Bohdan Khmelnytsky’s Image in Ukrainian Folklore

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Gregory Mikhailovich HOLYSH


The core of the defined problem lies in the analysis of the thematic folklore cycle connected with the figure of Bohdan Khmelnytsky, the famous statesman and military leader, as well as with the historical epoch that received the hetman’s name. The theme is noted for the high level of urgency and has inexhaustible gnoseological (epistemological) potential notwithstanding the considerable number of existing works.

Purpose The goal of this research is the folklore based study of Bohdan Khmelnytsky and his epoques image folklore interpretation particularities. The literary sources under analysis are represented by various genres of folk literature as the works of such kind alongside with thematic literary sources of old times made the foundation for the hetman’s image presentation in the later belles lettres and scholarly research of Ukraine.

Results Textual analysis of different genres folklore works enabled the reconstruction of the generally many-sided picture of Bohdan Khmelnytskys folklore image.The folk stories and legends in particular offer different versions concerning the Hetman’s genealogy, his personal life and death circumstances. Folk dumas (ballads) and songs tell about the Hetmans state-creating and military activity and reveal the public view of the Liberation war events. Alongside with apparent glorification and hyperbolization of Bohdan Khmelnytskys person, as well as his activity, these genres comprise his negative assessment. Thus, in the representation of such an ideologically touchy issue as the Council of Pereyaslav, especially in the context of present-day Eastern-Ukrainian events, the folklore texts can be divided into two groups: the ones that approve and those utterly disapproving Khmelnytsky’s decision. The occurrence of Hetman’s name in such folklore genres as proverbs, sayings or idioms is less frequent and is characterized by people’s positive attitude to Khmelnytsky.

Originality is grounded on the wide circle of folklore sources, is given a complex analysis, the controversial representation of Bohdan Khmelnytsy’s folklore image is given proofs and the phenomenon of customized character of these epic works or their tendentious modification in a definite historiosophic, mostly pro-Moscow dimension.


Conclusion B. Khmelnytskys image gained considerable popularity in various Cossack folklore genres. Despite the dominance of positive characteristics of the hetmans personality and activity the folklore works as well offer some negative assessments. The theme requires further historiographic and literary study.

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