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Alyosha Popovitch

by Cyril Korolev
In Russian folklore Alyosha Popovitch is an epic hero, a mighty warrior and a trickster. Unlike Ilya Muromets and Dobrynya Nikititch and other heroes, who served prince Vladimir of Kiev, protected borders of old Russia and fought with various monsters, Alyosha won battles not by his physical superiority but by insidious tricks. He was always ready to play mischievous pranks on his friends too. Once, when Dobrynya went far away, Alyosha came to Dobrynya's wife and told her that her husband was dead and that she should marry him. She rejected him, and afterwards Dobrynya beat Alyosha to death.

According to the legend, Alyosha was born under peals of thunder, and the next day he jumped into the saddle and went "to see the world, to boast and to win". His main feat of arms was a victory over the monster Tugarin, also called the Worm's son, who threatened to burn Alyosha by its fire and suffocate him with smoke. Alyosha won the battle and killed Tugarin; he then hacked Tugarin's body into pieces and scattered them all over the battlefield.

His nickname means "a priest's son" and he received it because his father was a priest.


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