Autochthons and Otherworlds in Celtic and Slavic'

Grigory Bondarenko

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    The separation of the lower Otherworld from the human middle world is explained as a ‘historical’ fact both in medieval Irish tales and in northern Russian folklore. The problem of subterraneous autochthones (áes síde or Chud’) and their enmity towards humans is posed in order to determine the conflict in the narratives. The special localization of the Otherworld is associated in the texts discussed with the coming of the sons of Míl and the beginning of Goidelic Ireland or with the coming of Russian settlers and the beginning of history in the Russian North. The very notion of the separation between this world of humans and the Otherworld is closely related to the beginning of history as such. When history begins the sacred has to be separated from the profane (belonging to mortals). When this separation is performed the binary opposition between the lower Otherworld and the upper world of humans becomes a distinctive feature of the early Irish mythological narrative or Northern Russian and Komi folklore. Both Celtic and Slavic examples seem to reflect a transition stage when cosmological elements (such as the lower world, supernatural chthonic entities etc.) are superimposed on the emerging historical consciousness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)281-302
    JournalStudia Celto-Slavica
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2010


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