The conquest of Constantinople as mythical plot

Nikolay Aretov.

The conquest of an important even holy town is well-known historical event and it generates grate number of interpretations in different texts. They bear different meanings but the textual corpus not only survives but even expands and governs the thinking of different communities - states, regions, religious or ethnic groups, etc. In this sense the conquest of the Town is essential element of various mythical structures, presented in Holy Scriptures and classical texts. Such important events are the fall of Babylon, of Troy, of Rome, later of Moscow, etc. The myth about the fall of a holy town is typical example of a traumatic (even apocalyptic) plot.

There are several types of battles for towns, the differentiations follow the line between the "own" or foreign town and between the successful or unsuccessful siege. The view-point of the narrator determines the attitude towards the town and the invaders. And this attitude often shifts from one view-point to another. There is no doubt that Constantinople was special, holy city for all Orthodox and even for all medieval Europe. So the Ottoman's conquer (1453) was key event in Balkan history and it generates many texts that could be interpreted as (secondary) mythology shared by different successors of Byzantium. And this event repeated one another - the conquest of the city by Forth Crusade (1204). So the fall of Constantinople served as a model for other narratives, including for the conquest of Tarnovo and Bulgarian kingdom. The paper argues that narrations about sieges and conquering of various towns could be analyzed as a textual network in which every knot, every story, could be in some kind of relation with the rest, and all of them - with some common archetype.

The paper presents from this view-point two different text. First one is a pre-modern historical narrative, translated in Bulgarian and popular in 18th century. The other is a dramatic work, written in verses by Svetoslav Milarov in 1971-73 and published in full text in 1883.

Tags: Workshop 2006