Ballads about brothers’ rivalry

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Ketevan Sikharulidze


The development of folk ballad took a long process before it was formed into a literary genre. However, by moving to literature, the ballad has not lost its dramatic character. The form of the story and the poetic side of the work were determined by the author's worldview, moral criteria and taste. In this regard, it is interesting to observe ballads created on a single theme, which belong to different eras and cultures.

The report discusses the Scandinavian folk ballad "Alf from Odersk", Heinrich Heine’s "Two Brothers" and the Abkhazian poet Demirti Gulia’s "Eshsou’s Pistol". All these three ballads tell the stories of the confrontation between two brothers and the reason for their enmity is a woman.

Some of the Scandinavian heroic ballads are based on battles narrated in ancient sagas, but folk singers formed the story of the ballad according to their discretion. It had more drama, more charm. The story of “Alf from Odersk" is taken from Hervor's saga. The Norwegian singer changed the story to add more intensity to it.

Heine's ballad is based on a German legend in which the brothers confronted each other, but the battle between them no longer took place. Heine gave the ballad a romantic character. In his verse the brothers’struggle is eternal.

Dimitri Gulia, the founder of Abkhazian literature, presents the conflict of the brothers in a different way in his ballad. Eshshaw's attempt to kill his older brother is answered by the older brother with wise behavior, thus preventing the conflict forever.

A comparison of these ballads shows how the same story can change the work of different authors, how they interpret the same story differently and formulate it differently artistically and ideologically. It is this difference that enriches the poetic mosaic.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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