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Martin Golema:

Medieval Saint Ploughmen and Pagan Slavic Mythology


The author makes an attempt to interpret fragments of tales that were layered by folk tradition upon an official church interpretation of some saints in the Slavic environment from the perspective of new comparative mythology by Georges Dumézil and his school. Attention is mainly focused on the leitmotif of ploughing a certain space around by the saint. Similar leitmotifs can also be found in dynasty legends of Western Slavs, a ritual correlate of these tales has been preserved in several regions of Central and Eastern “Slavic” Europe almost till the present time in the form of ploughing around the village to protect against the plague and natural catastrophes. Looking for the common meaning of these tales and corresponding rituals inside of the system discovered by Dumézil and reconstructing a threefunctional Indo-European ideology, researchers connected them mainly with the third function of fertility and production, out of the presumption that it was typical agrarian magic. The author proposes an alternative interpretation that reveals the possible position of these tales and rituals within the legal pole of the first function of religious sovereignty.

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