Tag Archives: Ilya Muromets

Ilya Muromets


The informant is a Russian-American-Bulgarian woman who spent the first half of her life in Russia. She currently resides in Boston, MA and the interview took place over zoom in which I interviewed her about the Russian folklore that she grew up with and that she feels represents the Russian people and culture.

Transcribed and translated from an interview held in Russian

“One story is that of Ilya Muromets. He was a bogatyr (a character in older folklore equivalent to medieval knights) who spent the first 33 years of his life just sleeping on this stone oven not doing anything. Then came a moment where he had to help protect the country from invaders and it turned out that he was in fact this strong, brave, capable warrior. This story shows a trope in Russian folklore that the Russian people may not be really useful in everyday, mundane tasks but are very effective in extreme circumstances.”

She then proceeded to go into more detail of the typical bogatyr character in folklore

Bogatyr is a common character in Russian folklore. Like I said, they are often compared to medieval knights, but they do differ in some important ways. First off, the knights always served their king, but a bogatyr is more of an independent folk hero. Usually a very strong one (physically).  It is also important to note: knights were real, bogatyr wasn’t. Just a piece of Russian folklore.


The version of the character of Ilya Muromets can be found in folklore throughout the world. Other notable oicotypes are Lancelot, Heracles, and many more.

This does reflect an actual tendency of the Russian people. Historically, Russians have been very successful when it came to protecting themselves in wars where their land was being attacked. The two most famous examples being when Napoleon and Hitler tried to attack Russia and failed.