The nation, which forgot its past, will not have its future
I. A. Karimov
As we know, each nation in the world has their own legendary heroes. In turn, folk epics are heroic tales about the honor of gods and heroes. At first, the term «epic» was used for the description of heroic adventures. In these epics, there will always be the main character and his whole adventurous life will be described thoroughly. That’s why, it is called «heroic epics». They were narrated by aeds and rapeods in Greece, suts, magadhas, vandinams (palace singers), kushilava (wandering musicians) in India; jonglior and troubadors in France; gus and skomorokhs in Russia; shpielmans in Germany, akyn, bakhshi (folk singer) and poets in Central Asia. The main content of epics comprises a certain historical background, which caused to an incomparable heroism and endeavor, battles among people, and great courage of the hero, but not usual event. That’s why, it is said that the main subject, being the art of interpreting events (R. Wellek and O. Uorren) in epics is history or basing on real-life events of the occurrence, in it the destiny of a whole people is commented inseparably together with development of historical events. The research assert that the described events in epics occurred in real life.
For example, Homer’s epic «Odyssey», is a literary tale, comprising historical realities, revealing much about life and times in early Greece. At the meantime, the details show valid recollections of the past, which were confirmed by an archaeological research—that the vision of a «Historical Troy», as well as, armor and ship design existed exactly in the second millennium (ca. 1200 BCE).
However, literal-figurative means or expressiveness, using exaggeration and allegory or simile, importance of the narrating scene of events play an immense role on interpreting the events in sequence, likewise, the cultural background of the main character, a festive description of his great courage, good deeds, as well as, the troops, weapons and the battle field and e. t. are intensively described. «Cultural» or an epic hero in epics is described as a powerful character, whose wisdom and courage, was gifted by the God. The following statements, taken from the epic «Gilgamesh» can be a crucial example: «when the gods created Gilgamesh they gave him a perfect body, Shamash the glorious sun endowed him with beauty. Adad the god of the storm endowed him with courage, the great gods made his beauty perfect, surpassing all others, terrifying like a great wild bull. Two thirds they made him god and one third man»
Due to the previous poetic origin, epics plan its genre features and considerable maintenance. Having been refined through long periods, passing from generation to generation, it enriches by the help of legend and myths, the God and heroes, religious commitment and behavior norms, historical data and then will submit them as an entire historical process.
The events of old epics were embodied through the imagination of the people of that period in romantic or heroic adventure or religious-mythological descriptions, being in written or oral form.
Old epic poems include «Iliad» and «Odyssey» by Homer, Indian folk epics «Ramayana» and «Mahabharata», german «Song of Nibelungs», Spanish «Song of Sid», French «Song of Roland», Anglo-Saxon epic «Beowulf», «Kalevala» of Karel-Fins, Georgian «Amiraniani», Kyrgizian «Manas», Russian «Battle record of Igor» and Uzbek «Alpamish».
In turn, the epic poem «Alpomish», being a valuable work, is considered a heroic poem, which represents the ancient and glorious history of Uzbek people, passing from generation to generation. It was described good virtues of the people such as fidelity, great patience and devotion. That’ s why, the epic «Alpomish» embodies the concept of patriotism and summons the people to defend their land.
Moreover, there has been kept the data that the first works of the ancient French epics in the medieval French literature, were formed as a heroic poems, which were developed in a form of epic poem, which was called «Chanson de geste» (poems about the events) and devoted to the milestones such as labor, daily life-style, marriage and religious matters. The people’s life and their desire, which reflected love adventures and heroic endeavors were involved in these epics. At the meantime, the epic «Song of Roland» gains more significance on this matter.
Being well-known for their loyalty, fidelity, prowess and agility, some of these characters underwent similar stories. The most common plot is that the main characters fought with dragons, troll-shape monsters and defended their people.
If we pay attention to some identical points in some of these folks, Gilgamesh an epic hero in the Akkadian epic «Gilgamesh», who was a Babylonian king set out in order to seek an everlasting life. At the meantime, King Arthur in folk epics of Anglo-Saxons, been especially famous for the round table and Camelot, made such a journey, seeking an eternal life cup.
Another attractive point is that the divine agility of these epic heroes; the event about pulling out the sword Excalibur by Arthur, which nobody managed to do it shows that Arthur had a gifted power and courage. As well as, we can exemplify another old Anglo-Saxon epic poem «Beowulf», while fighting with Grendel’s mother, a troll-shape monster, Beowulf was able to lift the sword, hung on the wall, which nobody could lift it, because of being hammered by giants and blessed with their magic, and to kill the monster by the help of that sword.
Moreover, it is important to emphasize that, in order to be wise king and an experienced ruler, the contribution of these hero’s loyal companions, their magician friends is massive. For example, in the epic «Gilgamesh» Enkidu, brave and loyal to his friend Gilgamesh; in Anglo-Saxon epic «Beowulf» loyal and courageous Wiglaf, next king after Beowulf; in the epic «King Arthur and Round Table» magician and true friend of Arthur — Merlin; in French epic «Song of Roland» Oliver- true friend of Roland, who represents wisdom; and as well as, in our national epic «Alpomish» Qorajon can be an ostentatious example to our opinions.
It should be pointed out that, the epics has formed the current stages by an inter-periodical refinement. At first, it appeared as a historical song and narrated orally. Developing through years, especially (after having invented printing books) it developed in a written form, shaping the next archaic epic form. For example, although the Russian heroic epic «Battle record of Igor» reflects historical events, it is product of the influence of folk-lore to the written literature. Having gained worldwide importance, the main character reaches to the international ideal form and at last, the final form will appear as classic form of epic.
At the same time, the main plot in epics consists of several stages, which defines them whether they gain a national or international importance. According to that, the first stage is called an archaic (old) epic, which includes the ancient form. At this stage, the hero is the head of a clan or tribe and defends his people from enemies, prevents from splitting, saves his love, demonstrating his chivalrous attempts in other lands and tries to improve the social system by the marriage.
Therefore, the plot of archaic epic will be short and as a result, it will be difficult for such kind of plots to be in an international standard of epics. Because each tribe or clan has its own national history and life-style.
Due to the second stage, that hero of a tribe or clan will be appreciated as a public ideal. So it more additional point or plot will be gained: «coming to his wife’s wedding as a stranger, being disguised and saving her by fighting with his rivals and regaining his power is considered as an international form of the plot.
For example, in Homer’s epic «Odyssey», his returning to his native land Ithaca after several years, disguising as a beggar in order not to expose himself and to rescue his wife and son from his enemies can be a vivid example to the above-mentioned points. In terms of patience and firmness, Penelope represents a marital fidelity.
When Odysseus has been away from his homeland Ithaca for nearly twenty years, and greedy suitors were seeking her hand in marriage, because with it come Odysseus' kingdom, power and wealth. In such a risky situation, Penelope had managed for many years to hold off these suitors, as she waited and hoped for her husband's return and at last, Odyssey defeated and killed them.
In turn, we can observe such kind of plot in our classic epic poem «Alpamish». In it, was stated that, a suitor, whose name was Ultantaz, became the king instead of Alpamish, when he was far away from his native land for several years. That treacherous suitor was going to marry to Barchin (Alpamish’s wife) and to possess his wealth and people. At last, courageous Alpamish visited, disguising as a shepherd and took revenge from him.
Famous Russian researcher, prof. S. P. Tolstov pointed out that «Ancient Central Asian’s epic poems are very priceless and valuable. They are as deserving as the heroic epics of Greeks «Iliad» and «Odyssey», which are considered a vivid example of an ancient epic literature due to their form and subject matter.»
Soreflecting the events in long historical period by the means of a certain nation’s heroic character and putting the destiny of the people at the center of the attention, epics has gained great importance. We can say that, epics are a peculiar spiritual «bridge», which connects the past and the present day, representing each nation’s great culture by giving information about the history of ancient folks, their life-style, national heroes and in turn, their heroic deeds in order to serve for maintaining the peace and security of his people.
We are to give the following expression of Horhe Louis Borhes, famous Latin American literary critic, as a concluding words to our opinion: «the beginning and ending of the literature involves myths».
- «The Odyssey». Homer. Translated by Ian Johnston.
- «Alpomish-Rustamxon». Publication named after G’afur G’ulom. 1985.
- «The epic of Gilgamesh». N. K. Sanders.
- Theory of literature. Hotam Umurov.