Less Deathless Than Advertised

An interesting character I came across recently is Koschei the Deathless, a supernatural villain from Slavic folklore. Despite his name, he can be killed, but it is by no means easy. In the paradoxical-sounding “The Death of Koschei the Deathless,”, Ivan Tsarevich comes across Koschei chained up in the closet while his warrior wife Marya Morevna is away.

The evil being tricks Ivan into giving him water, after which he regains his strength and captures Marya. He has a magical horse that can run at exceedingly fast speeds, so Ivan is only able to defeat him after stealing another such steed from our old acquaintance Baba Yaga. Ivan, Marya, and the horse all beat up on Koschei, after which Ivan burns him in a fire. I guess it’s possible that even this didn’t totally do away with him. In another tale of Koschei, he keeps his soul inside a needle, which in turn is in an egg in a duck in a hair in a chest under a tree on an island. Sounds like one of those interminable kids’ songs like the one about the lady who swallowed the fly, or the hole at the bottom of the sea. Getting through each of these barriers weakens Koschei, while destroying the needle kills him. There might well be other tales involving the supposed immortal, and Wikipedia lists more modern media in which he shows up.

This entry was posted in Fairy Tales, Monsters, Mythology, Russian, Slavic and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Less Deathless Than Advertised

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