Bulgarian Essay on Main Characters and Animals, Real and Mythological

Introduction

Throughout history people have been trying to make sense of the world around them which also coincided with the creation of the written word and this myths and stories are created. The re-imagining of the creation of the world as stories of love, betrail  and greed and the strife of good versus evil.

In BG legends the main characters are usually a mixture of humans and mythological creatures participating in events, usually tragic.

  • Gods;
  • Devil;
  • Saints;
  • Fine young men and women (usually of particular strength and beauty);
  • Dragons (Zmei,Lamia);
  • Craftsmen and men or women of particular skill, which seems almost magical (the Devil’s bridge builder)

What is typical for the Bulgarian mythos is the entangling of historical moments and mythological heroes or heroes turned into myth. Also certain regions hold a very dear part in the Bulgarian mythos; like mountain, lakes, caves and naturally occurring rock phenomena formations.Examples of these you can see in the Devil’s throat and bridge stories and also in the Rhodopa myth. The Balkan plays an important part in our history and thus has been given this larger than life vison: he is a god, he is alive.

It is also interesting how some of the everyday strife and fear has also seeped into our stories as we always have these young maidens who are taken by force and forced to be married.  This was an all to real thing and it saw its reflection in the stories. And it is always the fairest and most gracious of maiden a symbol of the purity and potential of a nation.

Another interesting symbol is that of the dragon or zmei. Zmei which is Smok in polish,  comes from the word snake(Smok,zmia) in Bulgarian.  Here we can see how this symbol is common in the Blakan mythos and a common thread. In Bulgarian myths it is believed that a man can be cursed and turned into a zmei by magic. But they also can be born form a woman and another zmei. Here we have the captures maiden being forced to get married and give birth to a child in Pirin's dragon.  It is interesting to note that  zmei is always male.  Another symbol like that is the lamia, she is always female and is said in some regions to be the sister of the zmei.

Of course we cannot be talking about myths without gods. And we see that our stories do not fall behind the Greek ones . We also have some jealous gods that turn innocent maidens into mountains like the story of Rhodopa. We also share the Orpheus myth and it is said that the way through which he went into Hades is though the Devil's throat cave.

Bulgarian have a colorful and vast mythos which tells of history and memory. And as with all nations the strife is but the same: good versus evil. The never-ending battle that transcends boarders and nations and is in every human soul.  Maidens and dragons, brave men against supernatural forces, light versus dark.

The legend of the Devil's bridge has most similarities with legends from other countries with relation to the main characters in it. It is not surprising since the Devil is a major representative of evil in legends and usually people overcome his evil deeds or challneges he puts infornt them by using wit and wise advise. In this legend 3 crasftsmen outsmart the Devil, who ruins constantly the bridge they are building. They manage to do this by consulting a wise man, but at a very high price - building in the shadow of the wife of one of the craftsmen. This practice is still beleived to be effective in Bulgaria - when a building needs to be made strong it needs the shadow of the person built in - however this costs the person's life. Similar traditions are mentioned for example in the

Meșterul Manole legend from Romania.

The legend tells different stories of how the rock formations appeared. They are connected with tragic events in peoples lives, i.e. unhappy love between a young girl and a young boy, who had a baby; people being envious of the happines of a family living in their vilage and killing the father and his three sons.

The good in the legend is represented through the purity and innocence of youth, but also through noble feelings as love (between a man and a woman, love for their kids).

The legends of Belintash are mostly connected with the specific natural phenomenon (strong magnetic field) that can be observed there. People looked for ways to explain it connecting it with supernatural activities of Gods. It is even considered that God led Noa here and this is the place where Noa's Arc found land after the great flood. The main characters in the legend are Tracians and Greek Gods, who fought with each other and one particular God - Sabazios, who is the connection between the living world and the world of dead and who can resurrect dead people or make non-living things alive.

The legend of Rhodopa is about love and jelousy and in it the main characters are a beautiful young girl and a jelous God, who wanted her only for himself. The girl represents love, beauty and innocence and the jealous God represents evil. It is a motive that can be seen in many European legends, that are connected also with formation of natural sites. In this particular Bulgarian legend the beautiful young gilr was turned into one of the most beatiful maountains in the country - Rhodopa.

The legend of St. Petka and the stone bread is about an event from the life of the saint, which happened on the territory of Bulgaria. St. Petka (also known as Saint Paraskeva of the Balkans) is an important saint in the ortodox christian religion and is honoured in many countries (her remains are considered to be kept in a church in the Romanian city of Iasi).

In this particular legend it is told how St. Petka escaped the ill-minded infidels who wanted to capture her. So the legend  tells about the eternal fight bewteen good and evil and is strongly related to the believe in God.

 

The Bulgarian legend of the Devil's throat cave is one that comes from the ancient believes of Tracians (one of the most ancient civilizations in the world), who inhabited the territory of Bulgaria and whose descendants the Bulgarian people are considered to be. The legend is about love and misfortune, about how Orpheus wanted to save his loved one Euridice from Hell (the dark lands of the God of the underworld).

The Pirin's dragon is a legend that has good, evil, love, betrayal, revenge. It is a legend in which the main characters are dragons, who fight between each other. One of the dragons steals the best (the fairest maiden) of the village and marrys her. He starts protecting the village and the maiden gives birth to a son of extraordinary strength. However a stronger dragon kills the first one and when the boy grows up he takes revenge for his father's murder.  Dragons in Bulgarian mythology often have dual charactersitics - comprising of both good and evil. On the one hand they terorize the villages and people (plundering, stealing the animals and beautiful girls). This side of dragons can be seen in many European legends as: St. George and the Dragon from Italy  (where St. George kills the beast),the Lithuanian "Neringa's conquest" (where the dragon terroises the village and Neringa saves the village from it),  The Polish "Wawel Dragon" (where the evil dragon is defeated by a smart shoemaker) and the Romanian legends about "Lady's Rocks" and "The Dragon's garden".

But in Bulgarian legends Dragons also sometime protect the village from other dragons or offer wise advises to people when they have usnolvable problems.

 

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