Gorynytch, the dragon
Dobrynja, the heroe
A highly reknowned heroe was Dobrynja, handsome and fearless. One hot summer´s
day he decided to take a bath in the river. His mother warned him: The river´s
first wave belches fire, the second wave brings sparks and the third issues
steam. But Dobrynja mounted his horse and rode for hours. At last he reached the
river and, being scorched by the sun, he forgot his mother´s words, took off
armour and clothes, and jumped into the waters.
As he swam he wondered about the warning: The river was as calm as a pond. But
one instant later the sky turned black as night without a cloud being seen.
Forth flew Gorynytch, a three-headed dragon with seven tails. Flames poured out
of his mouth and heavy smoke issued from his ears. He had iron claws, and the
air around him was saturated with sulphur. "An old prophecy foretells that one
day Dobrynja would slay me", he roared, "but this proves wrong: The heroe now is
my victim!". Dobrynja dived to the shore to fetch his weapons, but his horse and
with it his armour were gone. Nearer and nearer came the dragon. Dobrynja
allready felt the fiery breath upon his skin when suddenly he beheld his helmet.
He filled it with sand and struck it so violently at the dragon that off sprang
one head! The heroe soon overwhelmed his foe. But before he found means to hew
the other heads off, Gorynytch started to plead for his own and his hatchlings´
lives. And the heroe had pity. He believed the foul words of peace and let him
go. The dragon, however, had nothing better to do than to fly to Kiev and abduct
Duke Vladimir´s lovely niece. Dobrynja beheld him carrying his prey back to the
In spite of his mother´s warning he rode to Kiev. There he found the duke´s
family and friends mourning the loss of the virgin. But no one dared to ride for
her rescue. One of the guests had beheld Dobrynja and Gorynytch earlier at the
river - as he thought - making friends. Thus he proposed that none but the heroe
could rescue the lovely maiden. Dobrynja was sent out at once.
Wretched and dismal he rode back home. There he told his mother whad had
happened. That night while he was sleeping his mother prepared a seven-fold
silky whip. The next morning she adviced him to get his grandfather´s horse,
which had been neglected for years, and ride to the dragon´s cave. He would find
it unguarded so that he could ride in safely. To kill the dragon´s hatchlings he
just should give his horse a lash with the whip, and it will trample the brood.
Dobrynja did as his mother had told him. He had luckily killed the
hatchlings and was just to enter the cave when Gorynytch rushed in. Seeing
his dead children he cursed the heroe for "breaking the oath". Three days
the fight between the two deadly enimies lasted. Then suddenly Dobrynja
remembered his mother´s words. He grasped the whip and flogged the dragon
who was soon overwhelmed. This time he had no pity at all and hew off the
three dragonheads. Three days and nights he bathed in the blood of his
foe. At last, when he was nearly killed by its venom, he again used his
whip, and the blood disappeared. He washed and refreshed himself and went
to rescue the virgin.
Eleven caves he broke open, hundreds of victims he freed, but not the
maiden. She was imprisoned in the twelth cave, where he found her at last
tied to the dump rocky walls with golden chains. He soon got her out of
this foul prison. After a night´s rest he brought her back safely to Kiev.
My version of the legend tells nothing about a reward, but I am sure that
he married the virgin and gained both fame and wealth.
FRÜH, Sigrid (ed.) (1988): Märchen vom Drachen.
Fischer TB vol. 2875, 172 p., Frankfurt a./Main (Fischer).
I. Bilibin. Illustration for the Russian fairy-tale Dobrynia Nikitich and the
Water Color. The Russian Museum. - Aurora Art Publishers, Postcard No. 4528.3K /
© MCMXCVIII by J. Georg Friebe
Custos Musei Naturalis Historiae Vorarlbergensis, Dornbirn (Austria)
last update 22.10.1998
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