'Sosriqwe and Toteresh' 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

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  1. Sosriqwe and Toteresh

Kabardian text

O poems O hymns

Ye adorn Sosriqwe’s attire, they say,

That day,

The sun blistered in heat,

Tx’wezchei’s ears dangled,

Sosriqwe slacking on his horse,

Standing afore his abode,

Without entering his home,

Saddened he was,

Engulfed in sorrow,

Refusing to enter his residence

His dinner table awaits him, yet he ate nothing

His drink is set on the table, yet he drinks not,

Once Seteney saw him, she asked,

  • Sosriqwe my pride,

Sosriqwe my light,

Golden veneered Sosriqwe

Sun shining from your cranium,

In one leap, you mount your horse,

Thy sword misses no aim,

Thy spear demolishes mountains.

They bent your head,

They discolored your face,

They twisted your heart.

While you were at the Nart council,

What did they discuss?

What did you see in the council?

Sosriqwe answered,

- My mother Seteney,

Lady of all Narts,

My life is thy cradle,

Women do not inquire about

What roams in the council,

Men do not seek a women’s advice,

Whoever, does so, is not a complete Nart.

- Sosriqwe my pride,

Sosriqwe my light,

Swarthy Sosriqwe,

Do not regard me as any woman,

I am equivalent to a Nartian knight,

What saddens your heart?

What distressed thy path?

 Who has done you harm?

Tell me, what did you see? What did you do?

And if you don’t,

I swear by Waschxwe

Whom none swear forge by his name,

That I no longer desire this life.

- My mother Seteney,

Lady of all Narts

Lady of radiance and light,

My horse stands outside,

Ask him and he shall tell you.

Seteney goes to Tx’wezchei and says:

O my old Tx’wezchei,

May the wolves eat you,

If both of you departed engulfed in happiness,

How can you both return so saddened?

The only horse Tx’wezchei,

Do enlighten me

What has befallen my only son?

Tell me O Tx’wezchei,

Do tell me what my son could not declare,

Old Tx’wezchei replies,

- O lady Seteney,

I did not touch one leaf

From grass or flora,

Nor did I taste a drink of water

From the silver tank.

For three days

We ate nothing nor thought of food.

Request from your son,

To tell you what we came across.

Seteney returns inside the house concerned

She stands before her son and says:

- Your horse is wordless, and you are as such.

- My mother Seteney

What occupies and grieves my heart

Is only resolved by sword.

O mother prepare me some food,

Tasty, and light to carry.

- Sosriqwe my eye-lid,

Swarthy iron-eyed Sosriqwe,

As long as you refuse to tell me what occurred in the Nart council,

 I swear by Waschxwe, whom I never swore forge by his name,

That I shall use my metallic scissors as a weapon [1].

Once Seteney said this,

She drew close to the black chest,

Opened the black chest,

And pulled the metallic scissors

Only to pierce it into the nipple of her bosom,

Sosriqwe reached his hand,

Pulling away the scissors:

- Lady of all Narts Seteney!

Thou surpassed all women,

Thy face is the sun’s radiance,

Your core is golden,

Do not kill yourself

I shall tell you what has befallen in yesterday’s meeting,

My mother Seteney,

After you sent me off to attend the Narts games,

I came across two armies on my way,

Both hesitant to start the battle

“Courage does not recognize regret”

I said to myself O Seteney,

I marched between the two armies,

Razing many enemies.

I worked my sword well

Testing their courage.

Once the Narts called upon me

I journeyed to attend at the break of dawn,

Escorted by a single hound,

Unaccompanied by any Nart knight,

As I arrived to the grand meeting

The Narts began playing ‘mounting-dismounting [2]’,

While they stood underneath the entrance,

I entered the field,

Roaring like a thunderous bull,

I ruptured the heroic ‘wine-vessel’,

Thus presenting me the ‘heroes-toast’

I dressed into the shiny shield [3]

Then mounted my Tx’wezchei,

O mother, my head held high

Unaccompanied by a Nart knight,

I set off to hunt on my return,

Escorted by a single dog.

I headed towards the outskirts of Kx’able Bane [4],

While wandering around the Taman passageway

I entered into Ariqischhe [5],

Once I crossed the seventh valley,

I saw blackness from afar,

Once I perceived it,

I propelled my dog and eagle after it

Thus, they could not reach

Once they could not reach it,

I ran after it mounting my rapid Tx’wezchei,

As fast as he could, Tx’wezchei failed to reach it,

O mother I became furious,

And broke the hardest branches on my old Tx’wezchei,

Once I hit Tx’wezchei the usual three Nart strikes

I set off like a raging river,

I sprinted like a rampant storm,

Once I discerned that the blackness afore me is a knight

I cried after him,

The knight disregarded my call,

Afterwards my mother,

I stretched my bow and shot my arrow

The arrow pierced into his shoulder,

The knight abhorred my arrow as a fly is despised,

The knight grabbed the arrow and threw it to the ground,

Once I gave up capturing this knight

I departed and crossed a distance,

After I reached the outskirts of Arq

I crossed twice the distance.

The lone knight turned and curbed his horse,

With a blink of an eye

The knight hollered after me, thus I ceased to move,

Tx’wezchei set off as the knight followed us,

Once I faced him, I realized he is a Nart,

His spear is unbreakable,

The knight placed his undefeatable spear between my horses’ legs

My horse stumbled,

My hands unleashed the bridle.

As if, he tossed a hay grass or a goat’s hair,

The knight stretched his spear again

And pierced it between my ribs,

Hurling me into the universe,

He then sowed me on the ground

Throwing me behind his back,

While my shoulder plowing the land

 Seven Nartian creases.

My nose began surging

Red and white blood,

My forehead perspired to what eight bulls sweat,

I panted thrice the amount of milk I suckled from you,

My silky mustache

Smothered in dust.

The knight pierced me into earth

Stood over me

Prepared to kill me

Lifting his dagger

To cut my head,

I disrupted him saying:

- Son of Narts

Thou, who never faults,

Today is the Narts festivity

The day we celebrate ‘drinking-wine’,

There is no need to battle on this day

Combining glee with woe.

We do not slaughter each other on this joyful day,

The one, who kills on such a day, may not live on.

Let us vow to meet on this hill

In three days

  • Your kind does is not merit of a vow,

Any day and everyday is a match to your death,

I give you until tomorrow,

To come to ‘Hereme ‘Waschhe’,

If you do not appear,

I swear by Waschx’we

That I shall not recognize you as a Nart,

It is not a Nart attribute to break a pledge,

Nay did my mother give birth to me as a man

To break an oath.

Whoever breaks a vow, may Psathe strike them in fury.

The Nart told me this

Knocked me with his leg, throwing me three distances,

To land next to our home.

O my mother Seteney,

I rally by morrow

Thus, I will be brought to ruin.

Let your Marix’w [6] cur for me

Let your Maribz [7] sow for me

And make me leather attire

Sosriqwe my pride,

Sosriqwe my light,

Poor Sosriqwe,

Misfortune has befallen you,

You used to bring a deer every day,

How do you return with nothing?

What happened to you?

Who has defeated you?

Sosriqwe my light,

Tell me what this Nart knight looks like?

I swear by Waschx’we, the one I swear none of forge by his name

Tell me what he looks like,

If you do not,

I will not let the Marix’w cut for you,

Nor the Maribz sow for you.

The knight was white,

Fair haired,

His horse’ legs had lengthy locks,

A fair-haired horse,

His head is like a deer’s cranium,

Lifted towards the skies,

He runs and leaps,

And as he sets off, he is nowhere to be seen.

- That is Albech’s son Toteresh!

A lone horseman feared by the mightiest armies,

They were nine brothers, of which

I made you cut of the heads of eight,

The ninth remained.

May Lhepsch protect our breed.

Albech’s son Toteresh,

Suckled from his mother’s milk for fifteen years,

While none able to stop him.

His attire impenetrable,

Undefeatable man,

A sharp swordsman,

He lowers not his standard by accompanying other Narts,

He raids on the banks of Yindil,

His strikes are fatal,

No hero is able to defeat him,

But I swear that there will be one who will demolish him.

Said Seteney and jumped outside,

Ran towards Tx’wezchei and said:

- Hairy-legged Tx’wezchei

The one who surpasses all horse breeds.

I did not request nine sons to mount you,

Nor to convey ten!

Why then, did the only knight who mounted your back,

Return home while engulfed in shame.

- Our courageous mother,

Feared by all

Feared by her speech,

Tomorrow is our rally,

Prepare us

Guide us towards the best road,

I will not spare my vigor,

I shall perform the best a horse can do,

- I shall go to Lhepsch,

I shall request from him to make one hundred bells,

I will bring one hundred Nartian girls,

And let them knot the hundred bells on your tail.

Tx’wezchei our horse,

Disheveled legged,

Thy hooves are like no other,

The dog’s comrade,

If you do not perform your best,

I shall make your flesh a supper for the dogs,

And if my son Sosriqwe fails to prevail,

Throw him off your back and return to me.

- Feed me Qalh-Gulhch’e [8],

Let me grind on wood,

Fasten a solid bridle in my mouth,

Propel me with one hundred dogs and one hundred eagles,

Hang one hundred bells on me,

If I was not able to make you son

Bring the head of the enemy

You may feed me to the dogs.

Sosriqwe draws near Tx’wezchei and says:

Thou who have been eaten by dogs,

The calamity that struck us yesterday

Was it solely my responsibility?

Or the burden of us both?

- Swarthy Sosriqwe

Traveler of myriad journeys,

Descendant of a herdsman,

I stood afore stars of grass,

Thus ate none,

I stood next to a spring overflowing with cold water,

Thus, I drank nothing,

Yesterday’s calamity,

Is largely my responsibility more than it is yours.

As Tx’wezchei said this,

Sosriqwe our pride turned to Seteney:

- My mother Seteney,

Thou surpassed all women,

I spared none of power,

Yet I failed to prevail,

I am in agony to what has happened,

Do not engulf me with more sorrow,

The men’s oath

Is one morning.

If you wish to help me,

Then find me the means,

Bring the girls to sow and make me

The metallic attire,

Pray for me to maintain a prideful journey,

If I do not bring the enemy’s head

Give my food to the dogs.

- Sosriqwe my light,

- My son Sosriqwe,

Golden issue,

Sun shining from thy cranium,

In one leap, mount thy horse,

And return to me in fortitude.

You will not prevail over

Albech’s son Toteresh by force,

If you prevail by ploy,

Then I shall help you succeed twofold the gambit,

Tomorrow is the pledge of courage,

I shall make the Marix’w cut

The Maribz sow,

And weave your attire.

The bells made by Lhepsch,

Drape them on your horses’ tail,

And around his neck.

Surround him (Toteresh) within a big cloud (fog)

Attack him abruptly,

And cut the enemy head,

Without granting him the chance to face you.

Toteresch is a dauntless man,

A rigid man he is,

His horses’ leash is braided leather,

The bridle is of steel,

Once his horse strays,

He harshly pulls the bridle,

Flouting his horses’ jaw

Mighty Toteresh will slide down

From his horse,

As he slides,

You should know what must be done:

The horseman must prevail over improviser.

Seteney our lady,

Works her steel scissors,

The steel scissors work relentlessly,

She (Seteney) makes them fashion the attire,

For Sosriqwe her light.

Lhepsch is making the small bells,

And a solid bridle for his horse,

She (Seteney) arranges one hundred dogs and one hundred eagles,

And a nay made of oak wood,

Tomorrow’s rally is near,

Tomorrow is the battle,

Who does not arrive at Hereme ‘Waschhe,

Is not considered a heroic man,

Whoever breaks an oath,

His mother did not give birth to him as a man.

***

Toteresh the lone horseman,

Returns to his mother,

Albech’s son Toteresh,

Narrates his valiant news:

- My mother Birimbix’w

Thou whose dress is in the shade of the skies,

My weapon her pride,

My soul within her heart.

As I was on my way, my mother,

A bizarre incident occurred,

A small statured Nart followed me

Dusted my path.

If I had let him go, with his eyes open,

And standing on his legs,

Then why do I live,

He cannot even bear one of my strikes,

And does not deserve more than one of my leaps,

This is what I told myself my mother,

I took a few steps,

And followed him:

- O son of Narts!

I told him,

Thus, he fell to the ground,

“If I cut his head

His horse is mine”

I told myself, and pulled my sword

“Spare me” he said,

I left him without taking his life,

Because showing mercy to

The one who you seized his soul

Is considered the epitome of courage.

- The one you met

On your way,

What are his features? What does he look like?

- He is slim,

Iron-eyed,

Mounting a grey-haired dun.

- That is Sosriqwe my son!

Slayer of your seven brothers’,

My misery! He will kill you as well!

His mother Seteney,

Surpassed all women,

She is a sorceress,

Why did you defy Sosriqwe,

He is a trickster,

And performer of many a swindle,

He takes curved roads,

No my son no!

Do not go to Hereme ‘Waschhe,

- My white-golden mother,

Thou who appears wondrous in the skies,

I do not want to die

Before destroying my foe,

I do not desire one day out of this life,

Even if I shall exchange my soul with my valor,

Fearing Sosriqwe’s trickery.

Toteresh’s mother is worried,

Weeping bitterly,

She draws close to her son’s horse:

- Alhp [9] descendant, golden horse you are,

Guardian of all goodness.

I plead my son,

Alas, he heeds not my plea,

The horseman you met,

Is Sosriqwe the trickster,

Do not go to Hereme ‘Waschhe

My son’s head will vanish there,

Toteresh my son,

Is my only son,

He is the ninth man, who mounts your back,

Sosriqwe has killed with no mercy,

Toteresh’s seven brothers off your saddle.

O Alhp,

Thou admired by all men,

May Amisch guard your soul,

Save my only son, he is all what remains for me,

Save him from Sosriqwe,

I have looked after you,

I fed you the sun-dried grass.

Toteresh has already pledged

To rally,

Once your arrive to Hereme ‘Waschhe,

Turn back and return with him,

Before the arrows, strike him,

Save my only son Toteresh,

From the oath, he pledged.

- Do not worry O Nart lady,

As we arrive to Hereme ‘Waschhe,

I shall turn back and return,

I shall surpass the winds

And bring back your son for you.

***

Seteney the Narts lady,

Worked her steel scissors,

Employed all she had from hex and blasphemy,

Making for her Sosriqwe

His attire.

She brought all the beautiful girls,

Thus hanging the bells made by Lhepsch,

On his horse Tx’wezchei,

She prepared one hundred dogs and eagles,

To escort Sosriqwe:

- Once you set off to your rally,

May Lhepsch bless your journey,

Go on, Go on my son,

Toteresh is a merciless man,

His mother is yet more ruthless,

She (his mother Birimbix’w) said,

That your are the herdsman’s descendant,

And that your childhood

Was no ordinary one,

That I did not deserve you

That I concern about nothing, except my façade,

That I do not esteem our traditions.

For a very long time,

This women is trying to get rid of me,

Go my son, go,

Those Albech’s are a merciless nation,

And Toteresh is the most hardhearted of them all,

He roams the banks of Yindil,

His stabs are incurable and fatal,

He only wishes to claim heroism for himself,

He fetches the offal, from behind River Ten [10],

He hunts on the opposite bank of Psizch,

He is a brigand,

Sharing none of the loot with the Narts,

He holds none of reverence towards Lhepsch 

Go my son…go!

Toteresh is evil,

His mother is twice as evil,

Her head is like a witches’ head,

She is an old witch,

She spreads calamity in the Narts land,

Heroes diminish at her hands,

She is the source of tragedy to many.

Once you reach Hereme ‘Waschhe,

Surround yourself in thick clouds,

Attack him without him noticing you,

Tear his heart and head,

If he requests another rally,

Forsake his plea.

 

On his way to the rally,

Sosriqwe is departing,

Riding on Tx’wezchei whilst his head held high,

He strikes (Tx’wezchei) three times,

Tx’wezchei charges like a roaring sea,

Sprinting as fast as the wind.

The skies are cloudy,

The clouds passing by,

Escorted by one hundred dogs and one hundred eagles,

One hundred bells concurrently clattering,

One hundred small bells conveying.

Sosriqwe our pride reaches

Hereme ‘Waschhe,

He stands on the summit,

Albech’s son Toteresh already on the summit,

His mighty Alhp turns

Toteresh says:

- Blonde old fool, dogs food you are,

Twisted tail,

Dog limbed, 

I see you return me home,

Without my knowledge.

The deer-headed blonde-haired (horse)

Recalls Toteresh’s mothers’ plea,

The request of a woman is never refused,

Thus, he returns without his consent,.

The dogs and eagles ran after them,

The dogs tore his thighs,

The eagles roaming over his head,

Terror strikes his heart,

The bells’ sound multiplied his fear,

The clouds clotted over his head,

He no longer sees.

- O wicked blonde,

I see you abandon the battlefield,

Once you face who is mightier than you are.

Toteresh raged,

His cries escalated,

His thighs pressed,

Breaking six of his horses’ limbs,

He pulled the bridle,

Breaking the lower jaw,

His horse slipped and fell,

That is what Sosriqwe desires,

Thus, he jumped off Tx’wezchei,

Pulled his sharp knife,

Charging to cut off (Toteresh’s) head,

Toteresh says:

- Sosriqwe behold,

I have spared your life,

Today I request you spare mine,

Behold Sosriqwe!

We still have time to brawl!

- If I had spared the Narts,

Would I be considered the hero that I am?

Shall we spend our lifetime sparing each other?

Said Sosriqwe,

And cut Toteresh’s head.

He tied his head on his saddle,

Thus, returning home.

***

Fretful Birimbix’w,

Rushes to the Nart counsel:

- My son is missing with no sign for his return,

Whether he is alive or dead, I do not know,

Go look for him,

And bring me back his news.

 

The old Narts custom,

Demands to fulfill a woman’s request.

They propelled two Narts, one was Iymis,

The second was old X’imisch,

The two horsemen jumped and leapt,

After some time had passed,

Was it a long time, or was it a short time we do not know,

  Until they met Sosriqwe:

- Swarthy Sosriqwe,

Known to abide by custom,

We are both convoys,

Searching for Toteresh,

The only horseman, feared by armies,

In which land have you seen him,

- O Narts searchers of the Nart,

If you are looking for his Toteresh’s horse

Then, he hangs on Hereme ‘Waschhe,

If you are looking for his body,

It lays on Hereme ‘Waschhe,

And if you are looking for head,

It hangs on my saddle.

- Swarthy Sosriqwe,

Possessor of the trickster weapon,

Descendent of the wicked herdsman,

Son of the devious witch,

Toteresh is one of us,

A man like him cannot be killed,

How dare thee commit such an act against us!

- I am responsible for my actions,

March your horses,

His corpse is decaying.

Sosriqwe marched,

Adding nothing,

It was the Narts duty

To bring the corpse,

The two horsemen, went to Hereme ‘Waschhe.

 

Sosriqwe returns home,

Entering upon Seteney,

He threw Toteresh’s head, on her lap,

Seteney felt sad and said,

It is not valiant, to bring the head herein,

You must return his head to his clan.

Go my son, and place this head,

On his mother’s lap.

And inform Birimbix’w,

I will never allow anyone,

To make you heave the milk you suckled from my breast thrice,

Whom ever his mother may be!

However, do learn my son,

That she will welcome you gracefully,

Offering you food and drink,

Do not touch or eat anything,

If she tells you:

“Eat, if it is only one pie”

Do not put anything in your mouth.

 

Off Sosriqwe went,

To return Toteresh’s head to his mother.

Sosriqwe enters their abode,

(Toteresh’s) head covered with the cloak,

He (Sosriqwe) dismounts from the right side of his horse [11],

Ties his horse.

As Birimbix’w watches,

The man entering:

- He arrived before my son,

I swear by Waschx’we, that my son no longer lives.

According to the Narts custom,

She offers Sosriqwe hot pies, and says:

- This is the home of Albech’s son Toteresh

The lone horseman feared by armies,

Notorious and known by all.

If your mother has bore you a real man,

Able to stand afore one hundred horsemen

Eat this pie.

Sosriqwe reaches and takes one pie,

He cute the pie into two pieces,

And throws the other half to the old dog,

As the dog eats the pie, he instantly dies.

Sosriqwe rages,

And tells the lady of the house:

- Birimbix’w lady of the Narts,

Thou witches’ swindler,

Deceit is thy hymn,

I am the herdsman’s descendant,

Son of Seteney,

If you yearn for your son,

Then he lays on Hereme ‘Waschhe,

And if you desire his head,

Then here it is.

Sosriqwe pulls the head from his cloak,

And places Toteresh’s head,

In his mother’s lap,

He then mounted Tx’wezchei

And off he went.

Birimbix’w pulls her steel scissors,

Striking Sosriqwe

As women usually do,

The scissors pierced through the aged tree,

Into the edge of Sosriqwe’s cloak,

Sosriqwe pulled his cloak,

Ripping the edge,

And returned to his mother.

After sometime had passed,

They bring Toteresh’s corpse,

They sow his head onto his body,

And bury him in a big cask.

Sosriqwe our pride

Killed Toteresh

Allowing people to roam freely

On the banks of Yindil and beyond River Ten,

And around Psizch and the valleys of Baris,

Thus, whoever raids returns safely,

And whoever wanders, roams with no fear,

The Narts rested.

(Jirandoqwe et al. 1951, p. 100)

 

*Sosriqwe and Toteresh’s beguiling narrative represents the sinister and iniquitous side of Seteney and her son Sosriqwe, and their association with deception, sorcery, and blasphemy.

In this account, Seteney’s desire for power and determination to demolish her contenders is exceedingly uncontrollable, taking it to extremes by employing sorcery. Her pet son Sosriqwe willingly conveys his mother’s wishes, and despite the strict code of chivalry, he forsakes all heroic norms in order to remain the most fearful hero amongst the Narts.

Following Seteney’s plea “May Lhepsch protects our progeny,” is an indication to Toteresh’s foreign origin or, he may have a recluse. 

 

 


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