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indian épopées, Homer’s epics, our folk poetry, the po- ems of other indo-european nations consequently con- tain many common and similar motifs surviving from God knows what ancient times and communal life. That being so, such common motifs not only establish the Iliad as a piece of folk poetry but can also tell us more about its development.
3. Our mythological folk poems reveal that a large part of our folk poetry had been in existence before the mi- gration of the Serbs and Croats to the Balkan Peninsula (cf. jagić). Some passages indeed suggest a purely asiatic origin from the earliest times before the separation of the indo-european nations (Ruvarac). The Kosovo catastro- phe was one of those events which renewed and re- freshed—and certainly enriched—the poetic heritage from earliest times with the national spirit, so that all poetry flowed anew from a fresh source. in the same way that Christianity only altered the outer color of mytho- logical poems, indeed leaving here and there fresh traces of ancient mythological beliefs (jagić), it may well be that the Kosovo event added fresh outer markings, places and names to many earlier motifs, which combined to evoke a more vivid memory of and a stronger empathy with the national spirit than was the case with the old names of places and heroes of olden times, which could have faded a great deal in national memory by then. Or, to quote e. Mayer, “epic poetry came fully into its own when the mythical and the historical came together. The historical story provided the form and the myth provided the ma- terial”. in both our and Greek mythologies there exist ele- ments belonging to quite an ancient myth about gods of light fighting evil demons and forces of darkness and drought. Ruvarac concludes from certain elements in folk poetry that Vlah ali is none other than a representative of the indian Valas. according to a Vedantic description of a tempest, the cloud waters are gods’ wives held cap- tive by the demon of darkness (Valas, ali), whom indra kills by a thunderstrike in order to set them free.” in ad- dition to Ruvarac’s arguments, we hold that the lines about Vlah ali being
wont to fall asleep at sunrise,
at sunrise when the sun comes out
reflect the mythological significance of the demon of
darkness. That very myth is also reflected in the legend of the argonauts, while in our folk poetry prince Marko— as different from the sun god who fights the forces of dark- ness—lights the arab, i.e. with forces of darkness per- sonified, the root cause being again a quarrel over a wom- an (Ruvarac). it follows from all this that the myth was localized in spatial-temporal terms in both the Trojan story and our folk poem about Banović Strahinja (e. Mayer). Consequently, all the elements of such a myth (which is in fact dealt with in the Kypria and not in the Iliad) having to do with the combat of the Greeks over Troy must be taken as originating from a much earlier time than that of the Trojan War. in the same way as
The iliad in the Mirror of the Kosovo Cycle Poems
Strahinja’s duel at Kosovo (undoubtedly a historical fact) had a mythical element added to it as the prime cause, so must a similar addition have been made to the combat of the Greeks, of individual Greek heroes, over Troy. The combat would have taken place first (and according to many scholars it actually did) and ancient mythological elements would have been added to it as t he prime cause afterwards.
4. The above consideration gains additional validity if a comparison is made between the protagonists of the two epic poems, achilles and Miloš. We are immediately struck by an uncanny difference between themselves and all the others. The most readily noticeable thing they have in common is that their respective fatherlands, parents and tutors are distinctly unusual. On closer scrutiny, other points of similarity come into view. achilles’ fatherland is Phthia in Thessaly, his father is Peleus, the hero of the eponymous mountain, his mother the sea goddess The- tis, and his tutor the centaur Chiron. Later on in the story, albeit this is only hinted at in the Iliad, he dies of a wound inflicted upon him under divine instructions. The entire Iliad, with the exception of chapters 1 to 9, depicts noth- ing but his wrath and its consequences, later on passing to revenge for his friend’s death and his duel with Hector. in addition to this we find that achilles is a pious, full of gentleness and care for his comrades in arms; we also see him respecting agamemnon’s heralds as befits a noble and superior man. On the other hand, he is also extremely quick-tempered and too easily offended; his grievances haunt him day and night and his susceptibility to offence passes almost into madness from which only a massive emotional shock can bring him back. Furthermore, he is at times capable of committing truly horrible acts, such as mutilating the body of Hector. achilles will even fight the elements themselves (v. his combat with Scamander), while Trojan warriors can escape death at his hands only through intercession of gods. all those and many other traits clearly show that achilles is not only what the Iliad says he is but that he is also a substitute for man bearing all the distinctive marks of a genuine demon, a stand-in for one, as it were. The poems of the Kosovo cycle deal with Miloš only to the extent of his influence on the Bat- tle of Kosovo, while others, presented in the collection Miloš Obilić in Folk Poetry, fill in the gaps. Thus in the very first poem in the said collection, Miloš Obilić, the Dragon’s Son says this about his parents:
Thy mother is Janja the shepherd girl,
Thy father is a dragon dwelling in clouds
His mother tended sheep for twelve years (a number
typical of both the Iliad and our folk poetry) and, being exceedingly beautiful, her “passing fair face” resembling that of a mountain fairy, caught the eye of the fierce drag- on who flew down from his cloud and made love to her. (Many a character in Homer was born from the union of a mortal woman and a deity.)

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