The Origins of Russia

The Origins of Russia

The Origins of Russia

The Origins of Russia

Excerpt

The purpose of this book is to reconsider the ancient background of Russia, as well as the basic trends in the formation and early development of the eastern Slavs and their civilization in the light of both previous and current historical research (including my own).

In my opinion, the growth of the Russian people cannot be properly understood without a careful examination of the position of the Slavs and the Russes (Rus, Ros) in the Ancient World and of their early civilization. It is clear, to me at least, that that civilization is historically connected with the central Asian cultural sphere in which the Alanic peoples for a long time played a major role. The Celts and the Teutons seem likewise to have had ancient ties with that background. In their migrations the Eurasian nomads--Scythians, Alans, Turks, and others--extended the elements of that culture westward where it mingled with Hellenism.

Various aspects of the Eurasian world--political and social ideology and organization, mythology, epics, and art--are examined in the first chapter of this book. The second and third chapters deal with the position of the early Slavs and the old Russes in the constantly changing conditions of successive waves of nomadic migrations and of the expansion and tribulations of the Alanic and Turkish empires which rose one after another in western Eurasia and eastern Europe.

Chapter 4 is devoted to the spiritual foundations of the old Russian culture, permeated as it was with religious notions and feelings. The old Slavic Paganism was not as primitive as it is often represented. It must have constituted a rather complex system of rites, myths, and ideas, in which different layers and aspects can be discerned, such as the clan cult and the more elaborate tribal religious systems. In origin the old Slavic religion resembled Mithraism in many respects. In its further development it absorbed various elements from Manichaeism and Gnosticism especially.

The last two chapters in the book (5 and 6) deal with the tremendous upheaval in the spiritual life of the Slavic world in the early Middle Ages.

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