Sadko ( _ru. Садко) was a legendary
heroof a Russian " bylina" (epic tale) with the same name, a merchant and " gusli" musician from Novgorod.
Sadko played the "
gusli" on the shores of a lake. The Sea Tsarappeared to express his gratitude. On the Tsar's advice, Sadko made a bet with the local merchants about a certain fish in the lake; then he caught it, and the merchants had to pay the bet, making Sadko a rich merchant.
Sadko traded on the seas with his new wealth, but one day, his ships stopped in the sea and would not move. He and his sailors tried to appease the Sea Tsar with gold, but finally Sadko had to jump into the sea. He played the "gusli" for the Sea Tsar, who offered him a new bride. On advice, he took the last maiden in a long line, and lay down beside her.
He woke up on the shore and rejoined his wife.
In some variants, Sadko is chosen to jump overboard by throwing lots between the men. This motif is a widespread device, appearing, for instance, in
Child ballad57 " Brown Robyn's Confession". [Francis James Child, "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads", v 2, p 15, Dover Publications, New York 1965]
This tale attracted the attention of several authors in 19th century with the rise of the
Slavophilemovement and served as a basis for a number of derived works, most notably the poem "Sadko" by Alexei Tolstoyand the opera"Sadko" composed by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, who also wrote the libretto. In 1953, Aleksandr Ptushkodirected a film based on the opera entitled "Sadko". A shortened and heavily-modified American version of this film entitled "The Magic Voyage of Sinbad" was spoofed on Mystery Science Theater 3000. (The original version of the film is available on DVD from RusCiCo).
Sadko (musical tableau)
* [http://www.artrusse.ca/Byliny/sadko.htm "Sadko"] the "bylina" in English
* [http://russian-crafts.com/tales/sadko.html Prose version] , in English
* [http://www.surlalunefairytales.com/russian/oldpetersrussiantales/sadko.html "Sadko"] as collected by
Arthur Ransomein "Old Peter's Russian Tales".
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