin, Zmeishche Tugarishche and others. Tugarin Zmeyevich is best known from a bylina about his duel with Alyosha Popovich, which comes in many different versions. When the two approach each other in a field, Tugarin is hissing like a snake and his horse is neighing like a beast. Tugarin's torso is covered with fiery snakes. It appears that Tugarin represents the element of fire, which he uses in different forms as a weapon. He threatens to strangle Alyosha Popovich with smoke, throw fiery sparks at him, scorch him with fire, and shoot charred logs at him. It also appears that Tugarin represents the element of water, because their duel usually takes place near the Safat River. At the same time, Tugarin is also a dragon. He is flying in the sky flapping his paper-like wings, which fail him when it rains. Alyosha Popovich wins the duel, cuts Tugarin's body into pieces and scatters them across the field.

Some bylinas mention Tugarin's intimate relations with the wife of knyaz Vladimir. When she finds out about his death, she turns sad and reproaches Alyosha Popovich for separating her from her "dear friend".

Tugarin Zmeyevich is a chtonical character of an ancient dragon-fighting myth, related to Zmey Gorynych (Russian: “Змей Горыныч”, Ukrainian: “Змій Горинич”), Fiery Dragon (Russian: “Огненный Змей”) etc. In Kievan Rus, Tugarin Zmeyevich became a symbol of paganism and wild steppes full of dangers.