Likho, liho (Russian: Лихо, _be. лі́ха, _pl. licho) is an embodiment of evil fate and misfortune in
Slavic mythology, a creature with one eye, usually (but not always) depicted as an old, skinny woman in black (Лихо одноглазое, One-eyed Likho) or as an evil male goblinof forests; it is a small and ugly creatureFact|date=August 2007. It is not a member of the Slavic pantheon, it is a personage of fairy tales, some of which contain traces of the Odyssey's episode with Polyphemus cyclops.
"Likho" is not a real
proper name, but a noun meaning bad luck in modern Russian ("Don't wake likho while it's quiet" proverb), similar to Polish (sayings "Cicho! Licho nie śpi" -"Quiet! Licho does not sleep", "Licho wie" -"Licho knows" = only licho knows – nobody knows). In old Russian the root meant "excessive", "too much" with pejorative connotations. Compare to Russian "lishniy" - one in excess. The word is likely to be related to Indo-European "leikw" meaning something to remain, to leave. The derived adjective "likhoy" can be used to describe someone who is a bit too daring or brave. In Czech, "lichý" means odd (number), idle, vain. In Polish, "lichy" means shoddy, poor, flimsy. In Belarusian language, "ліхі" means bad, evil (like in prayer), odd (side of clothing).
There are several basic versions of tales how a person meets with Likho, with different morals of the tale.
*A person eventually cheats Likho as in the Odyssey.
*A person cheats Likho, runs away (with Likho chasing him), sees a useful thing, grabs it, the person's hand sticks to it and they have to cut off their hand.
*Likho cheats a person and rides on his neck. The person wants to drown Likho, jumps into a river, drowns himself, but Likho floats out, to chase other victims.
*Likho is received or passed to another person with a gift.
Within the framework of
superstitions, Likho was supposed to come and eat a person. In particular, this was used to scare small children.
Recently, some Slavic neopagans attempt to "retrofit" Likho into the Slavic Pantheon.
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