'Orzemej and Sausiriqo' Translated & annotated by

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

Submitted: September 30, 2016

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Submitted: September 30, 2016





  1. Orzemej and Sausiriqo

Abdzexe text

It was an ancient Nart custom

To kill who advanced in age.

When Zchamadiw grew old,

An ensemble escorted him

While pounding piercing sounds of drum,

Delivered him to the house of the leader Aled.

While Orzemej was preparing

To attend the Nart meeting,

Setenaei said:

“Do not interrupt me by saying,

I do not heed the words of a woman,

Listen to what I have to declare my lord,

There is a guard standing over the tower on the hill

Sneak up,

Strangle him quietly.

Do not strap your horse,

Once you enter the council,

Sit next to the window,

Once you are offered the vessel (wine)

Do not touch it,

Return it, and tell them the following:

“Our god the supreme one”

 Creator of the blue skies and green lands,

Our supreme god,

Let a young Nart enter upon this council,

Work his sword

And diminish this dreadful tradition;

Killing the elderly custom in our lands.

As Setenaei said this

Orzemej left to attend the council.

Sausiriqo returned,

After being away from home,

Before catching his breath,

Setenaei told him:

“My beloved son,

To the Narts council where the elders are killed,

Zchamadiw is led to his death,

Go to the Narts council,

Your father is attendant, watch him,

Sneak in, and inaudibly, throttle the watch-guard in the tower,

Once you enter the abode,

Amidst the boisterous crowds

And the flying pieces of snow (from their steps)

Enter stealthily with them, and hide behind the door,

As they begin their meeting,

Prevail afore them and say,

“O Narts, listen to what I have to declare,

When you propel your messenger to call upon the Narts to attend the council,

And overlook inviting me,

Does not classify me as an ineligible Nart,

O Narts I declare this

Because I am fully aware of the Narts psyche.

Pronounce this in fury,

Work your sword, (kill them by the sword)

Starting from the doorway to the center of the council,

Until you compel them

To abandon “killing the elderly” ritual.

Sausiriqo mounted his steed Tx’ozchei,

Tx’ozchei’s hooves dug the earth,

And off they journeyed.

The Narts council,

Called upon old Zchamadiw, to stand next to the wine cask,

From the cask’s bottom, they filled the cup,

And presented it to Zchamadiw,

According to the Narts custom,

He pronounced a toast for the occasion, and imbibed the wine.

Zchamadiw enthralled by the savor of wine,

“Give me another cup.”

He requested from the council,

Whilst his shoulders broadened like a young man.

Once they gave him the second cup,

The Narts heroic cup, he said:

“I drink the final toast,

Hoping to be the last amongst the Narts

To be thrown off the mountain to his death,

And wish that a young Nart would appear and avenge my death.” 

Said Zchamadiw and drank the wine,

The color of his appearance rapidly changed,

Then they escorted him, and threw him of the mountain to his demise,

Thus ridding from Zchamadiw.

The Narts began celebrating,

Eating and drinking.

The young Nart Sausiriqo,

Enters the council,

And heads towards the Narts,

Seizing his sword’s handle, he says:

“O Narts! Hear what I have to say,

How do you propel your messenger to call upon the Narts to attend the meeting,

And overlook inviting me?

Am I not one of the Narts?

And was it not Zchamadiw

The one rectifying your faults,

Your guidance during desolation,

Was it not Zchamadiw

Who bequeathed your food with the white salt?

Was it not the goodhearted Nart Zchamadiw

The one salting the wild bulls (meat) for you

And nosh you with the salted-meat?

Does an old man like Zchamadiw

Deserve death because of his old age?”

Said Sausiriqo, then raised his sword

And started from the end of the council

Passing by Zchilax’sten

Working his divine sword (kill).

Once he reached to Orzemej

He (Orzemej) clanged to the window

And escaped with great difficulty,

He mounted his horse

Returning home.

As Setenaei met him, (she asked)

What has come over you?

I do not see you are being chased,

Nor you chasing anyone!

She inquired in worry,

And led breathless Orzemej into the house,

“Spread the bed for me

I will tell you wonders,

Told her Orzemej,

Setenaei spread the bed,

Orzemej rested,

And began narrating,

“Without knowing where he came from,

A swarthy broad shouldered young man

In a sharp (iron) veneer,

Stood afore the council and said:

Am I not a Nart to be invited to the council?

Why have you not sent your herald after me?

Said the young man, and seized his sword,

Starting from the end of the council

And reaching to Zchilax’isten, he killed many,

Once he drew near my seat,

I threw myself from the window

After he hammered and broke three of my ribs,

And made me fear over my heart and torso,

With great difficulty, I mounted my horse,

The white-nosed who was strapped near,

And as you see I returned whilst my soul on my shoulder,

Unable to control my white-nosed (horse)

The steed leapt over everything we came across.”

Told her Orzemej.

Setenaei then asked him,

“Do you prefer

 That this young man you saw

Be your younger brother or your son?

“I would accept him to be my son.”

Told her Orzemej.

You astound my old man,

If you said, I accept him as a younger brother,

I would have made him kill you,

And taken him as a man for me.

Said Setenaei. 


(Hedeghel’e, 1968, Vol.I, p. 150)


*Geronticide or killing the elderly was once a ritual practiced by early Circassians. It may have been some sort of mercy killing upon reaching an advanced and frail age (Jaimoukha [A], 2001, p. 184).

As portrayed in this account, the carnage followed a special ceremony, which was held at the House of Alej, in this account Aled, where the aged Zchamadiw was presented with a glass of wine followed by a speech, then propelled to his death from the summit of a high mountain.

In this account, Sausiriqo ended this ritual upon Setenaei request. Her influential appeal compelled both, her husband and son in accomplishing her wish to terminate Geronticide among the Narts.

The final part is the most curious segment of the epic; Setenaie’s wish to take her son as a husband portrays a relationship that has been folded in the memory of the bygone days. However, it also suggests that Sausiriqo was not a son she physically gave birth to. According to several texts, Setenaei did not breastfeed Sausiriqo, and other texts provide that the women urged her nurse him so she may not desire him as a husband at a later stage (Qumuq [M], 1984, p. 21).

This epic relates glimpse of the early eras that long existed prior to universal cultural taboo’s establishment, and shares characteristics with the account of Oedipus and the Queen of Thebes, and Ishtar and Tammuz.







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