2006 | 30 | 611-626
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About the Typological Similarity of the Legends about the Foundation of the Towns of Turov and Vilnius

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The legend about the foundation of Vilnius is well-known whereas the oral legends about the foundation of Turov, ancient Belarusian town were fixed only in the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th centuries and have never been a subject of scientific research. Turov is the former capital of the Dregovichi Slavic tribe. The legends tell that Duke Tur reached a forest country abundant in wildfowl and slew the aurochs. During his night dream here he saw himself at a raised cart and decided that it was a sign to build a capital town at this place. The Duke ordered to dig out the Tur-well and to throw up the Tur-hill, on which the fortified center of the medieval Turov was settled down. According to legends the world will be destroyed and covered by water in case of destruction of this construction.The author considers agruments favoring an ancient origin of the Turov legends.The mention under the year 980 in 'The Primary Chronicle', as well as the oral legends link the foundation of the town with the Duke Tur. Other elements of the oral tradition are also discussed in detail. The similar structural components of Turov and Vilnius legends are visible: it is hunting of the Dukes in wild and plentiful of game places, murder of an aurochs, a prophetical dream on a place of hunting at mountain or on a lifted cart, a prediction in a dream for a great future to a town, construction of a town on this place in execution of a prediction. Both legends are illustrated by the toponymics of the towns. The distinctions between the Vilnius and Turov legends are presented only in the secondary details and do not touch integrity of mythological structure. As a result it is possible to speak about typological affinity of the sense and structures of the legends about Turov and Vilnius foundation. Such close structural and typological similarity of Vilnius and Turov legends is a heritage of cultural coexistence within the borders of the single common state - the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.
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  • A. Prokhorov, Faculty of History at Belarusian State University in Minsk, Krasnoarmeiskaya str. 6 ; 220030 Minsk, Belarus
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