Sky-Blue Flower: Songs of the Bride in Modern Russia and Ancient Greece

Olga Levaniouk


This paper has its roots in a nostalgic recollection: being a graduate student in Greg’s seminar. A discussion of age-related hairstyles in ancient Greece and elsewhere and Greg’s inspiring thoughts on the subject prompted me to put together a handout for a class report with a few Greek and Russian texts side by side. The Russian texts came from the wedding songs I had found in a collection of folklore and had to do with the bride’s hair. Discussions with Greg followed and left me with a definite sense that I should look deeper into it. But years passed and other things took precedence, the Russian wedding songs remaining at the back of my mind as something halfway between a delightful prospect and an unpaid debt. The old handout seems to be gone, a victim of fonts no longer in use and files lost while moving, but below is its much enlarged reincarnation, namely a selection of Russian wedding songs preceded by a description of their ritual context and followed by some initial thoughts on a comparison between them and the ancient Greek ones.
I have not been able to keep to the subject of hair sensu stricto. Although there are some parallels between ancient Greece and Russia in the treatment of hair, the more interesting similarities have to do with the shared metaphors: a metaphor applied to hair in a Russian song may be paralleled by a similar metaphor in Greece that does not have the same tenor. In the poetry of the traditional Russian wedding, the bride’s hair with its coverings and decorations is a poetic focal point, and perhaps no other part of the wedding is lyrically as rich as the bride’s parting with her maidenly hair-dress. Consequently, the maiden’s hair is the center of a remarkably complex metaphorical system, and almost every theme that belongs to the bride is expressed in connection to it. In short, what had started for me as a look at hairdressing customs quickly developed into a broader look at the bride’s side of the traditional Russian wedding. Describing such a wedding and selecting songs suitable for a comparison with the ancient Greek evidence is a profoundly intimidating task because of the wealth and diversity of the available records, and what I offer for the moment can only be provisional, based in equal parts on choice and chance.
In what follows all Russian texts come from songs and utterances that constitute part of the wedding, and some of them are ritually required. The same, needless to say, will not be true for the Greek texts. Many of the songs performed at Russian weddings revisit the maidenhood of the bride and find parallels in ancient Greek depictions of maidenhood, verbal and visual, rather than in any formal part of the wedding. This is, again, to be expected, although similar songs might have been also performed at Greek weddings: we have no way of knowing.
All Russian songs cited below come from villages, primarily from the relatively remote regions of Siberia and the Russian North-West (the area between the Gulf of Finland and the White Sea), though some come from other regions (the shores of Volga, the central Russian region of Voronezh, etc.). Many of these songs were recorded in 1960s–1980s and published during the same period or later along with the performers’ recollections of the way weddings used to be celebrated in their villages at the beginning of the twentieth century. Some songs, also recorded during fieldwork by Russian folklorists, are over a century earlier, but, to my eye at least, remarkably similar. The earlier publications often include, by way of archival information, only the region where the songs come from and the collector’s name, although there are exceptions: Basov’s large collection of laments is based primarily on his work with one brilliant performer and accompanied by information about her life, the circumstances of her performances, and the conditions under which they were taken down. [1] The twentieth-century publications are typically bursting at the seams with the kinds of information classicists can only dream of: names and biographies of the performers, dates and places of recording, photographs, musical notation, even disagreements (apparently recorded verbatim) between people being interviewed about the details of wedding celebrations in their village.
Last but not least, many of the Russian songs included here are compositions-in-performance. Scholars who recorded them in the course of their fieldwork provide extremely useful notes both on the performative techniques and on the perceptions and expectations surrounding these songs, a subject to which I will return below.
I begin, however, with an overview of the traditional Russian village wedding. A comprehensive description of such a wedding would require a monograph, and indeed several such volumes are in existence. [2] In the decidedly incomplete overview that follows I merely attempt to sketch those aspects of the wedding that best contextualize the bridal laments while keeping intact the general progression of events. The laments themselves follow in the next section, which is in turn followed by some preliminary notes for a comparison with the wedding-related poetry of ancient Greece.

Part One: Modern Russia

1. The Wedding

§1. The progression of the traditional Russian wedding is endlessly varied (even neighboring villages often display marked differences) and yet remarkably stable in its general outline. It is, broadly speaking, similar to the ancient Greek wedding, and no doubt to weddings in many other cultures. The preliminary negotiations between the two families lead to a formal ceremony of betrothal. Then, after a period of preparation (usually a week), the wedding itself is marked by the arrival of the groom’s party at the bride’s house, the formal display and hand-over of the bride in the context of a feast, a journey of the wedding procession from the bride’s house to that of the groom, and a feast at the groom’s house, followed by some variable events on the next morning, for example, the “awakening” of the newlyweds and various gift-exchanges. The official church ceremony, which is certainly a later addition to the wedding structure and has no traditional songs associated with it, in effect breaks up the procession to the groom’s house: instead of proceeding there directly, the wedding party first goes to the church and then, after the ceremony, continues on its way. The structure of the ancient Greek wedding is essentially the same, the church ceremony, of course, excepted.
§2. In Russian villages the preliminary negotiations between families would often begin in secret and steps would be taken to save face and avoid offense in the event that no agreement is reached. If the arrangements are successful, however, the decisive moment of betrothal follows. This is a transaction amongst the males, namely the bride’s father and the groom, and it involves a formal agreement, marked by a ritual action which sanctified it and which varied from regions to region but often included joint prayer, various forms of striking, slapping, or touching each other’s hands, a drink, and a meal.
§3. At this point a decisive change takes place for the bride: once the “hand-slapping” takes place between the males, the bride is symbolically separated from her age-mates, and, in many cases, literally covered or hidden. She will still spend a week in the company of her friends preparing for the wedding, and they will play an important role on the day of the event. Nevertheless, the bride is no longer one of them. In those places where laments are practiced (they were not everywhere) this is the most common point for the bride to begin the performance of her week-long lamentations, a genre that is called prichet (plural prichety) ‘lament’, and sometimes also designated by the verb выть ‘to howl’. The laments, where practiced, were ritually required and were performed even when the bride was quite willing to marry: indeed if she was not lamenting enough, there were prichety that could be performed by the bride’s friends and helpers, reproaching her and urging her to cry. Besides, even a happy bride can be put in the mood for lamenting: according to the recollections of the participants in such weddings, the women usually succeed in rousing and “disturbing” her. [3]
§4. In some Siberian villages the bride, once betrothed, retires to the kut’ (a pantry-like space) and remains there most of the time until the wedding. In some regions her movement was from that point onwards restricted even within the house, and her dress was changed. [4] In the Povolzhye region many women recalled that the betrothed maiden would wear dark clothes; some say that for several days before before the arrival of the groom’s party the bride did not go anywhere and sat in dark clothes covered with a shawl. Her hair was unbraided in an elaborately celermonial way (more on this below), and remained unbound, only tied with one ribbon, sometimes black, until it was done up in the way of a marrried woman, after the church ceremony (the so-called венчание ‘crowning). [5] In many places, the bride would leave the house for the church still in this somber attire, and “covered” i.e. under a shawl or veil. She then changed her dress in church, in a service or side room, finally putting on her wedding finery. [6] In other regions, the wedding dress was put on at home, and in still others the most ceremonial and elaborate dress was not worn at church at all, but for a different, and arguably more important wedding event—the display of the bride. In all of the regions in question, however, the betrothal marked a turning point in the bride’s behavior and costume.
§5. In fact, in some regions the betrothed bride was set aside by her entire costume, and examples of such costumes survive in museums. In the collection of the Sergievo-Posadsky Museum of History and Art (Moscow region) there is a “sad” or “grieving” costume from the Tambov region dating to the end of the 19th century. The costume—skirt, blouse, sarafan, and apron—is primarily white, the color of grief (although the apron is decorated with a band of red and white) and is described by the specialists as “archaic” and “severe.” This costume could apparently be worn both by the betrothed as they prepared for the wedding and by the old women. In the same collection, there are two different examples of mostly black and white costume from the Voronezh regions, also described as “sadness” costumes. The white blouse that constitutes their part (over it, the black sarafan was worn) was called both the “wedding” and “old woman’s” because this costume, just as the Tambov one, could be worn by these two categories of women. When wearing this costume the bride could also cover her loose hair with a white kerchief. [7]
§6. In the Vologda region, the betrothal event was called zaporuki, referring to the hand-slapping or touching that took place, but also zakryvanie (‘closing/covering’) and zaveshivanie (‘curtaining’), with reference to the bride. [8] The father would take his daughter’s kerchief either by the fold about forehead, or by the back end and pull it over the bride’s face saying “We have betrothed.” The father’s gesture marked symbolically the change in his daughter’s status, for which in many regions there was a term: sgovorenka, ‘the one agreed about’. Following her father’s gesture, the bride herself or her friends would re-arrange the kerchief in a way particular to the betrothed: the two corners were tied around the neck (like a sailor’s collar) and then the rectangle of the kerchief was flipped over to cover the head and face of the bride. From that moment on, the bride was not supposed to take that covering off even at night and wore it right up to the wedding day. Once the kerchief was put on in this way, the bride abandoned resistance and began to fall to the ground at her parent’s feet and lament, that is, perform the prichety. In her laments the bride addressed her father, and then, in turn and often in strict order, the other members of the family, asking to postpone the wedding and blaming her friends who put on the kerchief for “blocking off much white light for me.” The weddings in the Vologda region provide some of the most impressive examples of laments, which were especially prominent and dramatic in comparison to those of other regions. [9]
§7. After the betrothal the bride would spend some time, usually a week, with her friends in preparation for marriage. Some typical events of the pre-wedding week include gatherings of the young women in the evenings to sew and sing with the bride, visits to her relatives (on which, yet again, the bride is always accompanied be a group of her age-mates), taking leave (through prichety) of the parental house and her native village, receiving gifts from the groom and preparing gifts for him and his party, decoration and then undoing of the bride’s braid, and a ritual bath. Prominent among these pre-wedding events are various ritual actions centered on the bride’s krasota (literally “beauty”), a symbolic object that seems to embody the bride’s beauty and freedom, and which may in practice be her hairdress, a ribbon, a wreath, tied together branches of a tree, or even a small cut tree, often a pine, decorated with ribbons, beads, and flowers. Most of the songs considered below were performed at this stage of the wedding, forming part of the bride’s leave-taking from her maidenhood. In those regions where bridal laments were highly developed the brides would lament so much that they would sometimes become hoarse by the end of this week, their face-covering kerchiefs stiff with tears. In some villages of the Russian North the bride during the pre-wedding week would address every woman entering the house with a prichet, first falling at her feet, and then embracing her, assuming a conventional “pose of lamentation” and performing a lament, short or long. There were prichety for the bride to greet the friends as they arrive, to ask her mother to feed them, to thank relatives for bringing the traditional wedding bread, etc. [10]
§8. By contrast, the evenings with the bride’s age-mates could take different forms, and the prichety and songs performed on these occasions are often highly variable, with few ritual demands on the selection of songs. The maidens would help the bride perform laments. In the Vologda region, as Balashov reports, they would sing with the bride both during the evening gatherings and at the wedding, with the difference that they did not sigh, while the bride would end every verse with a sigh. Once the bride would lose her voice (or if she was not good at lamenting), the friends would take over, leaving her just to sigh. Balashov reports that young men would join the maidens at some point during these sing-and-sew evenings, and it was common then to sing cheerful songs to a musical accompaniment. The bride, however, could lament along with even the cheerful songs. [11] Interestingly, in some villages the girls would sew, but the bride herself would not. She has already prepared a dowry and, for her, this work was over. She might help in the preparation of a supper for her friends, but she was not supposed to work like everyone else. [12] Similarly, the girls would come in their fancier dresses, with jewelry, but not the bride: she was “covered” and kept wearing the same thing all week – as one responent says, как закрыли, так и ходит “As they covered her, that’s what she keeps wearing.” Sometimes, before the arrival of the young men, the bride could lift her kerchief, but once they arrived, she had to remain covered. [13]
§9. In Northern Russia, the laments performed at home in the company of friends contrast with those laments performed publically, outside, which were also expected during the wedding week. Described by Balashov for the Vologda region, these are referred to a prichety “on the hills” (although what exactly is meant by a hill here is not clear). Here the bride and her friends had separate parts: the bride’s prichety became loud and dramatic, and her friends would sing in pologie (stretched-out) voices. This was the occasion for the brides to display their greatest passion: they often had to be dressed by force or went without a coat even in winter. Some report that the bride’s kerchief would be frozen solid, but also that the brides would often fall and get up and ‘thrash’ (хлестаться) with such force that they would break out in sweat in the middle of the winter. Sometimes the Vologda brides would both display their highest art on these occasions and work themselves into a crazed state. [14]
§10. During the week the groom would come with presents. Usually, this included sweet pastries and also some clothes, a shawl, fabric for a dress. In Povolzhye, the grooms would send soap for the bride’s bath, ribbon, perfume, rouge etc. and sometimes also a mirror into which the bride would not look until it was time to depart for the church ceremony. [15] In the Vologda region, the bride and her age-mates would again perform prichety on this occasion, and often make a show of reluctance and refuse to accept the gifts. She might say, in a prichet, that she is not pretty and too young and too thin, and wonder why the groom wants her. This can go on for a while, with the groom remaining on his feet (any chair he could sit on was deliberately taken away). There are reports of grooms’ frustrations, and of one groom even breaking into tears. [16] In Zaonezhye the groom presented the bride with a box full of gifts (cosmetics, jewelry, fabrics) at a later stage in the wedding, on the morning of the wedding day, and a similar game was played with roles reversed: the groom would offer the box to the bride but as soon as she would reach for it, the groom’s relatives would pull his hand back. This could continue for a while until the bride finally received the box, but that was not the end of the process, for the box was locked and the groom would pretend that he did not have the key. He would send one of his attendant to fetch it; the attendant would walk outside, pretend to search, and finally come back with the key. The groom would then try to fit the key into the keyhole, but now it was the bride’s turn to create an obstacle: she would move the box from side to side, preventing the groom from putting it in. The groom’s side would shout “Hit the mark!” while the bride’s side responded with the shouts of “He will not hit it!” as everyone laughed. Finally, the box would be opened, the groom would kiss the bride across the table, and she would offer thanks for the gifts in a prichet. [17]
§11. In Zaonezhye, the bride was expected to visit her relatives and ceremoniously invite them to the wedding. She did so in the company of her friends, and, as everything she did during that week, with songs and laments. On the day of such visits, the friends would help the bride to wash, sometimes leading and supporting her under the arms (pod ruki) as if she were somehow incapacitated, and then do her braid in a special way, with long ribbons looped at the end of the braid and a bow made at the top of it. The loops would be of different lengths, some going down almost to the ground, and as the bride went to visit her relatives she would let the end of her braid hang out of the sleigh, so the ribbons could be blown around in the wind for all to see. The braid symbolized her ‘freedom’ (volya) and maidenhood. [18] As they rode, the girls would sing sad love songs, “the bride songs” as the respondents referred to them, but once they arrived, and especially as the visit drew to a close, the songs would give way to prichety, which were ritually required: the bride would bow to all, assume the lament pose, hold her ‘tear-handkerchief’ (sleznyi platok) and perform a prichet, thanking her hosts for their gifts, formally inviting them to the wedding and (depending on the addressee, for example, an aunt or godmother) asking how to live as a married woman. The bride’s apparently altered state, traditionally demanded on such visits, would be expressed both by her need to be supported by her friends, and by the prichety themselves. For example, the bride might say that she cannot climb the steps to someone’s (or her own) house, because there used to be three steps, but now there are many etc. [19] In some villages the bride is not supposed to put on her shoes herself when leaving the house of her parents with the wedding processsion, and in a prichet she asks her brother to put on the shoes. [20]
§12. In contrast to Vologda and Zaonezhye, in Siberia there were, at least in the reports I could find, no dramatic public prichety with thrashing. And yet, as will be seen shortly, many laments and songs performed there echo or closely resemble the northern ones, and this also holds for laments from central Russia, for example the region of Vladimir. One of the events in Siberia (and many regions besides) that preceded the departure of the bride from her parents’ house was the devichnik, which could be translated as ‘a gathering of maidens’ or ‘a maiden party’. The devichnik is a ritual of the bride’s farewell to her friends and her volya (‘freedom’) and the maiden’s krasota (‘beauty’). In some Siberian records, the bride rushes to the kyt’ (pantry-like space) and begins to lament loudly as soon as guests begin to gather for the devichnik, and is lead out, crying, once everyone arrives. She was supposed to sit to the side, looking down while the girls sang, but also perform her laments. [21]
§13. The other occasions for laments in Siberian weddings have to do with the manipulations of bride’s hair, which are thought to be a particularly old and persistent part of the wedding. In Siberia they consist of two complementary and opposite actions. First comes the kosokrashenie (косокрашение), that is the decoration of the braid—the last braiding and decoration of the bride’s hair before the ritual bath on the wedding day. The particulars vary greatly from village to village, even within a single region. In some places, the braiding was repeated every day between the betrothal and the wedding: every morning the braid was undone, the hair combed and the decoration taken off it, and then the braiding and decoration was redone anew. In other village, it only happened once. In both cases, something called a kosnik (also kust, kist’, kosopletka), a tassel made of small beads, was braided in, and this ceremony involved the mother, sisters, and friends of the bride taking part in the procedure in strictly preserved sequence, also reflected in songs. Multiple bright ribbons and threads of beads were braided in, and the hairdo was decorated with flowers. The braid thus decorated was connected with maidenly krasota. [22]
§14. Sometimes, the friends of the bride went through the village inviting participants to the ritual. In different villages there were different customs regarding their attire: in some places they dressed in their best finery, in others, on the contrary in old torn clothes, even smearing their faces with soot. [23] The bride, yet again, sat apart in the kut’ and cried until the guests were gathered. Then she was brought out and after receiving permission from her parents (who seem to be always present) the friends combed and decorated the bride’s hair. During the decoration of the braid they always performed songs, with the same words addressed in sequence to mother, sister, and friends, while the bride continued to cry and lament. [24]
§15. The exact place of the braid-decorating in the wedding sequence was not fixed, at least by the time fieldwork began in the second part of the nineteenth century, but its reversal, the undoing of the braid was more firmly located in time: it happened on the morning of the wedding day, before the ritual bath. When all invited were assembled, the bride, standing on her knees with head lowered, invited her near-and-dear ones, one by one, to approach. Sometimes the friends sang in her name. Here again, the same words were addressed in sequence to father, mother, sister, brother, friends, asking them to remove her wreath—the krasota. As if to underscore his reluctance to part with his daughter, the father (and then the mother etc.) would at first refuse, but then relent and begin the ritual. Each participant took off one element of the krasota, and each time the same song was repeated, with the bride asking that her krasota be taken off because “it does not sit as it used to” (не приладилась по старому, не приладилась по прежнему). [25] Once the krasota (here the decoration of the braid, kosnik in particular) was removed, each one of those invited in the song approached and, barely touching it, undid one lock of the braid and gave the bride a gift. At the end, in some villages the bride gave the ribbons to her friends and the tassel to an unmarried sister; in other places this did not happen until yet another, later, ritual of “taking leave of the krasota.” After the braid was undone, the bride’s hair, combed and bound with a special ribbon, remained loose until it was done up again after the crowning at the house of the groom, in ritual known as окручивание ‘the binding’. [26]
§16. In Siberia, the undoing of the braid was, at least in some cases, followed by a further ritual connected to the krasota, which in this case refers to an object, a branch with ribbons and paper flowers attached to it, a wreath, or a top of a small tree, usually a pine, decorated with ribbons, flowers and beads. At the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth the ritual took place at different points in the wedding and in different places, although it seems like a suitable next step to follow the undoing of the braid. The girls took a top branch off a small tree, decorated it, and said farewell to it “as if it were alive.” [27] Sometimes this tree was carried around the village or ritually sold to the groom’s party at the culmination of the wedding. During the ritual undoing of the bride’s braid, one of her friends would bring in the krasota and walk with it from the threshold to the table, saying several verses, which, Potanina speculates, represent a snippet of some older saying. After that the “little pine” was undressed, its decorations given to maidens as gifts, and one of the bride’s friends would impersonate the krasota pretending to be offended as she/it leaves the bride forever. [28] Sometimes this little tree, the krasota, would be brought and decorated by the bride’s friends as soon as the betrothal had taken place, and put on the table in the bride’s house or even attached (nailed, hung) to the house’s exterior to await its “undressing,” every action being accompanied by a traditional song. [29]
§17. At the end of the pre-wedding week, often on the morning of the wedding day the bride went to the bath-house for her ritual bath. This event was both ritual and practical, and the two aspects merge, separate, and coexist in a variety of ways. In Vologda weddings, described by Balashov, there was the actual bath and, on a separate occasion (sometimes on the next morning), there was a ritual bath, which was not actually a bath at all, but rather a performance of bath-prichety by the bride at the entrance to the house or the gate to the yard. In the villages where this ritual took a fuller form, the bride would ask her brother to cut the wood for the bath, rejected many kinds of it (aspen, pine, fir), ask her friends to go with her etc. None of these actions, however, would be performed, and in fact the bride had already had her bath on the eve of these prichety. [30] In certain villages, the bath was one of the multiple occasions during the wedding when magic was present. In some villages of the Vologda region, for example, a znakharka (‘medicine woman’) would go with the bride to the bath-house, collect her sweat in a kerchief and save it in a little bottle. She would later pour this sweat into the groom’s beer to bind the newlyweds together. The znakharka recited a sympathetic spell: “as this sweat dries out, let so-and-so (groom’s name) dry out from love for her.” [31]
§18. In Zaonizhie the bath, usually on the morning of the wedding day, was prepared by the friends of the bride, but the bride was also helped in the bath by a married woman, who was repsonsible for the magic words and actions and whose task was to make sure that the signs were good for the marriage. Sometimes, a podgolosnitsa (“professional” lamenter) was also present to help the bride with the laments. In some villages the bride (or the lamenter) was awakened by her mother and would perform a long prichet upon awakening, describing the dream she had seen about the hardships of married life and asking to be left a maiden. After that, the bride would get up and go to wash her face in the company of her friends. She would decline the water offered her several times and in a long prichet describe and reject various sources of water because the bridegoom has drunk from them or because the water there is stirred up and impure, until she would finally request the right source (a particular river, often specific to the village) and accept it. In the same prichet, the bride requested a special towel depicting tsars, kings, military troops, sun, moon, and stars. A breakfast followed, and meanwhile the maiden responsible for the bath would get the fire going, warm the water, and come with an invitation to the bath for the bride and her friends. The invitation itself took the form of a long prichet, to which the bride would respond with one of her own. In some of these prichety, the young woman who prepares the bath described her preparations in mythical terms: she cuts trees and travels from one lake to another or one well to another in her attempts to draw water, when a horseman appears and offers her precious gifts in exchange for her “willful freedom,” which she refuses to give up. The maiden concludes by warning the bride that she should request a large group of protectors—brothers and age-mates—to see her off to the bath, because the horseman will ride up and take her freedom. The bride then turned to her parents, requested permission to go to the bath, and asked for protectors against the groom. In Zaonezhye, the girls would walk with the bride to the bath, holding her by the arms and singing songs. The procession would move slowly and sometimes onlookers would gather, young men would come with songs and music, and even older people would come and wait for the bride to come out. In the bath, the friends would leave the bride alone with the healer, and here, as in Vologda region, there were magical actions, including the donning of the clothes intended as a gift to the groom. Once the washing was over, the girls sometimes hurried in to splash on themselves a bit of her bath water, which was thought to increase their славутность (slavutnost’), a term derived from слава (slava, “glory”), the Russian cognate of Greek κλέος, and that refers to the maiden’s attractiveness, her “charisma” and ability to attract suitors. It was believed that the maiden who first washed her face in the bride’s bath-water would be the first to marry. Then the procession of the bride with her friends move in the opposite direction, back to the bride’s house, where she was welcomed by her mother and would perform a prichet, lamenting her “freedom” which was supposedly distroyed during the bath. [32]
§19. After the bath, in Zaonezhye there was a long ritual of combing the bride’s hair. The bride would invite her mother, father, then other family members, then friends, and each invited person would approach and comb her hair. Although no-one would comb for long, there were usually so many people present than the ritual could take a long time. At the end of the combing, the bride’s braid would be made in the maidenly way for the last time, and usually in such a way that it would be very hard to undo it—divided into many little braids which are then intertwined and strengthened with many knots on the ribbons and with pins holding the hair. All of this was supposed to make it harder to undo the braid and “take away maidenly freedom.” Later on, during the actual ritual of undoing her braid, the bride would sometimes wind the braid around her wrist to demonstrate her resistance and make the unbraiding even harder. In a prichet, the bride’s friend might describe the obstacles she put into the braid in order to prevent the bride from losing her maidenhood. [33]
§20. In Siberia, the bath used to be a rather elaborate ritual with roles strictly distributed among the participant, but gradually became shorter and entirely disappeared in some areas. Of the songs that accompanied the bath, some survived the demise of the ritual action at least for a while, but those songs that were strictly tied to the ritual actions began to be perceived as alien and disappeared from active performance. Still, especially in the Western Siberia, the sequence of ritual actions and the accompanying song survived into the 1940s. The key components of the bath ritual, all accompanied by songs, are summarized by Potanina as follows: the groomsman brings a box with gifts for the bath: soap and a comb. In many villages, it was traditional for the maidens to receive the bath brush (venik) from the groom, and this custom persisted even in those villages where the bath itself was no longer practiced. The girls would decorate branches with ribbons, ride all over the village, go to the groom’s house and receive there gifts of beer and wine, and then return to the bride. In some villages the actual visit to the groom disappeared as well, but young women would go to the river, sing and dance circle dances, and then return with decorated branches—the so-called “venik (‘brush’) from the groom.” The bride would request, in a prichet, the bath to be prepared. This task fell to her friends, and once they were finished they would invite the bride, again in a prichet, to come, while she would request their company. Along the way the bride would perform prichety saying farewell to her parental home: sequentially, in the entrance hall, on the front steps, at the gate, in the street. She will bid farewell to all these things one more time as she returns from the bath, in the reverse sequence. Every action is accompanied by a prichet: the bride asks her friends to open the door to the bath-house, then to wash her, then to return home. Once the bath is over the bride first blames her friends for deceiving her: they said that the bath was made of gold and crystal and that the venik was made of silk, when in fact the bath is made of logs and venik of branches. She also blames and curses the bath for washing away her krasota. At the same time, the bride also peforms prichety thanking her friends for a good bath. [34]
§21. The pre-wedding week culminates in what is arguably the most important day of the wedding, the day that is actually called svad’ba ‘the wedding’, in some regions: the day when the groom’s party finally arrives in full force at the bride’s house and the bride is brought out перед столы ‘before the tables’. In the village weddings of the Kokshen’ga Basin described by Balashov, this moment of the wedding seems more important than the church ceremony: the crowning in church is separate from the rest of the proceedings; the ‘presentation before the tables’ (вывод перед столы) is the culmination of a long process and a turning point for all concerned. It is for the presentation before the tables that the groom’s party has to gain access to the bride’s house through an elaborate (at least in some areas) exchange of gifts, mock-hostilities, and a sequence of peformances and welcomes. The presentation before the tables is also the point when the bride is most handsomely and ornately dressed and when her dress is most bound by local custom. At this moment she displays herself to the groom for the first time in public. It is important to stress that even in the case of a forcibly arranged marriage, the bride and the groom have seen each other by this time on several previous occasions, and in most cases they would have known each other before the wedding was arranged. Still, this is a formal presentation of the bride, done in public, and it remains cricial no matter how many private meetings have preceded it.
§22. In his study of the weddings in the Kokshen’ga region Balashov describes the presentation before the tables in detail. [35] After several preliminary rituals, which I omit here, the groom’s party is welcomed and seated at the table. They are not, however, allowed to eat yet. The table is set with a festive meal (at least parts of it), but it is “closed.” The feast will begin only once the bride is seated at the table, which will be only on the following day. On this occasions, the participants receive beer and after the proceedings are over for the day, they will usually get a meal somewhere, perhaps at a neighbor’s house, but on the side, not as part of the wedding.
§23. From this point on the ritual is divided into two parallel proceedings: one part of the action happens in the main room, at the table with the groom’s party, while another sequence of steps is taking place in a side-room, to which the bride has retreated together with the girls. The representative of the groom’s party is required to bring beer to the girls and “wine” to the bride, a service for which he receives much blame from the maidens and resistance from the bride. Although it is clear that the blame is ritualized, it is also clear that to stand there and listen to it was quite a trial for the groom’s svat (‘best man’), who was not allowed even to sit down. In the end, the bride would barely touch the beer with her lips, concluding this part of the ritual. [36]
§24. It was after this that the presentation took place. At some point the groom’s party begins to demand that the father “show the bride.” [37] Eventually, the father would go into the side-room and tell the bride to get ready. At first she would refuse, saying that she does not have the clothes, or that she has been deceived—all in prichety. But finally the bride goes to get dressed, in a separate room. To start with, she stood on a table cloth and her face was washed from a particular type of copper vessel. This is an important and sensitive moment: sometimes wine was added to the water, or some salt and a piece of bread, and almost aways silver. The face-washing water of the bride was thought have magical qualities. After washing, she would splash her age-mates with this water or the maidens themselves would wash their faces, all to make them marry sooner. They would pour away the remaining water at the intersection of four roads, to make the grooms come sooner. The bride would dry her face with another table cloth, and in at least one place there was a magic ritual performed by an old woman with this table cloth: she dipped the four corners into the same water that the bride used to wash, and cuts them off with scissors, reciting a spell. [38] The bride would then be dressed in her most ceremonial attire, sewn in a particular fashion. The bride’s chest was completely covered with jewelry (silver and, over the silver, dark amber), on her head was a tall headress, the golovodets. Over that she wore a silk shawl with tassels, which would fall down her back. The attire was costly: the golovodets, covered with gold and silver embroidery, was often borrowed and passed from one bride to another in several villages. [39] The front end of the shawl would be brought around and tied at the bride’s back, so that her face was open, and only the silk tassels came down over her forehead and eyes. At this point the bride usually does not lament; she is supposed to appear beautiful and everything is orderly. [40]
§25. At first two ‘leading-out women’ appear in the man room, and ask, “Should the two of us come, or should a third be lead out?” In some cases, the bride’s brother joins in, and then they say, “Should the three of us come, or should we bring the fourth?” Of course, the bride is demanded and she appears, flanked by women, her hands folded and often covered with a red kerchief. The groom’s party demands “Come closer!” “Bend lower, then we’ll come closer!” the leading-out women reply. The groom’s party bow and the bride approaches, her mother sweeping the ground in front of her (against the evil eye), the brother holding the candle. Finally, the bride appears and in the candlelight stands in front of the table. She is given a tray with glasses and ceremoniously hands the “wine” to all guests. At the end, glasses are poured for the bride and groom, and they drink, switching their cups three times. [41] In some places, there were extended dialogues between the bride’s and the groom’s party as the bride was standing before the tables. In one village when the bride stops in front of the table her godfather loudly asks:

Погленулась ли невеста? Погленулась невеста, садитесь на место, а не погленулась, так шапоцки забирайте и в волок отправляйтесь! [42]
Is the bride pleasing? If pleasing, sit down in your places, if not, take your hats and be on your way!

To which they all respond that the bride is pleasing. The researchers who recorded this custom hypothesize that it remains from the days when this might have really been the first time for the groom to see the bride. In any case, this was the cardinal moment of the wedding. In some villages, the bride then might even spend the night with the groom after the presentation before the tables, though without undressing: they might lie down and rest together, or at least sit and talk. [43]

§26. At the end of the presentation before the tables, the bride, still standing by the table, would be covered with a shawl. Once this happens she can resume her prichety, though they are now different from the dramatic ones she performed earlier and more reserved. In a prichet, the bride often talks about standing for a short time, but losing much: what she looses is her krasota and also everything that girls wear but married women do not—rings, ribbon, rouge, make-up. In some places the bride actually drops a handkechief or a ribbon and it is picked up for her by the maidens or her brother. In a prichet she asks for her krasota to be returned, and when it is, she departs with further prichety. [44]
§27. After the presentation, the devichnik, ‘the gathering of girls’, would follow, in which, in spite of the name, young men also took part. The bride would often depart at some point and spend time with the groom. The devichnik would go on more or less all night, so there are expressions about being sleep-deprived “as after a devichnik.” The youth would entertain themselves with various songs and games, but the groom would come and take the bride away: as one groom put it, “I plucked her out of the gorodki-game and that was it.” [45]
§28. This was not, however, the conclusion of the wedding. In the Kokshen’ga Basin, the day following the presentation before the tables included a feast at the bride’s house, the church ceremony, and a feast at the groom’s. On the morning of the crowning day the bride would distribute krasota (ribbons) to her friends, and also be “paid” by her father. She would receive a handful of small coins from him—a symbolic payment for the years of work in her parents’ house. She would then throw the coins to her friends and, in a prichet, ask them to count, saying that it seems a small sum—her father must have taken out the price of the clothing (the dowry). The bride’s mother would bake a special bread and put it on the bride’s head, and with this her maidenhood was truly over. [46] After this moment, the bride no longer asks to be left in her parents’ house or to play more with her friends. The guests would again be seated at the table in the bride’s house, where she had been “presented” on the previous night. The bride again puts on beautiful clothes, although these are not as expensive and ritually determined as the outfit she wore for the presentation. This time, the tables are for the feast. Once the bride is dressed, she is led out to the table by her father in a ritual matter—not by the hand, but by a kerchief, which is wound about her hand like a loop. The bride walks slowly and has to return to the kut’ at least three times, ostensibly because she forgets something—to say goodbye to her “green orchard and beautiful paradise,” to “part with her krasota,” or “because she forgot her friends.” [47] At this moment she may still lament (perform a prichet) to her father, asking him to walk slowly and saying that she is being led against her will. The father leads the bride to the table and hands her over to the groom, saying, “I have given my daughter to you.” [48]
§29. Concluding prichety may be performed as the bride walks to her place at the table and sits down next to the groom, but then comes a decisive break in the mood of the wedding: the bride may still lament a bit, and the girls respond at first, but as the bride continues they switch to a celebratory praise of the newlyweds, a song they have not performed before this moment (usually this song is called vinogradie ‘grape-song’). Once the maidens begin to celebrate, the bride’s laments cease. Balashov describes the transition: “For some time these two elements (the laments and the praise-songs) struggle with each other, overlapping in a peculiar way, and then the joyful elements wins over: soon it is time for the crowning.” [49] From now on joyful songs overtake the wedding, being especially abudant at the concluding feast, along with jokes and lewd ditties.
§30. When the wedding departs from the bride’s house, the bride wears a shawl over her head (or is covered in some other mannter). This is the moment when the most precautions were taken against witchcraft: sometimes special guards were hired to protect the bride; the ground has to be swept for her to walk to the sledge, salt placed in various places, needles stuck in the hem of her dress etc. There are tales about whole wedding companies turned into animals, bears or wolves. [50] One hunter, they say, shot a she-wolf wearing amber jewellery, the traditional necklace of brides: this was the bride, turned into a wolf. [51] In the church, usually in some side-building, the braid is undone and the bride comes to the crowning with her hair loose, just held together with one ribbon. After the crowning, her hair is parted, two braids are made, the svatya (the female officiate on the groom’s side) winds them around her head, and a woman’s head-dress (borushka) is put on. After that, the bride is again covered with the shawl, the groom again picks her up to put into the carriage or sled, and, covered, she is taken to his house. [52]
§31. At the feast at the groom’s house the father-in-law ‘opens’ the bride—picks up her shawl, and three times circles the heads of the newlyweds posolon’ (in the direction of the sun) with it. At this moment the svatya exclaims, “Praise the young (wife)! (хвалите молодую!), and everyone shouts, “Fair, fair is the young wife!” (хороша, хороша молодая!). The bride would then ritually requst permission from her parents-in-law to call them “father” and “mother” and to ask their blessng “to eat bread.” The groom would symbolically feed the bride, and after that the feast would begin in earnest. At this concluding feast there are, of course, no laments, and indeed no strictly ritual songs or any kind, just praise songs, feasting, and merriment. [53]
§32. In Siberia, the arrival of the groom’s procession at the bride’s house was followed not by the presentation before the tables but rather by another ritual, known as branyo (‘taking’). The several episodes of this ritual combined to accomplish the goal of handing the bride over to the groom. The first step was called posad (‘sitting’, or rather, ‘making the bride sit’) and it took place in some villages before the arrival of the procession, in others after this. Potanina speculates that the songs where the bride is described as “sitting taller than all” had to do with this rite at some point, though they had become dissociated from it. In some villages, people recall an apparently even older practice of posad for both the bride and the groom upon his arrival. They were made to sit on felt or carpet, which is reminsicent of the practice in other regions of making the bride sit on a fur coat. [54]
§33. When the groom’s procession arrived, the brother of the bride would lock the gates and not let them in until they bought their way in with gifts and alcohol. Once this was done, the groomsman would deposit the gifts on a specially prepared table and at once have to produce new ones, now to buy his way into the house. [55] After that the festive table was “opened” by groomsman (by means of a traditional prichet), but the bride was not yet brought in. Before this could be done someone (sometimes the best men, druzhka, sometimes another officiant from the groom’s side, sometimes even the bride’s brother) had to buy both her place at the table and her braid from the maidens. At first he offered small change, and here was a chance for the bride’s friends to perform their blaiming and teasing songs. Sometimes this was done at the devichnik, and then the bride was actually present, sitting next to her brother. In this case, the groom had to watch carefully, for the bride’s side might whisk her away and put another dressed up maiden in her place. The game was repeated several times (usually three) until the groom paid a suitable ransom and succeeded in taking the bride’s place. [56]
§34. Next came the buying and selling of the braid. The bride’s brother would hold an object symbolizing the braid (usually a decorated tree-branch) in one hand and a knife in another hand and, in spoken verse (a genre called prigovor), would describe the virtues of the braid (it was combed all night, for example, and done up neatly) and then threaten to cut it off if a suitable prize was not paid. Once the braid was sold, the maidens performed a prigovor of their own, testifying to the generosity of the groomsman and the fact that the braid had been sold. [57]
§35. Only then was the bride brought out, and again, with a game. At first, for example, the bride’s friends might bring out a chest of linens in her stead, or offer money as ransom. On their second attempt, the maidens would offer the groom a horse. The groom, of course, declined these offers. At the wedding of the Old Believers of Zaboikalye the game took a different form, remarkably reminiscent of wide-spread folk tales. At first the groom was offered a maiden dressed in tattered clothes, dirty, uncombed, and with some such implements as an old broom in her hand or an old bucket on her head. For the second time he was offered a choice amongst three maidens dressed in the same clothes, one of whom was indeed his bride. He could not, of course, see her face, and had to pick his “princess” out of the line-up. If he made a mistake, he paid a hefty prize (in money) to the bride’s side and the game resumed. [58]
§36. Finally, the bride’s parents would join the hands of the bride and the groom, bless them with an icon, and pronounce a traditional formula instructing the groom to take care of the bride. After some preparation, departure for church followed, and after it the feast at the groom’s house, where, of course, no laments were allowed.

2. The Laments.

§37. There is no ready-made category for describing what the bride does in a traditional Russian village wedding when she performs her laments. Is she acting, as if in a play? To some extent she does, since she is supposed to lament and look sad, even if she feels quite happy and wishes nothing more than to marry the groom. Is the bride expressing her personal emotions? This is also true, and many former brides (even the ones who married willingly) recall the passion and sincerity of their laments and the emotional responses of their families. At the same time, she is performing a ritual known and important to all concerned, a ritual to the script of which she is expected to adhere. The language of laments remains traditional but fluid, the degree of play-acting and self-expression in each wedding performance is unique, and yet it would be facile to say simply that such performances are a mixture of the personal and the traditional: the two elements are never separated in such a way that they could be mixed in the first place. The wedding follows a traditional scenario, and in it the bride plays the role of the bride and laments as brides do, acting her own self in a strikingly artful and elaborate way. As Balashov reports, the brides in some Vologda villages would in effect speak in verse for the whole week of their wedding. [59]
§38. The sheer mass of songs, laments, and versified sayings involved is one of the most striking features of Russian village weddings, especially in regions where prichety were widely practiced. Choral songs of the maidens, solo laments of the bride, laments of the bride’s mother, prichet-exchanges between the bride and her parents, brother, and siblings are notable on the bride’s side, but there was also a large number of songs on the groom’s side which fall beyond the scope of this paper, but deserve a brief acknowledgement. There were praise songs for the groom, songs by the women of his family and village to send off the procession to the bride’s house and to welcome the bride, joking and sexually explicit songs, and multiple versified sayings by the groomsman to accompany his various actions. Some of the latter were certainly compositions in performance, and a good groomsman would have a quick wit and a ready response to whatever resistance or teasing he might encounter from the bride’s side. In records from Siberia published by Potanina, the groomsman says something in verse almost constantly: as he enters the groom’s yard, for example, and then again as he enters the house and he greets the groom’s parents, the groom himself, and others assembled, as he distributes their roles in the procession, as they depart, as they arrive at the bride’s house, negotiate with the bride’s friends, buy their way in, go through the gate, up the steps, through the door, each step and action accompanied by at least a short, and in some cases quite long, versified utterance. [60] Little wonder that in the early nineteenth century Snegirev described these weddings as “a folk drama, or, more precisely, opera-vaudeville.” [61]
§39. Within this opera, songs of praise were addressed to the bride and the groom, of course, but also to the wedding officiants and guests, for example in return for gifts at several gift-giving occasions within the wedding. There were also songs of blame directed at all concerned, though the bride seems to be blamed only rarely. The groom, on the other hand, receives his fair share, and the officiants are subjected to the greatest number of these songs, which are often mocking and humorous. There was also a great number of lyrical songs containing every shade of joyfulness and sadness, some of which were free-floating and could be performed at numerous points during the wedding, including songs that belong to the two large thematic cycles: “young man before his wedding” and “young woman before her wedding.” Other songs were more firmly tied to their occasion, for example, the songs with which the female relatives and fellow villagers of the groom would greet the wedding procession on its arrival, the songs performed at the final feast, and the songs performed at the end of the feast and concerned with seeing the newlyweds off to their room.
§40. The laments, therefore, are only a small part of the wedding poetry. They are also a distinct part, and here is it necessary to explain with more precision what I mean by the term “lament.” For the purposes of this paper, I use ‘lament’ as a translation of the Russian prichet or prichetanie, and there are several important distinctions to be made between prichety and the wedding songs. The wedding songs were performed chorally, and indeed it seems that the Russian traditional wedding had no solo singing at all. The songs were known to the performers in advance and they were transmitted (orally) in a fixed form. The prichety, by contrast, were mostly monodic and fluid. Monodic prichets were compositions in performance. With such prichety, each performance is unique, and the records that survive mostly represent the performers’ later re-performances and re-constructions of what they performed at the wedding. [62] There were, however, also choral performances of well-known prichety by the friends of the bride without variation and with prior agreement about what prichet to perform. [63]
§41. Song and prichety are metrically distinct, although there is also occasional overlap. Researchers note the rhythmically repetitive pattern of the prichety and some find that the metrical scheme (usually a four or five foot trochee with a dacytlic coda) reflects the “familiar intonation of crying.” [64] There is metrical variation in the prichety, but what remains largely constant across regions is the presence of two strong stresses per verse, in the second and fourth feet. Wedding songs are metrically and melodically more varied, but, interestingly, their melodic contours are also influenced by the ritual formulae, and some songs approach laments in their prosody. One prosodic feature of the prichet that is not found in the songs, however, is trailing off at the ends of verses, with the last word or several last syllables not pronounced at all or added in a whisper. [65] Some scholars detect in the meters of both genres traces of the same old and possibly magical formula. [66] Several features of the prichet are especially suited for composition in performance and simultaneously fitting for a lament: stichic form, repetitive metrical pattern, syntactical units that usually correspond to one verse, repetition of syntactical patterns sometimes over many verses in a row, abundance of traditional expression, in particular of noun and adjective type. These combinations of nouns and epithets are for the most part highly stable formulaic expressions (the term is used by the scholars of Russian folklore), which prichety share with other oral traditional poetry, for example, epic tales. [67]
§42. The degree of fluidity of form depended, of course, both on the occasion and on the performer. Some young women were known for their skill and talent as lamenters, and when it was the turn of such a master to be the prima donna in her own wedding opera, crowds would gather to listen. The creativity of the such performers did not alter, however, the profoundly traditional nature of their art. As Balashov remarks, even apparently free compositions, even by the most creative and renowned performers, once compared with other prichety, “turn out nevertheless to be creative recombinations of the traditional elements and canonical images and expressions.” [68] This accounts, as Balashov observes, for the fact that prichety, for all their individual fluidity, were transmitted in a form no less, and sometimes more, traditional than the fixed songs.
§43. Because they are compositions in performance the prichety vary in their length and poetic qualities much more than wedding songs. In 1868–1869, E.V. Barsov recorded an expanded “text” of the wedding ritual and prichety from I.A. Feodosova, an exceptional and famed performer with by then forty-five years of experience. As Chistova and Chistov remark in their commentary on Basov’s edition, this “text” represents a “maximum variant” of the wedding prichety, an “anthology” created not by the collector, but by the performer herself. [69] The first prichet in Basov’s collection, the bride’s lament upon her betrothal, is 1074 lines long, and answered by the mother’s prichet 514 lines in length. [70] Such scale is, of course, unmatched by the choral wedding song (which are usually under fifty verses in length, sometimes as short as ten) and so is the amount of repetition, with long stretches of verses begining with the same word “and” (e.g. verses 1–274 of the mother’s lament).
§44. Needless to say, the skills and professionalism of performers would vary greatly, but my impression is that it would be highly unusual for a bride to not be able to lament at all, and her ability to do it well was a valued quality. The art was learned from childhood: answering researchers’ question about their skill, the women mostly respond that they learned laments from childhood, by being present at the weddings and evening gatherings. Little girls, it seems, could observe practically any stage of the wedding that involved the bride and her friends. Here is how one respondent answered a researcher’s question about learning prichety:

По наследсву-ту и помнитце! И маленькие бегали на свадьбы, маленькие памятны-ти!
The memory is inherited! And besides we used to go to the weddings when we were little — the little ones remember well! [71]

There were masters of the prichet, who could train the bride before the wedding and even stand behind her and aid her memory during the wedding, but it was also expected that the bride would vary her prichety or think up new ones. One respondent in Balashov’s study recalled the following dialogue between the bride and her guests, in which the bride’s comment on her prichety is itself characterized as a prichet:

Одна заприцитала: “Думала-думала, я еще попридумала,”— а ей: “Ну, придумала, дак прицитай!” [72]
One bride began to lament: “I thought and I thought, and I thought of something else,”—and they replied to her: “Well, since you thought of it, lament then!”

In the Vologda region there was a joking saying about a bride inept at laments: “Причитайте, голубушки, сколько над—наохаю” (“Lament, my darlings—I’ll sigh all you want”). [73]

§45. Prichety are both more closely tied to the ritual of the wedding and more personal than the wedding songs. As Shmelyova remarks, the bride’s prichety are “like monologues of the wedding’s main actor” and express both her emotion and to some extent the”script” of the wedding. [74] At certain moments in the wedding the bride was expected to utter, through prichety, her requests, invitations, or thanks. Such occasions demanded close adherence to the traditional wording, though these prichety could, of course, be optionally expanded. Although both formally and even thematically these ritual prichety are similar to the “personal” ones, they are ritually required speech-acts and not what is commonly understood in English by the word “lament.” The “personal” prichety on the other hand, were performed primarily during the pre-wedding week in the company of the bride’s friends and allowed more freedom of variation. These can indeed be termed laments. Commenting on the bride’s prichety in the Pinezhye region, Shmelyova observes that, they were, at least in Pinezhye, not firmly attached to any particular moment in the wedding, and indeed not even required, but were expected to convey something about the bride, her emotions and thoughts. The brides tended to achieve this in different ways, sometimes by personalizing the prichety, making them reflect the particular realia of the bride’s circumstances, and sometimes by expanding the prichety poetically, adding similes, metaphors, hyperbolic descriptions etc. [75]
§46. The distinction between these two types of prichety is not formal, and indeed represents two ends of a continuum. Any ritual prichet could be expanded by a bride to become also a personal one. Still, according to Potanina, in Siberia too there was a marked difference between those prichety that commented on the fabula of the wedding, and the lyrical prichety of the bride, which are close in form to songs, and are even described as song-prichety. [76] Sometimes, prichety and song-prichety could be performed jointly, when, for example the friends of the bride perform a choral prichet while the bride at the same time performs a solo prichet based on the same text. In such cases, the song-prichet typically has a slow tempo and developed melody while the solo prichet is performed in a fast tempo and its melodic contour is immediately based on the prosody of the verse. Prichet and song-prichet could also enter into a dialogue when they performed simultaneously but without having overlapping texts: for example, the song could represent the bride’s words while the prichet her mother’s. [77] In such cases, the soloist who composes in performance (or may do so, if she chooses and is able) enters into a dialogue or a parallel monologue with chorus performing a fixed text.
§47. Ritual, lyrical, or both, prichety could be powerfully expressive. There are multiple reports of the brides performing with such emotion and skill that the assembled women, both relatives and onlookers, would be brought to tears. The men could cry as well, and there are recollections on record of the fathers’ shedding tears as they listen to their daughters and their being unable to carry on with their part of the action, overcome by emotion. Balashov records an instance when a father was so moved by his daughter’s laments as he was leading her out to the table that he stopped and, crying, announced: “I can’t do this! Go on your own!” [78] Even more numerous are the reports of the brides, unable to eat or sleep, fainting from the intensity of emotion, and of mothers “falling as if dead” at the first sound of their daughters’ laments. [79]
§48. The ritual of the ‘covering’ or ‘curtaining’ of the bride in Zaonezhye is a good illustration of the range of behaviors that was possible. Some brides lamented easily but they were still expected to show grief :

“Хоть пошла за любого, так людей-то стыдно—охота не охота, а реви!” [80]
“Although I married for love, still, you feel shame in front of people—whether you want to or not, you have to cry!”

On the other hand, when the bride was forced to marry against her will, her resistance could be in earnest. She could run away, the women would have to catch her, and there are reports of brides tearing their kerchiefs with their teeth, biting and hiding. One bride hid so well she could not be found for a long time. The first thing the bride would try to do was to throw her fatka (kerchief) over the candle lit by her father to pray with the groom, and put it out. There are some violent descriptions of these moments: bitten hands, torn fabric. In some villages the catching and subduing of the bride was done by married women (the girls, they say, pity the bride too much), in other place this was done by the father. In the latter case, there was no chase, and the bride’s grief was moderately displayed. [81]

§49. Needless to say, not all brides were talented performers, and, in addition to the girls who would help her lament, there were also professionals who could be invited to the wedding, either for the whole week or only for the most important day, when the bride is presented before the tables. [82] For the most part, it appears that these were women known for their skills at lamenting, invited to weddings and suitably rewarded, but not professionals in the sense that this was their main occupation or that they charged a fixed price for their services. Such professionals (the most commont term is podgolositsa ‘someone who sings under the voice’) would not only perform laments but also instruct and advise the bride on all aspects of the wedding ritual. There were several ways the bride and the professional could interact: the podgolositsa could perform laments while the bride performed a corresponding action, for example, gave or received gifts, or the bride could weep while the podgolositsa performed, or the bride could repeat every word after the podgolosnitsa. [83]
§50. The intensity and number of laments performed during the pre-wedding week differed markedly from region to region. On the whole, there seem to be more laments in the North of Russia while in the South the weddings are more playful, and the Central areas are somewhere in between in this regard, just as they are in geography. On the other hand, many of the themes present in northern laments are found in the southern songs as well, and the notion of a sad nothern wedding contrasted with a cheerful southern one seems to be an oversimplification. [84] Even within the same region, the prevalence of lament differed from village to village. For example, in one district in Povolzhye the researches could record 183 songs but only 2 laments, while in another one 74 songs and 76 laments. [85] Because of the vast numbers and impressive length of the recorded laments, I will quote only some of them in full. What follows is a mixture of summary, thematic analysis and quotation, roughly following the progression of the wedding.
§51. At and immediately after the betrothal, the bride would address laments to her family and especially to her father, who is asked not to “sell” her youth, as in the following lament from the Vladimir region:

Я спрошу тебя, родной батюшка,
Что у вас были за гости, за гостители?
А нас, родной батюшка, навек с тобой разлучители?
Не зажигал бы ты, родной батюшка,
Высокую свечу
И не кланялся бы ты, родной батюшка,
До сырой земли,
Да не продавал, родной батюшка,
Мою молодость
И не брал бы ты, родной батюшка,
С чужих людей никаких бы злат. [86]
I will ask you, my dear father,
What guest did you receive, what visitors?
The ones who will part us, dear father, forever?
I wish you would not light up, dear father,
A tall candle,
And would not bow, dear father,
Down to the damp earth
And would not sell, dear father,
My youth,
And would not take, dear father,
Any gold from strangers.

§52. A similar lament, but without the request not to sell her, was addressed by the bride to her mother:

Послушай-ка, родна матушка,
Что я тебя буду спрашивать:
А что этo у нас были за гости-за гостители?
Это были у нас, матушка, не гостители,
А только нас с тобой разлучители.
Разлучат нас, родна матушка,
По дальним сторонушкам,
По дальним квартирушкам. [87]
Listen, my dear mother,
To what I will ask you:
What were these guest that came to us?
These, dear mother, were not guests,
But only people who will separate us.
They will send us apart, my dear mother,
Into distant lands,
Into distant apartments.

§53. The 1070-line long prichet of Irina Fedosova, recorded by Barsov in 1867–1869, is too long to cite here in full, but I quote a part of it that is especially rich in parallels to songs and clearly shows the technique of expansion. In the part that precedes the quotation, the lamenter recalls how she “herself betrothed herself,” referring to the custom whereby the bride would give the groom a token object (a ribbon, a ring, an earring) before the formal betrothal, as a sign that the agreement will be successful. In the prichet, the bride says that that was all play, that she “joked her freedom away in jokes, sang it away in songs,” that she did not understand with her silly young mind what she was doing. She then describes in dark colors the cunning, treacherous and evil svat of the groom, the officiant who came from the groom’s side to negotiate with her parents. In the prichet, the svat sits close to the parents, speaks sweetly and promises them the world (he even promises cities with suburbs). The parents at first move away from the svat, but eventually give up their daughter, not for any riches, but for “a bucket and a half of green wine.”

255И тут сменяли дорогу да вольну волюшку
Всё на ласковы прелестныи словечушка!
И не начаялась, невольна, не надиялась
И во своих светах желанныих родителях,
И што изменят дорогу да вольну волюшку
260У меня да ведь у белой у лебедушки!
И как сегодняшним Господним Божьим денечком
И не утушка во бережку закрякала,
Красна девушка во терему заплакала;
И не вода да в синем море всколыбалася
265И красна девушка слезами обливалася!
Уж вы слушайте, желанны свет родители!
И не довольны, што невольница наскучила?
Я каку вину, родитель, провинилась,
И коей ногой я, невольна, поступилась?
270И родителей ли вас я пристыдила,
И светов братьицев ли я да обесчестила,
Аль свое белое личë да присрамила?
Изживаете, желанны свет родители,
И вы меня да душу-красну столько девушку
275И быдто лютого зверя да из темна леса,
И быдто лютую змею да со чиста поля;
Изгоняете, как заюшка с-под кустышка,
И горностая ль спод катуча бела камешка.
Аль белу лебедь-то со белой со березоньки,
280И серу утушку со тихиих со заводей!
И, знать, не трудничка была вам, не роботничка,
И, знать, не скорое было вам послушание,
И вам не легкая была, знать, переменушка?
Аль посылать станешь, родитель, не допошлешься,
285И буде пошлете, родители, не дождетесь,
И буде дождетесь, словечка не допроситесь!
И, знать, при мни, да ведь при белоей лебедушке,
Всё у вас, мои желанны свет родители,
Видно на дворе у вас да не плодилося,
290Видно на поле у вас да не родилося,
И золота казна у вас да не скопилася?
Изменяете вы вольну мою волюшку
На валикую злодийну на неволюшку!
И мою волюшку сейчас да поневолили,
295И меня девушку, в минуту обзаботили,
И во неволюшку, на чужу на сторонушку,
И во заботу за блада сына отечского!
И все страшит да меня, белую лебедушку,
Как судимая страшит меня сторонушка!
300И отдали стоит отсюда красовитая,
И облизи эта сторонка страховитая!
И все на сахаром сторонушка обсыпана,
И на сладкима медама-то поливана,
И все на жемчужком сторонка изнасажена:
305Изнасияна сторонушка обидушкой,
И поливана она да горючмы слезмы. [88]
255And then they gave away my dear freedom-will
In exchange for gentle alluring words.
I did not expect, unwilling me, and did not hope
From my beloved parents,
That they would exchange the dear free and willful freedom-will
260From me, the white swan!
And so today, on this God’s day,
It was not a duck that quacked on a shore,
It was a pretty maiden who cried in her chamber,
And it was not water that rose up in waves in the blue sea,
265It was a pretty maiden who poured tears.
Listen to me, my dear beloved parents!
Are you displeased because you are bored with your prisoner?
What was the fault of which I am guilty?
With what foot did I miss a step?
270Did I make you, my parents, ashamed,
Did I deprive my brothers of honor?
Did I disgrace my own white face?
You are chasing me away, my dear beloved parents,
Me, your dear pretty maiden,
275As you would a wild beast from a dark wood,
As you would a wild snake from a wide field,
Chasing me, like a hare from under a bush,
Like an ermine from under a round white stone,
Or a white swan from a white birch tree,
280Or a gray duck from a quiet pool,
And so it seems I was not a good worker for you,
And so it seems I was not quick enough to obey you,
and I did not bring enough relief to you in work?
But if you send for me, my father, you will not reach your goal,
285And if you send for me, my parents, you will wait in vain,
And if you wait long enough to see me, I will not say a word!
It seems with me, the white swan, present,
There was, my dear parents,
no increase in your household,
290It seems nothing grew in your fields,
And you did not store up a golden treasure?
You are exchanging my free and wilful freedom-will,
For a great wicked compulsion!
And now my will has been curbed,
295And I, a maiden, in one minute, acquired cares,
And [I have been given away] into captivity, into a foreign land,
Into life full of cares, to a young father’s son [the groom].
And everything terrifies me, the white swan,
The fated land terrifies me!
300From far away it is beautiful,
But from close by that land is terrible!
That land is not strewn with sugar,
That land is not flowing with honey,
It is not studded with pearls,
305That land is studded with offences
And flowing with bitter tears.

§54. The techniqe of expansion is evidently at work in the multiple parallels and repetition employed by Fedosova. A side-by-side comparison of Fedosova’ s lament with less expanded but related laments also from the Northern region makes clear both the possibilities of expansion and the persistence of traditional forms. A lament recorded from T.F. Alyoshina (born 1903) in 1983 in Zaoenzhye region contains the following verses:

И пораздвинетесь-ка народ да люди добрые,
И дайте девушке тропиночку с мостиночку
И мни одной пройти обидной красной девушки
И что ль ко этой ко кирпичной белой печеньки. [89]
Step aside you folks, you honest people,
And give the maiden a footpath like a bridge-board
Enough for me, ill-treated pretty maiden, to walk alone
To this white brick oven.

§55. There is a close but expanded parallel to these verses in Fedosova’s lament:

130И поррастроньтесь-ко, суседи спорядовыи
И дайте мистечка теперь, да несомношечко,
И со единую дубовую мостиночку,
Мне-ка малую со лентую тропиночку!
И не конем да мне, невольнице, проехать,
135И не на саночках, невольной, дубовыих,
И не с полком пройти, победной, енеральским,
И не с обходом-то пройти да не с полицкиим,
И единой мне-ка пройти да единешенькой,
Мне ко этой ко кирпичной пройти печеньке,
Мне к ошесточку пройти да ко окладнему! [90]
130Step aside, you good neighbors,
And give me now a little bit of space, not a lot,
Only as much as a single oak bride-board,
A little footpath for me!
Not in order for me, a prisoner, to ride on a horse,
135Not to walk, a victorious general, with a regiment,
Not to walk with a police brigade,
Just for me to walk, for me alone, all alone,
For me to talk to this brick oven,
For me to walk to the oven-shelf.

§56. Most of the themes present in various laments performed by the bride throughout the wedding are already present in this long lament intended as the first lament immediately upon her betrothal. For example, Fedosova’s lament contains an extensive description of the bride’s “green orchard,” one of the most stable symbols of maidenhood, and it also depicts the bride’s long search for a place to keep her volya (‘freedom’ or ‘will’) safe from the groom, another widespread theme, which in Fedosova’s version assumes epic proportions, with the bride attempting to hide her volya first in locked chests, then in a green meadow, in a church, in the sea, on the lake shores in the shape of a duck, in the desert with the hermits, with her mother, with the clouds, sun, moon, until she finally decides to keep it in the house until the groom arrives, envisaging her final parting with her volya in the future, when it will be washed away in the bridal bath. I will quote parts of this lament below as a parallel to other laments performed at later stages of the wedding.

§57. The bride’s mother replies with a lament of her own, and at her recording session with Barsov Fedosova transitioned directly from daughter’s lament to mother’s by creating a unique conclusion to the bride’s lament, a feature which would be absent in an actual wedding, but which seems too interesting to omit. In the conclusion, the bride reports that her mother approaches and comforts her and then quotes the words of the mother. Within this quoted speech, the mother urges her daugher to listen:

И я гляжу смотрю, невольна красна девушка:
1065И вдруг подходит же родитель-матушка,
И унимае меня, белую лебедушку,
И уласкае мою вольну она волюшку,
И говорит мне-ка родитель таково слово:
“Перестань да плакать, белая лебедушка,
1070И ты не плачь, моя косата летна ластушка,
И ты не трать своих девочьих ясных очушек,
И не круши да свое бедное сердечушко;
И ты послушай, моя белая лебедушка,
И ты желанную родитель свою матушку!” [91]
And I am looking, me the opressed pretty maiden,
1065And all at once my parent, my mother, comes to me,
And comforts me, the white swan,
And caresses my free and wilful freedom-will,
And speaks to me these words:
“Stop crying, my white swan,
1070And do not cry, my two-braided summer swallow [i.e. fork-tailed],
Do not waste your maidenly bright eyes,
Do not ruin your poor little heart.
Listen to me, my white swan,
Listen to your own beloved mother!”

§58. What follows these quoted words of the mother are the actual words of the mother, now performed in the mother’s voice. The mother’s lament continues the same themes as the bride’s, that is, that the bride is too young and has not enjoyed the pleasures of youth enough and that, for her, the tender care of the parental home and the playfulness of her friend’s company is coming to an end. There are also, of course, also themes peculiar to a mother’s lament: for example, she recalls the burden of pregnancy, the pain of childbirth, the cares of bringing her up, and lists the hopes she had for her daughter— that she would remain a maiden and her mother’s helper for a longer time. While the bride blames her parents for selling her to strangers against her will, the mother in turn blames her daughter for wanting to go to a foreign land and forsaking her parents. The theme of separation between the bride and her age-mates is very prominent in laments (and I will say more on it below), but in the mother’s lament the age-mates are characteristically depicted as children (just as the bride herself can sometimes be depicted as a baby in a mother’s lament). This is true of Fedosova’s lament, from which I quote:

И того жаль мне-ка, кручинной головушке:
35И твои плечика, лебедушко, узешеньки,
И твоя силушка, лебедушко, малешенька,
И у тя рученьки, у дитятка, тонешеньки,
И ум-то разум во головушке глупешенек!
И твои милыи любимы поровечники,
40И все во девушках оны да оставаются,
И оны малыма рябятама считаются,
И оны куклама сидят да забавляются,
И на уличке ведь щепками сшибаются;
И только ты, мое сердечно мило дитятко,
45И ты под тученькой сидишь да гряновитой!
И ты под облачкой сидишь да страховитой!
И не умела сдержать вольной да ты волюшки,
И на девочьей ты на бладой на головушке!
И молчи схватишься, ведь белая лебедушка,
50И по своей да по бажёной дорогой воли,
И по девочьем украшённоем живленьице,
И да ты хватишься, лебедушко, наплачешься! [92]
This is what I am sorry for, me, the sad head,
35That your shoulders, my swan, are so narrow,
That your force, my swan, is slight,
That your arms, a child’s arms, are so thin,
And that your mind in your head is so foolish!
And your dear beloved age-mates,
40All of them are remaining maidens,
And they are counted as small children,
And they sit there and play with dolls,
And in the street they play games with sticks.
And only you, my adored beloved child,
45Your sit under a storm cloud,
Under a terrifying storm cloud!
You did not know how to keep your willful freedom
On your maidenly and young head!
And you will look, my white swan,
50For your beautiful бажeной dear willful freedom,
or the maidenly luxurious [decorated] life,
And you will look and miss it, my swan, and you will cry.

§59. Just as the bride’s laments are paralleled and echoed by related choral songs of the maidens, so are the mother’s. In the following song-lament, performed by the bride’s age-mates in the mother’s voice, the mother is depicted waking up her daughter. This is a typical role for her to play, and indeed at a later stage in the wedding, on the morning of the wedding day, the bride’s awakening in many regions was ritualized and featured being woken up by the prichety of her mother (and/or friends), and then, also in a prichet, telling to her mother the terrifying dream she supposedly saw that night. On this occasion there is no dream and no actual awakening, but the mother is still pictured in her traditional role, waking up her daughter to tell her the news of her approaching wedding. Equally telling and typical is the second stanza of the mother’s song-lament, in which she imagines her daughter as a young apple tree which she reared but from which she saw no fruit. This echoes the themes of unripeness and of young plants and flowers being cut down that are typical of the bride’s laments:

Родна маменька по горенке похаживала,
Свою милую доченьку побуживала:
—Встань-проснись, мила дочь,
Пробудись от сна,
Пробудись от сна,
Я просватала тебя.

Уж ты яблонька, ты кудрявая,
Я садила тебя, насадила себя,
От мороза берегла;
Я на яблоньке цветика не видывала,
Я сахарного яблочка не кушивала. [93]
Mother was walking in the room,
She was waking up her beloved daughter:
—Get up, awaken, my beloved daughter,
Awaken from your sleep,
Awaken from your sleep,
I have betrothed you.

Oh my apple tree, my curly apple tree,
I planted you, I planted you,
I watered you, covered you,
Protected you from frost,
I have not see the flowers on the apple tree,
I have not tried its sugar-sweet apples.

§60. To this mother’s lament the bride responds in surly way by threatening never to come visit her mother if her married life is unhappy (a sentiment comparable to line 2584–286 of Fedosova’s betrothal lament):

Если вдастся житье,
Я прибуду к тебе,
А не вдастся житье
Не приду никогда. [94]
The bride:
If my married life goes well,
I will come to you,
If it does not go well,
I will never come.

§61. In laments addressed to her parents, the bride’s fear of separation is often mixed with anger at their giving her away “to strangers.” In the following song-lament, the bride threatens not to visit for many years, and then only as a bird, a theme to which I will come back below and which emphasizes the finality of separation and the impossible distance that will divide the bride from her natal family, a distance that is perceived as immense in songs, even if in reality visits could be frequent and the bride could even stay in the same village:

Калина с малинушкой
Рано расцвела.
Родимая маменька
На гориюшко меня родила.
Не дала мне повырости—
В чужи люди отдала.
Рассержусь я на матушку,
Семь лет в гости не пойду
На восьмое летичко
Вольной пташкой прилечу.
Сяду я на яблоньку
На кудрявую в саду,
Расскажу я маменьке
Про участь горькую мою. [95]
Flowered early,
My dear mother
Bore me for grief.
She did not give me time to grow up—
Gave me away to strangers.
I will get angry with mother,
I will not come to visit for seven years,
In the eighth summer I will become a bird and fly,
I will perch on the apple tree,
On the curly apple tree in the garden,
I will tell my mother
About my bitter fate.

§62. As was often the case, the same lament could be also performed at later stages of the wedding, and with variations. The same performer from whom the lament just cited was recorded, also provided the following, fuller, variant:

Калина с малинушкой
Рано расцвела.
Родимая маменька
На гориюшко меня родила.
На дала мне повырости—
В чужи люди отдала.
Осержусь я на матушку,
Семь лет в гости не пойду
На восьмое летичко
Вольной пташкой пoлечу.
Сяду я у матушки
Bo зелёныeм саду,
Пропою я песенку
Про участь горькую мою
Bce я палисадники
Слезами оболью.
Выйдет родна матушка:
—Что это за пташечка
В моем садике поет?
Не моя ли дитятка
Горьки слезы льет? [96]
Flowered early,
My dear mother
Bore me for grief.
She did not let me grow up—
Gave me away to strangers.
I will get angry with my mother,
For seven years I will not come to visit,
In the eighth summer
I will become a free bird and fly,
I will perch in my mother’s
Green garden
I will sing a song
About my bitter fate
I will wet all the flower beds
With my tears.
My dear mother will come out:
—What bird is it that
Sings in my garden?
Perhaps it is my child
Shedding bitter tears?

§63. In many of the bride’s laments separation from the parental home is depicted as an absolute exile (even if in fact she was able to visit her natal family frequently). The bride in such laments complains of being sold or expelled from the house and imagines that she will be able to communicate her future grief only through bird-song:

Что не стрелочка стрельнула
Под ретиво сердечушко.
Отказал сударь батюшка
От хлеба мне от соли.
Отказала родна матушка
От платья мне от цветного.
Отказали родны братушки
От коней от вороных.
Отказали родны сестрицы
От скатертей выбранных.
Ух а выйду, горе бедное,
На красно на крылечушко,
Облокочусь о перила дубовые,
О балясы точеные.
Попрошу я, горе бедное,
Я у ласточки крылушек,
У касаточки перышек,
А у голубя голосу,
У кукушечки звонкого,
У горюшечки громкого.
Пойдет сударь-батюшка
Ко Христовой заутрени
С госыдарыней-матушкой,
Припадут ко сырой земле.
Закукует кукушка в бору,
Загорюет горюшка в сыром—
Заноют их ретивы сердца.
Не кукушка кукует в бору,
Не горюшка горюет в сыром—
Не наше ли дитятко
В чужих людях горюет одна,
У чужого отца-матери
У чужого рода-племени,
У чужих братьев и сестриц,
У чужих дядей и тетушек. [97]
It was not an arrow that was shot
Under my fiery heart.
My master-father
Denied bread and salt to me.
My dear mother denied me
A flowery dress.
My dear brothers denied me
Black horses,
My dear sisters denied me
Choice table-cloths.
I will walk out, me, the wretched grief,
Onto the front steps,
I will lean on the oak balustrades,
On the smoothed out knobs.
I will ask, me, the poor grief,
A swallow for her wings,
A swallow for her feathers,
And a pigeon for its voice,
And a cuckoo for its clear voice,
A grief-singing cuckoo for its loud voice.
My master-father will go
To morning service in church
With my mistress mother,
They will fall to the damp ground,
The cuckoo will begin singing in the forest
A grief-cuckoo will begin grieving in the damp forest,
Their proud hearts will begin to ache.
“It is not a cuckoo that is singing in the forest,
It is not a grief-cuckoo that is grieving in the damp forest,
Perhaps it is our child
Grieving alone among strangers,
With a stranger father and mother
With a stranger brother and sisters,
With a stranger aunts and uncles.”

§64. The vast majority of the wedding songs and laments were preformed by the bride in the company of her friends and by friends addressing the bride or speaking for her. As soon as betrothal was complete, a chorus of maidens entered the wedding action and began their songs, sometimes even before they could come into the house. The following song, for example, was sung in the Povolzhye region by the bride’s age-mates under her window beginning on the night of her betrothal:

Развесёлое житье девичье,
Распроклятая жизнь замужняя!
Не навек житье доставалося,
Со белого лица красота сметалася!
С черной грязью смешалася!
Не летай, голубь, вдоль по улочке,
Вдоль по широкой!
Не воркуй, голубь, жалостишенько,
Без тебя, мой голубь,
Мне растошнешенько! [98]
Maidenly life is full of joy,
Married life is cursed!
Maidenly life is not given forever,
Beauty is swept away from the white face !
It is mixed with black dirt!
Do not fly, my pigeon, along the street,
Along the broad street,
Do not coo, my pigeon, so pitifully,
Even as it is, my pigeon,
I feel so sick at heart!

§65. In many songs and prichety performed immediately after the betrothal, the bride is reproached for betraying her supposed earlier promises to never marry. Often, these songs are in the form of a dialogue between the bride and her friends, even if in the actual performance there is no alternation among the singers. The following song, for example, seems to have been performed by the friends and addressed to the bride, who is, however, given a speaking part within the song:

Промолили, промолили
Да душу красную девицу,
Душy красную девицу
Да за удала добра молодца
За удала добра молодца!
Да говорила: “Не пойду взамуж.”
Говорила: “Не пойду взамуж,
Да видит бог, не подумаю,
Да я людей не послушаю
Я людей не послушаю!”—
“Да уж вы милые девушки,
Уж вы глупые красавицы,
Да не сама я замуж пошла,
Не сама я замуж пошла,
Да не своею охотою,
Не своею охотою,
Да все большою неволею,
Все большою неволею.
Да похотел родной папенька,
Да поизволива меменька,
Да потакал вес(ьи) род меня,
Да собирали милы сестры,
Собирали милы сестры
Да задушевныя под(ы)ружен(и)ки! [99]
They have prayed away, they have prayed away [betrothed]
The pretty maiden,
The pretty maiden
To the valiant honest lad
To the valiant honest lad!
But she said: “I will not marry.”
She said: “I will not marry,
God be my witness, I will not think of it,
And will not listen to people,
I will not listen to people!”—
“But, my dear maidens,
My foolish beauties,
I am not getting married myself,
I am not getting married myself,
Not of my own will,
Not of my own will,
It is all with great compulsion,
It is all with great compulsion.
My father wanted it,
My mother allowed it,
The whole family urged it,
And my dear sisters prepared me,
My dear sisters prepared me
My sisters prepared me
And my bosom-friends.

§66. In Povolzhye, shortly after the betrothal (hand-slapping) was complete, during the festive meal that followed, the bride’s friends would bring in the krasota (in this case, a decorated tree), and attach it to the house or set it up inside. As they approached with the krasota, the bride addresses to her mother a lament which emphasizes her separation and absence from the group of her age-mates:

Уж погляди-ка ты родимая,
Уж родима моя маменька,
Что в середине-то окошечко,
Что не бархат расстилается,
Что не жемчуг рассыпается,
Как идут мои подруженьки,
Несут дивичью красоту!
Погляди-ка ты родимая
Кого теперь в толпе-то нет?
Уж как нет в толпе чада милого,
Уж как нет чада любимого! [100]
Look out, my dear one,
My dear mother,
Look out in the middle window.
It is not velvet being spread out,
It is not pearls being scattered,
But my friends are coming
They are bringing my maidenly krasota!
Look, my dear one,
Who is absent in the crowd?
Your dear child is not in the crowd,
Your beloved child is absent!

§67. Similar themes are present in the song performed in Siberia during the devichnik nights, the nights between the betrothal and the crowning when friends gathered in the bride’s house to sing and sew. As in Povolzhye, in Siberia the age-mates perform songs in the bride’s stead, as they gather for the devichnik while the bride sits silently, looking down:

Невесёлый-то день без солнышка,
Невесёлая-то сидит красная девица
Настасья Кондратьевна,
Сидит-то призадумавшись, припечалившись. [101]
The sunless day is without joy
The pretty maiden is sitting without joy,
Nastasia Kondratievna,
She is sitting deep in thought, deep in sadness.

§68. It should be noted that devichnik was not only practiced differently in different villages, but also comprised of different parts with their particular songs. In some places, relatives of the bride and groom were invited to these events, and the songs performed while the groom and his parents were present differed from the ones performed in their absence. On the former occasions, the songs dramatize dialogues between the bride and the groom, praise the groom, speak about the bride getting used to the “princely” ways of the groom, and interpret the (traditional) dreams that foretell the wedding. [102] The laments could be performed in the presence of the groom’s party too, but the friends of the bride stayed longer than the groom’s party and some spent whole days with her. In songs they performed for the bride she is often compared to a young bird who leaves the nest too soon, or an unripe berry, and reproached for marrying too young. The bride’s response is to say that she is not going of her own free will, but because her parents force her:

Ах, ты солнце, солнце красное!
Ты к чему рано закатаешься
Ты за горы, горы высокие,
Ты за лесы, лесы темные?
Ах, ты свет то наша подруженька,
Ах, ты свет то наша голубушка
Аграфена свет Григорьевна!
Ты к чему рано замуж пошла,
Ты к чему рано задумала
За доброго молодца
За Семена свет Андреевича?
Недозрелая в поле ягодка,
Недорослая красная девица,
Не накопила ты ума разума.
—Ах! вы свет-то мои подруженьки!
Ах! вы свет-то мои голубушки!
Не сама то я замуж пошла
Не сам- то я задумала
Не своей волей охотою:
Отдает меня сударь батюшка
Свет Григорий сударь Карпович,
Государыня родна матушка
А свет Марфа-душа Фадеевна,
Присудили весь и род племя. [103]
Oh you sun, beautiful sun,
Why are you setting so early
Behind the mountains, the tall mountains,
Behind the woods, the dark woods?
Oh you, our dear friends,
Oh you, our darling
Agrafena Grigorievna,
Why are you getting married early,
Why did you think so early
To marry an honest lad,
Semion Andreevich?
An unripe berry in the field,
An ungrown pretty maiden,
You have not gathered up sense and smarts.
Oh my dear friends!
Oh my darlings!
I am not myself getting married,
I did not think of it myself,
It was not my will or wish.
My master-father is giving me away,
Master Grigory Karpovich,
And my mistress dear mother,
Maria Fadeevna,
My whole family and clan so determined it.”

In another similar lament the bride says that her parents forced her and people deceived her: they said that the “far away foreign land” to which she had to go was full of orchards and “sprinkled” with sugar—”and flows with bitter tears,” adds the last line of the song in a parallel to lines 300–306 of Fedosova’s betrothal lament. [104]

§69. In the Vologda region, as she is “covered,” the bride performs prichety addressed in turn to her father, mother, brothers, sisters, and friends. These prichety are very different in form and even in function from the Povolzhye and Siberian songs mentioned above: like Fedosova’s lament, they are a necessary poetic accompaniment to traditionally-expected actions such as approaching each relative after “covering,” welcoming and seeing off the guests, requesting that the meal be set on the table, etc. These laments are for the most part much shorter than Fedosova’s extended performnace, their size limited, among other things, by their very functionality within the ritual. Thematically, however, there is continuity: the notions of betrayal, deception, and being married too young are prominent in these laments and powerfully expressed. In one of the laments recorded in the region in 1975–1977, the bride recalls her father’s past pity for her, which is in contrast to his present cruelty:

Упаду ницью на землю,
Стану вербой- то на ноги.
Схожо красноё солнышко,
Мой корминец ты батюшко,
Дак ты восьми меня на руки,
Пожалей меня, батюшко,
Старопрежней-то жалостью.
Когда я, молодёшенька,
В люльках байках кацяласе,
В пеленах пелёналаце,
Подле лавоцьку ходила,
На окошецьке сидела,
Подходил ко мне батюшко
Да брал на белые руценьки,
Говорил-то мне батюшко:
—Моё цядо-то милоё
Да дитятко ты родимоё
Да ты рости, рости, дитятко,
Да на ножках-то высокая,
Из себя-то хорошая
Волосами-то сивая,
На лицё-то красивая.
Дак заведу тебе дитятко,
Скрутку платьё хорошоё,
По правленью-то первоё
Да он людей-то отменноё.
Посажу тебя, дитятко,
В зелён сад под окошецько,
Обтыню-то тыноциком,
Назову-то цветоциком. [105]
I will prostrate myself on the ground,
I will stand up like a pussy-willow tree.
You are like the fiery sun,
My up-bringer, my father.
Take me up in your arms,
Pity me, daddy,
With your old pity.
When I, the young one,
Was rocked in a cradle,
Was swaddled in swaddling clothes,
Walked under the bench,
Sat on the window sill,
You would come to me, daddy,
You would take me in your white arms,
You would say to me:
—My dear child,
My darling baby,
Grow, grow, my child,
To stand tall on your feet,
To be fine to look at,
To have bright hair
To have a beautiful face.
I will get for you, my child,
Beautiful clothes, a dress,
Made in the best way,
Such as noone else has.
I will seat you, my child,
In the green orchard under my window,
And will put a fence around you
And call you a flower.

§70. The bride then says that she has not grown up to be tall and beautiful, and yet her farther is giving her away. Twice in the concluding verses of the lament she asks what has happened to his pity (Куде жалость деваласе?). In all cases, the bride in laments is sharply separated from her age-mates. In a prichet from another village of the same region, the bride calls herself “ungrown grass” (недорослую травоньку) and contrasts her friends’ parents, who spare their daughters, with her own cruel family, who have now betrothed her. This lament reflects the actual circumstances of a particular bride, whose father is dead and who is given away by her brother:

Мои сизые голубушки,
Мои милые подруженьки,
Как у вас-то, голубушки,
Батюшки те жалостливы,
Мамушки те слезливые.
Как у меня, молодёшеньки,
Нет корминеця батюшка,
Брателко да не жалосливой,
Мамушка не слезливая.
Отдает меня брателко,
Мной пецялует мамушка,
Силою да неволею,
Большою неохотою. [106]
My gray doves,
My dear friends,
You, my darlings,
Have fathers prone to pity,
Mothers prone to tears,
But I, the young one,
Have no up-bringer father,
And my brother is not prone to pity,
My mother is not prone to tears.
My brother gives me away,
My mother takes care of me,
By force and against my will,
Very much against my wish.

§71. In laments from the same region, the bride addresses her friends as she sees them out, inviting them to come to her every day during the pre-wedding week and saying that she would come with them, but now that she has been “closed” she cannot see far or walk fast:

Вы ходите, голубушки,
Вы ко мени, к молодёшеньке,
Каждый день да на всякий день.
Посидели малёшенько,
Да пошли коль скорёшениько.
Я бы рада радёшенька
Проводить далёкошенько,
Да призакрыли, голубушки,
Много светы-то белово.
Теперь хожу потихошенько,
Сколь я вижу малёшенько. [107]
Come, my darlings,
To me, to the young maiden,
Every day and on all kinds of days.
You stay for a while and go quickly.
I, the young maiden, would be glad,
To walk far with you to see you off,
But, my darlings, they closed off
Much of the white light for me.
Now I walk slowly,
So little I see.

§72. After the betrothal, what follows for a bride in the Vologda region is a period actually called “the week:” days when her age-mates visit in the evenings to sing and sew. Both songs and prichety are performed on these occasions, and here again, the themes find parallels in the devichnik songs for other regions. With the week are associated morning prichety, in which the bride addresses her mother, who is expected to come and wake her up. The mother feels pity for her child, she “wakes me up with one hand, tucks me in with another.” By contrast, the so-called “god-given” mother, her mother-in-law, is depicted as a monster: she runs like a beast, roaring like a wild animal and hissing like a snake, as in the following example:

Долго спала-высыпаласе,
Побуду я дожидаласе
От своей-то корминици
От родимые матушки.
Што моя-то корминеця,
Моя корминеця матушка
Придет к моей-то постелецьке
Левой руцькой побудити,
А правой руцькой окутати:
Уж ты спи, моё дитятко,
На родимой-то стороне.
А на злой-то злодийнице
На злой татарке-то схиднице,
У чужа-то чуженина
Богоданна-то матушка,
Она ходит по-звериному,
Шипит она по-змеиному—
Придет к моей-то постеленке,
Она руками-то схлопаёт
И ногами-то стопаёт.
—Ты ставай-ко, сонливая,
Пробудись-ко, дремливая.
Проспала и продрёмала
Свою буйную голову
На чужую-то сторону. [108]
I slept and rested for a long time
I waited for an awakening
From my nurturer,
From my dear mother.
And my nurturer,
My nurturer mother,
She will come to my bed
And with her left hand she wakes me up,
With her right hand she covers me up:
Sleep, my child,
In your native land.
In that evil wicked place,
In the evil Tatar land,
At the place of this foreign foreigner,
The god-given mother [mother-in-law],
She walks like an animal,
She hisses like a snake.
She will come to my bed,
And she will clap her hands
And stomp her feet:
—Get up, you sleepy one,
Wake up, you slumbering one.
You have slept and slumbered away
Your unruly luxuriant head,
Away to a foreign land.

§73. The notion that the bride’s future in-laws are strange, foreign, and alien also surfaces at other moments of the wedding. In the Vologda region one of the last prichety, performed as the bride walks along the festive table to take her place next to the groom at the last feast at her own house, is a version of a very wide-spread wedding song, where the bride is depicted as a swan who is forced to join a flock of geese:

Отставала да лебедь белая,
Как што от стада да лебединово,
Дак приставала да лебедь белая
Ко стаду—серым гусям. [109]
A white swan became separated,
Separated from the swan flock,
A white swan joined
A flock—of gray geese.

§74. In Povolzhye a version of the same lament was sung to the bride as the krasota (in this case a little tree) was carried away:

Отставала бела лебедь
От стада лебединого
Приставала бела лебедь
Ко стаду, ко серым гусям,
Начали гуси квакати,
Красна девица плакати.
“Не щиплитe вы, серы гуси,
Не сама я к вам залётала,
Занесли меня чужи люди.” [110]
A white swan became separated,
Separated from the swan flock,
A white swan joined
A flock—of gray geese.
The geese began to quack,
The pretty maiden began to cry:
“Do not pluck me, gray geese,
I did not fly to you of my own will,
But strangers carried me here.”

§75. To return to the wedding week, once the maidens arrive, the bride invites them to sing and sew. In prichety she claims (contrary to fact) that all her clothes are old and worn, and then changes her mind and says that it is not she, but a “stranger” who needs new clothes. [111] As they arrive, the bride asks the maidens to help her “grieve this grief and lessen the sadness” (Ету пецель бы спецяловать/ Да горюшка приубавити) [112] and says that her maidenly days have been cut short, that she can no longer “wander wide and see far” (широко-то расхаживать, далеко-то разглядывать). In the evening, when some young men also come, there are prichety asking them to play a musical instrument and the maidens to sing. Characteristically, the bride says that she used to be the first to start singing and the last to stop, but now everything has changed, she has to sing an unfamiliar song, her voice does not obey, she cannot remember the words.

Молодцы, ясны соколы
На вас кошульки суконные,
Шапоцьки те бобровые,
Да молодци цернобровые!
Об цём я вам канаюсе,
Да об цём в цесь докуцяюсе:
Поиграйьте ка, молодци,
Во весёлы тальяноцки.
Цясока да тепереци
Сизые вы голубушки,
Милые вы подруженьки,
Вы попойте, голубушки,
Да развесёлых-то писенок
Да по весёлым тальяноцькам.
Да я любила жо, девиця,
Пить весёлы ти писенки
По весёлым тальяноцькам.
Нацинать была первая,
Да допевать-то последняя.
Цясока да топерика,
Цяс топерешно времецько
Зацяла мне-ко мамушка
Пить мне писню ту долгую,
Долгую, незнакомую,
Голосом непоставную,
Да на словах неукладную.
Не сконцать буде девици
Вся недилька-то долгая. [113]
Lads, you bright falcons,
You are wearing coats of wool,
Hats of beaver fur,
You lads with black eye-brows!
This is what I ask of you,
This is what I beg of you:
Play, lads,
Play your joyful talyankas [a type of accordion].
And now and at this moment,
My gray doves,
My dear friends,
Sing, my darlings,
The most joyful songs
To the joyful talyankas’ accompaniment.
Oh how I used to love, I, a maiden,
To sing joyful songs
To the joyful talyankas’ accompaniment.
I was first to begin,
I was last to leave off singing.
But now and at this moment,
Now at this point in time,
My mother has made me start
To sing that long song,
Long, unfamiliar,
Unfitted to my voice,
Awkward in words.
A maiden will not finish it
For the whole long week

§76. The notion expressed in this lament that the bride used to be first among her friends, but now is no longer one of them is reiterated at multiple times during the wedding week. On many occasions and in many regions, the age-mates praise the bride as their leader, the best amongst them. Now that she is betrothed, however, she is also depicted as absent, excluded from their group, or as the last and lowest in the group:

Собирала Любочка подружек к себе,
Собирала Любочка подружек к себе,
Садила их Любочка за дубовый стол.
Садила их Любочка за дубовый стол.
Сама [о]на садилася —была выше всех
Сама [о]на садилася —была выше всех
Склонила головушку—стала ниже всех.
Склонила головушку—стала ниже всех. [114]
Lyubochka gathered her friends at her house,
Lyubochka gathered her friends at her house,
Lyubochka seated them at the oak table,
Lyubochka seated them at the oak table.
She sat down herself—she was the tallest of all,
She sat down herself— she was the tallest of all.
She bowed her head—became the lowest of all,
She bowed her head—became the lowest of all.

§77. In the Vologda region the theme of the bride as the departing leader of the group becomes explicit in one of the very last prichety performed after the father has led the bride out to the festive table (not for the presentation before the tables but on the following evening), as she walks to take her place by the groom. In one of the three canonical prichety performed on this occasion, the friends of the bride say that they have lost their “herd-leader.”

Oй да потерели, голубушки,
Да из стаду стадоводницю,
Дак напередь-ту хожатую
Дак всёму стаду вожатую
Дак напередь-ту всё ходила,
Дак за собой стадо водила. [115]
Oi, we have lost, my darling-doves,
The herd-leader of our herd,
The one who walked in front,
The one who led the whole herd.
She was always walking in front,
Leading the herd behind her.

In some cases, as the bride comes out, led by her father, she in fact draws her friends after her from the kut’ into the hall, leading them by their belts. In other cases, this element is absent and the friends remain in the kut’ a little longer then the bride, singing from there about the loss of their herd-leader. [116]

§78. Another song from Povolzhye, sung to the bride by her friends at the devichnik as they enter, represents a re-formulation of the theme: the bride is like the very top of the tree, which is now broken off, and she has betrayed her earlier promises to stay unmarried:

Уж ты елкa наша, сосенка,
Да зелёная, да кудрявая,
Да на тебе ли, елка-сосенка,
Да много сучьев, много отраслей,
Да одного сучочка нетутко,
Да что сучка, самой вершиночки,
Да а у нас подружки нетутко,
Да что подружки, нашей Манечки. [117]
You, our little fir tree, little pine,
Our green one, our curly one,
You, our fir-tree-pine,
Have many branches, many twigs,
But one branch is missing,
And not even just a branch, the very top.
And among us a friend is missing,
And not even just a friend, our Manechka.

§79. The parallel between the bride’s life and a broken branch is present in the recordings of wedding laments taken down two centuries ago, and persists in the recent ones. [118] It is part of an extensive system of metaphors having to do with flourishing and then withering of plants, perhaps the most prominent theme of the “maiden party” and the wedding week. The bride’s parting with the freedom and luxury of the maidenly life is expressed through images of plants that wither, are cut down, or have to be abandoned by the bride. The long betrothal lament by Fedosova quoted above, for example, contains the following verses about the bride’s “green orchard:”

И до сегоднишна Господня Божья денечка,
350И на горы стоял у девушки зелёный сад,
И край пути стоял ведь сад до край дороженьки,
И на красы-басы стоял да на угожестве,
И возрастала в саду травонька шелковая,
И росцветали всяки розовы цветочики
355И сросли деревца в садочику сахарнеи!
И во моем да во девочьем зеленом саду
И солетали перелётны разны птиченьки,
И как незнамы соловьи да говоручии,
И возжупляли оны разным голосочкам!
360И удивлялися им добры столько людушки,
И любовалися спорядны вси суседушки
И на мой да на девочей на зелёный сад!
И вдруг на этой на урёчной на неделюшке,
И вдруг за чудушко у нас да причудилось,
365И в зеленом саду за диво объявилось:
И посыхать да стала травонька шелковая,
И вдруг поблекли тут цветочики лазуревы,
И вдруг позябли тут сахарни деревиночки;
И малы птиченьки—чего они спугалися—
370Из зелена сада соловьи розлетались! [119]
Until this Lord God’s day
350On a hill there was a maiden’s green orchard,
It stood at the side of the path, at the side of the road,
In a beautiful place it stood, in a pleasant place,
And silky grass grew in that orchard,
And all kinds of pink flowers bloomed,
355And sugar trees grew in that orchard!
And in my maidenly green orchard
All kinds of migratory birds would gather,
And unknown clear-voiced nightingales
Would sing in different voices!
360And good folk would be amazed at them,
And all the neighbors would delight in it,
In my maidenly green orchard.
And suddenly this appointed week,
What a strange thing happened here,
365A wonder took place in the green orchard:
The silky grass began to grow dry,
The sky-blue flowers faded,
The sugar trees were bitten by frost,
And the little birds —who knows what scared them—
370All the nightingales flew away from the green orchard!

§80. The same theme is prominent in the Siberian laments performed during the bride’s parting with her krasota, while her maidenly head-dress was removed, the braid undone, and the ribbons distributed to her age-mates. In some songs the krasota is pictured as turning into flowers, as in the following example:

Повешу я свою девью красоты
На матушку на сыру землю.
Урасти-ко ты, моя девья красота
Не травою ты, не муравою,
А цветочками лазоревыми. [120]
I will put my maidenly krasota
On mother-damp-earth.
Grow, my maidenly krasota,
Not as grass, meadow grass,
But as sky-blue flowers.

§81. In another song the bride asks her brother to ride and scatter her krasota in a “wide field,” where flowers will bloom next spring, except for the bride’s flower:

Пройдет зима холодная,
Придет весна красная,
Взойдут травы муравые,
Расцветут цветы лазоревые,
Пойдут-то мои подруженьки,
Пойдут-то мои голубушки
Во чисто поле, со раздольице,
Сорвут-то они по цветочку.
Мой цветок спосох, споблек—
Помянут меня подтуженьки,
Помянут меня голубушки.
Мне, молодешенькой, икнется,
Тяжелешенько вздохнется. [121]
The cold winter will pass,
The pretty spring will come,
The meadow grasses will come up,
The sky-blue flowers will bloom,
My friends will go,
My darlings will go,
Into the wide field, the open space,
And each one will pick a flower.
My flower is dry and faded—
My friends will remember me,
My darlings will remember me,
And I, the young one, will hiccup,
Will heave a heavy sigh.

§82. Both the theme of fredom and luxury lost and the plant metaphor are strongly connected to the bride’s hair, the symbol of her maidenly freedom, happy times with her age-mates, and beauty. During the ritual decoration of her braid, the bride in some Siberian village would both ritually request the members of the family to make her braid and to lament the luxury and tender care in which she spent her maidenhood and with which she was now parting. In the following examples, the bride asks first her father and then her mother to actually weave her volya (‘freedom’) and her nega (‘luxury, bliss’), the attributes of maidenhood, into her braid:

Благослави, родимый батюшка,
Заплети мне косу трубчату
И вплети в неё ленты алые!
Неужели-то я открасовалася,
Неужели-то я отбасовалася,
Како же было мое красование,
Како же было мое басование?
Во слезах-то я сижу, во кручинушке,
Во большой-то во заботушке. [122]
Give me your blessing, dear father,
Braid my long braid,
Braid bright-red ribbons into it.
Can it be that my beauty days are over?
Can it be that my pretty days are over?
So that was my beauty time?
So that was my pretty time?
I am sitting here in tears, in grief,
Burdened by cares.
—Заплети-ка мне трубчату косу
Мне во пятеро и во шестеро,
Во мелко пшенично зернышко.
По корень моей трубчатой косы
Вплети мне-ка волю батюшкову,
Посредь моей трубчатой косы
Вплети мне-ка негу матушкину,
По конец моей трубчатой косы
Вплети ленту шелковую. [123]
Braid my long braid,
Five-fold and six-fold,
Make it like grains of wheat.
At the root of my long braid
Braid in my free life that came from my father,
In the middle of my long braid
Braid in tender bliss that came from my mother,
And at the end of my long braid,
Braid in a silk ribbon.

§83. In other songs, the bride, on the contrary, asks that her braid not be made, because the braiding of her hair in a maidenly way for the last time hastens the arrival of the marriage. The bride yet again bewails her separation from her age-mates and pictures them playing in a verdant meadow, with all “their” flowers in full bloom, while “her” flowers grow apart in an inhospitable place, burned by the sun and lashed by the rain:

He плети, подружка милая,
Не плети косу русую:
Коса русая не дорощена,
А краса-то девичья не догуляна.
Пойдите вы, подружки-любушки,
В зелёны луга на гулянушку
Ваши-то цвены алые
Стоят при долинушке
А мой-то цветочек аленький
При бугринушке.
Дождичком-то его так и сечет,
А солнышком-то его так и печет.
Сорвите-ка вы, подружки милые,
Цветок аленький,
И снесите-ка его, подружки милые,
К родной матушке,
И к родному батюшке:
Они на аленький цветок
Не взглянут ли,
А меня вo чужих людях
Не вспомянут ли? [124]
Do not braid it, my dear friends,
Do not braid the blonde braid.
The blonde braid has not grown enough,
And maidenly krasa has not played enough.
Go, my beloved friends,
To play in the green meadows.
Your bright-red flowers
Are in the valley,
My bright-red flower
Is on a hill.
The rain is lashing and lashing it,
The sun is burning and burning it.
Pluck, my dear friends,
The bright-red flower,
Take it, my dear friends,
To my mother,
To my father:
Perhaps they will look
At the bright-red flower,
Perhaps they will remember me
Among strangers.

§84. The freedom and tenderness of maidenly existence are firmly associated in the laments and songs with green spaces—meadows, woods, orchards. The following lament pictures such gardens and the flowering trees woven into the braid, and concludes with a description of the beautiful ribbons which will decorate the bride’s hair, but only for another week:

—Подойди, родимая матушка,
До меня молодешенькой!
Учеши мою буйную головушку,
Уплети трубчату косу
По единому русу волосу,
По пшеничному зернышку.
По корень моей русой косы
Плети две яблони кудрявые
Ты со волей батюшкиной!
Посередине моей русой косы—
Два садочка, два зелёные
Ты со волею матушкиной!
По конец моей русой косы
Плети конец алой-шёлковой
Ты со кисточкой жемчужною,
Со ленточкой обдирною!
Но пущай кисти катаются,
А вы, ленты, устилаются
По моим-то могучим плечам,
По моему платью светлому!
Но недолго кистям кататися,
Алым лентам устилатися:
Семиденная да неделечка! [125]
—Come to me, my dear mother,
To me, the young one!
Comb my luxuriant hair,
Braid by long braid,
Hair by hair,
Like the grains of wheat.
At the root of my blond braid
Braid in two curly apple trees
With free life from my father!
In the middle of my blond braid—
Two orchards, two green ones,
With free life from my mother!
At the end of my blond braid,
An end-ornament, red and silken,
With pearl tassels
With a gift-ribbon!
And let the tassels roll,
Let the ribbons spread
On my broad shoulders
On my light dress!
It is not long that they will roll,
That they will spread:
A week of seven days!

§85. The themes of parting with maidenhood come to a climax in the ritual of the last undoing of the braid and the bride’s taking final leave of her krasota. In Siberia even today some elements of the performance remain, and fuller versions were recorded as late as 1970. [126] In Siberian weddings, the word krasota (literally ‘beauty’) refers to an object rather than the bride’s hair, though the object stands in for the hair and is decorated in a similar way. The substitution seems similar to what can be seen in the custom of buying and selling the braid, in which the braid itself remains untouched and what changes hands is its symbolic (partly iconic) substitute, such as a branch decorated with ribbons. The krasota, too, is in some cases a branch with ribbons and paper flowers attached to it. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova suppose that the songs refer to actions that have long become obsolete, for example, that the bride and her age-mates used to actually go to the forest with songs, break off the topmost branch of a tree, decorate it, and say farewell to it “as if it were alive.” [127] The custom is not however attested in this form: in the records of actual weddings, the parting with the krasota seems to take place at the house of the bride. For example, in 1970, in the village of Bondarenko in Khakasiya, a description of the ritual was taken from Ekaterina Fedorovna Pospelova. Here the krasota was represented by the top of of pine tree, traditionally decorated. The bride would bring it in, and walk with it from the door to the table. After that the “little pine” was undressed and its decorations given to girls as gifts. Once that was done, someone would play the role of the offended krasota that leaves the bride forever. The performer in this role would say:

Пошла девья красота,
На милую Катюшу рассердилася:
Дверями хлопнула, ногой топнула:
—Этому дереву не быть два раза зелёным,
А Катерине Фёдоровне не быть два раза девушкой. [128]
The maidenly krasota has walked away,
Has become angry with darling Katyusha:
She [krasota] slammed the door, she stomped her foot:
—This tree will not be green twice,
And Katerina Fedorovna will not be a maiden twice.

§86. Even in situations where there is no single performer taking on the role of the krasota, it is often personified and given a voice within the laments and the devichnik songs. What the krasota most often says is that she is not coming back to the bride and that the bride’s maidenhood is irrevocably lost. This is the case in the following example, a prigovor (versified saying) performed by the bride’s friends and addressed to the wedding officiants. It was performed in Povolzhye on an occasion similar to the Siberian one, when the krasota (here also represented by a little tree or a tree top) was ceremonially carried away, on the morning of the crowning day, before the church ceremony, as the bride was sent off from her house:

Смотрите на дивью красоту,
На Анну Ивановну!
У нас Анна Ивановна
В красных девушках жила красовалась,
Над ней люди любовались,
Подружки забавлялись,
Родители упивались!
Вы её тешьте и нежьте,
Хлебом чёрным не кормите,
Во лохмотьях не водите,
А белого запасите!
В лапти не обувайте,
В лес не посылайте,
А в белые туфли обувайте!
Да почаще к родителям посылайте!
Вот, смотри, Анна Ивановна,
На дивью красоту!
На тебя девья красота рассердилась,
Пошла с тобой не простилась,
Среди мосту топнула,
Ручками хлопнула,
Головкой покачала,
Печально отвечала:
“Прощай, Анна Иванована!”
Пошла дивья красота
Во зелёные луга,
Во дремучие леса,
Привилась дивья красота
К сухому этому дереву,
Не бувать ему зелену.
Тебе, Анна Ивановна,
В красных девушках не бывать,
Весёлых песен не певать,
С нами, с подружками, не гулять!” [129]
Look at the maidenly krasota,
At Anna Ivanovna!
Our Anna Ivanovna
Lived a life of beauty as a pretty maiden.
People would admire her,
Friends would make merry with her,
Her parents would adore her.
Soothe her and pamper her,
Do not feed her dark bread,
Do not dress her in rags,
Prepare some white bread for her!
Do not make her wear bast shoes,
Do not send her to the forest,
Make her wear white slippers
And send her more often to visit her parents!
Here, look, Anna Ivanovna,
At your maidenly krasota!
Your maidenly krasota has become angry with you,
Has gone away without saying goodbye,
In the middle of the bride she stomped her foot,
She clapped her hands,
She shook her head,
She responded sadly:
“Farewell, Anna Ivanovna!”
The maidenly krasota has gone
To the green meadows,
To the forest thickets,
It has grafted itself
To a dead tree.
This tree will not be green,
And you, Anna Ivanovna,
Will not be a maiden,
Will not sing joyful songs,
Will not play with us, your friends!”

§87. The krasota, when personified, may be angry with the bride, sad and distant, as in the last example, or it may cry and beg to be taken back, as in the following song, where the krasota asks to be picked up like a child, but instead is abandoned by the bride and finally cut down by careless peasants with their scythes. The song was sung as the krasota was carried from away from the table at the bride’s house:

Красота, дивья красота,
Да красота ли, да Марьина!
Да нам куда красоту девать?
Да мы возьмем, белы лебеди,
Да во свои да белы рученьки,
Да унесем дивью красоту
Да мы во чистое полюшко?
Да во луга во зелёные,
Да во травы во шелковые!
Да отойдем да послушаем,
Да не стонет ли мать-сыра земля,
Не плачет ли дивья красота?
Да она плачет, возрыдывает,
Да на белы руки просится,
Да на белые, на Марьины!
Да вот и шли два-ти молодца
Да со косами со булатными,
Да подкосили дивью красоту,
Да её резвые ноженьки! [130]
Krasota, maidenly krasota,
Marya’s krasota!
What should we do with her krasota?
Will we take her [krasota], we, the white swans,
In our white hands,
Will we carry the maidenly krasota
To the open field?
To the green meadows,
To the silken grasses!
Let us step aside and listen,
Does the mother-damp-earth groan,
Does the maidenly krasota cry?
Yes, she cries, she sobs,
She asks to be picked up by white arms,
White arms, Marya’s arms!
But two or three young lads were walking by
With their damask scythes,
They cut the maidenly krasota,
At her nimble feet!

§88. This songs exists in many versions and the theme of the bride’s krasota, often equated with a ribbon for her hair, taken to the meadow and placed under a flower or a bush, but then destroyed by grass-cutters, is a persistent one. Here is another instantiation of it, also in a song sung by the bride’s age-mates:

Красота моя, красота,
Красота моя, ленточка.
Всех подружка-голубушка,
Да ты куда красу девать будешь,
Да ты куда положишь её?
“Да унесу а дивью красоту,
Да во чисто поле, на травинку,
Да под кусточек ракитовый,
Да под цветочек лазоревый!”
Да тут и шли сенокоснички,
Да мужики деревенские,
Да подкосили девью красоту,
Да подкосили и подрезали,
Да матушку дивью красоту! [131]
Krasota, my krasota,
My krasota, my ribbon!
What will you do with your krasota,
Where will you put it?
“I will taken my maidenly krasota
To the open field, to a blade of grass,
And put it under a bush of broom,
And under a sky-blue flower,
But then some hay-cutters were passing by,
Peasants from a village,
They mowed the maidenly krasota,
They mowed it and they cut it,
The mother maidenly krasota!

§89. The disappearance of her krasota sets the bride apart from her age-mates, even in those songs where she is depicted in their company. In the following song the maidens are described as full of beauty and cheer, their hair combed and decorated with red ribbons and silk kerchiefs. The bride walks with them, but she alone is gloomy, her hair uncombed and undecorated. Characteristically, the maidens in this songs come from a cherry-orchard, their verdant and flourishing habitat which the bride will no longer visit:

Из саду, сада,
Из сада-вишенья
Там и шли-пришли
Весёлых девушек толпа.
Они все девушки,
Они все красныя,
Да все весёлыя идуть!
Буйны головы у их учёсаны,
Косы русые у их уплётены.
Ленты алые да в косах ввязаны,
Шёлковым платком они повязаны.
Только одна Леночка
Невесёлая идет.
Буйная голова у ней не учёсана,
Русая коса у ей не уплётена,
Лента алая в косы не вплётена,
Шёлковым платком не подвязана. [132]
From the orchard, orchard,
From the orchard, the cherry orchard
There was coming-coming
A crowd of joyful maidens.
They are all maidens,
They are all pretty,
They are all joyful as they walk along!
Their luxuriant hair is combed,
Their blond braids are made,
Their silk ribbons are braided in,
They are covered with silk shawls.
Lenochka alone
Is sad as she walks along.
Her luxuriant hair is not combed,
Her blond braid is not made,
Her red ribbon is not braided in,
Nor tied with a silk shawl.

§90. In some of the songs belonging to the ritual of parting with the krasota, the krasota sets like the sun and disappears behind woods and mountains, and the descriptions of all the obstacles that now separate the bride and her krasota convey the notion of its irrevocable loss and resemble folktale depictions of impossible quests, where the hero has to climb over mountains, cross rivers, and wander through dark forests:

Догорела да заря ясная,
Да закатилось да красно солнышко.
Да закатилась да девья красота
Что за лесы, за лесы темные,
Что за гороньки да за высокие,
Что за реченьки да за глубокие.
Проводили да девью красоты
Да за лесы, лесы темные,
Что за гороньки да за высокие,
Что за реченьки да за глубокие.
Да улетела да девья красота
Что за лесы, лесы темные.
Проводила я свою да девью красоту
Да за лесы, лесы темные. [133]
The bright sunset has burned out,
And the red sun has set.
The maidenly krasota has set
Behind the woods, the dark woods,
Behind the tall mountains,
Behind the deep rivers.
They have sent off the maidenly krasota
Beyond the woods, the dark woods,
Beyond the tall mountains,
Beyond the deep rivers.
It flew away, the maidenly krasota,
Beyond the woods, the dark woods,
I sent off my maidenly krasota
Beyond the woods, the dark woods.

§91. In another type of song performed on the same occasion the bride looks for a place to leave her krasota, but no place seems fitting, and the bride is depicted as making one futile attempt after another until she finally gives her krasota away, usually to her brother or sisters and age-mates. In the following lament the bride first takes her krasota to the “green meadows” and leaves it there, but then cannot bear it, returns, carries her krasota back, and gives it to her friends.

Понесу я свою девью красоту
По светлой светлице
По новой горенке,
По сеням то новеньким,
По крылечушку по красному
Я по батюшкову широку двору,
За воротички за широкие
За вереюшки за дубовые
Я во далече во чисто поле,
Во раздолье широкое,
Во луга зелёные
И на травы муравые,
И на цветы лазореные.
Поставлю свою девью красоту
Под кусточек,
Под гнёздышко соловьиное.
Отойду я от своей девьей красоты
Уж мне жаль-то будет
Своей девьей красоты.
Оглянусь я на девью красоту
Побегут мои горючи слезы
По моему лицу белому
По платью цветному
Отойду я к своей девьей красоте,
Подойду я близешенько,
Возьму я свою девью красоту
Из-под кустечка
Из-под гнёздышка.
Понесу я свою девью красоту
Из раздолья широкого,
Из лугов зелёных,
Со травов муравьих,
Со цветов алых лазоревых
Я ко батюшке к широку двору,
Ко матушкиной новой горнице,
Ко своей-то светлой светлице,
Я поставлю за дубовый стол,
Под мать Божью Богородицу,
Под свечи воскояровы.
Я не знаю куда свою девью красоту девать.
Возьму свою девью красоты
И раздам родным сестрицам,
Я сполюбезным своим сподруженькам:
—Вы красуйтесь в моей-то девьей красоте!
Уж как я-тo, красна девица,
Открасовалась в своей девьей красоте. [134]
I will carry my maidenly krasota
Through the light room
Through the new room
Through the entrance hall,
Through the front porch,
Through my father’s wide yard,
Beyond the broad gates
Beyond the oak gate-poles,
Into the open fields,
Into the green meadows,
And to the blue flowers
I will put my maidenly krasota,
Under a little shrub,
Under a nightingale’s nest.
I will step aside from my maidenly krasota,
And I will feel pity
For my maidenly krasota.
I will turn back to look at my maidenly krasota,
Warm tears will begin to roll
Down my white face
Down my flowery dress.
I will walk to my maidenly krasota,
I will come close to it,
I will take my maidenly krasota
From under the shrub,
From under the nest.
I will carry my maidenly krasota
From the open field,
From the green meadows,
Away from the fresh grasses
Away from the red-blue flowers
To my father’s wide yard,
To my mother’s new room
To my own light room,
I will put [my krasota] on the oak table
Under the icon of Mary, Mother of God,
Under the wax candles.
I don’t know what to do with my maidenly krasota.
I will take my maidenly krasota
And give it away to my sisters,
To my beloved friends:
—Show yourselves off in my maidenly krasota!
But for me, a pretty maiden,
My time for showing off has passed.

§92. In some songs the krasota of married women is mentioned, but it is not the real krasota: instead of woodland and orchard flowers the married krasota is dirt and soot from the house. The maidenly krasota is conspicuous, seen and heard all around; the womanly krasota is afraid and ashamed to show itself, barely seen and heard even within the house, as in the following example from Siberia:

Промеж поля, поля широкого
Тут сидела красна девица
Свет Наталья душа
С-по изотчеству Филипповна.
Растужилася- расплакалась
Пред своей девьей красотой,
Пред хорошей украшенной,
Что доселева русая коса
Не боялася свету белого,
Не скрывалася солнца красного,
Не стыдилася отца-матери.
Как-то нынече
Убоялася солнца красного,
Устыдилася отца-матери.
Уж и как девью-то красоту
За сто вёрст видели,
Что за тысячу слышали.
А уж бабья-то красота
По избе-то она таскалася
По подлавочью валялася,
Во смоле-то она купалася,
Черемицею обсыпалася
Под порогом-то не слыхать ее,
За дверями-то не видать ее.
Уж как девью-то красоту
За сто вёрст видели,
Что за тысячу слышали
Уж как девья-то красота
У Христа-то она в пазушке. [135]
In the field, in an broad field,
There sat a pretty maiden,
Dear Natalia our light
By her father’s name Filippovna [daughter of Filip].
She grew sad and began to cry
About her maidenly krasota
The beautiful one, the decorated one—
That until now her blond braid
Was not afraid of the white daylight,
Did not hide from the red sun,
Was not shy of her mother and father.
But somehow now
It [the krasota] became afraid of the red sun,
Became shy of her mother and father.
The maidenly krasota,
It is seen a hundred miles away,
It is heard a thousand miles away.
But a married woman’s krasota
It dragged itself about in her house,
It rolled about under the benches,
It bathed in tar,
It was smeared with cheremitsa [a poisonous plant].
You cannot see it under the threshold,
You cannot hear it behind the door.
But maidenly krasota
You can see it a hundred miles away,
And hear it a thousand miles away,
It is in Christ’s keeping.

§93. Just as the end of the bride’s maidenhood can be represented in terms of withering plants so too can it, though much less often, be depicted as the destruction of her maidenly attire. Her shawl, for in the following example, is bleached by the sun, her dress is damaged by rain, and her ribbons are blown away by the wind. The picture of a maiden’s house by the roadside attracting the passersby, with which the lament starts, is widely attested in wedding songs:

Стоит наш-то высок терём
При путе, при дороженьке,
При дорожке широкою.
Мимо нашего терема
Ходят-издят добры люди
Коннуе да и вершные,
Вершные запряжённые,
Одержат ворона коня
За повода те шелковые,
За узды золоцёные,
Постоят да подумают,
Отойдут да переговорят:
Што во етом-то тереме
Есть девиця круцинная,
Да голова запоруцёна.
Не цють да не слышати
Громко-зыцьново голоса,
Видно, етой-то девици
Надолыс-то дивий век,
В девицях насиделасе,
Износила-то молода
Да кошульку суконную.
Ряды разносилисе,
Пуговки распаялисе,
На буйной-то головушке
Дорогую шаль шёлкову
Солнышком-то повыпекло,
Дорогой-то отласницёк
Дожжиком-то повысякло,
В коце алые лентоцьки
Ветерком-то повыдуло,
Перстеньки да колецики
Да гайташки серебряны
Да сгорели от солнышка. [136]
Our tall house stands
By a road, by a street
By a broad street.
By our house
walk and ride good people,
on horseback, riding
Riding, their horses harnessed.
They would stop their raven-black steeds
With their silken bridle,
With their gilded reins,
They would stop and think,
Walk away and talk:
That in this house
There is a maiden in grief,
Her head has been promised.
You can’t hear
Her loud clear voice.
And so it seems this maiden
Has had enough of her maidenly life,
Has been a maiden long enough,
Has worn out, the young one,
Her coat of wool,
The seams [?] have come apart,
The buttons have falled apart,
And on her luxuriant head,
The costly silk shawl
Has been bleached by the sun,
And her costly silk dress
Has been beaten by rain,
And the red ribbons
Have been blown away by the wind,
Her rings
And her silver necklaces
Have been burned by the sun.

§94. The “crowning” day brings with it more laments, some similar to the ones of the “week” and the devichnik, but many peculiar to the occasion, such as laments connected with waiting for the groom’s procession and with the dressing of bride’s hair after the church ceremony in the style of married women. First, however, come the laments associated with the bride’s last awakening in her parental home. By tradition, during the last night the bride sees a terrifying dream and on the morning of the “crowning” day she laments about it. The content of the dream is as traditional as its occurrence. One respondent, in describing the morning of the wedding day says the following:

“Мать будит невесту: “Вставай-ко, мило дитятко.” Невеста причитает: “Мне сегодня сон поснился, поснился-ко мне сон нерадостен, нерадостен да невесёлый.” [137]
The mother wakes the bride up: “Get up, my dear child.” The bride laments: “I saw a dream this night, I saw a dream without joy, without joy and without cheer.”

§95. Multiple variants of these dream-songs involve flooding or fast rivers, steep and insurmountable mountains, and occasionally reeds or grass to which the bride tries to hold on and which cut her hands. In one lament, for example, the bride asks her mother to get up early and wash not with spring water but with “warm tears.” She complains, as is usual with such laments, that she did not sleep well and then tells her dream:

И приснился мне, родна матушка, страшный сон:
Речка быстрая и в этой речке быстрой
Я купалася,
Предо мною, родна матушка,
Сильная волна колыхалася,
А я, родна матушка,
Ее напугалася.
Приплыла я, родная матушка, к крутому берегу
И за травыньку хваталася.
И проснулась я, родна матушка,
И мое сердце напугалося. [138]
And I saw, dear mother, a terrifying dream:
A swift river, and in that swift river
I was bathing,
In front of me, dear mother,
A big wave rose up,
And I, dear mother,
Was afraid of it.
I swam, dear mother, to the tall river bank
And grasped at the grass.
And I woke up, my dear mother,
And my heart was afraid.

§96. In many cases, the friends of the bride are also present for the awakening, and the dream-laments are often addressed to them, as in the following example from the Povetluzhie region, where the bride, carried away by the flooding river, first tries to, but cannot, hold on to a “white birch tree” and then succeeds in grasping two plants that are painful to touch—the cutting sedge and the prickly shepita. The white birch, the last verses explain, is the bride’s mother, the sedge that cuts her hands is her future mother-in-law, and the prickly shepita her future father-in-law. [139]

Вы спитё, да белы лебеди,
Вы подружки мои милые,
Вам спалось ли ночку тёмную?
А мне да молодешеньке
Не спалася ночка тёмная,
Только много во сне видела:
Понесло мя, молодешеньку,
Вниз по матушке по быстрой реке,
Понесло меня, маледешеньку,
Ко белой березоньке,
Уж я тут было хваталася,
Уж я тут было держалася,
Не могла я сухватитеся.
Принесло мя, молодешеньку,
Что белая березонька
Что родимая то матушка.
Понесло мя, молодешеньку,
Вниз по матушке по быстрой реке;
Понесло мя молодешеньку,
Ко резучей то осоке,
Уж я тут-то сохваталася,
Уж я тут-то судержалася.
Понесло мя, молодешеньку,
Вниз по матушке по быстрой реке;
Понесло мя млaдешеньку,
Ко колючей-то щепите.
Тут я судержалася,
Тут я сухватилася:
Колюча-та шепичина—
Это свекор батюшко.
Резуча-то осока—
Свекровь матушка,
Белая березонька
Родная матушка.
Are you sleeping, white swans,
My dear friends,
Did you sleep well this dark night?
I, the young one,
Could not sleep well this dark night,
But saw much in my dreams:
The water carried carried me, the young one,
Down our mother the swift river,
I was carried, the young one,
To a white birch-tree,
And I tried to grasp it,
And I tried to take hold of it,
But I could not take hold of it.
And the water carried me along, the young one—
The white birch tree
Is my dear mother—
And the water carried me, the young one,
Down our mother the swift river,
And the water carried me, the young one
To the cutting sedge.
And here, yes, I grasped it,
And here, yes, I took hold of it.
And the water carried me, the young one,
Down our mother the swift river,
And it took me, the young one,
To the prickly shepita-plant,
And here I grasped it,
And here I took hold of it,
And the prickly shepita-plant
Is my father-in-law,
And the cutting sedge
Is my mother-in-law,
And the white birch
Is my dear mother.
This graphic picture of the bride swept away by the flood waters, unable to hold on to the grassy banks or the birch tree, terrified and finally carried onto the thorns of her new family, seems to occur only in the last-morning dream (at least in the collections I have been able to consult). It is in harmony with the stormy mood often present in the songs from this morning, when the arrival of the groom’s party may be represented as a storm or wind. [140]
§97. Sometimes the dream is different: in the following example the bride sees three ravens (it is common to see three entities of some sort, which often correspond to mother-in-law, father-in-law, and the groom), the third of which puts her hair into disarray. The bride cries about her braid and asks her friends to block the way for the groom’s party:

Вставайте-ка, милы подруженьки!
Спалася ли тёмна ноченька?
А мне, младенькой, приснилося,
Что летели три ворона.
Первый-то летел выше всех,
А второй-то кричал прытче всех
А третий сел на мою буйну головушку,
Растрепал мне русы косыньки.
А я, млада, горько плакала,
Плакала по русой косе….
Вставайте, милы подруженьки,
Умывайтесь ключевой водой,
Собирайтесь на весёлый пир.
Уж как едут-едут гости нежданные и незваные.
Завалите вы, милы подруженьки,
Путь-дороженьку гнилой осинушкой,
Чтоб они не прошли, не проехали. [141]
Get up, dear friends!
Did you sleep well this dark night?
As for me, the young one, I had a dream
That three ravens were flying,
And the first one flew highest of all,
And the second cawed loudest of all,
And the third one landed on my luxuriant head,
And disheveled my blond braids.
And I, the young one, cried bitterly,
I cried bitterly for my blond braid….
Get up, my dear friends,
Wash with spring water,
Prepare for the joyful feast.
They are on their way, the guests unwaited for and uninvited.
Block their way, my dear friends,
With a rotten aspen tree,
So that they cannot pass and cannot go through.

There are also dream-laments of the bride that are more reminiscent of the songs sung during the preceding week: for example, the bride may tell a dream in which she goes to a garden to gather flowers and sees that all the flowers are fresh and bright, but one is withered and drooping. She explains that she is the withered flower, her head bowed in sadness while her friends remain joyful and pretty. [142]

§98. The theme of the flooding river in the bride’s dream, however, is echoed by the presence of water (either in the form of a river or the sea) in other songs of the crowning morning. In most the water carries the bride away, and her mother is left looking for her. The following two examples illustrate both the fluidity and the persistence of this theme. The first one comes from the Polovzhie region and was recorded in the early 1980s:

Расливалась вода вешная
Да по лугам-то по зелёныем,
Да по травам-то по шелковым.
Да уносила вода вешная,
Да уносила дочек с матерью.
Да мать об дочери расплакалась:
“Да воротись ты, мое дитятко,
Да твои ключики позабыла!
Да уж как ключик—воля вольная,
Да второй ключик от комода,
Да от комода светлы платьица.” [143]
The spring floods flowed over
The green meadows,
The silken grasses.
The spring floods washed away,
Washed away daughters and mothers.
A mother cried for her daughter:
“Return, my little child,
You forgot you little keys!
And one key is your willful will,
And the second key is to your chest,
To your chest of light-colored dresses.”

§99. The second example is over a century earlier and was recorded in the Moscow region (Ostashkovo): [144]

По лугам вода вешняя;
Унесло, улелеило
Чадо милое, дочь от матери.
Разставалась матушка,
Разставалась государыня,
На крутом красном бережке,
Что на белом на камушке.
Не бела лебедь кликала,
Мать oб дочери плакала:
Воротись, мое дитятко,
Воротись, чадо милое,
Свет Анна Михайловна!
Позабыла ты трои ключи
Что трои ключи олотные,
И со щёлковым поясом,
Со колечком серебряным,
Со витым позолеченым.
Не забыла я, матушка,
Не забыла, государыня,
Что трои ключи золотыя;
Позабыла я, матушка,
Всю волюшку батюшкину
И всю негу матушкину,
Всю красу свою девичью.
It flowed, it poured [?],
The spring flood over the meadows,
It carried, it took away
A dear child, a daughter from a mother.
The mother parted [?],
The mistress parted [with her daughter ?]
On a steep red bank
On a white stone.
It was not a swan that called,
It was a mother crying for her daughter:
“Come back, my dear child,
Anna Mikhailovna, my light!
You forgot your three keys,
Your three golden [?] keys
With a silk belt,
With a silver ring,
A gilded twirled one!”
“I did not forget them, mother,
I did not forget, mistress,
The three keys.
I forgot, mother,
All my father’s freedom,
All my mother’s tender care,
All my maidenly beauty.”

§100. The theme of forgotten keys, usually three in number, which appears in both laments can take many forms, but invariably the mother asks her daughter to return (sometimes because she forgot the keys). When the bride is represented as responding to her mother, it is, of course, always in the negative, and usually, as in the second example above, the bride denies the notion that she has forgotten the keys: instead it is her maidenhood that she has forgotten. The bride’s mother is the only participant in the wedding who is allowed a measure of sadness even during the final, joyful, feast at the groom’s house, and themes similar to the laments above continue in the mother’s songs performed after the crowning. In laments on the crowining day the mother’s sadness is nearly as strongly expressed as that of the bride herself.

§101. The next step in the progression of the wedding is the ritual bath of the bride, and it had its own laments and prichety. In those regions when the rite was still practiced in relatively complete form at the time of the recording, every step in the ritual—the preparation of the wood, the making of the fire, the drawing of the water, etc.—is requested by the bride in a prichet. In songs and laments, the water for the bath-house (and also for the morning ablutions of the bride) is often drawn in a special way and from a special place. The water is supposed to come from the third dipping of a vessel into a river (the first two are rejected) or from the third river, which is often magical, has silver banks and a golden bottom, for example, in contrast to the first two rivers which are somehow unlucky. Sometimes, names of specific water sources are metioned in laments, both real and imaginary, ranging from the “sea-ocean” to the house well or “underground springs.” [145] The mythical rivers from which the water is drawn are sometimes given speaking names such as Угрюм-река (“River Gloom”), Свиреп-река (“River Fierce”), Весёл-река (“River Cheer”). [146]
§102. In the following prichet performed by the bath-maker, she claims to have flown here and there in search of cypress wood and then water, but says that when she tried to draw it from a well the groom interfered:

Я ль летала за Онего страховитое,
Я искала три колодечка,
Приходила я ко первому колодечку,
Почерпнула там воды холодноей,
Там ведь ковшики были железные,
Я хотела взять ключевой воды,
Слышу, топают копыта лошадиные,
Слышу, едет твой чуж отецкий сын,
Он смутил всю ключеву воду холодную,
Не успела я взять ключевой воды холодноей,
Я направилась ко второму колодечку,
Почерпушечки там были не простые,
Ковшички там были все литые.
Я ладила взять ключевой воды холодной,
Тут наехал остудник чуж отецкий сын,
Не успела я взять воды холодноей,
Поспешила я к третьему колодечку,
Только взяла я ключевой воды холодноей,
Вдруг затопали копыта лошадиные,
Вдруг наехал твой остудник чуж отецкий сын.
Он сулил меня, засуливал,
Он дарил меня, задаривал:
“Ты продай ко, бедна, вольну волюшку.” [147]
I flew beyond the frightening Lake Onega,
I searched for three wells,
I approached the first well,
I drew cold water,
Since the dippers there were of iron,
I wanted to take the spring water
But I hear the clop of horses’ hooves,
I hear, the hateful one, the stranger father’s son [the groom] is coming,
He muddied the cold spring water,
I did not have time to draw the cold spring water.
I went to the second well,
The dippers there were not plain,
They were all made of cast metal.
I got ready to draw cold spring water
But at that moment the hateful stranger father’s son arrrived,
I did not have time to draw the cold water,
I hurried to the third well,
As soon as I drew the cold spring water,
Suddenly the horse’s hooves clopped,
Suddenly he arrived, your hateful one, stranger father’s son.
He begged me with promises,
He promised me many gifts:
“Why don’t you sell, you poor thing, the willful will [of the bride]?”

The bathhouse itself is alternatively described as magically luxurious, gilded, decorated with pearls, made of precious wood and silk, and cursed as the bride wishes it to fall apart, “log by log.” Equally contradictory are the words of the bride: she both asks her friends to make the bath and blames them for it, asks them to wash away her krasota, and bewails its departure, curses the friend of the officiant who made the bath and thanks her.

§103. The krasota is often lost in the bath. In some songs and laments the bride sets her krasota on a windowsill and it is blown away by the wind, or else it becomes a swan or a duck or steam and escapes from the bathhouse. Sometimes the groom is pictured riding by the bathhouse on a horse and he buys the or takes it by force. [148] Sometimes, as in the following lament of the bride from the same region as the bath-maker’s prichet above, the groom is a hunter and kills the bride’s volyushka ‘will’ or ‘freedom’, which seems to be initially imagined as an headdress, since it “flings itself off” the bride’s head.

Вы советны милы подружки,
Где же баенна истопница,
Ключевой воды изнощица?
Где же питерска обманщица,
Вытегорская изменница?
Буди проклята советна мила подружка,
Изменила ты да волю вольную,
Изменила ты мою волю девичью.
Я пришла как в парну баенку,
Моя волюшка с головушки бросалася,
Во медны тазы она кидалася.
В чистой водушке да искупалася.
Она в печеньку бросалася,
Зрелым углем показалася.
Она в каменку бросалася,
Огнём пламенным да показалася.
Она в двери как бросалася,
Серой уточкой да показалася.
Поплыла как эта сера уточка
По широкому по славному Онегушку.
Тут по крутому по бережку
Ходил полесовал остудник млад отецкий сын.
Он убил да серу уточку
На широком славном Онегушке.
Это не уточка была,
Это была да воля девичья.
Уж родитель моя матушка,
Ведь я белая лебедушка
Без воли нунь вольноей.
Вы зовите светушков да братцов родимыих,
Пусть догонят остудника млада сына отецкаго,
Пусть отнимут мою да волю вольную,
Пусть отнимут мою да волю девичью. [149]
My beloved close friends,
Where is the one who stoked the fire in the bathhouse?
The one who brought the spring water?
Where is this deceiver from Saint-Petersburg
That betrayer from Vytegorsk?
A curse on you, my dear close friend,
You have changed [betrayed? Yes] my willful will
You have changed my maidenly will.
When I came to the steamy bath-house,
My will flung itself off my head,
It dashed itself into the copper basins,
It bathed in the clean water,
It flung itself into the oven,
It appeared as a ripe coal,
It flung itself into the stone oven,
It appeared as a fiery flame,
It flung itself to the door,
It appeared to be a gray duck.
This gray duck set out to swim
On wide and glorious Lake Onega.
There on a steep bank
Walked and hunted the hateful young father’s son
He killed the gray duck
On wide and glorious Lake Onega.
This was not a duck
This was my maidenly will.
You, my parent, my mother,
See now I, a white swan,
Have no willful will.
Call my dear brothers,
Let them catch up with the hateful young father’s son,
Let them take back my willful will,
Let them take back my maidenly will.

§104. In some laments the bride leaves her krasota in the bathhouse and send her sister or a friend to fetch it, but the sister opens the door too wide and the krasota flies away. In a lament from the region of Archangelsk the bride asks her father to get his saber and his horse and ride out to catch her krasota. To her lament the father replies, in prose, that he has already gone to look and found nothing:

Я съездил, да ничего нету, упустил, да и всё! Она улетела! Девья красота не воротится, где-е тут! [150]
I went after it, but couldn’t catch it, and that’s all! It flew away! Your maidenly krasota will not come back, no chance!

§105. After the bath the braid was usually made for the last time to the accompaniment of laments in which the bride simultaneously requests that her hair be combed and expresses her resistance by asking that a sharp knife or saber be hidden in it. In the following example, the bride asks her mother to put knives, needles, and sabers into her braid so that her godmother will cut her hands when she undoes the braid:

Заплети-ко кормилица
Ты в мою русу косу
Два ножа, да два булатные,
Две сабельки острые,
Две иголочки колючие!
Да приеду я, молода,
Я ко усыплению ко светлому,
Ко звону заунывному!
Только станет крёсна матушка
За мою косу братися,
Да и обрежет крёсна матушка
Свои белые рученьки
По самые кисточки! [151]
Braid, mother,
Into my long braid,
Two knives, two damask knives,
And two sharp sabers,
And two prickly needles!
I will arrive, the young one,
To the light Assumption
To the doleful bells [i.e. to church].
As soon as the godmother
Touches my braid
The godmother will cut
Her white hands
Up to the very wrists!

§106. The striking notion of knives (or needles, or sabers) braided into the bride’s hair is very widespread in laments performed on the morning of the “crowning” day. As the braid is undone for the last time before the procession to the church, the bride in her laments may warn her age-mates not to cut their hands or wish that the groom’s attendants may do so. The following example come from Povolzhye and is addressed to the friends of the bride:

Просим милости, подруженьки,
Мои милые голубушки,
Уж ко мне вы, дороги гости,
Уж в последние, в остатные!
Попрошу тебя, голубушка,
Моя милая подруженька,
Не расплетай-ка мне русу косу.
Как в моей-то во русой косе,
Есть два ножечка точёные,
Есть два серпика зубрёные,
Уж не порежь ты белы рученьки,
Уж не порежь ты в алу кровь. [152]
Welcome, friends,
My darling doves,
Come visit me
For the last remaining time!
I will ask you, darling doves,
My beloved friends,
Do not undo my blond braid.
In my blond braid,
There are two sharpened knives,
There are two jagged scythes,
Do not cut your white hands,
Do not draw red blood.

§107. In some regions of Zaonezhye the brother of the bride, who often had a special role to play in her wedding, also performed the decisive action in the ritual of the undoing of the braid. When the braid was made for the last time, it was woven very tightly, with many knots and ribbons, and the bride would resist its dissolution by holding its end firmly. The brother would loosen the bride’s grip, undo the braid, comb it, and put a silver dollar in his sister’s hair; he then took the ribbon (kosopletka), made a bow out of it, and pinned it on his chest. As he performed these actions, the bride’s friends sung:

Жарко, жарко свеча горит,
Пожарче воску ярого.
Слёзно плачет наша умница,
Горько тужит наша разумница
По своей ли по вольной волюшке,
По своей по девочьей красе.
Ты не плачь-ка, наша умница,
Не тужи, наша разумница,
Мы тебя ведь не в полон даем,
Мы тебя ведь замуж выдаем.
Брат сестрицу уговаривал,
Брат сестричушке наказывал:
—Ты сестрицюшка родимая
Туды выйти надо навеки,
Жить-то надо там умеючи,
Носить злата там, не снашивать,
Терпеть горя, не рассказывать,
Ты сестрицюшка родимая.
—Уж ты братец, ты родимый мой,
Понося злато сносится,
Потерпя горюшкo расстроится. [153]
Hot, hot the candle burns,
Hotter than the bright wax.
Our sensible bride is crying tears,
Our intelligent bride is grieving bitterly
Over her willful freedom and will,
Over her maidenly beauty.
Do not cry, our sensible one,
Do not cry, our intelligent one,
We are not giving you away into captivity,
We are giving you away in marriage.
The brother was persuading his sister:
—My dear sister,
You have to go there forever,
You have to know how to live there,
There you have to wear gold and never wear it out,
You have to tolerate grief and never tell it.
—O my brother, my dear one,
When you wear it gold becomes worn out,
When you tolerate it, grief becomes unbearable (?)

§108. In some songs the bride asks her brother to take her volya with him when he goes dancing, or to keep it safe so she can look at it when she comes to visit. [154] In another prichet from the same region, the bride asks her brother to buy her freedom for another year, saying that she longs to stay a maiden and live with her parents:

Ой-ко слушай, братец ты родименький,
Оставь хоть ещё на круглый один годышек,
Не пожалей-ка казны да все бессчётной,
И держи-ко ты белую лебёдушку
Что во красных во девицах.
Жалко от тоски бажоной вольной волюшки,
Хочется пожить у желанных у родителей
На своей на родинке. [155]
Listen to me, my beloved brother,
Leave me for at least one full year,
Do not spare countless wealth,
And keep your white swan
Among the pretty maidens.
I long so much for my beloved willful freedom,
I want to live with my beloved parents,
In my native land.

§109. Once the braid was undone and the bride’s hair let loose she could perform a prichet taking leave of her freedom, which is imagined as a gray duck being shot by a hunter, the groom, just as in the bath-lament above. The notion of the groom as hunter is traditional and widespread in wedding laments, and, of couse, find parallels in other cultures. The following lament was performed by the bride on the porch of her house:

Не серебряна цепочка распоясалась,
Моя волюшка с головки укатилася.
Ты лети, лети моя бажона вольна волюшка,
За горушки высокие,
За моря да за широкие,
За озерушки глубокие.
Ты не стой, моя бажона вольна волюшка,
Ты у рек за перевозами,
Не садись-ка ты, бажона вольна волюшка,
Да на водушку сероплавной серой утушкой.
Этот-то остудник млад отецкий сын,
Он охотник ведь охотится,
Не подстрелил бы тебя наместо
Сероплавной серой уточки. [156]
It was not a silver chain that came undone,
It was my freedom-will that rolled off my head.
Fly away, fly away my beloved willful freedom-will,
Beyond the tall mountains,
Beyond the wide seas,
Beyond the deep lakes.
Do not stand, my dear willful freedom-will,
By the rivers where the crossings are,
Do not land, my dear willful freedom-will
On the water as a gray swimming duck,
That hateful one, the young father’s son,
He is a hunter and hunts,
See that he does not shoot you instead of
The gray swimming duck.

§110. While the bride awaits the arrival of the groom’s party at her house she again performs laments, often in a lament-dialogue with her friends and with her mother. In these last laments before the bride’s presentation before the tables, her hair continues to be a focal point. In the following example the bride thinks ahead to the moment when her hair will have to be dressed like that of married women. She pictures the groom as a “robber” who “robs” her and “her head” and undoes her braid. In reality the braid was never undone by the groom himself, but rather by the bride’s friends or by a female attendant from the groom’s side. Often, such attendants would not actually undo the braid, but only do the bride’s hair up in the style of a married woman after the church. In the laments, however, both the attendant and even the groom himself are imagined as violent destroyers of the bride’s hair arrangement.

—Ой, вы подружки мои, кутушки,
Вы подружки мои, кутушки,
Ой, вы возьмите охраните меня.
Вы идите охраните меня,
Ой, вот как едет разоритель мой.
Вот как едет разоритель мой,
Ой, разорит мою головушку,
Разорит мою головушку,
Ой, расплетет он русыю косыньку,
Расплетет он русыю косыньку,
Ой, и разделит на шесть прядочок.
Он разделит на шесть прядочек,
Ой, заплетет он во две косыньки. [157]
Oi, my friends, my companions,
My friends, my companions,
Oi, take me and guard me,
Come and guard me.
Oi, here he comes, my despoiler.
Here he comes, my despoiler.
Oi, he will despoil my poor head,
He will despoil my poor head,
Oi, he will undo my blond braid,
He will undo my blond braid.
Oi, he will divided it into six locks,
He will divide it into six locks,
Oi, he will make two braids out of it.

§111. “Do not give me away” is perhaps the dominant theme in the laments peformed while waiting for the groom’s party, and, apart from bewailing her braid and her maidenly life, the bride performed other types of laments, often addressed to her father, mother, and brother(s). The following song, which reenacts a dialogue between a daughter and her father, exists in many variants, often with the mother rather than the father as the bride’s addressee:

—Тятенька родимый, тятенька родимый,
Колокольчики звенят, да колокольчики звенят.
—Мила моя дочь, да мила моя дочь, да
Не убойся—не отдам, да не убойся—не отдам.
—Тятенька родимый, тятенька родимый,
Женихи-то у ворот, да женихи-то у ворот
—Мила моя дочь, да мила моя дочь, да
Не убойся—не отдам, да не убойся—не отдам.
—Тятенька родимый, тятенька родимый,
Жених за скобу берет, да жених за скобу берет.
—Мила моя дочь, да мила моя дочь, да
Не убойся—не отдам, да не убойся—не отдам.
—Тятенька родимый, тятенька родимый,
Жених в комнату вошёл, да жених в комнату вошёл.
—Мила моя дочь, да мила моя дочь, да
Не убойся—не отдам, да не убойся—не отдам.
—Тятенька родимый, тятенька родимый,
Жених ручку подает, да жених ручку подает.
—Мила моя дочь, да мила моя дочь, да
Теперь воля не моя, да воля Сашина. [158]
—Dear daddy, dear daddy,
The bells are ringing, the bells are ringing!
—My dear daughter, my dear daughter,
Don’t fear—I will not give you away, don’t fear—I will not give you away.
—Dear daddy, dear daddy,
But the groom’s party is at the gates, the groom’s party is at the gates!
—My dear daughter, my dear daughter,
Don’t fear—I will not give you away, don’t fear—I will not give you away.
—Dear daddy, dear daddy,
The groom puts his hand on the door handle, the groom puts his hand on the door handle!
—My dear daughter, my dear daughter,
Don’t fear—I will not give you away, don’t fear—I will not give you away.
—Dear daddy, dear daddy,
The groom has walked into the room, the groom has walked into the room!
—My dear daughter, my dear daughter,
Don’t fear—I will not give you away, don’t fear—I will not give you away.
—Dear daddy, dear daddy,
The groom gives me his hand, the groom gives me his hand!
—My dear daughter, my dear daughter,
Now it’s not longer my will, now it is Sasha’s [the groom’s] will.

§112. After the crowning in church the bride’s hair would be done in the style of a married woman for the first time, sometimes even in the church itself, in a side-building. This was known as okruchivanie (‘binding’) and usually performed by svakhi, female attendants. Sometimes the two svakhi—the bride’s and the groom’s—together divide the bride’s hair in two, braid it and then wind the braid around her head, to be hidden (depending on the region) under various types of headdress appropriate for married women. In a prichet the groom’s officiate (svakha) is often pictured as unmercifully ripping and tearing the bride’s hair. The following song from Siberia describes this moment:

Недолго цветочку да в садике цвести,
Во саду цвести.
Недолго нашей Катеньке в девушках сидеть,
В девушках сидеть.
Недолго Ивановне русу косу плесть,
Русу косу плесть.
Во субботу вечером мать косу плела,
Мать косу плела.
Плела ее косаньку, слезами улила,
Слезами (й)улила.
Поутру ранёшенько подружки плели,
Подружки плели.
Плели ее косаньку, шёлком увили,
Шёлком увили.
Приехали свашеньки немилосливы,
Стали её косаньку всю рвать порывать,
Всю рвать порывать.
Стали её русую на две разделять,
На две разделять.
Разделили косаньку на две стороны,
На две стороны.
Положили русую поверх головы,
Поверх головы. [159]
The flower does not have long to bloom in the garden,
to bloom in the garden.
Our Katen’ka does not have long to be among maidens,
to be among maidens.
Ivanovna does not have long to braid her blond braid,
Braid her blong braid.
On Saturday night her mother made the braid,
her mother made the braid.
She made the braid and drenched it with tears,
and drenched it with tears.
Early in the morning the friends made the braid,
The friends made the braid,
They made the braid, they wove silk into it,
they wove silk into it,
The cruel svakhi [officiants on the groom’s side] arrived,
the cruel ones,
They began to tear her braid and rip it,
tear and rip it,
They began to divide the braid in two,
divide it in two.
The parted the braid onto two sides,
onto two sides,
They put the blond braid
On top of her [the bride’s] head.

§113. Similar is the following song, from a different region, sung by the bride’s friends as her hair is being arranged in the fashion of married women:

Вострубила трубонька
Рано по заре.
Восплачь, восплачь, Машенька,
По русой косе.
Вечор твою косыньку
Девушки плели.
Приехали свахоньки
Стали твою косыньку
На две расплетать,
На две на шесть плеточек
По всей голове.
Будут твои косыньки век вековать
Тебе в красных девицах
Больше не бывать:
Отымет муж волюшку
Обяжет буйную головушку. [160]
The pipe began to play
Early at dawn.
Weep, weep, Mashen’ka,
Over your blond braid.
Yesterday the maidens
Braided your braid.
The cruel match-makers
They begain to divde your braid
Into two parts,
Into two, into six locks
All over your head.
There [on top of your head] will your braid spend the rest of time,
You will not be a pretty maiden
Ever again.
Your husband will take away your freedom-will,
He will bind your luxuriant head.

§114. From church, the procession moves (often with the bride “covered” as before) to the groom’s house, where the mood is decidedly different from what it has been at the bride’s. No laments are performed here, and it is telling that in Zaonezhye the feast at the groom’s is called khvalenie, ‘praise’. [161] Indeed, from the very beginning the songs performed at the groom’s house are decidedly different from the bride’s songs and paint a different picture of the wedding. In these songs, the groom is, of course, handsome and strong and there is no talk of compulsion. Rather, the groom sets out to look for a bride and finds her, her beauty is praised as is his, the groom is gentle and persuasive, he impressively rides up to the bride’s house or orchard on a horse, and the bride is always willing, freely chosing the groom or waiting for him. In contrast to the bride’s songs, which stress her lack of freedom, the groom’s song ascribes to the bride both desire to marry and love for the groom. They also ascribe to the groom himself agency in chosing his bride, the best maiden among many:

Перебор, перебор,
Часты звёздушки,
Перебрал, перебрал,
Часты звёздочки!
Выбрал себе, выбрал себе
Да заряночку!
Маленьку, маленьку,
Да ясненьку!
Перебор, перебор,
Часты звёздочки,
Перебрал, перебрал,
Красных девушек!
Выбрал себе, выбрал себе
Да Галину душу!
Ростом она, ростом она
Лицом она, лицом она,
Бела-румяна! [162]
Looking through, looking through
The countless stars,
He chose among, he chose among,
The countless stars!
He chose for himself, he chose for himself
The dawn star!
A little one, a little one,
But a bright one!
Looking through, looking through
The countless stars,
He chose among, he chose among
The beautiful maidens!
He chose for himself, he chose for himself
Galina, our darling!
In stature she is, in stature she is
Slender and tall!
In complexion she is, in complexion she is
White and rosy-cheeked!

§115. Interestingly, the hair seems to play an important part in the groom’s songs as well, though nothing is done to the groom’s hair in the ritual. There is no doubt, however, about how the hair of the groom is imagined: he has golden curls falling to his shoulders. In one of the praise-songs for the groom from the region of Archangelsk, the curls are described as follows:

На главе-то золоты кудри свиваютсе,
В три ряды его кудри да завиваютсе. [163]
On his head the golden locks curl,
In three rows his locks curl.
§116. In the same song, people look at the groom in his fur-coat and black hat and wonder:

Это чей, это чей да, чей удалой молодец?
Не свётел ли месяц-батюшко всосеял молодца?
Не заря ли тебя да спородила, молодцa?
Не звёзды ли часты-мелки да осияли молодца?
Whose is he, whose is he, this vigorous youth?
Was it the bright father-moon that begat such a youth?
Was it dawn that gave birth to you, o youth?
Was it the countless stars that shed light on such a youth?

The groom (within the song) responds by naming his parents and saying that it was his sister who “twirled” his curls. The scenario is traditional. In multiple examples of this type the groom’s curls elicit questions and admiration, and it is usually the groom’s sister who curls his hair, although in some cases it may also be the bride.

§117. One of the most widespread praise songs for the groom begins in the following matter (with multiple variants):

На ком кудерки, на ком ру…ох, русые?
Ох да лёли лёли, на ком ру… ох русые?
Да на Ванюшке кудри по плечам да лежат,
Ох дa лёли лёли по плечам лежат,
По плечам лежат, словно жар ох, жар горят,
Ох да лёли лёли, слвно жа … ох жар горят,
Словно жар горят, разгораются,
Ох да лёли лёли разгораются. [164]
Who has curls, oh, who has blond curls?
Oh, lyoli lyoli, who has blond curls?
Vanyushka’s curls go down to his shoulders.
Oh, lyoli lyoli, go down to his shoulders.
They fall to his shoulders, they burn like fire,
Oh, lyoli lyoli, they burn like fire.
They burn like fire, they blaze even brighter,
Oh, lyoli lyoli, they blaze even brighter.

§118. In another type of song, which describes the young man about to find a bride for himself, the future groom’s mother is depicted giving instructions to her son as she combs his “yellow curls:”

Его матушка снаряжала,
Хорошо жёлты кудри зачесала. [165]
His mother made him ready,
Combed well his yellow curls.

§119. The groom’s hair, just like the bride’s, can be strikingly compared to flowers. Needless to say, in contrast to the bride’s, these flowers never wilt. The following example belongs to the concluding part of the wedding, the feast at the groom’s house:

Не черёмушка завыростывала,
Не кудряво деревцо зарасветывало:
Расцвели кудри молодечкие,
Молодецкие кудри Трофимовы,
И что света Трофима Петровича.
На всякой кудринке по цветочку цветет,
По цветочку цветет по лазурьевому,
На всякой кудринке по жемчужинке. [166]
It was not a bird-cherry tree that grew,
It was not a curly tree that blossomed:
It was youthful curls that blossomed,
The youthful curls of Trofim,
Our light, Trofim Petrovich.
On every curl there is a flower blooming,
On each one a blue flower blooming,
On every curlicue there is a pearl.

§120. In one song the curls metonymically stand in for the groom, while the braid stands in for the bride. The song was preformed in Zaonezhye before the departure for the church but after the bride’s hair was done up in the fashion of a married woman and ceremonially handed over to the groom. The groom would put his hand on the bride’s hair (or a shawl concealing it), turn the bride around three times, and then kiss her as the maidens sang:

Жёлтые кудри за стол пошли,
за стол пошли
Русую косаньку вслед повели,
ой, вслед повели.
Жёлтые кудри —там Ваня господин,
ой, Ваня господин,
Русая косанька—Маня душа,
ой, Маня душа. [167]
Yellow curls went to the table,
went to the table
They led the blond braid after them,
oi, after them.
The yellow curls—are master Vanya,
oi, master Vanya.
The blond braid—our dear Manya,
oi, our dear Manya.

§121. In the Russian north, the joyful wedding feast was the occasion for performing many kinds of praise-songs characterized by a shared refrain, which in its simplest form is Виноградиё красно-зелёное моё “My read-green grape-vine.” The question of the origins of this refrain is a complicated one, but it is both typical and telling in its reference to a southern, exotic, and luxurious plant. From the very beginning, “grape trees,” raisins, and roses are mentioned in the groom’s songs, but not in those of the bride. At the conclusion of the wedding the unripe apples, trampled flowers, and broken branches of the brides’ laments are replaced in songs by flourishing grapes and ripe berries, as in the following example:

Виноград в саду цветет,
Виноград в саду цветет,
А ягода, а ягода созревает,
А ягода, а ягода созревает.
Виноград-то—Иван сударь,
Виноград-то—Иван сударь,
А ягода, а ягода—свет Прасковья его,
А ягода, а ягода—свет Прасковья его. [168]
A grapevine blooms in the orchard
A grapevine blooms in the orchard
And a berry, a berry ripens
And a berry, a berry ripens.
The grapevine is master Ivan
The grapevine is master Ivan,
And the berry, and the berry — his Praskovia,
And the berry, and the berry—his Praskovia.

§122 . Red roses also become prominent in the praises for the newlyweds, and phrases such as Роза, роза, роза—алые цветы (“rose, rose, rose—red flowers”) or роза моя, виноград зелёный (“my rose, my green grape-vine”) or сладко яблочко наливчасто (“sweet appple full of juice) appear as refrains or beginning verses. [169] The concluding feast is also the occasion for praise-songs containing jocular blame of the participants (especially of the officiants) and for bawdy and rude sexual songs, usually sung as the newlyweds were led to their room.

Part Two: Ancient Greece

§123. Let me yet again go back in time to being a student of Greg’s and recall one of his key phrases: “work in progress.” These words apply only too well to what follows. My digest of the Russian evidence is a birthday gift for Greg. It is also the first part of a larger work, the next step of which is a comparative discussion of the Ancient Greek wedding, based in part on the text assembled above. Here I would like to give brief preview of that work, a sample of initial thoughts, and the most obvious possible comparisons, in essence a selective list of the subject under investigation.
§124. Needless to say, any comparison between the evidence from Ancient Greece and, for example, recollections of village elders in 1980s Siberia is open to methodological limitations, questions and doubts. It is not my intent here to rehearse such considerations at length. Suffice it to say that my aim is not to establish a cognate relationship between the wedding customs of Russia and Ancient Greece, though such a relationship is a priori likely, nor is it my intention to reconstruct any part of ancient Greek wedding customs on the basis of the Russian evidence, something that would indeed be methodologically questionable. Rather, in presenting a coherent picture of a traditional wedding, related both typologically and genetically to the Greek one, the Russian examples open up possibilities and suggest connections that may lead to a better understanding of what survives from antiquity. The comparison can suggest something about the relative weight and persistence of certain metaphors, their sequences and interconnections. Above all, the comparison expands the parameters of what we consider “thinkable” or likely,” adding to the list of options to consider when thinking about the placement of a given genre within the sequence of the wedding, its potential performative contexts, and its possible performers. [170] The comparative approach has already been used in discussion of the Greek wedding laments: laments performed by the bride, her family and friends at modern Greek weddings have been seen as their continuation, and Bowra compared Sappho’s fr. 114 (on which see below) to a Moravian bride’s lament for her “green crown,” a cognate, it would seem, of the Russain bride’s lament for her krasota. [171] Lord also mentions Slavic wedding laments and discusses the expansion of epic by means of the inclusion of such songs. [172] The comparison can be taken further, I hope, by a closer consideration of the songs themselves.
§125. The evidence for the existence of wedding laments in Ancient Greece has been discussed by Seaford and Lardinois, and I refer to their discussions while distancing myself from one aspect of it, namely the assumption that these laments are directly connected to the notion that in marriage women “were imagined as ”dying” the death of a young girl before being reborn as women (and mothers) in marriage.” [173] The question of wedding and death is a difficult one, but the notion formulated above is at the very least not evident. This is not to say that weddings and death have no points of contact, but rather to question the notion that this contact results in a “wedding as death” metaphor and that this metaphor in turn explains, motivates, and justifies the existence of wedding laments. There is no doubt that the death of a maiden is frequently imagined as a wedding to Death and that her funeral, including the laments, may be replete with wedding symbolism. [174] The reverse, however, is not obviously true, and the structural similarities that have been pointed out between weddings and funerals are not sufficient to make that case. [175] As Ferrari observes, what militates against the two-way assimilation of marriage and death is “the fact that, while the bride’s death may be cast as a marriage, a marriage is never cast as a death.” [176]
§126. The evidence for the Russian wedding ritual is immense, and it would be foolish on my part to generalize on the basis of the part of it that I have examined. For that part, however, Ferrari’s pronouncement holds true. [177] Of course, any loss can be conceptualized as a kind of death, and any transformation as a death followed by rebirth. The question is rather whether the songs activate these notions, and to this question the answer appears to be negative. It is certainly true that the bride may express in her laments a wish to die while still in her native home, to escape marriage. In such laments the prospect of marriage is so terrifying to her that death seems better. This is different, however, from the notion that marriage is by its very nature the death of the maiden to be re-born as a woman. The fieldwork on Russian weddings brims over with laments, but if anything, the Russian comparanda seem to indicate that laments need not presuppose an overt equation of marriage to the death of the maiden.
§127. The Russian bride’s desire to die rather than endure separation from her maiden friends does, however, echo Sappho fr. 94 Voigt with its lament-like wish:

τεθνάκην δ’ ἀδόλως θέλω. [178]
truly I want to die

Lardinois has argued that this fragment along with 16 and 96, all songs addressed to absent maidens, “in fact represent laments that Sappho herself or young friends of the bride performed at weddings.” [179] Elements of wedding lament have been observed in Catullus 62, which appears to be based at least in part on Sappho, and in any case is a stylization of a wedding song. [180] From Catullus also comes what might be the most direct reference to the ancient wedding laments, in another poem with Greek antecedents, a homage to Callimachus:

estne novis nuptis odio Venus? an quod aventum
frustrantur falsis gaudia lacrimulis,
ubertim thalami quas iuxta limina fundunt?

Catullus 66.15–17.
Is Venus loathsome to new brides? Otherwise why
is the joy of parents frustrated by the false tears
which they shed in profusion at the threshold of the bedchambers?

§128. Elements of wedding lament have been detected in the final chorus of Aeschylus’ Suppliants, where a female chorus sings in an agonistic dialogue with a male one, as the two choruses also do in Catullus 62. Seaford has argued that in both cases a genre of wedding song is evoked, and that traces of such wedding songs are also to be seen in Sappho 27, in a fragment of the Danaid trilogy where both boys and girls sing on the morning after the wedding night (fr. 43 Radt) and also in the Hesiodic Shield 276–284, where choruses of both boys and girls sing in a wedding procession. [181]

§129. Finally, the notion of lament attaches to the figure of Hymenaeus himself. In Pindar (fr. 128c Snell), for example, Hymenaeus dies at the wedding, and is a figure of lament together with Linos and Ialemnos. This is a subject to which I will come back more fully in the next edition of this work. Here I only note that Hymenaeus seems to parallel in a curious way not only the bride, but also her maidenhood, for he disappears and cannot be found again, and Proclus’s aetiology for the term refers to a search and longing for him:

Ὑμέναιον δὲ ἐν γάμοις ᾄδεσθαί φησι κατὰ πόθον καὶ ζήτησιν 
Ὑμεναίου τοῦ Τερψιχόρας, ὅν φασι γήμαντα ἀφανῆ γενέσθαι. [182]
They say that the hymenaeus is sung at weddings concerning in longing and search for Hymenaeus the son of Tepsichora, who, they say, disappeared once he married.

§130. The applicability of the Russian comparative evidence stretches, of course, beyond direct equations as Russian wedding songs find their echoes in Ancient Greece not only in the laments of the brides but in multiple genres, both verbal and visual. The comparison becomes more meaningful if it focuses not only on single elements, however tantalizingly similar those may sometimes be, but also on the contexts of such similarities, the sequences and structures of which they are part. It makes sense, therefore, to follow the bride’s progression through the steps of the wedding, the progression that begins, both in Russia and also in Ancient Greece, in a group of girls.

§131. In her meticulous study of the maidens depicted on Attic vases, Ferrari has observed a pattern whereby a spinning girl may be depicted in the context of an amorous encounter, or wool baskets appear in scenes of courtship and play where little actual wool-working is being done. Ferrari identifies these figures, whom she calls “spinners” as parthenoi, marriageable but as yet unmarried girls, and defines their essential characteristics in art both visual and verbal. [183] On vases, the central characteristic of the “spinner” is that she appears in a group of peers, and Ferrari finds a corresponding image in poetry and myth, where “girls come in packs” (the Nereids, Minyads, Proetids, the companions of Artemis, Persephone, Nausikaa etc.). There is ambiguity in depictions of such groups: often there is a central figure, distinguished from the rest, sometimes there is none. In those cases when one maiden is singled out the distinction is subtle: one girl may be seating while others are standing and she may be offered objects by the others, but she and her helpers are depicted in a way so similar that, as Ferrari puts it, they “fade into each other.” [184] Describing an Athenian red-figure pyxis [185] decorated with the toilet of the Nereids, Ferrari writes: “The picture gives the model of the sisterly band of maidens all of an age, all noble, beautiful and virtuous, led by one who is the most beautiful, noble, and virtuous of all.” [186]
§132. Ferrari’s interpretation of the visual evidence, as she points out, corresponds exactly to Calame’s model for the choruses of maidens on display in Alcman’s Partheneion, Moschus’ Europa, and Theocritus’ Epithalamium for Helen. [187] In each case, the maidens form a group, and the leader is one of them, prima inter pares. The maidens are all companions, they are of the same age, they all play and work together (παῖδα … σὺν παισὶ, Theocritus 18.13), and yet the leader is also distinct: Europa stands out among her peers as Aphrodite does among the Graces, Helen is compared to Dawn or Spring in the midst of an undifferentiated chorus of maidens, and Hagesichora outshines her companions in the Partheneion. [188] In the same way, Nausikaa stands out among her companions and, like the spinners on vases, her group both plays and works. [189] On vases the work of the maidens is spinning and weaving, while in the Odyssey it is the washing of the clothes, but the two tasks are complementary: there is little doubt that Nausikaa’s laundry presupposes her woolworking.
§133. Calame demonstrates that the paradigm for such a band and its leader is Artemis with her nymphs, but Ferrari notes that another paradigm is frequently evoked in poetry: Aphrodite and the Graces. [190] Based upon Calame’s findings and her own analysis, Ferrari draws together the essential traits of such groups and their leaders, and it is hard to improve upon her description, which I quote in full:

The paragons of Artemis and Aphrodite are another way of framing the paradox of the spinner, who is sexually charged but innocent of sex. What holds together the thiasos helikon is precisely the fact that its members are of a very special age: parthenoi, marriageable girls, who, like Nausikaa, will not remain parthenoi for long. It is possible to draw up a list of their typical activities and circumscribe their habitat: with Europa, they prepare together for the dance, bathe in springs, and gather flowers. With Helen of Sparta, they spin and weave and play the lyre. They sing and dance at the wedding when one of the group marries. These maidens, the rank and file and the beauties among them, are our wool-workers. [191]

§134. Strikingly, there is nothing in this description that would have to be changed for it to apply to the maidens of the Russian wedding songs, with the exception of bathing in spring, for which neither Siberia nor the shores of the White Sea provide a suitable climate. Here again, the marriageable maiden does not appear alone, but always in a group of age-mates who are playing, dancing, singing, gathering flowers, sewing and embroidering. They perform the same function as in Theocritus’ Epithalamium for Helen in singing at the wedding when one of them is married, and it is always the prima inter pares who is the bride: each maiden in her turn will play this role, be praised in wedding songs as the “leader of the pack,” the most “beautiful, noble and virtuous of them all.” Each maiden married in certain villages of the Vologda region will hear her age-mates singing at her wedding that they have lost the “leader of the herd,” each one will ask her friends to sing cheerful songs to a musical accompaniment claiming that she can no longer join them, even though she used to be the first to start and the last to leave off. Russian wedding songs exhibit the same tension as the scenes on Greek vases: the leader is one of the group, and yet she is distinct, all branches of the tree are beautiful, but the topmost is the bride. At Odyssey 6.108 a careful balance is struck when Nausikaa is said to be conspicuous among her friends, and yet they all are beautiful: ῥεῖά τ’ ἀριγνώτη πέλεται, καλαὶ δέ τε πᾶσαι. Perhaps this assurance of every maiden’s beauty has to do with the fact that every one of these maidens will have to play the role of the leader in her turn. Even the comparison with the stars, so prominent in Greek poetry, can be paralleled in Russian songs, though here it is less central. It is present nevertheless in a very widespread praise song where the groom is depicted as looking at all the stars and choosing the brightest one, sometimes described as the “dawn-star.” [192]

§135. The Greek vases that depict the maidens in groups often also feature their wool baskets. Ferrari remarks of an Athenian grave monument that brings together the attributes of a parthenos—it shows a wool basket placed upon a chest—that this compounds “beauty and labor—the jewels and the pensum—with admirable economy.” The wool basket, Ferrari observes, is an attribute of “the women being wooed,” being present even in scenes of mythical rape (Europa and Aethra) and also in the scenes of toilet. There is little doubt that in reality spinning and weaving were essential tasks of a wife, but on vases as in poetry these activities belong predominately to the maidens, the same maidens who bathe and adorn themselves, wear rich clothes, receive gifts from wooers, work and play in groups, and wrap themselves in long mantles on proper occasions. [193]
§136. For the most part the vases discussed by Ferrari depict pre-wedding rather than wedding scenes, but there are exceptions, and they speak the same visual language. Two miniature lekythoi by the Amasis Painter depict the scenes of wedding, and Ferrari observes that they establish a contrast between the bride and her age-mates “in the manner of wedding songs.” [194] One lekythos is painted with scenes of cloth production on its body, and a wedding scene on its shoulder: the bride sits in a mantle covering her head and body, lifting its edge to reveal her face and holding a wreath in her hand, while the parthenoi dance in a circle around her. On the body of the second lekythos, the bride, dressed in the same way and making the same gesture, is seated in a carriage being taken in a wedding procession to her husband’s house, while on the shoulder of of the lekythos the girls dance to the accompaniment of aulos and lyre. The visual and verbal depictions of the maidens examined by Ferrari bring together several notions which, as she points out, “are not easily reconciled in the mind of a modern interpreter: physical beauty, described in terms of splendor (bath and cosmos), chastity and wisdom made visible by the enveloping mantle and modest gaze, and constant toil.” [195]
§137. The notions might indeed present a puzzling combination but only if the modern interpreter were unfamiliar with the workings of a traditional Russian village wedding. Just as the maidens on Greek vases are engaged in wool-working, so too the bride and her friends spend every evening of her wedding week sewing, an action that seems almost as symbolic and impractical as the presence of wool baskets in abduction scenes. In fact, the bride’s cloth-making is already done, and the wedding songs refer to the accumulation of her work: she has spun and woven, she has put her textiles in a chest and even had to push them in with her knee—a visible token of her “constant toil.” In several regions the bride was expected in the course of the wedding to give a towel or runner or other product of her weaving and embroidery to each member of the groom’s family. [196] These gifts, especially the long, narrow towels, were not for practical use, but rather symbolic and decorative. As on Greek vases, the beauty and splendor of the bride praised in songs and put on display in her splendid and traditionally determined wedding costume coexists with the vision of the bride as a worker, and specifically as a maker of cloth. In both contexts, maidenly weaving is distinct from that of a wife, and its interruption can signal a maiden’s transition to married wife: in the Vologda region, while the bride’s friends sew in the evenings, the bride no longer does so, though she sits with them. This pause in her work brings to mind the maiden who can no longer weave in Sappho fr. 102 Voigt, her work too interrupted by the intrusion of Aphrodite into her life:

γλύκηα μᾶτερ, οὔτοι δύναμαι κρέκην τὸν ἴστον
πόθωι δάμεισα παῖδος βραδίναν δι’ Ἀφροδίταν
Sweet mother, I cannot weave at the loom any longer
Overcome by desire for a boy (?) through slender Aphrodite. [197]

§138. The third notion included by Ferrari in her list, namely the “chastity and wisdom made visible by the enveloping mantle and modest gaze,” is also well represented in the dromena and legomena of the Russian village wedding. In the Vologda region, the wedding proper begins when the bride is covered, and from that point on she remains veiled. Veiled she is taken to church, and veiled again from the church to the house of the groom. Ferrari remarks that on Greek vases the veiled figure often shows signs of being restricted by the veil, for example, when she has to thrust her hand out awkwardly to pick up an object. [198] In a similar way, the Vologda brides in their laments cannot walk as fast or as far as before and cannot see “half the white light.” These Vologda brides are separated from their age-mates in the same way as the brides on the Amasis Painter’s miniature lekythoi: the other maidens sings and dance, their heads decorated but not veiled, while the bride alone sits, covered and veiled with a shawl.

§139. In Russian wedding songs the bride becomes excluded from what has up till now been her habitat, namely nature as opposed to the house. The maidens walk in the forests and play in the meadows and orchards, the latter invariably pictured as full of flowers, places of beauty rather than utility. The bride imagines that her friends will go without her “into green meadows to play” (В зелены луга на гулянушку), [199] and the meadows and forests are also the places where her krasota flies away from the bride (Во зеленые луга, Во дремучие леса “to the green meadows, to the dense forests”). [200] The meadows where the maidens play have silken grasses and flowers, which are most commonly described as sky-blue. When the bride looks for a place to put her krasota she goes to her old haunts, “to the green meadows, to the fresh grasses, to the sky-blue flowers” (Во луга зеленые, на травы муравые, и на цветы лазоревые). [201] What the maidens do in these verdant places is described by the verb гулять (gulyat’), which is no easier to translate than the Greek παίζειν, used in similar contexts and conveying a similar mixture of meanings. [202] The Russian verb implies being outside, but also play and playfullness and, in the older uses of the verb, song and dance. When the maidens tell the bride that she will no longer be one of them, they say that she will not longer sing joyful songs and гулять with her friends.
§140. In Greek poetry, maidens also play in the meadows, and this subject has received so much scholarly attention that full discussion here is impossible. Suffice it to say that the meadow has been aptly described as a “space filled with Eros” and “framework for games that lead to fulfillment of amorous desire,” and yet also a space that is rarely the locus of sex. [203] Rather, the meadow is a locus of erotic potentiality and “awakening sexual awareness,” a desirable yet dangerous place for girls, where, as Rosenmeyer puts it, there are no men, but “threats of predation hover at the edges.” [204] As Stehle Stigers demostrates, the meadow is a place of virginity, but also of its loss, the fate of its flowers parallel to that of a maiden. The flowers of the meadows do not last: even Hippolytus plucks flowers from Artemis’ emphatically virginal, and yet erotic, meadow. [205] The classic example of the theme is, of course, Persephone’s fateful picking of the flowers in a beautiful meadow and in the company of her friends. [206] It has long been pointed out that one of the meadow’s defining characteristics is its unproductiveness, which stands in sharp contrast to the fertility of the ploughed field. [207] Just as the metaphor of ploughing is expressed in the Athenian famous dictum on the purpose of marriage, so it is implicit in the Russian custom of hanging a plough over the door of the newlywed’s bedroom. [208] The bride’s songs, in contrast, are never concerned with fertility, denying by their loud silence the fact that something is given to the bride in compensation for what she loses. The concern of the maiden’s songs and the bride’s lament is not generation, but pure beauty and its irrevocable loss, represented as sheer destruction.
§141. The haunts of the maidens are beautiful and unproductive, be they wild spaces, such as meadows and forests, or spaces that are, in fact, cultivated and protected. This latter option is as prevalent as the former, but has different connotations. In the meadows, the maiden is unprotected and in the company of her age-mates—it is in this setting that she may be seen by her future husband, and from this setting that she may be snatched. The image of a protected flower garden, on the other hand, often has to do with the bride’s parents, with her sheltered and luxurious life in the parental home, which is coming to an end as surely as playing in the meadows. Here the most striking parallel to the Russian wedding songs comes yet again from Catullus 62, where the chorus of maidens refuses to grant any benefit to marriage and compares a maiden to a flower in a walled garden where neither cattle nor plough can threaten it. While it is protected, the flower is beautiful and desirable, but as soon as it is plucked it both fades and fades from view, no longer “sweet” and “dear” to boys and girls, a fate similar to that of the maiden:

Ut flos qui in saeptis secretus nascitur hortis,
ignotus pecori, nullo convulsus aratro,
quem mulcent aurae, firmat sol, educat imber.
multi illum pueri, multae optavere puellae:
idem cum tenui carptus defloruit ungui,
nulli illum pueri, nullae optavere puellae:
sic virgo, dum intacta manet, dum cara suis est;
cum castum amisit polluto corpore florem,
nec pueris iucunda manet, nec cara puellis.

Catullus 62.39-47.
Just like a flower grows hidden in an enclosed garden,
unknown to cattle, uprooted by no plough,
a flower that the breezes caress, the sun strengthens, the rain rears.
Many youths, many maidens desire it—
That same flower once it withers, plucked by a delicate nail,
No youths, no maidens desire:
Just so a maiden, as long as she is untouched, is dear to her friends;
Once she loses the pure flower, her body defiled,
She does not remain pleasing to youths, nor dear to maidens.

§142. The poetics of this stanza are strikingly reminiscent of a bride from Vologda, who recollects her father’s promise to put her in a garden, protect her and call her a “flower.” [209] In examining the narcissistic position voiced by the girls of the Catullus poem, Stehle points out their refusal to enter into the life of society and their refusal to acknowledge, for example, that each girl comes from a union of a man and a woman. Instead, “a flower is cherished in the garden because its fragile delicate beauty is its own justification,” it “gives nothing except for the sheer fact of its existence in return for the protection of its defenselessness.” [210] The Vologda bride, who recalls her father’s delight in her very existence, longs for just such a lot. In her lament, the father’s failure to retain the same attitude forever, his change from a protector to a seller of his daughter’s beauty is seen as a cruel betrayal.

§143. The poem with which Catullus’ protected flower is most often compared is Sappho 105c:

οἴαν τὰν ὐάκινθον ἐν ὤρεσι ποίμενες ἄνδρες
πόσσι καταστείβοισι, χάμαι δέ τε πόρφυρον ἄνθος
As the hyacinth in the mountains shepherd-men
Trample with their feet, and the purple flower is on the ground.

This image in turn finds striking parallels in Russian wedding laments, where the bride’s krasota, hidden under a blue flower, is trampled or cut by uncaring farmers.

Да тут и шли сенокоснички,
Да мужики деревенские,
Да подкосили девью красоту,
Да подкосили и подрезали. [211]
But then some hay-cutters were passing by,
Peasants from a village,
They mowed the maidenly krasota,
They mowed it and they cut it.

§144. Sappho’s ποίμενες ἄνδρες underscores the male subjects of the hyacinth’s violation, and the second line of the fragment draws out the contrast between the magnitude of the destruction they have wrought and their lack of concern for it: not only do they damage the flower, they trample it with their feet. The preciousness of the flower is in contrast to its degraded position, χάμαι “on the ground.” The shepherds are busy with their work and have their own concerns (connected, of course, with productive and generative tasks) and the hyacinth is nothing to them. The emotional workings of the Russian laments are very similar: the farmers, whose maleness is again emphasized, do not even notice what destruction they have wrought as they, just like Sappho’s shepherds, go about their business of agricultural production.

§145. In discussing the connection between Sappho 105c and Catullus 62, Stehle hypothesizes that Catullus “has exaggerated and distorted Sappho’s vision to bring out the latent narcissism he sees in it, while giving the more positive aspects of her imagery, in disguise, to his boys’ chorus.” [212] A consideration of the Russian wedding laments cannot answer questions about a possible relationship between the two ancient poems, but it can, I think, provide reason for caution. The images in both Sappho and Catullus find parallels in Russian wedding songs, and these parallels suggest that there might be little exaggeration or distortion in the Catullus’ girls’ chorus and also that it might have had other models besides Sappho 105c. This is not to deny that Catullus is engaging with Sappho’s poetry in 62, but rather to suggest that he engages with Sappho, and also more generally with wedding poetry, in terms both broader and more precise that we might be able to ascertain on the basis of Sappho’s surviving fragments.
§146. By the same token, Russian wedding laments cannot answer questions about the lost context of Sappho 105c, but they can add to the range of possibilities. Stehle Stigers suggests that the fragment is, in essence, about rape: “The hyacinth on this hillside, then, is a beautiful girl in a vulnerable position, harmed, presumably raped or seduced, by careless, wandering men. … The girl is crushed in her youth before finding a stable love or a home.” [213]
The evidence of the Russian wedding laments complicates the picture. In these laments, the crushed flower is not a girl raped in her youth but the bride, who is in the process of becoming a socially integrated and, if all goes well, productive, wife. The image of the carelessly destroyed flower is an integral part of a larger picture. It is a manifestation of its occasion, a traditional way for the bride herself and her age-mates to describe the end of her maidenhood at the moment of the lament. It is not, however, a reflection of how the bride’s fate is seen within the totality of the wedding, nor even a totalizing reflection the maiden’s female-centered view, since the same chorus will soon sing celebratory songs of praise and good wishes to the very bride whom they now compare to a carelessly destroyed flower. The chorus of girls in Catullus 62 voices resistance to the marriage reminiscent of the extremist stance of the Danaids, and yet in the last stanza they join the chorus of the boys in urging the bride to submit to the will of her parents:

et tu ne pugna cum tali coniuge, virgo.
non aequumst pugnare, pater cui tradidit ipse
ipse pater cum matre, quibus parere necessest.

Catullus 62.59–61.
You too, maiden, do not struggle against such a spouse.
It is not reasonable to struggle against the man to whom your father himself has handed you over,
your father himself, together with your mother, whom you must obey.

§147. The same dynamics are repeatedly at play during the week of the Russian wedding: the bride resists and then symbolically submits, and then again voices her resistance in a different form, only to submit yet again. Like the absent bride of Catullus 62, she is the addressee of much persuasion by both male and female voices, all leading to the same conclusion: maidenhood is no longer hers, and she must submit. [214] Stehle concludes her discussion of Sappho 105c by pointing out that the context of the fragment is entirely unknown and suggesting that it would be out of place in a wedding hymn. [215] In contrast, Wilamowitz, Mangelsdorff, and Page see a wedding hymn as a likely context, and Bowra imagines that the fragments might come (on the analogy with Catullus 62) from a girls’ chorus performed before the bridal chamber. [216] The comparison with the Russian wedding laments problematizes both suggestions and opens further possibilities. Russian parallels to the hyacinth fragment are indeed wedding songs, but they are not wedding hymns. Songs of this type would not be performed before the bridal chamber. In a sense, their performative context both fits and does not fit Stehle Stigers’ suggestion that the hyacinth fragment, rather than being part of a wedding hymn “has strayed rather from a different context, that of the thiasos, Sappho’s religious association.” [217] The Russian “cut flower” laments do indeed occur in the context of what might be called a thiasos, a group of intimate age-mates performing songs of their age and place, with the important modification that the thiasos is in fact part of the wedding: the contexts of the wedding and of the thiasos overlap. Whether this could be so in Ancient Greece we cannot tell, but the possibility is worth considering.

§148. The same question might be asked about Sappho 122 Voigt:

ἄνθε’ ἀμέργοισαν παῖδ’ ἄγαν ἀπάλαν
… A girl too tender plucking flowers …

Stehle Stigers points out that ἄγαν in this fragment underscores the tension between the innocence and youth of the girl and her seductive eroticized activity, picking flowers. There is little on the surface that would lead one to see this fragment as wedding poetry. The extreme youth of the bride is a topos, however, in Russian wedding laments. In these laments the bride is described as too fragile, too thin, too foolish, too childish, in short too young to be married. [218] In one such lament, the age-mates of the bride are small children who play with dolls, the suggestion being that the bride herself is only a child and yet she is forced to face the “storm cloud” of marriage. [219] The same bride, however, will be described in the course of the same wedding as a “red rose” and “ripe berry,” the songs of the final feast denying the earlier songs of the maidens, the two visions of the bride in agonistic tension resolved (if it is resolved) not in song but only in the action of the wedding ritual.

§149. The vision of the bride as a ripe berry is, in turn, reminiscent of another famous fragment of Sappho’s poetry, Sappho 105a Voigt:

οἶον τὸ γλυκύμαλον ἐρεύθεται ἄκρωι ἐπ’ ὔσδωι
ἄκρον ἐπ’ ἀκροτάτωι, λελάθοντο δὲ μαλοδρόπηες,
οὐ μὰν ἐκλελάθοντ’, ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἐδύναντ’ ἐπίκεσθαι
As a sweet apple reddens on the topmost branch,
At the top of the topmost branch, and the apple-pickers have overlooked it
—No, they did not overlook it, but they could not reach it.

In contrast to the trampled hyacinth, the red apple is intact and ripe: it has waited on its topmost branch for a worthy picker. The fragment, which comes from a wedding song, brings to mind the depiction of the bride in Russian songs both as a ripe berry and also as the topmost branch of the tree. What the Russian evidence adds is the notion that the hyacinth and the apple do not have to represent two different maidens, or come from widely disparate contexts. In the earlier stages of the wedding, the songs are about the bride’s greenness, childishness, and pure beauty, which is about to be destroyed. In fact, in one of the laments the brides’ mother compares her specifically to an apple tree that does not have apples: although the mother tended the tree carefully, she will not pluck its fruit:

Я на яблоньке цветика не видывала,
Я сахарного яблочка не кушивала [220]
I did not see flowers on the apple tree,
I did not tаste its sugar-sweet apples.

Once the bride takes her seat next to the groom at the festive table, and especially during the concluding feast at the groom’s house, she is transformed in a combination of elements uncannily reminiscent of Sappho from a blue flower to a red fruit.

§150. There are other parallels to Sappho in the Russian wedding songs, notably the dialogue between the bride and her maidenhood. Maidenhood was evidently one of the central themes of Sappho’s poetry, and a complicated attitude to it seems to be expressed in fragment 107:

ἦρ’ ἔτι παρθενίας ἐπιβάλλομαι;
Do I still chase after maidenhood?

Even more striking is the dialogue between the bride (νύμφη) and her maidenhood in Sappho 114 Voigt:

(νύμφη)· παρθενία, παρθενία, ποῖ με λίποισα οἴχηι;
(παρθενία)· οὐκέτι ἤξω πρὸς σέ, οὐκέτι ἤξω.
(Maiden): Maidenhood, maidenhood, where do you go, forsaking me?
(Maidenhood): I will come to you no more, I will come no more.

The sentiment finds its precise equivalents in the Russian songs, but equally noteworthy is the dialogic form. In the same way the krasota, the preeminent symbol of maidenhood, is personified and given voice in the Russian wedding, being acted out by one of the maidens, who says that the bride will never be a maiden again and bids her a sad farewell. [221] Thus the parthenia in Sappho, once it is separated from the bride, acquires its own voice and says to its former owner exactly what the krasota says to Russian girl, “I am never coming back to you.”

§151. The notion of the maidenhood’s irrevocable departure is echoed in Russian songs by the notion of a decisive separation between the bride and her mother, and this theme is also expressed in Sappho fragment 104a Voigt, which seems to come from a wedding song:

Ἔσπερε πάντα φέρων ὄσα φαίνολις ἐσκέδασ’ Αὔως,
†φέρεις ὄιν, φέρεις αἶγα, φέρεις ἄπυ† μάτερι παῖδα.
Hesperus, bringing all that the shining dawn scattered,
You bring a sheep, you bring a goat you bring a child back to (?) its mother.

The interpretation of this fragment is complicated by a textual problem, but Petropoulos compares it to a lament of a bride recorded in Cappadocia at the turn of the last century:

The East [i.e. dawn] has broken and the West has lit up [i.e. dawn has broken],
the birds have gone to their pasturage and desolate persons have gone to the West,
and so also do I, in my desolation, go towards the Bridge of Adana. [222]

§152. On the basis of this comparison, Petropoulos hypothesizes that Sappho 104a might also be a lament or “complaint” sung by the bride or others on her behalf and that its theme is the inevitability of the bride’s separation from her family: the sheep, the goat, and the child all return to their home in the natural course of events, and just as inevitably the bride has to depart from her natal home. [223] The mention of animals and a child in the same line is hardly coincidental, for this combination occurs again and again in connection with brides. In Theocritus’ Epithalamium to Helen, as in the Russian songs, the members of the chorus picture themselves continuing their maidenly pursuits: just as before they will go to the meadows to gather flowers and make wreathes, but Helen will no longer go with them. A less familiar image follows: the girls long for Helen the way suckling lambs long for their mother:

ἄμμες δ’ ἐς Δρόμον ἦρι καὶ ἐς λειμώνια φύλλα
ἑρψεῦμες στεφάνως δρεψεύμεναι ἁδὺ πνέοντας,
πολλὰ τεοῦς, Ἑλένα, μεμναμέναι ὡς γαλαθηναί
ἄρνες γειναμένας ὄιος μαστὸν ποθέοισαι.

Theocritus 18.39–42
We will go early in the morning to the Racecourse and to the meadow grasses
To pluck sweetly smelling wreathes,
Thinking of you often, Helen, just like suckling
Lambs longing for the udder of the sheep that gave them birth.
Unexpected as it may be, the reference makes sense on many levels. The jarring transformation of Helen from a beautiful girl into a parturient ewe is prepared by the antithetical verse 38 (ὦ καλά, ὦ χαρίεσσα κόρα, τὺ μὲν οἰκέτις ἤδη “O beautiful, o graceful maiden, you are a housewife now”) and echoes both the transition accomplished by the bride during the wedding and another persistent theme of wedding songs, the bride’s separation from her mother with its attendant emotions: fear, loss, and longing.
§153. The most obvious example of this theme is, of course, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, which is a subject too large and complex to be tackled at this stage. Although marriage does take place in the Hymn to Demeter, it is far from being its only theme. Nevertheless, a parallel can be drawn between Demeter’s grief and frantic search for Persephone and the mothers in Russian wedding songs, who, though there is no doubt about the whereabouts of their daughters, are nevertheless depicted as looking for them, wandering on the high river banks, peering into the distance (an image that perhaps complements that of the bride being swept away by overflowing rivers). These mothers ask their daughters to come back, a request reminiscent of Demeter’s quest in the Hymn, though it is made before the bride steps into the house of her new husband. What is similar, however, is the notion that the bride has been spoken for in some way that cannot be undone and, more remarkably, the bride’s own realization of that fact. Persephone in the Homeric Hymn appears to eat the pomegranate seed unforced, but tells Demeter that Hades both forced and tricked her into doing so, giving the impression that the bride has come to terms (happily or unhappily) with her new position sooner than her mother and is sensitive to her mother’s feelings. [224] Just so in Russian songs, though the bride may lament and resist the marriage, when the mother asks her to return, the bride’s response is always a “no,” a realization that there is no turning back. Furthermore, the bride usually stops lamenting once she is seated next to the groom at the festive table at her parental house, and she never laments once she has crossed the threshold of her new home. The bride’s mother, by contrast, is the only person who may lament a little even at that final stage of the wedding.
§154. Helen’s friends in Theocritus are compared to orphaned suckling lambs, but even more widespread is the image of the maiden or bride as a lost heifer. In Sophocles’ Trachiniae, as the chorus recalls Deaneira’s being a bride, they picture her watching the contest between Herakles and Acheloos from a high riverbank, and she is both conspicuous in her tender beauty and alone, deprived, specifically, of her mother. On this occasion she is compared to a heifer that has wandered far from its mother:

τὸ δ’ ἀμφινείκητον ὄμμα νύμφας
ἐλεινὸν ἀμμένει τέλος·
κἀπὸ ματρὸς ἄφαρ βέβαχ’,
ὥστε πόρτις ἐρήμα.

And the fought-for face of the bride,
Is pitiful as it awaits the outcome,
She has wondered far from her mother,
Like a lonely heifer.

§155. The examples can be multiplied, from Aeschylus’ Danaids comparing themselves to mooing heifers pursued by wolves (351–352) to Iphigeneia being sacrificed as a heifer rather than married as she should have been, being a maiden brought up “at her mother’s side” (Euripides Iphigeneia in Aulis 1080–1089). There are no references to brides as heifers in the Russian songs, but the theme of the bride’s mother resonates with the Greek sources and even on the surface the resemblances are notable. In some Russian laments, for example, the krasota is depicted as an abandoned child, crying and begging to be picked up while the brides are said to “howl” (выть), a verb most often used of animals. [225]

§156. The “howling” of the bride is in fact, strikingly paralleled in the Trachiniae, where, as Seaford has argued, Herakles’ speech to Hyllus contains an allusion not only to the wedding but more specifically to wedding laments. [226] Here Herakles paradoxically compares himself to a maiden and shows his wounds “from under the covers” (ἐκ καλυμμάτων, 1078), as a bride might her face. Herakles also cries like a maiden, but chooses the un-maidenly verb βρυχάομαι, used of wild animals and dying warriors, to describe the sound: ὥστε παρθένος/ βέβρυχα κλαίων (1071–1072). [227] The sound produced by the dying Herakles and by the bride is antithetical to civilization, wild, and animalistic.
§157. Finally, both in Greece and in Russia the loneliness of the bride is contrasted with her previous protected life at her mother’s side. In the Cappodocian lament mentioned above the bride is said to go “towards the bridge of Adana” all alone. [228] In the same way, the bride in Russian laments asks the gathered crowd to give just enough space for her to pass, and her loneliness as she walks over a “plank” (an image reminiscent of the bridge) is emphasized in Fedosova’s elaborate lament:

И единой мне ка пройти да единешенькой
for me alone to pass, all alone. [229]

In Russian songs the maiden’s life with her mother is often described by the word nega, which could be translated as “luxuriance” and refers to the experience of being pampered and tenderly cared for. The same notion is present in Greece, and this brings me to several examples which are perhaps most reminiscent of the Russian wedding laments, namely the occasions in tragedy where women express their negative (or at least complicated) views on marriage. These instances are, of course, far from being unmediated expressions of women’s voices and come from a genre that was performed neither by, nor for, women. Nevertheless, the echoes are present and support the notion that these monologues might draw on actual wedding laments. [230]

§158. In Sophocles’ Trachiniae, Deaneira compares the carefree and sheltered life of a maiden to the troubled and fraught life of a wife:

Τὸ γὰρ νεάζον ἐν τοιοῖσδε βόσκεται
χώροισιν αὑτοῦ, καί νιν οὐ θάλπος θεοῦ,
οὐδ’ ὄμβρος, οὐδὲ πνευμάτων οὐδὲν κλονεῖ,
ἀλλ’ ἡδοναῖς ἄμοχθον ἐξαίρει βίον
ἐς τοῦθ’ ἕως τις ἀντὶ παρθένου γυνὴ
κληθῇ λάβῃ τ’ ἐν νυκτὶ φροντίδων μέρος
ἤτοι πρὸς ἀνδρὸς ἢ τέκνων φοβουμένη·

A young life is tended
In its own places, and neither the heat of the god [i.e. sun]
Nor the rain, nor any of the winds assail it.
Instead, it takes up a toil-free life amidst pleasures
Until such time as she is she is called a wife instead of maiden
And picks up in one night her share of cares,
Fearing either for her husband or for her children.

Deaneira never explicitly identifies the maiden with a flower or a tree in a protected garden, but her words seem to presuppose such images, since the “young life” is sheltered precisely from the dangers that threaten young saplings and tender flowers— the sun, rain, and wind. The carefree life of the maiden ends suddenly when in becoming a woman she acquires her share of cares in a single night. Similar sentiments are expressed in Russian laments and with similar diction. The brides refer to their new state as being beset with cares, [231] and, just like Deaneira, they emphasize the abruptness of the change: in Fedosova’s lament the bride acquires “cares” “in one minute” (в минуту обзаботили, 295), a more extreme parallel to Deaneira’s “one night.” [232]

§159. Seaford compares Deaneira’s words to those uttered by an unidentified female speaker in a fragment of Sophocles’ Tereus (fr.583 Radt):

νῦν δ’ οὐδέν εἰμι χωρίς. ἀλλὰ πολλάκις
ἔβλεψα ταύτῃ τὴν γυναικείαν φύσιν,
ὡς οὐδέν ἐσμεν. αἳ νέαι μὲν ἐν πατρὸς
ἥδιστον, οἶμαι, ζῶμεν ἀνθρώπων βίον·
τερπνῶς γὰρ ἀεὶ παῖδας ἁνοία τρέφει.
ὅταν δ’ ἐς ἥβην ἐξικώμεθ’ ἔμφρονες,
ὠθούμεθ’ ἔξω καὶ διεμπολώμεθα
θεῶν πατρῴων τῶν τε φυσάντων ἄπο,
αἱ μὲν ξένους πρὸς ἄνδρας, αἱ δὲ βαρβάρους,
αἱ δ’ εἰς ἀγηθῆ δώμαθ’, αἱ δ’ ἐπίρροθα.
Now I am nothing (being) apart. But frequently
I have seen the nature of women in this way,
How we are nothing. As young ones in our father’s house,
We live, I think, the sweetest life of all men.
For always folly delightfully sustains children.
But when we reach the prime of youth and become sensible,
We are pushed out and sold,
Away from our ancestral gods and our parents,
Some to strangers, some to barbarians,
Some into joyless houses, some into abusive ones.

It is not clear who the speaker of these words is. The mention of being married to a barbarian no doubt applies specifically to Procne, but it also applies to all brides in softer form. While they are young, girls have “the sweetest life among men,” a picture very similar to the life of freedom and tender care (nega) that maidens enjoy in Russian wedding songs. Once they grow up, a sudden change ensues: the girls are “pushed out” and “sold.” Both the sentiments and the wording of this statement finds close parallels in Russian laments, where the brides beg their parents not to sell them and ask why they are being banished from their paternal homes. [233] The elaboration in line 8 of the Sophocles fragment underscores precisely the division that is so central to the Russian laments: the bride’s own parents, who have so far protected her, now betray her; the bride’s own house can no longer shelter her. Although this does not, of course, correspond to the reality of everyday life, in songs Russian brides seems to be very much like Procne: their future husbands are “strangers” and “foreigners” whose land is ugly and infertile, and whose family is more monstrous than human. [234]

§160. McManus has drawn an analogy between Procne’s and Deaneira’s complaints and the emotions of brides documented by some anthropological research in modern Greece. [235] She notes, for example, the fear and apprehension of the brides and the stunning sense of loss experienced by their younger sisters among the Sarakastan shepherds studied by Campbell in the 1950s. The evidence of the Russian laments echoes Campbell’s findings and lends support to the McManus’ observation. At the same time, it opens possibilities for a more nuanced interpretation of all the evidence available, both from Russia and from Greece. According to Campbell, the Sarakastan customs he studied included lack of contact between bride and groom prior to marriage, strict supervision of unmarried girls, arranged marriage, and the expectation that the wife would make all the adjustments necessary to fit in with her husband’s family. [236] The majority of the Russian laments, which seem to reflect emotions very similar to those of the Sarakastan (and the Ancient Greek) brides, come from villages in which the customs were significantly less severe, though there was certainly virilocal residence. There were many opportunities for the young women and men to meet, so that the bride and the groom could become acquainted before the wedding. In fact, although the marriages were indeed arranged by the parents, the desires of the young could be taken into account, and many of the women who recall their own heart-wrenching laments also say that they “married for love.” The correspondence between the traditional songs and the social realia is a complex question, and the emotions of the bride as encoded in her traditional laments are neither entirely independent nor entirely derivative of such realia.
§161. That said, the laments of the Russian brides find striking parallels not only in Ancient, but also in Modern Greece. In the latter case, we have the evidence of actual wedding laments, for example the ones from Crete mentioned by Alexiou by her classic study. [237] Citing Vlastos, Alexiou reports that a mother cries as if at a funeral as the bride is leaving: “You are leaving—my eyes have gone, my comfort has gone, the keys of my breast and the pillar of my heart has gone!” When the priest arrives, the bride cries and begs her mother to hide her, a request that is also frequent in Russian laments. Alexiou cites the mother’s response, which I reproduce here because of its remarkable similarity to the Russian evidence:

—Ἄσπρη κατάσπρη βαβμακιά τὴν εἶχα στὴν αὐλή μου,
τη σάλιζα, τὴν πότιζα, τὴν εἶχα γιά δική μου.
Μά ’ρθε ξένος κι ἀπόξενος, ἧρθε καὶ μοῖ τὴν πῆρε.
—Κρύψε με, μάνα, κρύψε με, νὰ μὴ μέ πάρη ὁ ξένος.
—Τί νὰ σὲ κρύψω, μάτια μου, ποὺ σὺ τοῦ ξένου εἶσαι·
τοῦ ξένου φόρια φόρεσε, τοῦ ξένου δαχτυλίδια,
γιατὶ τοὺ ξένου εἶσαι καὶ σύ, κι ὁ ξένος θὰ σὲ πάρη.
I had a pure white cotton plant growing in my courtyard;
I weeded it, I watered it, and it was all my own.
But a stranger, yes a stranger came and took it from me.
—Hide me, mother, hide me, so that stranger cannot take me.
—How can I hide you, dear one, now you belong to him:
wear the stranger’s clothes, wear the stranger’s rings,
for you belong to him, and he will take you. [238]

Just as the Greek mother in this lament has carefully tended a beautiful cotton plant but lost it to a stranger, so the mother in a Russian lament cited above has tended an apple tree, but does not get to taste its fruit. Just as in Russian laments the groom and his family are constantly called “the strangers” and ” the foreigners,” so here the groom is emphatically a stranger, ξένος. And just as the mother in this Greek lament denies protection to her daughter because this daughter now belongs to the stranger, so the father in a Russian lament repeatedly urges his daughter not to be afraid and promises to save her, until the inevitable reversal of the last stanza, when he says that now she is under his control no longer and belongs to the groom. [239]

§162. To return to ancient Greece, a tension exists between different ways of depicting marriage on vases. On the one hand, there are the scenes of the forceful abduction of Persephone and Thetis which, Sourvinou-Inwood has argued, were not just mythological narratives, but rather metaphorical and paradigmatic depictions of weddings as a whole. [240] The motif of abduction and the bride’s abdication of her own will is reflected, according to Sourvinou-Inwood’s analysis, in the gesture known as χεῖρ’ ἐπὶ καρπῷ, in which the groom leads the bride by her wrist. [241] On the other hand, McManus suggests that other iconographic elements signal the bride’s consent, most notably the gesture of lifting her veil. On the wedding vases discussed by Ferrari and mentioned above, the bride is separated from her friends, but she sits calmly alone or next to the groom, richly attired and lifting her veil while her age-mates dance, with nowhere an indication of rape. [242] Some vases emphasize the eroticism of the wedding by depicting the bride’s bath and adornment attended by Eros or Erotes, or having the bride and groom lock eyes. [243] Like the images of the Greek vases, the Russian wedding songs take part in an ensemble of voices. In her songs, the bride claims to be sold and forcefully exiled, while in the song performed on the groom’s side of the wedding she is represented as falling for the handsome and valiant groom. In another song, the bride is persuaded by her brother and urged to be “sensible,” a moment that brings to mind the notion of πειθώ “persuasion” in its connection to maidens in Ancient Greece. [244] The brother’s persuasion in the Russian song is double-edged and leads to submission for the maiden, a submission that is perhaps signaled in some Russian villages by the bride’s being led, as in ancient Greece, not by the hand, but by a band tied around her wrist. [245] The theme of force and submission, love and will, in the traditional weddings, both Ancient Greek and Russian is far too massive and complex to be treated here. For the moment I can only register the fact that nuances of this theme find their reflection in the wedding songs and that a comparative approach to its study might be fruitful.
§163. Separated from her mother and taken out of her friends’ thiasos, the bride is handed over to a “stranger,” her future husband. In Russia as in ancient Greece this is done in two steps, the crucial moment in Greece being the engue, usually translated as “betrothal” and the ekdosis, that is, the transferal of the bride to the groom. The two parallel moments in Russia are the rukobitie/zakryvanie, when the bride is, as it were, set aside for the groom and pledges are made between the groom and the father of the bride, and the moment of her transferal to the groom, known by different names in different regions, for example бранье (branyo, ‘the taking’) in Siberia. In both cultures, the ekdosis is the more elaborate occasion, preceded by various ritual and baths for the bride and groom. This is when the bride wears her formal and rich costume and is also marked with a feast. An event that may be seen as central part of the Greek ekdosis is the anakalupteria, which finds a Russian parallel in the “presentation before the tables” in the Vologda region. Both events involved a banquet at the house of the bride, giving and receiving of gifts, and, most importantly, the display of the bride. The next step was the procession to the groom’s house, which, in both Greece and Russia, usually took place in the evening and culminated with a feast at the house of the groom. The eating of special foods and showering of the newlyweds with dried fruits, nuts, or seeds is present in both traditions. The final feast leads, of course, to the newlyweds retiring to their bedroom and the consummation of the marriage. MacDowell’s formulation that “the legal difference between engue and gamos was, roughly, that engue was making a contract and gamos was carrying it out” would apply to Russia as well. [246] As in Greece, in Russia a wedding might follow quickly upon betrothal, or there might be a delay and, as in Greece, it was possible for betrothal to take place but never result in a marriage, though, depending on the time, place, and circumstances, a degree of disgrace may have been incurred in breaking the contract.
§164. The metaphor implicit in the Greek term engue has been illuminated by Ferrari’s analysis and it finds its own parallel in the Russian evidence. [247] Two explanations for the term engue have been suggested. The first is rejected by Ferrari as the putative origin-point of the metaphor, but is attested already in antiquity. This derives ἐγγύη from γυῖον in the sense of ‘the hollow or palm of the hand’ or simply ‘hand’. Gernet has hypothesized that the terms must have originally meant “solemn promise,” which would have been signified by a handshake. [248] Such a handshake between the bride’s father and the groom appears to be represented on an Attic red-figure loutrophoros in Boston. [249]
§165. Ferrari finds Gernet’s explanation insufficient and proposes an alternative. The word ἐγγύη belongs to a group of words such as whose basic meaning is identified by Chantraine as ‘hollow’ or ‘vault’ and which may refer to a cave, a hollow container, a canopy or a treasury. [250] This is the meaning, Ferrari argues, that underlies the operative metaphor of the engue, the metaphor of “depositing something of value in a vault.” She concludes:

“What comes into play—not surprisingly—is the image of the bride as treasure. The fact that the female is “spoken for” is cast in the figure of capital withdrawn from circulation and placed in the vault, from which she will be taken out when the moment comes to hand her over to the groom.” [251]

Ferrari’s explanation of the metaphor implicit in engue is much more precise than a derivation from guion “the hand” and it finds a parallel in the Russian custom of “covering” and hiding the bride after the betrothal. In Siberia, a betrothed maiden retreated to a pantry-like space known as the kut’—essentially a vault. There is little doubt that in Russian villages this covering and hiding reflected the fact that the bride was no longer one of the maidens who are conspicuous in their beauty, visible to all and available for young males and their parents to look at. She has been claimed and, to use Ferrari’s term, “taken out of circulation,” set aside for one man alone.

§166. At the same time, the Russian evidence also corroborates the ancient folk etymology of engue as derived from guion ‘hand’. Betrothal is a contract between two males and just as Gernet suggested for ancient Greece it was marked in Russia by a handshake or a hand-slap, in some cases a special or elaborate one (involving touching of the shoulders, for example), for which the rules differed from region to region. The double name of the event in the Vologda region, both ‘hand-slapping’ and ‘covering’, testifies to its double significance for the males (for whom both aspects of the process, and both terms, are of importance) and for the bride, who has no part in the hand-slapping, but for whom being “closed off,” to use yet another term applied to this event, was of momentous consequence.
§167. If engue finds its parallels in the Russian evidence, then so does anakalupteria, perhaps the most discussed element of the Greek wedding. According to Pollux, the term refers to the day on which the groom “uncovers” the bride and also to the gifts given on that day. [252] Harpocration similarly explains anakalupteria as gifts given to the bride by the groom and his family when she is uncovered for the first time “so as to be seen by the men.” [253] Hesychius gives a slightly different but compatible definition, namely the occasion on which the bride was led out (of her chamber) on the third day: ὅτε τὴν νύμφην πρῶτον ἐξάγουσιν [τοῦ θαλάμου] τῇ τρίτῃ ἡμέρᾳ. [254]
§168. The long-established idea that the bride was formally unveiled at this ceremony, perhaps shown to the groom for the first time, is challenged by Ferrari, who notes that the “anakalupteria does not mean an act of unveiling.” [255] The term does, however, signify the day on which the bride was “revealed” for the groom and his family to see and the gifts given to her on this occasion. Whether the “revelation” involved unveiling or not is a difficult, if not insoluble, question. There is certainly plenty of evidence that the bride was heavily veiled during the procession to the house of the groom and that she was also veiled at the banquet. Ferrari points out that the brides on the Athenian black-figure vases wear elaborate and ornate shawls drawn over their heads and lift them in what is known as the “bridal gesture,” holding the veil out so as to shield the left cheek—a gesture which Ferrari interprets as “an exaggeration of the act of veiling oneself, which is performed by all persons possessed of aidos . [256] It is not clear, however, what these depictions of the veiled brides mean for the interpretation of the anakalupteria, for none of them depict the actual ceremony. The antiquarians and lexicographers do not mention mantles in connection with anakalupteria. On the other hand, a very important mantle plays a central role in the aition of the ceremony, which survives in fragment of the sixth-century BCE cosmogony of Pherecydes of Syros:

κἀπειδὴ τρίτη ἡμέρη γίγνεται τῶι γάμωι, τότε Ζὰς ποιεῖ φᾶρος μέγα τε καὶ καλὸν καὶ ἐν αὐτῶι ποικ[ίλλει Γῆν] καὶ Ὠγη[νὸν καὶ τὰ Ὠ[γηνοῦ δώματα] … [ὡ] [βουλόμενος] γὰρ σέο τοὺς γάμου[ς] εἶναι τούτωι σε τιμ[έω.] σὺ δέ μοι χαῖρέ τε καὶ σύ[νι]σθι. ταῦτά φασιν ἀνακαλυπτήρια πρῶτον γενέσθαι· ἐκ τούτου δ[ὲ] ὁ νόμος ἐγένε[το] καὶ θεοῖσι καὶ ἀνθ[ρώ]ποισιν. ἡ δέ μι[ν ἀμείβεται δεξαμ]ένη εὖ τὸ φᾶ[ρος …
And when the third day of the wedding arrives, Zas makes a robe, both large and beautiful, and he weaves in Earth and Ogenos and the house of Ogenos…. “For wishing to marry you, I honor you with this. Therefore be pleased and be with me.” They say that this was the first anakalupteria, and from this the custom arose both for the gods and for men. And she answers him, having received well the robe from him … [257]

§169. In another fragment, Pherecydes says that Khthonie acquired the name ‘earth’ when Zas gave her the earth as a gift of honor. [258] Ferrari follows Shibli in arguing that it is the gift of the embroidered mantle, the wedding present of Zas, that makes Khthonie into Ge. Khthonie, whose names signifies being underground, emerges into the light and become the Earth herself, and it is this emerging, Ferrari argues, that is enacted in the engue followed by anakalupteria. The bride is first hidden as if in an underground vault and then emerges, resplendent in her mantle, to become a wife, a transformation that is expressed through the metaphor of arable land in the famous marriage formula quoted by Menander: “I give you this woman for the sowing of legitimate children.” [259] Based on this evidence, Ferrari suggests an interpretation of the anakalupteria: “The uncovering that gives the day its name refers primarily … to the emergence of the bride into sight from the figurative seclusion of the engue.” [260] Ferrari’s interpretation is supported by the emphasis on sight in the descriptions of anakalupteria and by synonyms of the term itself. In Harpocration the bride is revealed “so as to be seen” (ὥστε ὁραθῆναι), and the occasion is further defined as follows: ταῦτα δ’ εἰσὶ τὰ παρ’ ἡμῖν θεώρετρα “This is known among us as theoretra (‘the viewing’). Hesychius adds that the gifts given at the anakalupteria were also known as ὀπτήρια, “presents upon seeing.” It is not clear whether the bride, like Chthonie, received her mantle on this occasion, nor is it clear what she wore, but Ferrari envisages the following:

“It is likely that the bride wore the nuptial mantle as she emerged from her chamber, at once revealed and veiled, and that, poised in the bridal gesture, she exposed her face to the groom, shielding it, at the same time, from the other men present.” [261]

§170. Needless to say, a comparison with the Russian evidence cannot resolve questions about the exact actions of the anakalupteria. But the distance of time and space and especially the great dissimilarity in costume that separates the villagers of the Russian north from the Athenians of the archaic and classical (or, for that matter, any) period make the correspondences that are indeed there all the more impressive. It is therefore with great caution that I would like to approach this evidence, realizing the risk of being carried away by the parallels.

§171. Just as in Greece, in the Russian villages whose customs are discussed above the bride is always veiled, indeed heavily veiled, during the procession to the house of the groom, and in some villages she remains veiled for part of the feast. She is not, however, veiled, for the occasion that I think parallels the anakalupteria, namely the “leading out before the tables.” First of all, the name itself, “the leading out,” parallels Hesychius’ description of the anakalupteria as the occasion on which the bride is “first led out.” For the Vologda bride, the vyvod is also the first occasion since she has been “covered/closed” that she is publicly brought out. What intervenes between the two occasions is the gathering of the maidens, sewing, laments, and taking leave of her maidenhood. All of this happens away from the groom and his party until the decisive moment of the vyvod, the most thrilling moment of the wedding, when the bride is shown to the groom in public and in all her splendor. The synonyms of anakalupteria reported by Pollux and Harpocration have to do primarily with seeing the bride (θεώρετα, ὀπτήρια). In the same way, the emphasis in the ceremony of the vyvod pered stoly (“in front of the tables”) is on the showing and viewing of the bride. On that appointed day, the groom’s party arrives dressed in their festive best (various ritual requirements are recorded), is at first opposed but eventually admitted to the bride’s house, and offers symbolic drinks to the maidens and the bride. Finally, they are seated at the festive tables and demand that the bride be shown to them. There are conventional, perhaps ritual, ways of demanding her appearance, which involve two requests: “Adorn the bride!” and “Show the bride!” [262]
§172. The bride at this moment is usually sitting in the kut’, where she is concealed from the guests, and where she has retreated at the moment of the betrothal (the engue). Eventually the father of the bride comes and orders his daughter to dress in her wedding attire. It is at this moment, and not for the procession to the church, that the bride puts on her most elaborate costume. She is washed in a special way, with multiple magical actions and superstitions adhering to her washing water, towel, and the tablecloth on which she has to stand. An important element in her costume was a silk shawl. This was both expensive and obligatory, and if the bride could not afford one of her own the shawl could be borrowed for the occasion. The bride would put on a tall, embroidered headdress and which was covered with a shawl, also ornate. Not tied, the shawl would fall freely down the bride’s back, leaving the face mostly open, only the silk tassels coming down over the forehead and eyes of the bride. Those who were present as such weddings recall that the house would be filled with people, and the curious would crowd at the entrance and on the steps. The researchers note that the bride, who has been lamenting before and will resume her laments once the ceremony is over, does not lament at this stage: “She is going to show herself, and she has to be beautiful and reserved.” [263] The description of the bride as “reserved” echoes the notions implicit in the Greek term aidos: it would be unseemly for the bride to be playful at this point, even to smile. She has to be both beautiful and modest. There is hardly need to point out the correspondence in the sequence of events between the ancient Greek wedding as reconstructed by Ferrari and that in the villages of the Vologda region: at the “covering” the bride is hidden, set aside for the groom, no longer to be looked at as a maiden by all who please; then, at the “uncovering,” the bride is publicly revealed to the groom’s party in all her splendor and in all her modesty.
§173. The correspondence, of course, is not perfect in every detail. Greek sources mention that the bride receives gifts at the anakalupteria. In the Vologda villages, it is the bride that gives the gifts to the groom’s party and also offers a ceremonial glass of beer to all at the table. At the same time, however, in the village where the ritual is especially well-preserved and the longest dialogues between the participants have been recorded, the gifts expected from the groom’s side play an important part in that dialogue, and it is for these, the groom’s gifts, that there exists a technical term (zdaryo, defined by Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova as ‘gifts for the bride in return for her gifts’). [264] In the same village it was also the groom, as opposed to the bride, who would treat everyone to beer after drinking his own glass together with the bride (the glass was passed back and forth). It should be noted also that the occasion for the bride to give her gifts could vary from village to village (in some before the vyvod, on the morning of the same day, in some shortly after, later in the evening). The gifts of the groom, on the other hand, are a part of the dialogue that could take place only at the vyvod. The same dialogue also operates on the metaphors of ripeness and of agriculture. In the village of Markusha the bride would be led out by the female officiates, who are called vyvozhel’nitsy (‘the women who lead out’). Here is how the exchange between them and the groom’s party would begin:

—Bow lower and we will come closer. Our bride is like a berry!
—Our groom is like an apple!
—In our wheat there is no povilitsa-grass. Does metlitsa-grass grow in your rye?
—We’ve never had metlitsa-grass, we have thickly-planted (?) rye, and no metlitsa grows. [265]

§174. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the bride in the Vologda region would be covered, right over her beautiful silk shawl, with another, larger and less ornate, shawl, and at the same moment she could resume her laments. There is no reason to think that something like this happened at the Greek. The Russian evidence may, however, alter the parameters of what is “thinkable” on such an occasion. The fact that a Greek bride is heavily veiled during the procession and shields her face in the “bridal gesture” is closely paralleled in the Vologda region, but the same kind of veiling is not a part of the “leading out before the tables.” Veils are also not mentioned in connection with the anakalupteria. The one aspect, therefore, of Ferrari’s reconstruction that is clearly at odds with the Russian evidence is her partial concession to the notion of unveiling at the anakalupteria, when she envisions the bride as “poised in the bridal gesture,” her face exposed to the groom and partially shielded from others by the veil. This image might belong in the procession or at the banquet and yet not belong at the anakalupteria. The Russian evidence suggests that the two occasions should not be collapsed into one as a matter of fact and also that unveiling need not be irreversible, but can be followed by yet another veiling.

§175. Even when direct correspondences are absent, consideration of the Russian evidence can throw unexpected light on the Greek. In another context I turned to comparative evidence from Uzbek epic as a way of testing an interpretation of Penelope’s dream in Odyssey 19. I will not repeat here the interpretation itself except to say consideration of the Odyssean episode first on its own and then in comparison with the Uzbek epic Alpāmïš led me to the tentative suggestion that “Penelope’s dream is a traditional element in the sense that it may be typical for a waiting wife or bride in songs to see a prophetic dream on the eve of her husband’s arrival.” [266] The dreams of Penelope and Barchin, the female protagonist of the Alpāmïš, are terrifying and distressing and contain a violent attack on the dreamer, but they are reinterpreted upon the dreamer’s awakening as predicting the arrival of her long-awaited rescuer and their marriage. At the time when I worked on Penelope’s dream I did not know that in some villages of Russia the brides on the morning of their wedding performed a lament in which they reported to their mothers and/or friends a terrifying dream they had supposedly had that night.
§176. The fact that such dream laments are a traditional part of Russian weddings does not prove anything about ancient Greece or about the Odyssey, but it too expands the limits of what is “thinkable.” The dreams of Barchin and Penelope belong to two very different traditions, but they both belong to epic poetry and are a part of the plot of their respective epics. The ritualized dreams of the Russian brides echo these epic dreams while belonging to yet another culture and an entirely different context. These dream laments are not quoted by any other genre but are performed by women themselves and repeated with each wedding in their primary context. The responses to these laments, if there were any, are not mentioned in the sources I could find. Rather, the respondents recall that their age-mates would help the bride dress, wash, and comb her hair after she performed her “dream.” These ritual dreams, however, are in little need of interpretation, their meaning being clear within the progression of the wedding itself. The evidence of the Russian dreams broadens the scope of the comparison and elevates the vantage point from which we might view Penelope’s dream not just as an isolated element in the Odyssey, nor even just as an instance of a hypothetical traditional pattern within epic poetry, nor again as an accidental and curious parallel to the Alpāmïš, but as part of a much broader phenomenon of a maiden’s wedding dream.
§177. One further detail may be noteworthy about the Russian dream laments: while Barchin in the Uzbek epic seems to be entirely in the dark about her dream’s meaning until it is interpreted by her maidens or, in some versions of the epic, her mother, the Russian brides, of course, know what their dreams mean, and some of their dreams contain in effect their own interpretation, just as Penelope’s dream does. In one such dream, for example, the bride is attacked by three ravens, one whom dishevels her hair (a detail similar to one of the variants of Barchin’s dream in the Alpāmïš) and, like Penelope, the bride cries bitterly within her dream. She concludes her narration of the dream with its interpretation, urging her friends to prepare for the “joyful feast” because the “uninvited guests” (the groom’s party) are on their way. [267]
§178. To conclude this initial survey of comparative possibilities I would like to return to my original starting point, the maiden’s hair, its symbolism and its transformation in the course of the wedding. The Russian evidence is, of course, abundant; the ancient Greek material is much less clear and requires further research. Nevertheless, there are notable similarities and, at the very least, the comparison with the Russian songs can bring certain elements of maidenhood and wedding poetics in Greece into sharper focus.
§179. In Russian wedding songs, the maiden’s hair is the symbol of her beauty and freedom. It is conspicuous and decorated for all to see, in contrast to the married woman’s hair, which is bound around her head and hidden under a headdress. The head of a maiden is traditionally described by the adjective буйный (buinyi) which might literally be translated as “tempestous.” In some cases it is hard to tell whether the “tempestous head” of a hero or a maiden (the epithet is applied to both sexes) refers to one with willful thoughts or one with luxuriant hair, both meanings being common. [268] In the case of maidens there are contexts where the second denotation is made clear, and yet the first one seems to be present implicitly. Most directly, however, the adjective refers to the exuberant hair of the maiden. The hair is her pride and joy, she grows it long and decorates it with flowers and ribbons. The fact that the hair is “exuberant” does not mean that it is wild, uncombed, or worn loose. In most cases, the maidens in Russian villages would braid their hair and let a single braid fall down their backs. The exuberant hair is also not necessarily uncovered. Rather, there were maidenly kerchiefs and womanly headdresses, with an important difference. While it is clear that a womanly headdress was designed to hide her hair and indeed in many regions of Russia it was seen as improper or even dangerous for a married woman to show her hair in public, the maidenly headdress is a decoration, not a concealment, of the hair.
§180. The luxury of the maiden’s hair could also be a object of pride and rivalry in ancient Greece, precisely among marriageable girls, the bride’s age-mates who dance at weddings. Such is the case in Euripides’ Iphigeneia in Tauris, where an escapist chorus recalls their maidenly thiasoi:

χοροῖς δ’ ἐνσταίην, ὅθι καὶ
†παρθένος εὐδοκίμων γάμων
παρὰ πόδ’ εἱλίσσουσα φίλας
ματέρος ἡλίκων θιάσους
ἐς ἁμίλλας χαρίτων
ἁβροπλούτοιο χαίτας εἰς ἔριν
ὀρνυμένα πολυποίκιλα φάρεα
καὶ πλοκάμους περιβαλλομένα
γένυσιν ἐσκίαζον†

May I enter into the dances of glorious weddings,
Where I was as a maiden, dancing with the bands of my age-mates
By my dear mother.
I entered the contest of charms,
The strife of luxuriant hair,
I shaded my cheek with
Ornate veil and locks of hair.

Practically everything in this chorus would have been recognizable to the maidens in remote villages of Russia at the turn of the twentieth century: the choral dances and songs at weddings, the proximity of the mother to the maiden, the rivalry of luxurious hair, its coverings that are ornate and thus attract attention without concealing the hair (both the locks and the veil shade the maiden’s cheek). The adjective ἁβροπλούτος used here of the hair overlaps with buinyi in conveying exuberant abundance.

§181. The rivalry of hair among maidens is present also in Alcman’s Partheneion, where Hagesichora’s golden hair is like a flower, outshining all others:

. . . ἁ δὲ χαίτα
τᾶς ἐμᾶς ἀνεψιᾶς
Ἁγησιχόρας ἐπανθεῖ
χρυσὸς [ὡ]ς ἀκήρατος.
But the hair
Of my cousin
Hagesichora blossoms
like unmixed gold.

§182. Luxuriant hair seems to be an almost proverbial attribute of maidens as opposed to married women. According to a folk-etymology in Aeschylus fr. 313, the Kouretes received this name because their hair was “luxuriant” or even “wanton” like that of a “delicate maiden:” χλιδῶν τε πλόκαμος ὥστε παρθένοις ἁβραῖς. The ambiguity implicit in χλιδῶν parallels the ambiguity of buinyi. Both adjectives describe beautiful hair but also imply willfulness and challenge, with the noun χλιδή meaning something close to ‘insolence’ and ‘arrogance’ in Attic tragedy, [269] just as buinyi can mean ‘proud’ when used of spirit, ‘self-confident’ and ‘willful’ when used of a people, and even ‘brave’ when used of a military leader. [270]

§183. The association between the insolent luxury of hair and maidenhood is consistent in Greek sources, and recurs, for example in Euripides’ Phoenician Women, where the chorus speaks of drenching the “maidenly luxury” of their hair in the spring of Kastalia:

ἔτι δὲ Κασταλίας ὕδωρ
περιμένει με κόμας ἐμᾶς
δεῦσαι παρθένιον χλιδὰν
Φοιβείαισι λατρείαις.

The water of Kastalia
Still waits for me to
drench the maidenly luxury of my hair
In service to Phoebus.

§184. Luxuriant hair serves as a marker of maidens on Geometric vases, where hair, once it begins to be depicted, appears on female figures much earlier than on male ones. [271] In her study of age and gender construction in Geometric art, Langdon points out that most women depicted on vases of this period are either mourners or dancers, and the dancers are maidens, whom their long hair identifies as “unmarried, lovely, and on display.” Long hair, Langdon observes, would have had a specific meaning for the viewers of the vases, “evoking fertility and sexuality at the brief period of female life when its display was socially acceptable.” [272] As in poetry, the unbound or decorated locks of the maidens signify loveliness and sexuality that is both innocent and as yet untamed.

§185. In Aeschylus’ Suppliants, Danaus verbalizes the state of the maiden that is elsewhere associated with her playing in the meadow: she is still innocent, but has already attracted desirous gazes. “It is hard to protect the tender ripeness of summer fruit,” he says, deploying a familiar metaphor before going on to refer to the “beautiful luxuriances” of the maidens, at which every passerby shoots an arrow of desire:

καὶ παρθένων χλιδαῖσιν εὐμόρφοις ἔπι
πᾶς τις παρελθὼν ὄμματος θελκτήριον
τόξευμ’ ἔπεμψεν, ἱμέρου νικώμενος.

And every passerby, overcome by desire,
Shoots an arrow of the eye’s enchantment
At the beautiful luxuriance of maidens.

§186. The beauty of the maiden is “insolent” in its tender ripeness and purity, and it is also conspicuous. As in the Russian songs, the passerby appears and is overcome by desire. The theme of the passerby in the Russian wedding songs requires further research, but typically horsemen ride by to look at the maiden’s orchard or her bower, and often the groom is pictured as just such a passerby. Danaus’ task is difficult indeed, and he vividly describes the beasts and birds flocking to the ripe fruit. The maidenly beauty shines from afar, and in Russian songs it is said to be visible to all “from a hundred miles away.” [273] Not so the beauty of the married woman, which remains within the house and is seen by no one.

§187. Greek maidens, just like the Russian ones, decorate their hair with flowers, something that is not done by married women. The flower they most often chose is the hyacinth, the bride’s flower trampled by Sappho’s shepherds and reminiscent of the “sky-blue flower” that symbolizes the bride in Russian laments. It is the hyacinth that decorates the hair of Helen’s age-mates in Theocritus’ Epithalamium:

Ἔν ποκ’ ἄρα Σπάρτᾳ ξανθότριχι πὰρ Μενελάῳ
παρθενικαὶ θάλλοντα κόμαις ὑάκινθον ἔχοισαι
πρόσθε νεογράπτω θαλάμω χορὸν ἐστάσαντο,
δώδεκα ταὶ πρᾶται πόλιος, μέγα χρῆμα Λακαινᾶν,
ἁνίκα Τυνδαρίδα κατεκλᾴξατο τὰν ἀγαπατάν
μναστεύσας Ἑλέναν ὁ νεώτερος Ἀτρέος υἱῶν.

Once in Sparta at the house of the golden-hair Menelaos,
Maidens with blossoming hyacinth in their hair
Set up their chorus in front of the newly painted bower,
Twelve of them, the first in the city, a big crowd of Laconian maidens,
Because the younger son of Atreus wooed and secluded in his chamber
the lovely daughter of Tyndareus, Helen.

§188. The associations attaching to the hyacinth in Greek poetry are so rich that I can do no more than simply mention some of them here. The connections with maidenhood and marriage are unmistakable and have been much discussed. Herotime in Anacreon 346 PMG plays in a meadow of hyacinth, a setting that represents, as Rosenmeyer has argued, “both virginity and its imminent loss.” [274] Stehle Stigers discusses the hyacinth as a symbol of “erotic virginity,” while Prauscello detects the same symbolism in two Odyssean scenes involving the hyacinth and in Theocritus’ Idyll 11, where Polyphemus falls in love with Galathea as she picks hyacinth in the mountains in the company of her mother. [275] The two scenes of the Odyssey that have to do with the hyacinth also have to do with hair, though it is Odysseus’ hair rather than that of any maiden that is compared to the flower. On both occasions Odysseus is rejuvenated and beatified by Athena, first for Nausikaa and then for Penelope in a transformation that is both erotically charged and reminiscent of the wedding ritual:

τὸν μὲν Ἀθηναίη θῆκεν, Διὸς ἐκγεγαυῖα,
μείζονά τ’ εἰσιδέειν καὶ πάσσονα, κὰδ δὲ κάρητος
οὔλας ἧκε κόμας, ὑακινθίνῳ ἄνθει ὁμοίας.

Odyssey 6.229–231=23.156–158).
And Athena, born of Zeus, made him
taller to look at and larger, and from his head
she let down locks like hyacinth.

§189. As Irwin has shown, the point of the hyacinth comparison in this passages is not the color of Odysseus’s hair, as has often been supposed, but rather its curls, which are like the curls of the hyacinth petals, and which signal a youthful plenitude of sexual energy. [276] In this regard Odysseus is reminiscent of the groom in the Russian praise songs, who also has curls falling down to his shoulders, sending the same signal as Odysseus’ hyacinth hair. In some of the Russian songs, the groom’s curls are compared to flowers. [277]

§190. In Greece, the hyacinth is the flower of the maidens, but also more specifically the flower of brides. Himerus’ description of Sappho officiating at Aphrodite’s wedding, whimsical though it may be, is also a “patchwork of Sapphic phrases” and it depicts the hyacinths binding the bride’s hair. [278] Finally, the poetic evidence is paralleled by the visual. On Samos, where the statue of Hera in the Heraion represented her as a bride to Zeus and a marriage was part of her annual festival, an inscription records the presentation to the goddess of a Lydian chiton with hyacinthine border, the same flower that along with lotus and crocus forms a groundcover for the divine pair in Iliad 14. [279]
§191. In contrast to the Russian customs, the various ways in which the maidens and women of Ancient Greece braided and put up their hair are hard to ascertain, and on vases married women are often indistinguishable from maidens. [280] Nevertheless, there is some evidence for specifically maidenly hairstyles and for braiding of hair. Pausanias, for example, informs us that when Leukippos pretended to be a woman he “braided his hair he was growing for the river Alpheios in the same way maidens do:”

ἔτρεφεν ὁ Λεύκιππος κόμην τῷ Ἀλφειῷ· ταύτην οἷα δὴ παρθένος πλεξάμενος τὴν κόμην καὶ ἐσθῆτα ἐνδὺς γυναικείαν ἀφίκετο ὡς τὴν Δάφνην, ἐλθὼν δὲ Οἰνομάου τε ἔλεγεν εἶναι θυγάτηρ καὶ ὡς συνθηρᾶν ἐθέλοι τῇ Δάφνῃ.
Pausanias 8.20.3
Leukippos was growing his hair out for Alpheus. He braided this hair like a woman, put on female clothes and came to Daphne. And when he came, he said that he was a daughter of Oinomaos and wanted to hunt together with Daphne. [281]

§192. Pausanias also reports that Theseus arrived in Athens with braided hair and that this hairstyle made him resemble not just a maiden but one on the verge of marriage:

οἷα δὲ χιτῶνα ἔχοντος αὐτοῦ ποδήρη καὶ πεπλεγμένης ἐς εὐπρεπές οἱ τῆς κόμης, ὡς ἐγίνετο κατὰ τὸν τοῦ Δελφινίου ναόν, οἱ τὴν στέγην οἰκοδομοῦντες ἤροντο σὺν χλευασίᾳ, ὅ τι δὴ παρθένος ἐν ὥρᾳ γάμου πλανᾶται μόνη·
And since he had a robe that fell to his feet and his hair braided prettily, once he reached the temple of (Apollo) Delphinios the people who were building the roof of the temple scoffingly asked him with why a maiden of marriageable age was wandering alone.

§193. A maidenly braided hairstyle is mentioned by Pausanias yet again in his description of Polygnotos’ Sack of Troy in the Knidian Lesche. Two married daughters of Priam, Andromache and Medesicaste, he notes, were depicted by Polygnotos with their hair covered, but Polyxena had her hair braided “as is customary for maidens” (κατὰ τὰ εἰθισμένα παρθένοις ἀναπέπλεκται τὰς ἐν τῇ κεφαλῇ τρίχας, 10.15.10).

§194. Andromache’s famous headdress described at Iliad 22.468–474 suggests that her hair is imagined as bound and covered, perhaps in the manner of a wife, since the headdress is given to her by Aphrodite on her wedding day. On the other end of the chronological spectrum, in an epigram in the Palatine Anthology, a girl with the suggestive name Hippe binds her hair in marriage. Her name brings to mind Anacreon’s untamed young filly and the playful exuberance suggested by the name is paralleled by the abundance of her hair. But since the accomplishment of marriage is upon her, Hippe binds it, the taming of the locks echoing the taming of the girl herself:

Ἡ πολύθριξ οὔλας ἀνεδήσατο παρθένος Ἵππη
χαίτας, εὐώδη σμηχομένα κρόταφον·
ἤδη γάρ οἱ ἐπῆλθε γάμου τέλος· αἱ δ’ ἐπὶ κόρσῃ
μίτραι παρθενίας αἰτέομεν χάριτας.
Ἄρτεμι, σῇ δ’ ἰότητι γάμος θ’ ἅμα καὶ γένος εἴη
τῇ Λυκομηδείδου παιδὶ φιλαστραγάλῃ.

Anthologia Palatina 6. 276
The rich-haired maiden Hippe has bound her thick hair,
brushing it from her sweet-smelling brow.
For already her marriage has been accomplished. And I,
the headband on her head, require the grace of maidenhood.
Artemis, may the marriage and childbirth happen by your will
For Lycomedes’ child fond of knuckle-bones.

§195. In Homer, the kredemnon is most closely associated with the two paradigmatic wives, Andromache and Penelope. Maidens also wear it, but, unlike Penelope, who always holds the veil in front of her face (e.g. Odyssey 1.334), and Andromache, whose headdress falls off only as she faints (Iliad 22.468–474), Nausikaa and her friends cast off their veils to play with a ball (Odyssey 6.100). In Homer and Hesiod, married women are veiled, although they are also described as καλλιπλόκαμος or ἐυπλόκαμος. Even Hera braids her hair (Iliad 14.176) and wears a kredemnon (Iliad 14.184) as she prepares to seduces Zeus, even if in this scene, as Langdon observes, the veil is “more a weapon than a shield.” [282] Levine notes that “men with visible hair and married women with invisible hair form the normative landscape of the ancient Mediterranean.” [283] If so, the parallel with Russian customs might be closer than appears from the vases.

§196. There is abundant evidence of the change of hairstyle in marriage in Russian villages, the most common practice being the splitting of the maidenly braid into two and laying of the two braids over the forehead, to be covered by a headdress. In songs, this is referred as “binding” and it marks finally and irrevocably the maiden’s loss of her freedom.
Needless to say, the hairstyle of married women varied from region to region and some of the customs involved find parallels in antiquity, though not in Greece. In many Russian laments, the hair of the bride on the wedding day is parted into six locks, which are then wound around her head. This is a surprisingly close parallel to the obscure Roman custom known as seni crines “six locks,” a phrase that refers both to the hairstyle of the Roman bride and to that of the Vestal Virgins. The Roman hairstyle is named only by Festus in a lacunose and much-discussed passage:

senis crinibus nubentes ornantur, quod {h}is ornatus vetustissimus fuit. Quidam quod eo Vestales virgines ornentur, quarum castitatem viris suis sponoe …..a ceteris.
Festus 454L s.v. seni crines
Brides are adorned with six locks because this adornment is the oldest. Some [say that it is] because Vestals virgins are adorned by it, whose chastity to their husbands….

§197. Some experts have argued that the hairstyle originates with the brides and that Vestals wore it as a sign of their unique status between virgin and matron, [284] others that the brides came to wear the ancient hairstyle of the Vestals. [285] There is little certainty on this matter, as with everything else concerning Festus’s testimony. The statues of Vestals which show them with the woolen bands (infulae) bound round their head, an adornment not attested for brides. [286] Some of the sculptural Vestals, however, wear infulae bound around their head six times, a style that might imitate the seni crines of the brides, as suggested by Jordan, [287] and there is a possible depiction of this hairstyle on a bride rather than a Vestal, on a sarcophagus in St. Petersburg. [288] On the basis of both visual and literary evidence, La Follette reconstructs seni crines as follows: “a style in which the hair is parted into six tresses, or braids, probably three on either side of the central part, with the tresses of braids then twisted or braided and wound around then head in a turban-like arrangement.” [289] With the exception of the secondary braiding or already made braids (which is nowhere attested) La Follette’s description corresponds to what was done in Russian villages: the hair was divided into six tresses, three on either side of the part, then braided (usually into two braids) and wound around the head. The resulting hairstyle would then be held in place and simultaneously concealed by a shawl or a headdress. The meaning of the six locks is as obscure in Russia as it is in ancient Rome, but at least the hairstyle itself is not in doubt, and the fact the reference to “six locks” in particular recurs in songs is noteworthy in itself.

§198. Finally, there is evidence that in Rome, as in Russia, a woman’s hairstyle changed upon becoming a wife. Over a century ago Rossbach suggested that seni crines was in fact the hairstyle of a matron adopted by a bride on her wedding day because she was becoming a wife, and La Follette has more recently supported his conclusions. [290] The evidence is scant, consisting of a passage in Plautus’ Miles Gloriosus, which refers to a sham wedding (the new wife is supposed to appear “like a matron, with her head combed, with locks and fillets”) and in Tertullian’s reference to the change of hairstyle that signals a girl’s transition to womanhood. [291] Rossbach’s suggestion regarding the adoption of the matronly hairstyle by the bride at her wedding would correspond to the Russian evidence: in Russia it was certainly the case that the bride hair was arranged (‘bound’) in the way of a married woman for the first time on her wedding day, and that she retained this hairstyle from then on. The Russian evidence also serves, however, to underscore the differences in interpreting the Roman one, not least because it makes clear the imprecision of terms such as “bridal hairstyle.” The Russian bride appeared with one hairstyle during the “presentation at the table,” sometimes with yet another one (unbraided hair held by a single ribbon) in church, and with a third one (braids wound round her head in the manner of a married woman) at the final feast. The change in hairstyle from girl to woman appears to be a viable parallel, made more interesting by the tantalizing coincidence of six locks in Russia and in Rome.
§199. Returning to Greece, the custom that is most widely known in connection to maidenly hair is the maiden’s dedications of her locks to the gods and heroes prior to marriage. The most famous example comes from Euripides’ Hippolytus, where Artemis predicts that the maidens of Troezen will cut their hair for Hippolytus on the verge of marriage:

τιμὰς μεγίστας ἐν πόλει Τροζηνίαι
δώσω· κόραι γὰρ ἄζυγες γάμων πάρος
κόμας κεροῦνταί σοι, δι’ αἰῶνος μακροῦ
πένθη μέγιστα δακρύων καρπουμένωι·
ἀεὶ δὲ μουσοποιὸς ἐς σὲ παρθένων
ἔσται μέριμνα, κοὐκ ἀνώνυμος πεσὼν
ἔρως ὁ Φαίδρας ἐς σὲ σιγηθήσεται.

Hippolytus 1424–1430
I [Artemis] will give you the greatest honors in the city of Troezen.
For unwed maidens before their marriages
will cut their hair for you, and through the lengthy ages
you will harvest the great sorrows of their tears.
And forever the song-making care of maidens
Will be for you, and Phaedra’s love for you
will not fall nameless into silence.

§200. In Delos, as Herodotus reports, both maidens and youths dedicated locks of their hair on the tomb of the Hyperborean maidens, and the maidens did so specifically before marriage. The maidens dedicated their hair wound around a spindle, a signal perhaps that their maidenly wool-working has come to an end:

Τῇσι δὲ παρθένοισι ταύτῃσι τῇσι ἐξ Ὑπερβορέων τελευτησάσῃσι ἐν Δήλῳ κείρονται καὶ αἱ κόραι καὶ οἱ παῖδες οἱ Δηλίων· αἱ μὲν πρὸ γάμου πλόκαμον ἀποταμόμεναι καὶ περὶ ἄτρακτον εἱλίξασαι ἐπὶ τὸ σῆμα τιθεῖσι (τὸ δὲ σῆμά ἐστι ἔσω ἐς τὸ Ἀρτεμίσιον ἐσιόντι ἀριστερῆς χειρός, ἐπιπέφυκε δέ οἱ ἐλαίη), ὅσοι δὲ παῖδες τῶν Δηλίων περὶ χλόην τινὰ εἱλίξαντες τῶν τριχῶν τιθεῖσι καὶ οὗτοι ἐπὶ τὸ σῆμα.
Herodotus Histories 4.34
To these Hyperboreans maidens who died on Delos both the boys and girls of the Delians cut their hair. The girls cut off a lock before their marriage, wind it around a spindle and put it on the tomb (the tomb is inside of the precinct of Artemis on the left hand as you walk in, with an olive tree growing over it); the Delian boys wind some of their hair around a green shoot of some plant and then also put it on the tomb.

§201. Callimachus refers to these dedications in the Hymn to Delos, although the details are different. Here the males make their dedication to unnamed male heroes rather than the Hyperborean maidens and they dedicate their first “harvest” of facial hair. The maidens dedicate locks of hair, and again it is specified that they do this at the approach of marriage. In a way reminiscent of the wedding songs, the wedding hymenaeus is described here as both tuneful and terrifying to the girls:

ἦ τοι Δηλιάδες μέν, ὅτ’ εὐηχὴς ὑμέναιος
ἤθεα κουράων μορμύσσεται, ἥλικα χαίτην
παρθενικαῖς, παῖδες δὲ θέρος τὸ πρῶτον ἰούλων
ἄρσενες ἠιθέοισιν ἀπαρχόμενοι φορέουσιν.

Hymn 4.296–299
When the melodious hymenaeus
fills with fear the abodes of the maidens,
the girls bring their coeval hair to the maidens, while the boys
bring the first crop of down on their cheeks to the youths as an offering.

It is hard to tell how widespread such customs were, but Pausanias mentions that the maidens of Megara dedicated their hair to Iphinoe in the same manner as the maidens of Delos did to the Hyperborean maidens, while Pollux and Hesychius describe the hair dedications in general terms, without a reference to particular locations, suggesting that they were common in many places. [292]

§202. This phenomenon, which is part of a much broader custom of hair dedications, finds no parallel in Russia, and it would be hasty to connect such dedications directly with age- or marriage-related changes in hairstyle. [293] On the other hand, if a woman’s hairstyle did indeed change upon marriage, then we might find some traces of the maidens’ attitudes to their hair in their dedications of the locks. More to the point, the poetic descriptions of these dedications hint at the maidens’ pre-wedding behavior, of which the dedications formed a part. This behavior included, to judge from the Hippolytus, both tears and songs, perhaps wedding laments. We learn about these songs, moreover, in a play where Hippolytus himself, it has been argued, is presented as a reluctant bride. [294] As they are making their dedications and crying for Hippolytus, the brides perhaps also lament for their maidenhood and their dedication of hair signals a transition to an age where neither their hair nor they themselves will remain unbound. There is no reference to the songs in Callimachus, but the pointed use of μορμύσσεται, a verb derived from the name of the bogey-woman Mormo, suggests that the future brides are gripped by a childish fear, a likely description of the emotions often expressed in wedding laments.
§203. I will have more to say about such dedications in the next edition of this work. For now, I would like to conclude with a description of maidens from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter that encapsulates many of the themes touched upon so far. As they lead Demeter to their father’s house, the daughters of Keleos run joyfully along the way:

αἱ δ’ ὥς τ’ ἢ ἔλαφοι ἢ πόρτιες ἤαρος ὥρῃ
ἅλλοντ’ ἂν λειμῶνα κορεσσάμεναι φρένα φορβῇ,
ὣς αἱ ἐπισχόμεναι ἑανῶν πτύχας ἱμεροέντων
ἤϊξαν κοίλην κατ’ ἀμαξιτόν, ἀμφὶ δὲ χαῖται
ὤμοις ἀΐσσοντο κροκηΐῳ ἄνθει ὁμοῖαι.

Just as does or heifers in the season of spring
Bound through the meadow, their hearts sated with grass,
So they, lifting up the folds of their lovely robes,
Rushed along the hollowed-out wagon road and their hair
Bounced about their shoulders, looking like the crocus flower.

§204. The four maidens, described earlier (108) as κουρήϊον ἄνθος ἔχουσαι, “in the bloom of maidenhood,” are compared to heifers frolicking in the springtime, bringing to mind the theme of bride as a lost heifer. These heifers are not yet lost, but still safe and innocent as they run home to their mother, another sharp contrast to the wedding laments, and, of course, to Persephone, who is indeed gone and alone, separated from inconsolable Demeter. The meadow where the heifers play is the very space from which Persephone was abducted, the verdant and erotically charged locus of potentialities, the place where maidens engage in the double-entendre that is their “play.” As the daughters of Keleos run, their unbound hair bounces freely on their shoulders and is compared to the crocus flower. In its freedom and its likeness to a flower the hair of the Keleos’ daughters evokes associations that are very similar to the ones attaching to maidenly krasota in Russian songs: the playful freedom of the maidens, their conspicuous beauty as yet not hidden from view, and the fact that all of this will be as short-lived as a crocus or hyacinth, that they will soon be taken from the meadow, just as Persephone has been, their hair bound or covered and their beauty hidden within the house. The distance between the laments performed by the Russian brides at their own weddings as late as the 1930s and the Homeric Hymn to Demeter is immense. All the more remarkable, therefore, are the echoes in ritual and in song, in action and in word, echoes that reveal the strength, the systemic and diachronic persistence, of wedding poetics.


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[ back ] 1. Barsov 1872.
[ back ] 2. E.g. Potanina 1984, Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985, Koskina 1997, Lobanov, Korepova and Nekrylova 1998, Kulagina and Ivanov 2000, Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001, Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002.
[ back ] 3. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:35
[ back ] 4. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisvoa 2002:53, 59–62.
[ back ] 5. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:110
[ back ] 6. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:110–114.
[ back ] 7. Gorozhanina and Zaitseva 2003:56–63.
[ back ] 8. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:33.
[ back ] 9. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:33–35.
[ back ] 10. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:46.
[ back ] 11. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:46–47.
[ back ] 12. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:46.
[ back ] 13. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:47.
[ back ] 14. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:48–50.
[ back ] 15. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:120, 124.
[ back ] 16. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:100–101.
[ back ] 17. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:208–209.
[ back ] 18. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:80, 84–87, 90, 107, 116.
[ back ] 19. Kuznetsova 1993:79–81.
[ back ] 20. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:226, Kulagina and Ivanov 2000: vol. 1.166.
[ back ] 21. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:73. The devichnik took place at variable points in the progression of the wedding, but in Siberia it always seems to happen between the betrothal and the wedding. In the Vologda region weddings described by Balashov, on the other hand, while the bride’s age-mates gather nightly during the week between the betrothal and the wedding, the word devichnik is reserved for a specific ritual of the bride’s final parting with maidenly life, which took place at night after she was “brought out before the tables,” i.e. after the groom’s party arrived and the bride was formally presented to them. This ritual involved men along with the bride’s friends and age-mates and began with the bride’s ceremonial giving of beer to the males present, beginning with her father. Most importantly, the groom is present at this devichnik (on which see more below), which is not the case with the occasions bearing the same name in Siberia. (Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:146)
[ back ] 22. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:109–113.
[ back ] 23. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisvoa 2002:111.
[ back ] 24. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:112.
[ back ] 25. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:126.
[ back ] 26. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:120–121, Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:123–126.
[ back ] 27. Potanina, Leonova, and Fetisova 2002:127.
[ back ] 28. Potanina, Leonova, and Fetisova 2002:127.
[ back ] 29. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:100, Kulagina and Ivanov 2001: vol. 1.73–74, 79. Koskina 1997:123–124.
[ back ] 30. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:106.
[ back ] 31. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:105.
[ back ] 32. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:124–137.
[ back ] 33. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:142.
[ back ] 34. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:143–147.
[ back ] 35. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:131–137.
[ back ] 36. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:122–123
[ back ] 37. Balashov, Marchnko and Kalmykova 1985:131. For more on this moment see below, §171.
[ back ] 38. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:132.
[ back ] 39. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:131–133.
[ back ] 40. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:134.
[ back ] 41. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:135.
[ back ] 42. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:136.
[ back ] 43. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:134.
[ back ] 44. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:136.
[ back ] 45. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:136.
[ back ] 46. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:209.
[ back ] 47. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:219.
[ back ] 48. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:219.
[ back ] 49. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:220.
[ back ] 50. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:289.
[ back ] 51. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:290.
[ back ] 52. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:293.
[ back ] 53. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:295.
[ back ] 54. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:209, Koskina 1997:125.
[ back ] 55. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:210.
[ back ] 56. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:212.
[ back ] 57. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:212–213.
[ back ] 58. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:213.
[ back ] 59. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:46.
[ back ] 60. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:185–208.
[ back ] 61. Snegirev 1839:119.
[ back ] 62. Kolpakova 1973:246-248.
[ back ] 63. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:47.
[ back ] 64. Kolpakova 1973:249.
[ back ] 65. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:20.
[ back ] 66. Kolpakova 1973:249-251.
[ back ] 67. Gerd 1997:609.
[ back ] 68. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:47.
[ back ] 69. Chistova and Chistov 1997:511.
[ back ] 70. Barsov 1997:277–312.
[ back ] 71. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:46.
[ back ] 72. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:46.
[ back ] 73. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:35.
[ back ] 74. Shmelyova 1980:111–112.
[ back ] 75. Shmelyova 1980:112.
[ back ] 76. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:28, 33–38.
[ back ] 77. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:37–38,
[ back ] 78. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:219.
[ back ] 79. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:43.
[ back ] 80. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:33.
[ back ] 81. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:34–35.
[ back ] 82. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:43.
[ back ] 83. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:20.
[ back ] 84. Chistova and Chistov 1997:512.
[ back ] 85. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:80.
[ back ] 86. Koskina 1997:213.
[ back ] 87. Koskina 1997:214.
[ back ] 88. Chstova and Chistov 1997:283–284.
[ back ] 89. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:52.
[ back ] 90. Chistova and Chistov 1997:280.
[ back ] 91. Chistova and Chistov 1997:301.
[ back ] 92. Chistova and Chistov 1997:302.
[ back ] 93. Koskina 1997:214–215.
[ back ] 94. Koskina 1997:214–215.
[ back ] 95. Koskina 1997:215.
[ back ] 96. Koskina 1997:223.
[ back ] 97. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:106–107, no.58.
[ back ] 98. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:102.
[ back ] 99. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:105.
[ back ] 100. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:109.
[ back ] 101. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:73, with reference to Shvetsova 1899:19.
[ back ] 102. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:74.
[ back ] 103. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:84.
[ back ] 104. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:83.
[ back ] 105. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:37.
[ back ] 106. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:37.
[ back ] 107. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:36.
[ back ] 108. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:51–52.
[ back ] 109. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:243.
[ back ] 110. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:193. Four other variants of the same lament, of different lengths and from different regions, are cited by Kolpakova 1973:123, 137–138, 139–140.
[ back ] 111. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:52–53.
[ back ] 112. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:53.
[ back ] 113. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:66.
[ back ] 114. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:93.
[ back ] 115. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:226.
[ back ] 116. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:218–219, 244.
[ back ] 117. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:194.
[ back ] 118. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:127.
[ back ] 119. Chistova and Chistov 1997:285.
[ back ] 120. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:132.
[ back ] 121. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:135 (no.90), cf. 138 (no.92).
[ back ] 122. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:116, no.66.
[ back ] 123. Potanina, Leonova, Fetisova 2002:116, no.67.
[ back ] 124. Koskina 1997:232.
[ back ] 125. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:117–118, no.69.
[ back ] 126. Potanian, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:127.
[ back ] 127. Potanian, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:127.
[ back ] 128. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:127 with reference to Potanina 1979:74.
[ back ] 129. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:159, no.855.
[ back ] 130. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:187, no.902.
[ back ] 131. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:188, no.904.
[ back ] 132. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:181, no.889.
[ back ] 133. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:129-130, no.84.
[ back ] 134. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:136-137, no.91.
[ back ] 135. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:142, no.96.
[ back ] 136. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:57, no.56.
[ back ] 137. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:204, no.949.
[ back ] 138. Koskina 1997:235, no.42.
[ back ] 139. Lobanov, Korepova and Nekrylova 1998:111.
[ back ] 140. E.g. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:241 (no.222), Kolpakova 1973:112 (no.215).
[ back ] 141. Koskina 1997:236, no.43.
[ back ] 142. Kulagina and Ivanov 2000:180, no.54.
[ back ] 143. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985: 200, no.935.
[ back ] 144. Snegirev 1839:175, no.9.
[ back ] 145. Kuznetsova 1993:96, Kolpakova 1973:228.
[ back ] 146. Kuznetsova 1993:96.
[ back ] 147. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:138, no.72.
[ back ] 148. Kuznetsova 1993:98.
[ back ] 149. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:138, no.72.
[ back ] 150. Kulagina and Ivanov 2000:143, no.13.
[ back ] 151. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:135, no.755.
[ back ] 152. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:136, no.756.
[ back ] 153. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:221.
[ back ] 154. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:223–225.
[ back ] 155. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:219, no.143.
[ back ] 156. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:225, no.148.
[ back ] 157. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:173 no.146.
[ back ] 158. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:182, no.151.
[ back ] 159. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:299, no.291.
[ back ] 160. Koskina 1997:256, no.8.
[ back ] 161. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:236.
[ back ] 162. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:280, no.1292.
[ back ] 163. Kulagina and Ivanov 2001:vol. 2.83, no.354.
[ back ] 164. Kulagina and Ivanov 2001.2.84, no.356a.
[ back ] 165. Kolpakova 1973:7, no.5.
[ back ] 166. Kolpakova 1973:153, no.297.
[ back ] 167. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001:231, no.151.
[ back ] 168. Kolpakova 1973:158, no.312.
[ back ] 169. Kolpakova 1973:158, no.313.
[ back ] 170. Points of comparison could be added, of course, and I plan to consider comparanda from Rome and India at a later point. Although it was not my intent for the moment to discuss the Roman evidence, several parallels seemed too suggestive or puzzling to overlook, and I note them, while leaving a fuller comparison for the future.
[ back ] 171. Bowra 1961:222.
[ back ] 172. Lord 1991:111–113.
[ back ] 173. Lardinois 2001:82. For more on this notion see Seaford 1987:107, Lada-Richards 1999:57, Redfield 1982:188–191.
[ back ] 174. See Alexiou and Dronke 1971:819–63, Seaford 1987, Rehm 1994, Redfield 1982, Jenkins 1983 and Danforth 1982:79 on modern Greece.
[ back ] 175. These similarities include the offering of hair by the bride, her bathing, being covered, and being driven in a cart in a torch bearing procession to a new dwelling (Seaford 1987:107, Rehm 1994:29, Redfield 1982:188–190). The first action, however, is characteristic of mourners rather than the dead, and it seems hasty to equate the bride’s luxurious bath in the company of her age-mates with the washing of a corpse. The bride’s veil is full of symbolic significance in the context of her wedding, and here again the equation with the shroud rings hollow. Finally, the procession does indeed convey the bride to a new residence, but she does not go alone, as in death, and it is debatable to what an extent all rituals of transitions should be equated based on their unsurprising structural similarities.
[ back ] 176. Ferrari 2002:191.
[ back ] 177. While I agree with Ferrari’s conclusion, I have reservations about one of her many arguments in its favor, namely that marriage is unlike death first and foremost because it is a reversible state, which a woman can enter several times over. Ferrari writes: “The process that makes a maiden into a wife and mother entails, the first time, the loss of parthenia, but does not produce any change in her as a social being.” (Ferrari 2002:193). It is not that I disagree with this argument. Rather, I wonder about its limits and whether indeed it is the primary reason for the absence of the “marriage is death” metaphor. The Russian laments suggest that the loss of parthenia is not to be taken lightly. From society’s point of view it may well be the case that nothing changes irrevocably about a woman in marriage, but a woman’s own point of view may be quite different: something does change forever with the end of maidenhood, even if the society, in the final analysis, is indifferent to the change.
[ back ] 178. Lardinois 2001:85 with earlier bibliography (n.48).
[ back ] 179. Lardinois 2001:83.
[ back ] 180. Bowra 1961:219–221.
[ back ] 181. Seaford 1987:114–115.
[ back ] 182. In Photius, Bibliotheca 239.
[ back ] 183. Ferrari 2002:35–60.
[ back ] 184. Ferrari 2002:44.
[ back ] 185. Athens, Ephoria Athinon A 1877. Ferrari 2002: fig.39.
[ back ] 186. Ferrari 2002:45.
[ back ] 187. Calame 1997:30–43.
[ back ] 188. Moschus Europa 71; Theocritus Epithalamium for Helen 26-28; Alcman Partheneion 54-57.
[ back ] 189. Odyssey 6.101–108, 93–100.
[ back ] 190. Calame 1997:42, citing Odyssey 6.99–109, Ferrari 2002:46, citing Odyssey 8.34–66, 18.192–194, Iliad 5.338, Cypria fr.4 Bernabé, and Quintus of Smyrna, The Fall of Troy 5.72.
[ back ] 191. Ferrari 2002:47.
[ back ] 192. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:280, no. 1292 (§114).
[ back ] 193. Ferrari 2002:57.
[ back ] 194. Ferrari 2002:58.
[ back ] 195. Ferrari 2002:59
[ back ] 196. E.g. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:207–208.
[ back ] 197. Karanika (forthcoming) places Sappho fr. 102 in the context of a wedding, comparing it to Sappho112 Voigt, Homeric Hymn to Demeter and modern Greek ballads and wedding songs.
[ back ] 198. Ferrari 2002:72.
[ back ] 199. Koskina 1997:232 (§83).
[ back ] 200. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:159 (§86).
[ back ] 201. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:136–137, no.91 (§91).
[ back ] 202. For a discussion of connotations of παίζειν see Rosenmeyer 2004.
[ back ] 203. Calame 1999:156.
[ back ] 204. Rosenmeyer 2004:176.
[ back ] 205. See Swift 2006:127–129 on Artemis’ meadow and 129–131 on female hymeneal motifs in Euripides Hippolytus.
[ back ] 206. Homeric Hymn to Demeter 6–16.
[ back ] 207. Stehle Stigers 1977: 86–89.
[ back ] 208. The formula “I give you my daughter for the sowing of legitimate children” occurs five times in Menander’s comedies in several slightly different forms, e.g. in Periciromene 1013–1014: ταύτην γνησίων/ παίδων ἐπ’ ἀρότωι σοι δίδωμι. The formula is also cited by Lucian, Timon 17.2.
[ back ] 209. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:37 (§106).
[ back ] 210. Stehle Stigers 1977:49.
[ back ] 211. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:188, no. 904 (§88).
[ back ] 212. Stehle Stigers 1977:91.
[ back ] 213. Stehle Stigers 1977.90–91.
[ back ] 214. For the metaphor of aidos in its connection to submission see Ferrari 2002:72–81.
[ back ] 215. Stehle Stigers 1977:92.
[ back ] 216. Stehle Stigers 1977:92, Wilamowitz 1924 (1973):280, Mangelsdorff 1913:35, Bowra 1961:220, Page 1955:121–122.
[ back ] 217. Stehle Stigers 1977:92.
[ back ] 218. Chistova and Chistov 1997:302 (§58).
[ back ] 219. Chistova and Chistov 1997:302 (§58).
[ back ] 220. Koskina 1997:214–215 (§60).
[ back ] 221. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:127 with reference to Potanina 1979:74, Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:159 no.855 (§86).
[ back ] 222. Petropoulos 2003:130.
[ back ] 223. Petropoulos 2003:130–131.
[ back ] 224. Foley 1994:130 with further references.
[ back ] 225. Shapovalova and Lavrentieva 1985:187, no.902 (§87).
[ back ] 226. Seaford 1986:56–57.
[ back ] 227. E.g. Iliad 13.393. The verb is used of a bull at Sophocles Ajax 322, and wild animals in Theocritus 25.137.
[ back ] 228. See above §151.
[ back ] 229. Chistova and Chistov 1997:280 (§55).
[ back ] 230. See McManus 1990 on this point.
[ back ] 231. E.g. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:116, no.66 (§82).
[ back ] 232. Chistova and Chistov 1997:283 (§53).
[ back ] 233. E.g. Fedosova’s lament, lines 273–277 (Chistova and Chistov 1997:283, §53).
[ back ] 234. E.g. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:51–52 (§72), Fedosova’s lament 300–305 (Chistova and Chistov 1997:284, §53).
[ back ] 235. McManus 1990:229–230.
[ back ] 236. Campbell 1964:124–138.
[ back ] 237. Alexiou 1974.
[ back ] 238. Alexiou 1974:122, translation by Alexiou. The same lament is discussed by Alexiou and Dronke (1971:850–851).
[ back ] 239. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:182, no.151 (§111).
[ back ] 240. Sourvinou-Inwood 1987:139–140, McManus 1990:231.
[ back ] 241. Sourvinou-Inwood 1987:139–140. It is probably significant that at Iliad 5.458 and 883 Diomedes is said to wound Aphrodite precisely on the wrist, χεῖρ’ ἐπὶ καρπῷ.
[ back ] 242. Ferrari 2002:58, figs.101–106.
[ back ] 243. McManus 1990:230, Sutton 1997, Oakley and Sinos 1993:45–46.
[ back ] 244. Kuznetsova and Loginov 2001: 221 (§107). Peitho is Aphrodite’s daughter in Sappho fr.200 Voigt and she frequently appears next to Aphrodite on vases (Oakley and Sinos 1993:17, 33).
[ back ] 245. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:219 (§28).
[ back ] 246. MacDowell 1978:86.
[ back ] 247. Ferrari 2002:181–186.
[ back ] 248. Gernet 1968:365–373.
[ back ] 249. Boston, Museum of Fine Arts 03.802, Oakley and Sinos 1993, fig.1.
[ back ] 250. Chantraine 1968–80:239.
[ back ] 251. Ferrari 2002:186.
[ back ] 252. Pollux, Onomasticon 3.36.
[ back ] 253. Harpocration, s.v. Ἀνακαλυπτήρια.
[ back ] 254. Hesychius s.v. ἀνακαλυπτήριον.
[ back ] 255. Ferrari 2002:186.
[ back ] 256. Ferrari 2002:187.
[ back ] 257. Pherecydes of Syros, fr. 68 (Shibli 1990).
[ back ] 258. Pherecydes of Syros, fr. 14 (Shibli 1990).
[ back ] 259. See above, n.38.
[ back ] 260. Ferrari 2002:190.
[ back ] 261. Ferrari 2002:190.
[ back ] 262. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1994:131, citing, among others, the following direct quotation:”Кажите невесту! Иван Нефедыч, невесту кажите нам! Наряжайте! Кажите невесту, надо невеста перед стол!” (“Show the bride! Ivan Nefiodych, show us the bride! Adorn her! Show the bride, we need the bride before the table!”).
[ back ] 263. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:131.
[ back ] 264. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:368.
[ back ] 265. Balashov, Marchenko and Kalmykova 1985:136 (§25).
[ back ] 266. Levaniouk 2011:236.
[ back ] 267. Koskina 1997:236, no. 43 (§97).
[ back ] 268. Dal’1981, s.v.
[ back ] 269. E.g. Aeschylus, Suppliants 832, Prometheus Bound 971.
[ back ] 270. Dal’ 1981, s.v.
[ back ] 271. Langdon 2008:145–146.
[ back ] 272. Langdon 2008:151.
[ back ] 273. Potanina, Leonova and Fetisova 2002:142, no.96 (§92).
[ back ] 274. Rosenmeyer 2004:177.
[ back ] 275. Prauscello 2007, Stehle Stigers 1977:94.
[ back ] 276. Irwin 1990:215–218.
[ back ] 277. Kulagina and Ivanov 2001:2.83, no.354 (§115), Kolpakova 1973:153, no.297 (§119).
[ back ] 278. Himerus, Origines 9.4 =Sappho T 194 Voigt, F. Ferrari 2010:148.
[ back ] 279. Elderkin 1937:424, Iliad 14.348.
[ back ] 280. Ferrari 2002:177–178.
[ back ] 281. See Leitao 2003:119–120 on the femininity of the boy’s long hair.
[ back ] 282. Langdon 2008:149.
[ back ] 283. Levine 1995:106.
[ back ] 284. Beard 1980:16.
[ back ] 285. Hersch 2010:73–76.
[ back ] 286. Dragendoff 1896:286–290,Torelli 1984:33–34, Hersch 2010:79–80 with further references.
[ back ] 287. Jordan 1886:47–48, pl.8 figs 1–3.
[ back ] 288. Hersch 2010:80 and fig.3.
[ back ] 289. La Follette 1994:60.
[ back ] 290. Rossbach 1853:287, La Follette 1994:43–48, 62–63.
[ back ] 291. Plautus, Miles Gloriosus 790–793, Tertullian, On the Veiling of Virgins 12.
[ back ] 292. Pollux, Onomasticon 3.38, Hesychius s.v. γάμων ἔθη.
[ back ] 293. Hair could be dedicated to the dead, in gratitude for salvation at sea, in gratitude or hope for healing and on other occasions. Youths, it seems, made hair dedications prior to being admitted to the ranks of adults. See Schredelseker 1913:58–65 for a concise survey of hair dedications.
[ back ] 294. Swift 2006.