'Sosriqwe’s Downfall' Translated & Annotated by

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


  1. Sosriqwe’s Downfall

Kabardian text


Sosriqwe’s enemies assembled, and invited the giants to the meeting. Whoever was offended, beaten, or stabbed by Sosriqwe was also requested to be present at the meeting. All the assembled members began rebuking and maledicting Sosriqwe’s character. The brave Narts, who know nothing on the gist of tiredness, spoke. The exasperated giants also spoke:

The one who tricks us is Sosriqwe.

The one who steals our fire and does not quit causing us nuisance is Sosriqwe.

The one who kills us giants, and none of us can kill, is Sosriqwe.

The giants rage with fury. The Narts were on the verge of ignition, and began expressing their wrath:

- Hence, Sosriqwe is the consequence of evil birth.

- What is there for living if we do not leach the skin of this bastard?

- How can we allow him to live, while he is calling the storms upon us and using whammy as his weapon against us, and his horse is the fastest amongst our horses halting us from pursuing him?

- Why do we remain if he carries Lhepsch’s sword that precedes all of the weapons between our hands, and who allows no opportunity for the dawn to rise upon us, how can we become so fainthearted and fear his confrontation?

-How do we Narts allow Sosriqwe to be better and braver than us? Feared by our men and women, and can perform much more than we are able to?

- How do we permit our Nart faces accept that Sosriqwe be admired by our women, and accompany the most beautiful of our women, whenever he pleases?

- What sort of life do we lead while no hero except Sosriqwe lives amongst us, and scolds us like a raging bull if he is unpleased with a matter?

The Narts rage with frustration, they were so furious that they decide the following:

To kill Sosriqwe and wipe him out him from their lives. However, because the Narts were incapable of killing Sosriqwe in a fair duel, or by the strong blows of a sword; they gather the sorcerer’s of the Narts land to find a way to slay Sosriqwe.

Unaware by the Narts mischievous plan to destroy him, Sosriqwe saddles his horse Tx’wezchei, and readies for a journey. Seteney looks at her ring that starts glowing in the colors red and grey, then transforms to a red-blood color.

When Seteney perceives this, she runs after Sosriqwe:

- My son do not go, evil is ahead of you. My ring glows with blue and grey lights, and turns to the color of blood. Do not depart and postpone your journey. – Seteney begged her son.

- No mother Seteney. What is this you say? If your ring glows with blue and grey lights and turn to the color of blood, do I impede my departure and hide behind the edge of your gown? Would not my enemies irk? – Said Sosriqwe and mounted his horse.

- I would rather you stab me instead of departing. – begged Seteney again.

- No my mother, I will not rest until I meet my enemies.

- They will kill you if you leave now.

- It is grander to live a short-life and remembered in a hundred centuries, than living a hundred centuries in cowardice and not remembered at all. – Said Sosriqwe.

-  Even if they hung your heart on a spear, you still be determined to depart.  – Said Seteney, then added, - My son whatever you perceive in your way, do not desire or take it, and be content.

- Why is that so mother?

- My ring works continuously, things that pour blood will appear from within it. 

- My mother Seteney, the one who allows fear into his heart may deem mere dreams as reality. Do not fear my mother, for I am not a man of such. – Said Sosriqwe, as he mounted his horse departing.

Off he journeyed strolling and leaping, and after he traveled a long way, he came across a colossal tree, and under the tree, he saw two footgear quarreling; one was made of thin leather, the other made of cow’s leather. The first tries to climb the tree, but the footgear made of the cow’s leather prevents it from doing so, and tries to climb instead.

Both would climb a little then quarrel and fall yet again. When the footgear made of thin leather climbs, the tree becomes dry, and when the footgear made of cow’s leather climbs, the tree turns green once again.

Sosriqwe looks at the footgear in bewilderment and tries to separate them with his whip, but soon after, they would spar again, and race to climb the tree, and fall from the tree quarrelling once again. Bewildered, Sosriqwe leaves them to their own and continues his way.

Before crossing a longer distance, he perceives what is more strange and astounding than he had already seen; in the middle of the road stands two wooden barrels, one is filled with wine and the other is empty and dancing around the first one, tossing and turning to stand yet again, while the full barrel is standing still. Sosriqwe stopped when he perceived this. He carried the full barrel and tried to pour some of the wine in the empty one, but not a single drop poured into it.

Sosriqwe was staggered, but continued his journey, and before he crossed a longer distance, he saw what was more bizarre and shocking: afore his road laid a rope, the rope would extend then wrap around itself. The rope rested all along Sosriqwe’s road, and when Sosriqwe draws near it, the rope would wrap around itself.  He holds the rope drags it and then tosses it on the side of the road, but the rope would drape and extend throughout his way.

Sosriqwe was amazed by what he had perceived, however continued his journey. As he drew near the Narts ancient lands, he remembered his beloved who resides there.

- I shall spend the night at my beloveds, and meet my enemies’ tomorrow. Said Sosriqwe and clambered to his beloveds’ abode.

As Sosriqwe entered the house, he saw an old bitch sleeping at the front entrance, and from within her belly a whelp started to bark. Sosriqwe was amazed, and then led his horse into the stable to remain for the night. He then headed towards the bedroom where his beloved’s old parents slept; as he looked inside the room, Sosriqwe saw the strangest of all: a blaze was escalating from the mother’s mouth while sleeping, and a snake crawling from the father’s mouth, it crawled outward then crept into his mouth again.

Sosriqwe became astound to what he saw but continued to walk towards the room of his beloved only to find her asleep. As he caressed her body to wake her, he felt half of her body hot as a blistering fire and the other half as cold as ice. He woke his beloved in astonishment.

- Welcome Sosriqwe. – The Nart girl said while rising from her bed to stand. She noticed sadness marked on his face and hence asked:

- Why are you saddened Sosriqwe?

- Since the first day I ever mounted my horse, I have not perceived any bizarreness more than what I have seen today.

- What sort of a bizarre thing is that? The Narts say that nothing is as strange as your birth and no one like you will appear.

- Why do you concern about what the Narts say? None amongst them has seen two ogres brawling in the mountains until now.

- Can anything more extraordinary occur besides two ogres brawling amid the mountains?

- I intended to meet the Narts today. – Sosriqwe initiated, - and up until I reached your abode I perceived the strangest of scenes.

- Our god! What sort of strange scenes have you met? The Narts daughter asked.

- On my way, I came across a tree beside the road, and two-footgear one of them made of cow’s leather and the other of thin leather quarrelling under and above the tree. They would climb and fall tangled. I drew close and attempted to stop the brawl, but as soon as I separated them, they would knot in a brawl yet again racing towards the treetop. - Said Sosriqwe

- Then why are you sad? Asked the Nart girl – if you did not recognize the meaning I shall explain it to you. What you perceived denotes a struggle between two divisions. An undisputable war; the cow’s leather symbolizes the underprivileged, and the thin leather symbolizes the affluent and powerful. As for the tree summit, it represents the goodness and wealth of the earth.

- No! You tell me wonders. – said Sosriqwe. – I left the footgear and before crossing one distance I saw two wooden barrels, one barrel was full of wine and the other completely empty and dancing around the full barrel. I tried to empty some of the wine in the bare barrel but could not pour a single drop.

- This signifies that emptiness and completeness oppose each other since time immemorial. - Said the beloved of Sosriqwe.

-No! You tell me wonders. - Said Sosriqwe – I passed the barrels and before I crossed another distance, I came across an aged rope. I seized and dragged it behind me, and when I tried to toss it away, the rope would re-appear before me. I pulled and tossed it again, it revolved itself and laid on the road.

- This rope is your mother’s navel. – Said the beloved of Sosriqwe. – Because you departed without your mother’s assent, she is reaching out to you through her navel out of fear for your life. The rope is revolving around itself because she wants you to return. “Remain close to your mother’s navel Sosriqwe” that is what your mother is conveying through this rope.

- No! You tell me wonders! Said Sosriqwe – I pitched the rope on the road with my whip’s handle and continued my journey. When I reached your premises, I found your old bitch motionlessly sleeping before your house. Nevertheless, the whelp within her belly barked at me.

- This means – Said the beloved of Sosriqwe – the children that will be born in the future will surpass their mother’s and father’s knowledge.

- No…! You tell me wonders – Said Sosriqwe – very well then, what does the following indicate?

- A little while ago, I looked into the room where your parents lay, and I saw a snake crawling into your father’s mouth, it would creep out and return into his mouth once again, and a blaze was flying from your mother’s mouth.

- This means – Said Sosriqwe’s beloved- Because my father separated between two souls in love with each other, the belt he hung on the edge of his bed transformed into a snake that started crawling into and out of his mouth. My old mother that you saw the blaze ascending from her mouth is in torment, because when she went to pay condolences her tongue alleged the contrary of what her heart contains.

- No! You tell me wonders. - Said Sosriqwe – very well, then what is the meaning of this? I caressed your body to wake you up, and felt that half of your body was like a burning coal, and the other half was as cold as ice.

- That is because I am hesitant about my relationship with you. You no longer recall me when you are distant. However, when you pass from this area, you remember me and climb into my premise to entertain yourself.

- No! How cruel of you to say such. – Said Sosriqwe

Sosriqwe stood irritated by what his beloved declared, and looked outside her room; it was a fine day as the sun plunked in the core of the sky. As Sosriqwe glanced, the atmosphere swiveled and transformed morning into a forceful stormy night, and then suddenly black crows rushed into the room soaring and striking the ceiling with their wings as if wanting to tear it down.

Sosriqwe astonished by the incident, he asked his beloved: Who has ever seen crows flying at nighttime? What has driven them to become so brisk tonight?

Sosriqwe’s beloved tried to avoid answering his inquiry, but Sosriqwe persisted to discern the implication:

- This – Said the girl- Is a bad omen for you. I do not know who it may be, but somebody seeks to inflict evil upon you, and you shall be desolate when you meet him. Your ending has arrived Sosriqwe.

- I have not lived one day without my ending being near. – Said Sosriqwe sarcastically. -  The ogres have threatened to end my life more than once, and I have heard this continuously from the Narts. But I would always avert my death upon the ones who threaten me.

- No Sosriqwe. – Said his beloved. – Do not regard me as one of the ogres, and do not look upon me, as you perceive others. Do not depart, even if you are determined to, and return to Seteney by tomorrow.

Sosriqwe infuriated by what his beloved said:

- My mother tells me not to depart, my beloved requests I return home, what sort of a man am I.  Sosriqwe left the room immediately and led his horse out of the stable and left.

- If I spend one night fearing my enemy, then let death strike me now.

When Waschx'we [1] the Narts’ advocate heard Sosriqwe’s words, he became frightened and turned night into morning once again.

Therefore, Sosriqwe and his horse Tx’wezchei went off to Hereme ‘Waschhe summit.

Sosriqwe strolled and hurdled. Who knows how long he traveled? However, along the way, Sosriqwe found a silk strap that had no equivalent. Sosriqwe desired the silk strap and attempted to grab it. However, Tx’wezchei disagreeing said:

- Did you forget your mother’s wish? – Said the horse.

- O old Tx'wezchei. I have never dressed you with a silk strap. Let us take it. - Beseeched Sosriqwe.

- No, we do not want it. – Said Tx’wezchei and banned Sosriqwe from taking the silk strap.

Sosriqwe continued strolling and leaping, and after he crossed a substantial destination on his way to Hereme ‘Waschhe, he found a beautiful three branched whip. Because his whip’s handle broke when he was throwing the rope earlier, he decided to take this whip, especially since it is covered with gold and silver. It was the best whip he had ever seen.

- I will take it. – Said Sosriqwe while reaching out his hand, Tx’wezchei said: Stop this Sosriqwe and do not take it.

Sosriqwe heeded Tx’wezchei’s advice and avoided picking up the whip, and both continued strolling and leaping. As he drew closer to Hereme ‘Waschhe summit, he saw a golden helmet in the midst of the road. It was no ordinary helmet, golden color and shiny like the sun’s glimmer.

The helmet captivated Sosriqwe. Hence, he stretched his hand and picked it up, and as he did that, Tx’wezchei spoke once again and said:

- No Sosriqwe, do not take it. Why do you disregard Seteney’s wish? - Said Tx’wezchei. But Sosriqwe’s heart affixed to the helmet disregarding Tx’wezchei’s instruction.

- How can I leave such a helmet? It is in the color of gold, made of the sun’s ray. I shall take it and place it on my head, and then play with the Narts. – said Sosriqwe and placed the helmet on his head.

He wore the helmet strolling and leaping, and as he drew closer to Hereme ’Waschhe summit, Tx’wezchei’s legs started to hinder.

- Eh old Tx’wezchei, why did you slow you pace?

-  I am unable to proceed any further because I am dismayed that you broke Lady Seteney’s wish by taking the helmet and placing it on your head. - Said Tx’wezchei.

- Do not be sad over of the helmet. Let us continue. When we reach Hereme ‘Waschhe summit, we shall show those Narts how to fight, but the only thing that concerns me is the under part of my thigh (knees). My whole body is made of steel; however, when Lhepsch dipped me into water, he gripped me by my knees making them the only area vulnerable in my iron-built body. I can strike the Narts sharp wheel with my palm, chest, and forehead, but if they demanded, “Clout it (the wheel) with your thighs” then my thighs will be slashed. This is my weakness. What about you Tx’wezchei? What is yours? Sosriqwe asked his horse.

- You should not have mentioned your weak point, do not request to know mine. - Pleaded Tx’wezchei.

- May the dogs eat you coward, you fear to speak… what has befallen all of you today, my beloved first now my horse. – Sosriqwe said angrily

- Very well I shall tell you. My weak point that I fear for, lies underneath my hooves. No hoof in the world can surpass mine, but since the inner part of my hooves are soft, they hamper my pace within water streams and valleys. If a pebble scratched the inner of my hoof, I would slip and fall onto the ground. 

As soon as Tx’wezchei completed his words, the helmet on Sosriqwe’s head flew away and disappeared.

- Is your helmet still on you head? Asked Tx’wezchei, Sosriqwe lifted his hand only to realize that the helmet had disappeared.

- That is why I requested that we hoard our secrets. - Said Tx’wezchei

Sosriqwe arrived to Hereme ‘Waschhe summit astounded by what occurred to him and saw all the Narts assembled there. As they saw his onset, the Narts collectively shouted.

- Eh Sosriqwe our foe, who knows not whom his father is. Today blood will spill (upon the mountains).

- Eh Narts, your fury. And you giants cannot spare your efforts. If you strike, you shall meet the one who will assail back at you. – Said Sosriqwe while standing by the gorges of Hereme ‘Waschhe Mountain.

- Eh Sosriqwe, it is you who calls whammy upon us, holds a weapon that brings us evil, and whose horse we cannot distinguish. If you are a man then strike this wheel with your palm. – Said the giants, and rolled the sharp wheel from the summit. Sosriqwe strikes the wheel with his palm and rolls it upward toward Hereme ‘Waschhe summit.

- Eh Sosriqwe how mighty is your blow. Eh Sosriqwe, who Lhepsch’s sword is your weapon surpassing all our arms, and grants no chance for the sun to shine upon us. If you know the meaning of courage, then strike this wheel with your chest. –Said the Narts and rolled the sharp wheel.

Sosriqwe shoves the rolling wheel with his chest returning it to Hereme ‘Waschhe summit.

- Eh Sosriqwe how powerful is your hit. O you who steal our fires and bend our heads, if you were brave then strike this wheel with your forehead. – Said the giants and rolled the sharp wheel and Sosriqwe sway it back towards the summit.

The Narts and the giants become apprehensive and start shouting and brawling amongst them. At the very same moment, Birimbix’w [2] appeared spurring toward Hereme ‘Waschhe summit. It was Birimbix’w who tracked Sosriqwe on his journey to Hereme ‘Wascshhe; she is the sorceress who first transformed herself into a silk strap, and when Sosriqwe did not take it, she followed his tracks and transformed into a three branched whip, and when he did not seize the whip, she followed him again and appeared as the golden helmet. That is when Sosriqwe became mesmerized with the helmet, picked it, placed it on his head, and divulged his secret, it is what Birimbix’w aspired for and vanished once she discerned his weak point.

Birimbix’w rushed to the Narts and said:

- If you want to end Sosriqwe’s life, then ask him to strike the wheel with his thighs.

As soon as the Narts and the giants heard this, they cried:

- Eh Sosriqwe, the one who shows us the art of striking, the one that astounded us with the strength of his palm and the power of his forehead, if you are a man as you claim then strike this wheel with your thighs. - Shouted the Narts and the giants, and rolled the wheel from the high summit of Hereme ‘Waschhe Mountain 


My goodness, Sosriqwe raging in anger rushes towards the sharp rolling wheel, and strikes it only to slice both his thighs.

The Narts run towards Sosriqwe hurling to strip his skin of his body. There they are, descending from the mountain summit, their swords clattering in their hands, while wounded Sosriqwe crawling here and there. Oh, the Narts are drawing closer, the giants arrived, and Sosriqwe cries out:

- O Tx’wezchei! Whom I never falsely sworn upon him, you have pledged that you would never desert me, where are you?

Tx’wezchei arrives and lies next to Sosriqwe.

- Hurry, hurry Sosriqwe. Gather yourself and become able to do what you were not capable of doing before and mount my back.

Sosriqwe gathers himself and mounts old Tx’wezchei. Tx’wezchei sprints like thunder returning Sosriqwe back to Seteney.

The Narts and the giants throw rocks and stones and shower them with a stream of deadly arrows.

Eh…old Tx’wezchei is fleeing their strikes, rescuing Sosriqwe from their hands. The Narts and giants begin to worry (of losing him) once again.

- Tx’wezchei…where do you take me? Why are drawing far from my enemies? If it is my thighs that I lost, then I still have my hands to fight with, and my heart is banging like a hundred hearts. Return me to my enemies and let me have just one look at them…I swear I shall not grant them a single glance (to live).

- No, no we cannot return. – says Tx’wezchei.

- The mighty god himself has never seen me fleeing turning my back to my enemies. My horse, my old horse Tx’wezchei, I beg you do not bring shame upon me, if my time has arrived then do not let my death become twice, return to my enemies. - Begged Sosriqwe.

Tx’wezchei disregards Sosriqwe’s plea and continued unstoppably carrying Sosriqwe to Seteney. In the meantime, the Narts and the giants are shouting and brawling as they see Sosriqwe fleeing from their hands.

When Birimbix’w perceived what has befallen, she rushed towards the Narts and shouted at them saying:

- You Narts deserve nothing but ruin; I see you are setting Sosriqwe free. Make his path filled with rivers and streams, and you shall seize him yet again.

The giants toss rocks and stones turning Sosriqwe’s path into a river. The stones and pebbles destroy Tx’wezchei’s hooves and stops while he is panting.

The Narts drew closer and the giants disembark, when Tx’wezchei saw this, he told Sosriqwe:

- I have crossed what I can from distances; I shall help you with the last of my abilities. Strip my skin and make it your refuge, from within my skin you may fight the Narts and the giants for seven nights and days.

Sosriqwe striped Tx’wezchei’s skin, took refuge inside it, and fought the Narts and the giants for seven days and nights.  After the seven nights and days had passed, Sosriqwe ran out of arrows and remained under Tx’wezchei’s skin frustrated without any weapons to fight back. And another seven nights and days passed.

Along the seven days and nights, none of the Narts dared to approach Sosriqwe, and yet another seven days and nights passed.

“He has finally died” said the Narts and the giants, and simultaneously approached Sosriqwe…there he is motionlessly lying.

The Narts applauded one another while the giants held their breath.

- Eh son of evil who wished to destroy our progeny. –  Said the Narts and the giants while breaking into Sosriqwe’s refuge place.

Sosriqwe suddenly opens his eyes and becomes shocked to the first sight of the Narts, while the Narts and giants turn fearful from his awakening.

Whoever survived from the Narts and giants tried attacked Sosriqwe, but failed in taking his life yet again.

When they found no possibility in destroying Sosriqwe, the giants stood aligned charging simultaneously with their swords, however, they failed once again.  Hence, they decided to bury Sosriqwe alive under the earth. Hence, they deceptively asked him:

- Sosriqwe you have won us over. We are incapable of killing you, so to which direction would like to be taken. To the direction that multiplies? Or to the direction that lessens?

- Take me to the direction that multiplies. – Said Sosriqwe, because he regarded this olden world as the direction where people multiply and increase.But the Narts and the giants regarded the direction that multiplies as the underworld, where they have been attempting to drag Sosriqwe into.  Sosriqwe upheld his resistance; hence, none of the Narts was able to loom towards the boundaries where his sword extended. Therefore, the Narts began digging a deep burrow encircling Sosriqwe’s refuge place, then they flanged Sosriqwe into the cavernous burrow and covered it with rocks and soil, and erected a hill over it.

On that hill, the Narts and the giants held a grand wine-festivity; they merrily feasted for seven days and nights.

Since the day they buried Sosriqwe alive, spring falls every year giving birth to grass and flora on earth.

Today, Sosriqwe is alive resting underneath the earth; he tries to return to this wide world to destroy the evil and the sinners.

The hot springs that run from the summits of the Caucasus Mountains are Sosriqwe’s very own tears.

“Since I am incapable of aiding people anymore, then let them benefit from my searing tears.” This is what Sosriqwe says.

The ill who soak their bodies with Sosriqwe’s tears regain their health and strength.


(Hedeghel’e, I968, Vol II, p. 277)


* Sosriqwe’s Downfall is one of the many intriguing sagas; evidently, in this saga, the Narts regard Sosriqwe as an outcast, his continuous triumphs and high ego resulted in his downfall. Additionally, his patriarchal ambiguity categorizes Sosriqwe in this account as unfit and an unworthy character according the Narts social standards. It also reveals the importance of the clan system among the Circassians, the necessity to belong to a tribe as an ingredient to cope in the deep-rooted clannish environment.

What is interesting about this saga is the series of outlandish incidents that met Sosriqwe throughout his journey. His beloved’s rendition to the events appear to be guiding commandments or even prophecies similar to a verse or a religious teachings, i.e. the footgear representing the struggle between poverty and affluence over earth’s wealth, the barrel representing that knowledge and ignorance may never agree, and the rope representing the vital intrinsic notion of motherhood. The central and palpable message of this account is the importance of contentment as advised by his mother Lady Seteney, yet Sosriqwe’s desire to claim the golden helmet was the ultimate cause of his doom.

Additionally, the relationship between Sosriqwe and his horse Tx’wezchei signifies the epitome of friendship and bond; Tx’wezchei has sacrificed his skin (life) for Sosriqwe’s survival and glory over his enemies. Tx’wezchei in this account represents a time when humans allegedly were able to converse with animals and regard them as equals and advisors.

Sosriqwe’s burial links with spring; it may indicate the resurrection notion of Sosriqwe himself, seemingly representing creation from within earth where Sosriqwe lays alive. 

Sosriqwe’s “healing” tears running from the summits of the Caucasus Mountains (signify the hot springs of Nerzan) render his holy nature and sanctifying healing powers he create for the ill and weak, parallel to the mythological importance of hot springs in Japan, and the sanctity alleged in River Jordan.

Ultimately, this narration represents much of the Circassian psyche and parallel to the lore of ancient heroes: It is grander to live a short-life and remembered in a hundred centuries, than living a hundred centuries in cowardice and not remembered at all. Sosriqwe said, this sums the Circassian approach to life and their interpretation to the tragedies that caused the death of countless souls along their extensive history of warfare.




Submitted: September 30, 2016

© Copyright 2021 Zaina El-Said. All rights reserved.

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