Jan 8, 2013

Bosnian epic: Weddings and Rescues

The two preceding sections have concered themselves with ornamental details in the Digenis Akritas and in Bosnian epic. They show, I believe, a close relationship between the two epic traditions. The number of such details could be multiplied, and the number of traditions could be broadened to include other Near Eastern and Middle Eastern traditional epics. Other parallels in the story elements and in their structure can be adduced as well.
Songs of bride stealing and of rescue from captivity are the warp and woof of many oral epic traditions. In essence, of course, they are merely two sides of the same coin. The hero sets out to obtain something; in one case he wishes to capture a maiden; in the other wishes to free.
Sometimes there is a double wedding in the Bosniak songs, in which the hero gains two wives, as in „The Wedding of Ćejvanović Meho“. Here one wife is gained without any opposition, whereas the other must be fought for. There are frequent conversions in these songs but they are on the part of the bride, never on that of the bridegroom. Moreover, the pursuers are always worsted, killed, or put to flight.
Similarly, in a rescue song there is never any ambivalence. The pursuers overcome the captors, never come to terms with them. There are many instances of brothers rescuing a sister. This is especially true in the Bosniak tradition, in which the famed brothers Mujo and Halil Hrnijica  often set out in pursuit of their much sought-after sister.