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p. x


A work has recently been published, to which, had I seen it before my book went to press, I should have made frequent reference--Professor Bernhard Schmidt's Das Volksleben der Neugriechen und das hellenische Alterthum. The similarity between the folk-lore of the modern Greeks, as described in it, 3 and that of the Russians, is most striking--so much so, that it seems to point to something more than a common origin ages ago. Professor Schmidt utterly repudiates Fallmerayer's doctrine with respect to the preponderance of the Slavonic element in the population of modern Greece, and he will not allow that Slavonic myths have at all seriously affected those of Hellenic descent. However this may be, many of the customs and songs which I have quoted

p. xi

in the present book offer a singular resemblance to those of the modern Greeks, one which is often for closer than that which can be traced between them and the rest of their kin in other lands. It may be worth while in this Preface to mention a few of the details in which Slavonic and Hellenic folk-life and folk-lore seem most alike.

The Russian Khorovod--the circling dance to song often of a serious or even sad nature, which Kavelin traces back to heathen rites performed in circle around an idol--appears to be closely akin to the dances which in Greece still retain much of their old religious character. The Russian Kaliki, or blind psalm-singers, and the reciters of the builinas, find their exact counterpart in Greece. Such ideas as are held by the Slavonians about the demoniacal character of mid-day, and which are common to many countries, exercise special influence on the Greeks. The Slavonic nymphs--Rusalkas, Vilas, Mavkas etc.--bear a much closer resemblance to the Neraides of modern Greece than they do to their sisters in other European lands. A similar resemblance is to be found between the Greek Lamia and the Russian Baba Yaga. The ideas about vampires are identical among the Greeks and Slavonians, the name for a vampire being one of the very few words

p. xii

of Slavonic origin in modern Greek. The ceremonies, also, attendant on the building of a new house are almost the same, whether the builders be Greeks or Slavonians. The three Baba Yagas of Russian Storyland are very like the three Moirais who in Greece have succeeded to the old Fates. And the Slavonic folk-beliefs with respect to the life beyond the grave, like as they are to those held in Latin, Teutonic, and Celtic lands, yet still more closely resemble those of the modern Greeks.

Since the Preface to the first edition was printed I have read Professor Hilferding's most interesting account (in the March number of the Vyestnik Evropui) of his recent expedition to the home of the "Rhapsodists" described by Ruibnikof. I have, for the present, availed myself in a few instances only of his criticisms, but they will be of the utmost value to me when I am dealing with the "metrical romances" in detail.

It may be as well to observe that, throughout the following chapters, I have generally confined myself to stating, without criticizing, the opinions held by the Russian Mythologists whom I have quoted.

        April, 1872.


x:3 And in the works of Wachsmuth, Ulrichs, Passow, Kind, Fauriel, Firmenich-Richartz, and many others, of most of which an account is given in the "Notes on the ballads, tales, and classical superstitions of the modern Greeks," contained in chapters 21 and 28-30 of the Rev. H. F. Tozer's "Researches in the Highlands of Turkey."

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