So, I am in my second week of my second year as a Program 60 Auditor at Ohio State, which means I get to take all kinds of intriguing classes without the hassles of writing papers or taking tests or paying tuition. Great, huh?
This semester I’m taking The Icelandic Saga and Medieval Russia, which actually are related! In the middle of the 10th century, the Slavs and Rus’ invited the Vikings, whom they called the Varangians, to come and rule them, because there was so much chaos in their region of Eastern Europe.
Now this seems a little crazy, doesn’t it, considering that the Vikings had been raiding them in previous centuries, but the Rus’ recognized that the Vikings could indeed set things in order, which they did. They set up a dynasty, starting with the semi-legendary Prince Riurik, who was styled Prince of Kiev, in the 10th century. This dynasty lasted until the Romanov dynasty took over in 1613. (By the way, I’m just starting to study this area, so if I get anything wrong, please don’t hesitate to correct me in the comment section below!)
Here are maps of where I’m talking about. Hover or click on the maps to see their sources on the internet.
My biggest interest in the earliest part of medieval Russia is Princess Ol’ga, who died in 969 C.E., but not before she outwitted Constantine, Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire during her visit to Constantinople in 955, in which he proposed to her. She made a marriage with the Emperor impossible by acceding to his request that she be baptised, but insisting that he participate in the ceremony, thus making him her godparent and any marriage union between them incestuous.
Likewise. Princess Ol’ga took vengeance four times on those who had killed her husband Igor. The stories of these acts of vengeance are pretty amazing and testify to her bravery, cleverness and wisdom. But I am not going to recount them here: you’ll just have to Google! 🙂
Here are a couple of pages from the Primary Chronicle, the first-known chronicle of the Rus.’ (Used by permission.) It was written by a monk named Nestor in the early twelfth century and among other things, it recounts the history (although legends might be a better term for it) of the Eastern Slavic peoples. My professor, Daniel E. Collins, translated the work from the website of the Institute of Russian Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences : The Primary Chronicle
I chose these two pages because they feature paintings of Princess Ol’ga.
Sadly, Medieval Russia class was cancelled today because Professor Collins is ill. I hope he regains his health soon!
While I was waiting for his class to start, and before I knew it was cancelled, I hung out on the Oval, enjoying the gorgeous August day of sunshine, breezes, and not too much heat.
My other class, the Icelandic Saga, involves my longstanding interest in the Icelandic family sagas, which I have studied both at university and on my own, for several years. You may recall that I had a trip planned to Iceland for last May, but was injured in an accident and was unable to go. Doubly unfortunate is the fact that the trip insurance I bought was basically a waste of money. I say, “Buyer, beware!”
I learned that the 4th-year undergraduate student I sit next to, who is majoring in Scandinavian Studies and just spent a semester in Sweden, is going on a trip next May with his fiancee to Iceland, just like I had planned for this year. I certainly hope their plans pan out better than mine did!
I will talk about Icelandic Saga class next time. Until then, take care (or Kendine iyi bak!, as they say in Turkey).