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Bulgarian Essay on Recurring Situations and Challenges


In the Bulgarian legends characters usually meet some challenges they need to overcome. It might be said that this trait of events is common among all European legends. European nations share a great deal for all intents and purpose as far as history and culture. A large portion of the legends show that a battle or a test is a common subject. Every one of the characters meets each other as representation of universal battle between good and evil. The events usually end in a tragic way for the main characters and this is a specific in Bulgarian legends, where even if good prevails, this is at a very high price – usually the life of the main character or his/her loved ones. In Bulgarian legends there is always a struggle between the good and the bad. This is one of the main motives. Very often, characters have to fight against mythical creatures like dragons, but even more often, characters have an encounter with the Devil. Another often recurring situation is the struggle for a loved one, forbidden love, and love lost through death. Very often, characters fight evil spirits, people with bad intentions. They must prove their courage, strength and love. ?

As one can understand by reading the various European legends, the representation of these two main powers (good and bad) has been done by different characters. And usually the good characters use their wit and physical strength to fight with evil, to keep their love or overcome a challenge.

Loss, treachery, jealousy and envy are also common topics in Bulgarian legends. These usually come from ordinary people, who envy the happiness of their fellow citizens (as for example in the legend of Belogradchik rocks – the Triplets. However other legends also show that these feelings are common also for Gods – like in the legend of Belintash for example. This is to show that in Bulgarian legends stories are not regarded as black and white – all feelings, situations, challenges and circumstances are possible for both “holy” and good characters and for bad characters too. For example in the legend of the Devil’s troat – Orpheus – the great Thracian singer lost his wife Eurydice and went down to the realm of Hades, the God of the underworld, to take her back risking his life and challenging the Gods to give him back the love of his life. However when they set a condition for this to happen, Orpheus couldn’t resist but to break their orders. This is to show that in all of us we have both good and bad and it is important to be careful how to balance these in ourselves and not allow our bad side to take over.

The legend about the Devil's bridge has one of the most common situations and challenges to be met by characters in Bulgarian legends - overcoming challenges given by the Evil and finding help in the advice of wise men. Overcoming challenges is a common topic also in many European legends because it shows the true character of the heroes and also shows the way to ordinary people to live up to a high standard. For example, in the Romanian legend of Meșterul Manole, the main character needs to find a way to build a strong and beautiful building with the price of personal sacrifice - same as in the Devil's bridge legend; in the Italian legend about the Devil's Column, the main character needs to overcome temptation.

The Belogradchik rock legend is about overcoming obstacles in love, looking for happiness in the family, killing innocent people out of envy. The love theme is a common one in Bulgarian legends and it is usually about tragic love. This topic is exploited also in other European legends (as for example the Romanian legend of the Bride's Cave). Characters in legends usually crave love and happiness but this is not easy to achieve and usually, the parents, guardians or the whole society oppose such love for different reasons.

Envy is also a common topic since it is usually opposed to noble personal characteristics of the main characters - it symbolizes the eternal battle between good and bad.

The legend of Belintash is about the resurrection, about the connection between Life and Death. These themes can be seen in old pagan legends as well as in the Bible and other holy books. People have always sought an answer if there is life after death; if the resurrection is possible...With this legend, Bulgarians were looking to explain the strange natural phenomena happening at this place.Such topics and meetings with creatures from afterlife can be seen in the Lithuanian legends "The Hill of Crosses" and "The Legend about the establishment of Trakai castle".

The legend of Rhodopa is a legend in which the main situations and topics concerned are about love and jealousy. A mighty God fell in love with a human girl and wanted to have her only for himself. This theme comes to show that sometimes the greatest gift given to humans (beauty in this case) is not easy to bear and only gods may have it. A similar situation to this one can be seen in the Italian legend of Romolo and Remo, where a God fell in love with a human girl).

The main situation in the legend of St. Petka and the stone bread is how a fair maiden (holy lady) escapes evil men (infidels), who want to catch her. She manages to escape relying on her strong faith and the miracles performed by her faith in a stone cave. Miracles in legends are usually connected with faith and are common occurrences in many legends. Miracles come to show that if the faith of the character is strong enough he/she can deal with dangerous situations and evil.

The main topics in the legend of the Devil's throat cave are about magic (magical songs and music), unhappy love,  going to hell to bring your love back, death. It is also about the strong desire of a man to reach happiness by having the love of his life by his side. Unfortunately, he loses his beloved wife and he tries to use his magical power (music) to bring her back by going to Hell. Unfortunately, his heart is not strong enough and he fails to adhere to the condition the lord of the underworld set to him in order to give him his wife back and he loses her forever.  


The main situations in the legend of the Pirin's dragon, are about marriage, giving bird to a special child, fight with the enemy, loss and revenge. The legend tells about a dragon, who took all the fine maidens from a village to be his wives. After taking the most beautiful one to be his wife, they had a son. The dragon was killed by another dragon, but the boy decided to take revenge for his father's death and killed the other dragon, starting the strongest family in the village. 

The situations about fighting evil in legends are quite common and usually the evil is represented by some strong and ugly beasts. What is peculiar in Bulgarian legends however is that even if most of them end tragically, often it is regarded  that good can emerge from evil too. As in the legend of the Pirin's dragon, whose sone was strong and noble and protected the village from other evil dragons.