Epopée, Recueil Ouvert : Section 2. L'épopée, problèmes de définition I - Traits et caractéristiques

Dragana Grbić

The Allegorical Epic Poem The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles


« Un poème épique allégorique : Le combat du dragon avec les aigles »
Cette étude est consacrée à l’analyse de l’allégorie dans le poème épique, comique et allégorique allégorique Le Combat du Dragon avec les Aigles (1791) de Jovan Rajić (1726-1801), qui traite des questions politiques et religieuses immédiatement contemporaines de sa composition en poétisant la guerre menée les Empires chrétiens (Habsbourg et Russie) contre l’Empire ottoman. Cette épopée expose très clairement les principes des Lumières religieuses, l’opposant s’aveuglant par une série de décisions irrationnelles et succombant finalement devant les esprits éclairés). Rajić voit la raison du triomphe des forces chrétiennes des deux despostes éclairés — Joseph II et Catherine II — dans les réussites intellectuelles et scientifiques du siècle des Lumières, présentes dans le poème sous la forme d’innovations stratégiques et techniques.


This essay is dedicated to analysing allegory in the humorous allegorical epic poem The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles (1791) by Jovan Rajić (1726-1801), which deals with the current political-religious issues, thematised through a war between the Christian forces of the Habsburg Monarchy joined together with the Russian Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. The principles of religious enlightenment are laid clear in this epic, where the degradation of a blind mind, which follows only the path of unreason, is opposed by the triumph of an enlightened mind. Rajić sees the key to the triumph of Christian forces under the aegis of two enlightened rulers – the enlightened absolutist Joseph II and Catherine II – in the intellectual and scientific achievements of the age of reason, manifested in the form of new war strategies and technologies.

Texte intégral

  • 1 This paper presents the chapter “Boj zmaja sa orlovi” [The Battle of the Dr...


  • 2 See Davor Dukić, Poetike hrvatske epike 18. stoljeća, Književni krug, Split...

1In comparison to the development of the literary epic in the Western European literary tradition, Serbian literature is characterized by a relatively late appearance of original works in this rich and long-established genre. This is strongly related to the centuries-long dominance of folk epic literature among the South Slavs in the Balkans. Apart from the literature that flourished in the Republics of Venice or Ragusa during the early modern period, offering several masterpieces of the genre, such as the religious epic Judita (1501/1521) by Marko Marulić or the historical epic Osman (written in the 17th century, published in 1826) by Ivan Gundulić, the epic as a genre was present mostly in folk tradition. In comparison with the scarcity of the original Serbian epic literature of the early modern period, Croatian literary production from the same period and genre offered several remarkable original works, which treated not only Catholic-inspired sacred religious themes but also secular ones.2

  • 3 See Z. Dukat, Homersko pitanje, Zagreb, Globus, 1988 ; Н. И. Кравцов, Сербс...

2The oral epic among the South Slavs, especially in Serbian folk literature, was present in various highly developed forms that have since earned it a significant place in Homeric studies.3 Moreover, well known Western European authors published works inspired by the folk tradition from the Balkans, such as Prosper Merimee, in La Guzla ou choix de poesies illyriques, recueillies dans la Dalmatie, la Bosnie, la Croatie et l’Herzegovine (1827). In this view, it is understandable that the Serbian literary epic remained under the strong influence of the folk epic tradition.

3Jovan Rajić, the author of the most famous literary epic of the early modern period in Serbian literary history, stated in one of his private letters to his friend Samuil Lazarević, a monk of the Fenek Monastery in Fruška gora, that he had purposely written his epic poem The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles (Бој змаја са орлови) in the vernacular instead of the language of the intellectual elite (Russo-Slavonic, a specific mixture of Church Slavonic, Old Russian and Serbian). He wanted to show that even the representatives of classical literature who expressed themselves in “elevated” genres like tragedy, poetry or historiographical works written in Russo-Slavonic and were understood exclusively by the well-educated audiences or the clergy were able to write in humoristic manner and in the vernacular, i.e. the language considered “lowly” in the classical tradition.

  • 4 Jovan Rajić’s Letter to Samuilo Lazarević on the 13th of August 1798 : „A k...

“In addition I am sending you three booklets [i.e. the three copies he enclosed] on the life and sufferings of Muhammad, entitled The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles. I would kindly ask you to hand over the copies to your neighbours Messrs Officers, namely First Lieutenant Lalošević and my dear Captain Pavle Petrović in Boljevci, as well as to Lieutenant, whose name I have forgotten, but who was sold for a lump of salt to a Turk by an unscrupulous Christian, so that they can converse and remember me, an old man, and let them know that we old men can and will recount the true account of the last war humorously.”4

  • 5 See Dragana Grbić, “Sprache – Herkunft – Religion” in : Dragana Grbić, VORE...

4Another possible reason for Rajić’s choice to use the vernacular instead of formal literary language was pointed out by Stojan Novaković in The History of Serbian Literature (1867). He attributes the popularity of this epic with the readership to its beautiful folk language as well as the acute topic of the recent war of the Habsburg Monarchy and Russia against Turkey, the importance of which was emphasized by its central episode being the Siege of Belgrade ; he also suggests that Rajić’s decision to write in the language understandable to all, and not just to a small circle of selected scholars, may have been influenced by Dositej Obradović’s enlightenment ideas on the necessity of reforming the literary language and introducing the vernacular into literature.5

5What does this Rajić’s decision manifest ? Does it reveal a conscious need for two different ways of presenting the same event, depending on the type of audience the author was addressing, which is especially important in view of the time when the epic was created ? Would an epic that was close to folk heroic poetry bring more glory to the officers to whom the copies of the booklets were sent, and who participated in the war themselves, rather than if the same events had been realistically presented in lofty style and incomprehensible language ? Was Rajić’s decision to present a historical event through fiction instead of scientific historiographical reasoning affected by the author’s insight into the erudition, or lack thereof, of his people ?

6The choice to write the work in the vernacular language can be interpreted as the author’s desire to acquaint the populace with the current political facts using the linguistic expression they understood, as well as to shroud the historical material in fiction, albeit of a completely different nature from that to which the people had become accustomed in folk poetry. The fictional layer in Rajić’s epic was structured according to the high standards of an erudite author, who was in classical languages and classical humanism, and was inspired by the literature of the Baroque and Classicisism in Latin, German, Hungarian and Russian.

I. Jovan Rajić

7Jovan Rajić (1726-1801), a theologian, historian, writer, professor, polyglot, traveller, and monk, was certainly one of the most educated and significant Serbs of his time. During the 18th century, the simile “as educated as Rajić” (“Učen kao Rajić”) referred to a well-educated and wise individual. He was born in Sremski Karlovci, which, as the seat of the Serbian Metropolitanate following the Great Migration of 1690, became the political, religious, educational and cultural centre of the Serbian people in the 18th century. As Jovan Rajić himself stated in one of his works, he spent 13 years of his life studying, 14 years travelling, and 27 years serving as a monk and archimandrite at the Kovilj monastery (near Sremski Karlovci).

8He spoke and wrote in the Slavic-Serbian language (славяносербскiй – a specific linguistic mixture of Serbian Church Slavonic, Russian Slavonic and the Serbian folk language, which was used as a literary language among the Serbs in the second half of the 18th century), the Serbian folk language, Latin, German, Hungarian and Russian. Owing to his original authorial and translation work, as well as his adaptations and editing, Jovan Rajić was, besides Dositej Obradović, the most prolific Serbian intellectual in the 18th century. In view of Jovan Rajić’s interests and the public functions that he performed during his lifetime, his oeuvre can be divided into theological, historiographic and literary works.

9Besides his dedication to theology, Rajić’s preoccupation with history is the second dominant characteristic of his oeuvre. His four-volume The History of Various Slavic Peoples, In Particular the Bulgarians, Croats and Serbs, (Vienna I-III 1794, IV 1795) (Исторiя разныхъ славенскихъ народовъ наипаче Болгаръ, Хорватовъ и Сербовъ) represents, in a sense, an overview of Serbian history in a broader perspective of the Slavic peoples of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. In Rajić’s view, the element linking all these peoples was language. For his History, Rajić was decorated by the Russian Empress Catherine II, and the first volume of History was printed in Russian in St. Petersburg in 1795. Apart from this work, his interest in history is evident in his theological and literary writing. In his observation An Objective History of the Division Between the Eastern and Western Churches (Безпристраснаја историческаја повјест о раздјеленији восточнаја и западнија церквеј) about the schism within Christianity and the development of the Orthodox Church, he provided a brief overview of the historical development of Christianity.

10Rajić’s literary output almost appears to have been a pastime in regard to the amplitude and serious tone of his more significant historiographic and theological works. In a manner of speaking, Rajić the writer created under the influence of Rajić the theologian and Rajić the historiographer, which is quite obvious in his epic poem The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles. His original literary opuses were in verse, whereas his theological and historiographic works were written in prose. His literary oeuvre features all three main literary genres, comprising approximately fifty lyrical poems (a number of which are still in manuscript), the epic poem The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles about the war of Russia and Austria against Turkey (1787-1790), printed by J. Kurzböck in Vienna in 1791, and the history play entitled The Tragedy, or, the Sad History of the Death of the Last Serbian Emperor Uroš V and the Fall of the Serbian Empire (Трагедïа сиречъ печална повѣсть o смерти послѣднѧгo Црѧ сербскагo Уроша пѧтаго, и о паденïи сербскаго царства), printed in Buda in 1798.

11Observing the turbulent historical and political situation in the Balkans at the end of the 18th century from the vantage of peaceful monastery life, and feeling inspired by the war events that marked the Russo-Turkish war, especially the Siege of Belgrade led by General Laudon in 1789, Rajić wrote The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles. The first capture of Belgrade by Christian forces after decades of Ottoman rule was the cause for glorifying the alliance of the Habsburg Monarchy and the Russian Empire, who won the war against the Ottoman Empire. As allegories were used to describe the battle, the analysis of the allegorisation method is the subject of this paper.

II. The verse, the title, and the composition of the epic

  • 6 Commonly referred to in the West as the Polish alexandrine, the trzynastozg...

  • 7 More in : Svetozar Petrović, “Poljski trinaesterac – izvori i trаdicije” in...

12In terms of formal composition, the narrative of the epic poem The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles is organized in five cantos, each of which begins with two introductory 13-syllable lines concisely presenting its theme. This meter is known as the Polish 13-syllable verse (poljski trinaesterac) in rhyming couplets and was popular in 18th-century Serbian poetry under the influence of Polish baroque poetry6 via Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. In the first authorized edition each verse is printed in two lines separated by the caesura used after the seventh syllable. Together with the rhyme, these elements contribute to the rich prosody characteristic of the Serbian Baroque. A caesura splits (7+6) the long verse is two uneven members. The graphical alternation of 7- and 6-syllable verses comes close to the rhythm and semantic connotation of Serbian folk poetry, while emulating its typically short verse.7 With this structure Rajić certainly intended to contribute to the popularity of his work and to address the audience that mainly listened to orally narrated folk epic poems.

13The conflict in the title between the dragon and the eagles relies on contrast, since the triumph of the Christian forces is laid out in parallel with the defeat of the Turkish army. In the first canto, a breach of the peace treaty is used as the introductory situation. The Ottoman Empire had violated the peace agreement concluded with Russia in 1774, and the war of Turkey against the Christian allies of Russia and Austria ensued as a consequence. The second canto describes the decisive battle in the war, fought near Ochakovo, in which the Turkish army suffered a great defeat. The third canto of the epic is central from the author’s perspective, as it presents the siege of Belgrade, in which the Christian forces were victorious, liberating Belgrade from the Ottoman rule. The subject of the fourth canto is the battle of Bender, in which the Turkish army suffered another defeat, while the last (fifth) canto provides the account of the complete collapse of the Turkish army.

14All the historical events in the epic are expressed allegorically, and the basic theme is set as a riddle in the opening verses. The author reveals the identities of the dragon and the eagles as well as the exact nature of the engagement gradually throughout the epic by developing the initial allegorical representation, and in explicit commentaries given in the notes to individual verses, presenting facts of historical events in order to further explain their allegorical meaning.

“The dragon, breaking the peace with the eagle*1
rises against him.
The eagle wants not to pick a fight,
but driven to it, obliges.
One eagle summons another,
double-headed both,
From the west to help
glorious with his eaglets.
Each eagle screeches flying
above his nest

  • 8 Jovan Rajić, Boj zmaja sa orlovi, in : Jerotej Račanin, Jovan Rajić, Mihail...

Screaming, he calls out
to his brave birdlings :
Sharpen your talons with your beaks
rise on your wings,
Catch the fierce dragon,
tear at him hard.
Agreeing, the eagles*2
rise against the dragon
And each from his part
attacks him.”8

  • 9 Jovan Rajić, ibid. 115. „Порта објавила рат Росији 1787 [...] августа 4.“ ;...

In the notes to the marked verses (*), Rajić explains the allegory used to present the historical event : *1. “The Sublime Porte declared war on Russia in 1787 [...] on August 4” ; *2. “Austria, in alliance with Russia, declared war on the Porte in 1788, on January 29, according to the old calendar, and made this public along its whole border.”9 In addition to comments, there are explicit explanations in footnotes and verses, in order to help interpret the identity of the main allegorical representations.

  • 10 Jovan Rajić, ibid. 115-116. „А тко је тај љути змај / што се тако јари ? /...

“And who is this fierce dragon,
who is enraged so ?
Muhammad the quick,
the old trickster.
From the peace made
he turns to lies,
Stirring up against the Russian
Planning to deceive.”10

15Such an approach to interpreting allegorical representations in verses accompanied by notes is a classic example of the definition of this stylistic figure, according to which allegory is a riddle with a key supplied in order to interpret the hidden meaning. The given explanation of the allegory through historical facts aimed to entertain and enducate the audience at the same time, following the prodesse et delectare imperative 18th century literature inherited from Horace’s Ars Poetica (“Aut prodesse volunt aut delectare poetae”). The combination of aesthetic elements accompanied with didactic purposes brought the popularity of both allegory and “pedagogical” riddles in Baroque literature in general and this formula was applied in this epic poem extensively.

16Considering that the initial allegorical contrast is used as the base for the narrative, which is further shaped by the characterisation and development of allegorical characters and of the basic situation set by the introductory allegory, the adjective allegorical can be added to the genre definition of this historical epic, as the interpretation of all the key structural elements derives from the allegorical meaning.

  • 11 Vladimir Stojančević, “Rajićev spev Boj zmaja s orlovi kao istorijski izvo...

17The antagonism between the allegorical representations, encapsulated in the title, can be examined from a semantic aspect through several layers in the context of the entire epic. “Jovan Rajić held a three-fold understanding of the Austro-Turkish (and Russo-Turkish) war : first and foremost, a philosophical one, as a struggle between the two principles of good and evil ; a historical one, as a struggle between the two systems of government and society, one progressive and the other declining – the latter being Turkey ; and a theological one, as a struggle between the two civilizations – Christianity and Islam, Europe and Asia.”11

  • 12 Angus Fletcher, Allegory The Theory of a Symbolic Mode, Cornell University...

18The fullness of the meaning is achieved by developing the basic and simply set allegorical representation through the entire epic, which then can be viewed as a single allegorical narrative representation to which all other allegorical images are subordinated. The characters further develop in accordance with the basic allegorical antagonism as it was set out at the beginning of the epic. Once the author divides his main allegorical characters into two principal antithetical aspects, he commits himself to creating double plots, one for each part, i.e., to providing dual structural characterisation. For example the Dragon drives the plot by approaching Vulcan, Aeolus, Neptune, Pluto, Mercury, nymphs and Faunus, and asking for their support, and he is the only protagonist that comes in a direct contact with the pagan deities. On the other hand the Eagles represent only historical characters such as rulers of the united Christian forces, generals or military officers and they do not have any contact with ancient mythological figures. Such characters then allow for more than one plot to develop simultaneously in a similar form, yielding a vital allegorical effect. Ever since Psychomachia, the function of such allegories has been to show the rivalry between two authorities.12 Depending on whether the author chooses to show the triumph of good or evil, the battles and advancement on such a “journey” lead either to the hero’s final liberation, or to his ultimate enslavement. In Rajić’s epic, the narrative thread of the struggle functions on two simultaneous levels – the degradation and dethronement of one main character (The Ottoman Empire) are accompanied by the triumph of the other (The Habsburg Monarchy and The Russian Empire). Thus, the epic ends with “death” instead of rebirth, but the death of one hero also means “resurrection” of the other, i.e., his confirmation and renewal of strength.

III. Allegory. The dragon and the eagles

  • 13 Rudolf Wittkower, “Eagle and the Serpent”, in : Rudolf Wittkower, Allegory...

  • 14 James Hall, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, London 1985, 109-110.

19One main character of the epic is the dragon, a metonym for Muhammad, which is, at the level of the entire epic, the allegorical representation of the Ottoman Empire. The other main titular allegory is that of the eagle. With the use of certain narrational and structural techniques, the titular allegory is further developed and nuanced, and it is supported by the symbolic potential of the eagle and the dragon, conveying relatively deeply ingrained meanings attributed to these two symbols in mythology and religion as they became established in cultural history. “Christianity [...] turned the eagle symbolism into a specifically Christian formula. [...] Christ is enthroned with the eagle under his footstool, like a new Jupiter.”13 The Dictionary of Symbols states that an eagle is “sacred to Jupiter and his attribute [...] an ancient symbol of power and victory […] it was a medieval symbol of Christ’s Ascension […] in allegory is an attribute of pride and of sight.”14

20In the context of the main theme of the epic—the victory of the Christian alliance of the Habsburg Monarchy and the Russian Empire, contributed to by the participation of Serbian people—it is important to remark on the symbolism of the eagle in the Serbian medieval tradition, with which Rajić must have been familiar through hagiographical literature and historical sources. The symbolism of the eagle found in the Serbian ruling dynasty as the representation of the double-headed eagle on the Serbian coat of arms, Prince Lazar’s cloak or Despot Stefan Lazarević’s coins can be traced forward to Rajić’s representations. Similarly, the symbolic representation of the eagle on the coat of arms of the Russian Empire with the arms of the City of Moscow, showing the double-headed eagle on whose chest there is an escutcheon with Saint George slaying the dragon. A crowned double-headed eagle is also the heraldic representation of the Habsburg Monarchy.

Image 10000000000001B400000150F4D8654B0E1B0875.jpg

Image 100000000000013E0000018835786A28F41705EF.jpg

1. Johann Georg Mansfeld, „The Coat of Arms of the Tzar Lazar“, in : Jovan Rajić, The History of Various Slavic Peoples, In Particular the Bulgarians, Croats and Serbs,Vol. III. Vienna, 1794, p. 1

4. Coat of arms of the City of Vienna.

Image 1000000000000150000001A7C0D241F607DBE079.jpg

Image 1000000000000150000001A3F3031DBC7CE84597.jpg

2. et 3.
Hristofor Žefarović, Stematographia [Стематографија], 1741.

21Thus, the use of the plural form in the title of the epic The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles combines the symbolism of the coats of arms of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Russian Empire and the mediaeval Serbian Empire, which was lost and fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century. The title thus points to an important difference between the two main allegorical representations of the dragon and the eagle, suggesting the alliance of the Christian forces of the Habsburg Monarchy and the Russian Empire in their campaign against the Ottoman Empire. In short, by way of allegorising the historical facts – Rajić pitted three two-headed eagles and one (one-headed) dragon in order to show what kind of political and military power was needed in order to diminish the supremacy of the Ottoman Empire.

22Besides heraldic connotations, the title of the epic Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles employs a variation to the classical motif of the struggle between the eagle and the snake. Jovan Rajić first varies this motif by replacing the snake with the dragon, since the dragon is often identified with a particular set of symbolic meanings to which the snake also belongs. Furthermore, using a seemingly insignificant inversion in the battle of the dragon with the eagles instead of a title that would follow the original mythical formula, the battle of the eagles with the dragon, he suggests that the dragon is responsible for causing the war, as he explains in the footnote comment at the beginning of the epic “The Sublime Port declared war on Russia” (see footnote 10).

  • 15 A catalogue offered in : Michael Ferber, A Dictionary of Literary Symbols,...

  • 16 Rudolf Wittkower, ibid., 32.

  • 17 Jean Cevalier, Alain Geerbrant, Rječnik simbola, 461 ; 793-795.

23The motif of the fight between the eagle and the snake has been known since the literature of antiquity, and it can be found in Aristotle and Cicero. It many intertexts foreshadow the outcome of the struggle – while in Homer’s Iliad (e.g. in Book 12) there is the imagery of the eagle flying with the snake in its talons, in Aeschylus’ Choephori the viper is victorious over the eagle ; in Virgil’s Aeneid (e.g. in Book 11) and Ovid’s Metamorphoses (e.g. in Book 4) the imagery is similar but the result is reverse.15 Although the symbol of the eagle appears independently much earlier, the Christian tradition most probably uses the motif of the struggle of the eagle and the snake for the first time in the sermons of St. Ambrose. Here, the scene in which the eagle devours the serpent is interpreted as Christ’s victory over the dark powers.16 The examples of such symbolism can be found both in the Bible itself, for example in Psalm 91 :13, and in the commentaries on the Scriptures. The authors of A Dictionary of Symbols17 explain that the duality between the eagle and the serpent generally signifies the duality between heaven and earth, or the struggle between angels and demons. Furthermore the dragon as a demonic symbol is identified with the serpent, which is confirmed in Origen’s reference to Psalm 74 : “The broken heads of the leviathan, crushed serpents – this is Christ’s victory over evil.”

24In view of the fact that Rajić was educated in classical studies, which included compulsory reading of classical literature in Latin and Greek, and that he studied theology and became acquainted with Christian symbology, it is probable that these sources had a decisive influence on the allegorical representations in his epic.

  • 18 Jаmes Hall, ibid., 109.

  • 19 Rudolf Wittkower, ibid., 42.

25In contrast to the solar principle with which the eagle as a symbol is associated, a dragon “in the ancient east a beneficent deity associated with the element water, but in Christian culture a symbol of Satan [...] A dragon chained or trodden underfoot symbolizes the conquest of evil. [...] a dragon is the attribute of the warrior.”18 In the context of the epic, the interpretation of the dragon as an attribute of a warrior acquires its special meaning since Muhammad – the Dragon – starts the war, or in Rajić’s own words, “The Porte declares war on Russia” (see footnote 10). Only in this context does the possibility open for the symbolism of the eagle to be transposed from the purely religious to the religious-political plane, associating the solar symbolism of the bird to the solar nature of the [enlightened] ruler. Such a combination of political and religious symbolism is also recognized in the emblematic, or allegorical, quality of the states’ coats of arms, which, due to their semantic potential, often assume the function of preserving the memory of a specific conflict in which the victory of good over evil was won.19

  • 20 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 115. „Орао орла позива, / опет двојеглавна. / Са запад...

26In regard to national and religious determination, the allegorical representation of the eagle primarily refers to its use in heraldry to represent Christian empires. The epic first introduces the motif of the “Russian double-headed” eagle, which is followed by the one referring to the Austrian Empire : “One eagle summons another,/ double-headed both,/ From the west to help/ glorious with his eaglets.”20 Evoking the image of the double-headed eagle in his audience, Jovan Rajić achieves an immediate emblematic effect as the iconography implies yet other meanings, used in this context to provide easy recognition of the participants in the battle. By emphasizing recognizable symbols, the author additionally relies on the charismatic power contained in banners, flags and shields bearing them.

VI. Allegory : The battle

27Besides the Dragon and the Eagles, the epic introduces a number of other active allegorical characters : Jupiter, Vulcan, Aeolus, Neptune, Pluto, Mercury, nymphs and Faun, which are mostly created by means of allegorisation based on mythical heritage. This group of characters has the function of developing the third “member” of the titular allegory – the battle itself. As only the Dragon comes into direct contact with these characters (as an attribute of a warrior, which is related to Rajić’s remark at the beginning of the epic that “The Porte declared war”), its character is developed through rejoinders and interactions with the allegoric “sub-characters”, whose number and diversity dynamise the action, generating the true allegorical meaning of the entire epic. Rather than adding to the individual character of Muhammad, the group of allegorical personae functions as the collective character of the Ottoman Empire, for which he serves as a synecdoche, in order to portray the position of the Turkish army in the war. These characters are in the function of the development of the narration, as the structural role of the dragon character is to generate through its actions other allegorical characters and integrate their semantic potential into the basic narrative flow of the epic.

28The mythical beings – Jupiter, Vulcan, Aeolus, Neptune, Pluto, Mercury, nymphs and Faun – relative to the type of allegory employed in the epic and the technique of their development, belong to a special group of figurative allegorical representations, anthropomorphically shaped by the use of personification so as to clarify the expression of their allegorical meaning. The anthropomorphism technique enabled these allegorical representations to participate in the actions and dialogues, as well as in the composition and development of a specific semantic layer in the epic, together with the zoomorphic (eagle) and theriomorphic (dragon) representations.

  • 21 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 118. „Јупитер [...] био је највећи бог или бог над бог...

29What other meaning, besides the stylistic effect and the reflection of the poeta doctus, do the representations of the ancient deities convey in the epic ? How are the mechanisms of their structuring involved in the allegorical potential of the epic as a whole ? The dragon visits each individual deity, rallying support for the war. The only deity that speaks to the dragon of his own accord is Jupiter. “The greatest god, or god above the gods, and the god of the sky”21 advises, or rather admonishes, the dragon to abandon the campaign against the eagles. For the interpretation of the allegorical meaning carried by the anthropomorphised deities, it is very important to consider the locations and situations in which Muhammad comes into contact with them.

  • 22 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 118. „Еол [...] био је бог над ветрови.“

  • 23 Jovan Rajić, ibid, 118. „Јеси ли ти код себе,/ шта код мене тражиш ?/ Да ј...

30In the first canto, Muhammad seeks help from Neptune, the god of the sea, in the form of a weapon – a trident. He further asks Aeolus, who is the “god over winds”,22 to stir up the winds from the north and the west. In the context of war strategy, this allegorical image refers to the battles that Turkey fought with the Russians on the waters – rivers and the Black Sea. The confirmation of such interpretation can be found in both the verses and the author’s notes. For example, in his answer to Muhammad, Aeolus directly refers to a battle at sea, and to the weapon that Muhammad asks of him as a favourable wind for the fleet. “Are you in your right mind ?/ What are you asking of me ?/ That I raise the winds,/ Are you urging me on ?/ Gone is the time/ when I used to reign,/ and put the harness/ on the winds’ heads./ Can’t you see the beasts* / flying out at sea,/ which to defy/ I am not able.” [Rajić’s note]* “Beasts are here understood as great battle galleys of all peoples.”23

31Aeolus’ statement that the time of his powers has passed (as well as the powers of other deities who also cannot help Muhammad), and Rajić’s remark that beasts are not fantastic mythical creatures anymore, but “great battle galleys”, i.e., products of scientific endeavours, are key to the enlightenment elements in the epic. In the same vein, it should not be ignored that Peter the Great’s reform of the Russian fleet is taken as the instance of the earliest infiltration of Western European enlightenment ideas to the East. War is not won by the decision of fate and its outcome does not depend on the will of gods or magical rites and rituals, as was the case in the great war epics of ancient literature, but it is Reason that has the decisive role, through the invention of new weapons, elaborate war strategies and advanced warfare based on rationalist elements.

  • 24 For the intertextual echo of ancient literature in Rajić’s work see more i...

32Muhammad addresses Vulcan in the second canto, when battles are fought on land.24 Bearing in mind that this deity’s main attribute is the anvil, and that he was considered god of fire and blacksmiths in mythology, his appearance in the epic and Muhammad’s plea for help can be explained by the fact that the Turkish army had problems with a shortage of weapons during the conquest of Ochakovo and other territories. Thus, it is understandable that Vulcan’s prophecy to Muhammad is to cease the warfare or otherwise suffer defeat.

  • 25 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 123„При узећу јуришoм Ожакова, које је случило се 1788...

33The allegorical representation of Pluto, as the guardian of Hades, is the image of the magnitude of the Turkish casualties, and the author’s note to Pluto’s verses states the facts about the large number of the Turks who perished, contrasting it to the low numbers in the Russian ranks. “During the seizure of Ochakov, which took place in 1788, on December 6 according to the old calendar, 8370 men fell on the Turkish side, including 283 officers, and 1140 died of wounds, more than 4000 were captured from the garrison, among whom was a pasha of three tughs. There were 448 artillerymen and naval officers. In addition, the Russians seized 780 banners and 310 cannons and mortars. And on the Russian side among the fallen were : one major general, one brigadier, three staff officers, 25 officers and 926 private soldiers, and among the wounded 19 staff officers, 1100 officers and 1704 private soldiers.”25

  • 26 Jovan Rajić, ibid, 126. „Меркуриј, мудрости и трговине бог, купно и божији...

34Mercury, in accordance with the basic meaning in mythology, noted by the author as “Mercury god of wisdom and trade, both divine message-bearer and quick traveller,”26 assumes the role of the war messenger, who informs Muhammad on the situation in particular theatres of war.

V. Between Baroque, Classicism, and the Enlightenment

35What is presented in the first canto and the beginning of the second as facts depicting the state of war through allegorical representations accompanied by the author’s notes, is illustrated in the second, third and fourth cantos by the device of epic cataloguing. Since Rajić constantly insists on historical facts, whence does the need arise to shroud the factual into fiction ?

36In L’Art poétique Boileau proposes the theory of epic poetry, remarking that

  • 27 Nicolas Boileau, L’Art poétique, Œuvres poétiques, Imprimerie générale, 18...

“D’un air plus grand encor la poésie épique,/ Dans le vaste récit d’une longue action,/ Se soutient par la fable, et vit de fiction./ Là pour nous enchanter tout est mis en usage ;/ Tout prend un corps, une âme, un esprit, un visage./ Chaque vertu devient une divinité :/ Minerve est la prudence, et Vénus la beauté./ Ce n’est plus la vapeur qui produit le tonnerre,/ C’est Jupiter armé pour effrayer la terre ; / Un orage terrible aux yeux des matelots,/ C’est Neptune en courroux qui gourmande les flots ;/ Écho n’est plus un son qui dans l’air retentisse,/ C’est une nymphe en pleurs qui se plaint de Narcisse./ Ainsi, dans cet amas de nobles fictions,/ Le poëte s’égaye en mille inventions,/ Orne, élève, embellit, agrandit toutes choses,/ Et trouve sous sa main des fleurs toujours écloses. […] Sans tous ces ornemens le vers tombe en langueur,/ La poésie est morte ou rampe sans vigueur./ Le poëte n’est plus qu’un orateur timide,/ Qu’un froid historien d’une fable insipide.”27

37The poet’s choices to have Muhammad interact with pagan deities and the eagles rely on the Christian faith implicitly contain the attitude of Baroque poetics to epic literature, which insisted that the events in the epic be shown through the prism of the Christian religion, thus using the feats of epic heroes, who fought under the protection of Christ, to restore the faith and esteem for the church compromised by the Reformation. At the same time, the devices of plot structure and the clear hierarchical differentiation of allegorical characters into the high and the underground spheres reflect the principles proclaimed by the poetics of classicism. However, in The Art of Poetry, Boileau argues against depicting events in epic poetry exclusively through Christian symbolism :

  • 28 Nicolas Boileau, ibid., Chant III, Lines 229-236.

“De figurer aux yeux la Guerre au front d’airain,/ Ou le temps qui s’enfuit une horloge à la main ;/ Et partout des discours, comme une idolâtrie,/ Dans leur faux zèle iront chasser l’allégorie./ Laissons-les s’applaudir de leur pieuse erreur./ Mais, pour nous, bannissons une vaine terreur,/ Et, fabuleux chrétiens, n’allons point, dans nos songes,/ Du Dieu de vérité faire un Dieu de mensonges.”28

38However, apart from the baroque metre in the linguistic expression and classicist poetics in the decor, Rajić’s epic, written at the end of the 18th century, was strongly influenced by the enlightenment idea of glorifying God with reason, which was first conceived in the Reformation and developed within the poetics of the Enlightenment. The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles is therefore neither a typical baroque religious epic nor an allegorical classicist narrative poem ; it rather presents the idea of religious enlightenment dressed in baroque and classicist decor. This stylistic and poetic hybrid combination accurately reflects the intertwining of different influences in Serbian literature of the 18th century.

39The glorification of God, the Logos (Mind, Reason), through cognitive endeavours is demonstrated in the epic by the victory of new war strategies and technologies over the belief in miracles and the action of a “higher” power. The dragon does not win in the epic because in the Age of the Enlightenment, miracles are no longer possible. The “magical” effectiveness provided to Muhammad by the ancient deities to whom he turns for help is constrained by the rationalist elements of the epoch in which Jovan Rajić wrote his work. The finale of the epic showing the fate of the dragon and the eagles is formed in contrast to the situation at the beginning, thus achieving the baroque effect intended to produce surprise, wonderment and admiration by linking of incompatibles. Admiration for the power of enlightened reason, which shines above the image of the defeated Muhammad, is the lasting final impression from which a lesson should be learned.

  • 29 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 128. „Лаудон/ војевода славни,/ У Цесарској Армији/ ко...

40Eagles have an enlightened mind. Their army is commanded by “[...] Laudon/ glorious warlord,/ Of the Habsburg’s army/ supreme commander, / Gideon of Israel / clear-sighted, wise,/ An old man, of medium build,/ but sprightly in spirit.”29 Moreover, the eagles have Minerva, the “goddess of wisdom”, on their side. While Jupiter, the supreme god and personification of the solar principle, tells Muhammad to take heed, Vulcan warns Muhammad about the presence of Minerva, the personification of the enlightened army :

  • 30 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 121. „Минерва је, море, ту,/ велим зло ћеш проћи./ Међ...

“Hark, Minerva is here, I say, you will come to harm.
Laudon among the Habsburgs,
a sprightly old sage ;
And Potemkin among the Russians,
a tireless soldier.
... Know you not Suvorov,
that he is a wonderful hero ?
... You know Catherine well,
You know not of Joseph ;
be not a fool, but stay away,
Lest you should know him.
They are of one spirit
and of a single heart,
Their army is well-learned

and they all stand ready.
You clash with eagles,
guard your eyes,
They will be plucked out
by the first who comes near.”30 [underscore by D.G.]

The enlightened spirit of the eagles is emphasised both explicitly and implicitly, by the use of gnomic expressions that befit the rhetoric of the sages and thus underline the religious-enlightening purport of the epic.

  • 31 Matthew Smith Anderson, Europe in the Eighteenth Century 1713-1783, Second...

41In addition to the Christian faith, the “well-learned army” is another important factor in profiling the collective image of the eagles. The eighteenth century was, above all, a period of improving military education. This period “witnessed the introduction of new arms, tactics and methods of organization, which made the armies of the 1780s appreciably different from those of the 1700s.”31

  • 32 Matthew Smith Anderson, ibid., 179.

42A particular type of the development of war strategy in the Russian Empire occurred in the field of naval activities and the formation of the navy. The initiative of Peter the Great to form the Russian fleet, modelled on the naval forces he had seen during his visits to Western Europe, is often interpreted as the first significant gesture by which the Orthodox East opened to the West. Such an enterprise was followed by the penetration of cultural influences from the West, namely, those of Barock and of the Enlightenment. In the East, the idea of the Enlightenment gradually developed through religious enlightenment propagated in Orthodox Christian scholastic schools. In this context, the contrast, based in religion, between the eagles’ enlightenment and the dragon’s blindness of the mind gains a new dimension. “[...] every Russo-Turkish war was a religious, at least as much as a political, struggle to the ordinary soldier on both sides.”32 In the spirit of his time, Jovan Rajić used this assumption to form the narrative of his epic, The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles.

VI. A politically engaged allegory.

43The development of the allegorical representation of the eagle in the epic was not devised only to achieve a specific stylistic expression, but also to enable the author’s expression of a certain political position. This points to engagement as another important function which allegory as a stylistic figure very often performs in works of art.

44From the time of his youth and schooling spent among adherents of different creeds, Jovan Rajić was apprehensive of the imposed conversion to Catholicism of Orthodox Serbs who lived in the territories controlled by the Habsburg Monarchy. On the other hand, the use of Theophan Prokopovich’s primer in scholastic schools such as that of Manuil Kozachinsky in Sremski Karlovci and the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy induced Jovan Rajić to perceive the Russian Empire as the protector of his own religion and culture. In the Austro-Russo-Turkish war described in this epic, it occurred that the two sides finally united in the fight against a common enemy, which the author explicitly emphasizes in his explanation of the main allegorical representation of the eagles.

  • 33 Vladimir Stojančević, ibid.,157.

  • 34 Vladimir Stojančević, ibid.,159.

45In addition to the war alliance, there were other facts, nowhere openly referred to in the epic, that led the author to glorify the rulers of the Habsburg Monarchy, on whose territory Serbs lived. “Guided by the ideas of Rationalism and Enlightenment, Joseph II’s reform of the entire state administration, particularly his Edict of Toleration of 1781 on religious equality of Serbs in the Habsburg Empire, meant – by the confirmation of the preceding Leopoldine Privileges – comprehensive recognition of the religious and national identity of Serbs as fully equal citizens in the Austrian state.”33 On the other hand, the Timişoara Assembly of 1790, which discussed “the demands for the expansion of the legal and political status of Serbs, as a nation and as a state-legal factor of the Monarchy,”34 as well as the Edict of Toleration of 1781, encouraged Jovan Rajić to banish distrust of the Habsburgs, and to unite all Christians under a single allegorical image. By opting to devise such a representation of the eagles, the author restated his own position on the national, political and religious problems of the southern Slavs in the Balkans at the end of the 18th century, about which he wrote in The History of Various Slavic Peoples.

VII. Between history and artistic fiction

46The author’s attitude towards Serbian oral poetic tradition and classical expression (Hebrew, Greek and Roman) is implicitly contained in the epic, while his stance on history is explicitly expressed and further emphasised by certain devices. His attitude towards history and contemporary politics can be observed in the manner of choosing and forming the allegorical representations. The Edict of Toleration and the Timişoara Assembly preceded the allegorical representation of the united eagles, while the entire war is presented as an allegory, by which the author actualised his own beliefs and views on political events in a special way and style. Rajić’s position on the relationship between literature and history is revealed in the final verses of the epic and the accompanying notes, in the epic cataloguing device, as well as in some of his correspondence.

47Although Boileau claims that the epic is a wonderful piece of fiction that envelops historical heroes and events, and that poets should not impose any constraints on imagination, the author of the Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles decides to bridle the fiction. Striving to preserve the authenticity of historical facts, he not only uses the principle of epic cataloguing, listing exhaustively theatres of war, heroes, and warfare strategies, but he also accompanies the verses with explanatory notes. In the epic, there are 63 such notes. Based on their subject, they can be divided into those which detail the battle events and in which historical facts are stated as illustrations of individual verses (20) ; those whose aim is to inform the reader about the meaning of certain terms and phenomena, e.g., mythical characters (19) ; and, linguistic notes, which explain the meaning of lesser-known and foreign words (24). The nature of the notes indicates their educational purpose. The author’s intention is, in addition to using wholly allegorical narrative as a figure that almost always has a didactic function, to inform and educate his reader through notes.

48Considering the fact that this was a combination of epic literature and historical themes, the notes had the function of emphasizing the authenticity of the narrative, with which Rajić contrasted his work to Serbian folk poems. In his opinion, these only “seemingly” narrated historical events, while in fact they contained numerous fabrications and untruths, which he sharply criticized in The History of Various Slavic Peoples, protesting against the “usual practice” of treating oral poetry as a historical source.

  • 35 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 141. „Мухамеде ! Што беседим,/ пишем и погађам, / што ...

49The final verses of the epic, “Muhammad, what I see, / I write and ascertain ;/ What I do not see or know,/ I desire and assume,”35 show that although the author adopts the role of a witness and chronicler of historical events, he acknowledges that the presence of fiction in the work limits its historicity.

50This duality in the attitude towards artistic fiction as well as historical facts is directly related to the author’s attitude to diglossia, or even polyglossia, in Serbian literature of the 18th century. The Russo-Slavonic language and the vernacular as the most suitable language for writing about the central theme of the epic have already been discussed at the beginning of this work. Hence the importance of Rajić’s emphasis on the discrepancy between history and a literary work, as it is an extension to his critical views on considering folk poetry and tradition as historical sources, which he presented in The History of Various Slavic Peoples, clearly distancing himself from the “degradation” of historical science induced by art.

51Therefore, in the finishing verses of the epic and in private correspondence referring to The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles, the author feels the need to emphasise that although the theme of the epic is “true history”, the work itself cannot be considered as such because it narrates politico-historical events that are clothed in fiction. This kind of objectification and self-criticism is another characteristic of the enlightenment poetics, whose maturity is present in every canto of The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles.

52Rajić, one of the most prominent historians of his time, insisted on adherence to historical material even in his literary works, although he clearly separated his historiographical from his literary writings. This can be illustrated by the comparison between the relatively objective presentation of the historical circumstances particular to the Habsburg Monarchy, the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire and the peoples in the Balkans described in The History of Various Slavic Peoples, In Particular the Bulgarians, Croats and Serbs, and the poetic description of the victory won by the Christian alliance in the Austro-Russo-Turkish war in The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles. Finally, it can be concluded that, with respect to Rajić’s entire oeuvre, the relationship between his lyrical and theological works was as close as that between his historiographical writings and his epic and dramatic narratives. Hence, with such a division of Rajić’s oeuvre, a relative parallel could be drawn with Aristotle’s definition, which explains the relationship between history and poetry through the relationship between the real and the fictional.

53Rajić’s attitude towards history mirroring actually the Zeitgeist – namely, the poetics of the Enlightenment with strong didactic intentions gave priority to the history as “life’s teacher” – historia est magistra vitae. The author’s intention to treat historical events in objective and “scientific” manner can be understood as a typical historization method that marked the literature of the Enlightenment. At the same time, already in the title of this allegorical work the issue of religious (in)tolerance is implied as one of the key words of the Enlightenment whereby the ambivalent and rather negative attitude towards representatives of other religions was strongly emphasized. In the context of the history of Serbian literature this peace of work represents an attempt of shaping and developing one genre such as an epic poem on the historical and/or religious background. For this reason it can be concluded that the hypothesis from the beginning of this article seems to be justified – Jovan Rajić the writer created his literary work under the strong influence of Rajić the theologian and even stronger influence of Rajić the historiographer.


1 This paper presents the chapter “Boj zmaja sa orlovi” [The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles] published in the monograph by Dragana Grbić, The Allegories of a Learned Hermit (Alegorije učenog pustinoljubitelja), Institut za književnost i umetnost, Belgrade, 2010, adapted and translated for the use in this project. All citations from the epic are from : Jovan Rajić, Boj zmaja sa orlovi, ed. Dragana Grbić, Anthology Edition “Deset vekova srpske književnosti” [Jovan Rajić, The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles, Ten Centuries of Serbian Literature], Izdavački centar Matice srpske, Novi Sad, 2017, english translation Tamara Nikolić.
Pour une étude en français sur certains aspects de ce poème/For a study (in French) on some aspects of this epic, cf. Dimitri Garncarzyk, «  Des bardes pressés, ou de l’urgence d’écrire au xviiie siècle des “épopées d’actualité”  », Les Temps épiques  : Structuration, modes d’expression et fonction de la temporalité dans l’épopée, dir. Claudine Le Blanc et Jean-Pierre Martin, Publications numériques du REARE, 15 novembre 2018, en ligne : http://publis-shs.univ-rouen.fr/reare/index.php?id=254

2 See Davor Dukić, Poetike hrvatske epike 18. stoljeća, Književni krug, Split, 2002.

3 See Z. Dukat, Homersko pitanje, Zagreb, Globus, 1988 ; Н. И. Кравцов, Сербскохорватский эпос, Наука, Москва, 1985 ; M. Parry, The Making of Homeric Verse, ed. A. Parry, Oxford, 1971 ; A. Lord, The Singer of Tales, Cambridge, 1960 ; M. Braun, Das serbokroatische heldenlied, Vandenhoeck – Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1961 ; М. Ђурућ, Историја хеленске књижевности, Београд, Просвета, 1952 ; G. Gesemann, Studien zur südslavischen Volksepik, 1926 ; Adam Mickiewicz, Les Slaves, cours professé au Collège de France. 1840–1844, Paris, 1849 ;

4 Jovan Rajić’s Letter to Samuilo Lazarević on the 13th of August 1798 : „A k tomu šiljem na vas tri knjižice žitija i stradanija Muhamedova, to jest pod titlom Boj zmaja sa orlovi s prošenijem, da biste predali vašim komšijama gospodam Oficerom, a imeno g[ospodinu] oberstlajtantu Laloševiču, i gospod[inu] ljubeznomu mojemu kapetanu Pavlu Petroviču u Boljevci, ravne i gospod[inu] lajtinantu (kojego ime zaboravio jesam) onomu, koji je za kamen soli prodan bio Turkom od besovesnago Hristijanina, podajte im neka se razgovaraju, i mene starca ne zaboravljaju, i neka znadu da i mi starci pravu istoriju poslednjeg rata u šali opisati možemo i umemo.” in : Jerotej Račanin, Jovan Rajić, Mihailo Maksimović, Eds. Tomislav Jovanović, Dragana Grbić, Mirjana D. Stefanović, Antologijska edicija “Deset vekova srpske književnosti” knj. 17. Matica srpska, Novi Sad, 2017, 172.

5 See Dragana Grbić, “Sprache – Herkunft – Religion” in : Dragana Grbić, VORENTSCHEIDUNGEN. Halle-Leipzig, Wendepunkt im Leben von Dositej Obradović. Seminar für Slavistik, Институт за књижевност и уметност, Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für die Erforschung der Europäischen Aufklärung, Halle-Београд, 2012, 211-227.

6 Commonly referred to in the West as the Polish alexandrine, the trzynastozgłoskowiec is indeed one of the main meters of Polish poetry since the Renaissance. A number of vernacular epics of the Polish Baroque were also written in this verse, notably Wacław Potocki’s 1670 Transakcja wojny chocimskiej.

7 More in : Svetozar Petrović, “Poljski trinaesterac – izvori i trаdicije” in : Prilozi za književnost, jezik, istoriju i folklor, 42, 1-4, 1976.

8 Jovan Rajić, Boj zmaja sa orlovi, in : Jerotej Račanin, Jovan Rajić, Mihailo Maksimović, Eds. Tomislav Jovanović, Dragana Grbić, Mirjana D. Stefanović, Antologijska edicija “Deset vekova srpske književnosti” knj. 17. Matica srpska, Novi Sad, 2017, 115. „Змај нарушив с орлом мир1*, / на њега устаје. / Орао кавге не тражи, / кад мора, пристаје. / Орао орла позива, / опет двојеглавна. / Са запада у помоћ / с орлићи преславна. / Орао сваки над својим / летећ гнездом кликће, / и кликтањем изива / своје храбре птиће./ Канже с кљуном оштрите, / на крила устајте, / змаја љута фатајте, / здраво черупајте. / Сагласивше се орли**/ на Змаја усташе, / и свак са своје стране / њега зачепаше.“

9 Jovan Rajić, ibid. 115. „Порта објавила рат Росији 1787 [...] августа 4.“ ; „Аустрија по алијанцији с Росијом објавила рат Порти 1788. јануарија 29. по старом и публицирала по свој граници.“

10 Jovan Rajić, ibid. 115-116. „А тко је тај љути змај / што се тако јари ? / Мухамед онај хитри, / варалица стари. / Од мира учињеног / он у ба удара, / готови се на Руса / мисли да превара.“

11 Vladimir Stojančević, “Rajićev spev Boj zmaja s orlovi kao istorijski izvor”, in : Јovan Rajić život i delo, ed. Marta Frajnd, Institut za književnost i umetnost, Beograd, 1997, 156.

12 Angus Fletcher, Allegory The Theory of a Symbolic Mode, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 1967, 22.

13 Rudolf Wittkower, “Eagle and the Serpent”, in : Rudolf Wittkower, Allegory and the migration of Symbols, Tames and Hudson, London, 1977, 31.

14 James Hall, Dictionary of Subjects and Symbols in Art, London 1985, 109-110.

15 A catalogue offered in : Michael Ferber, A Dictionary of Literary Symbols, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2005, 66.

16 Rudolf Wittkower, ibid., 32.

17 Jean Cevalier, Alain Geerbrant, Rječnik simbola, 461 ; 793-795.

18 Jаmes Hall, ibid., 109.

19 Rudolf Wittkower, ibid., 42.

20 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 115. „Орао орла позива, / опет двојеглавна. / Са запада у помоћ / с орлићи преславна.“

21 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 118. „Јупитер [...] био је највећи бог или бог над богови и бог неба.“

22 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 118. „Еол [...] био је бог над ветрови.“

23 Jovan Rajić, ibid, 118. „Јеси ли ти код себе,/ шта код мене тражиш ?/ Да ја ветре подижем,/ на то мене дражиш ?/ Прошло је време оно/ кад сам ја обладао,/ и ветровом узице/ на главе налагао./ Не видиш ли ти звере*/ по мору летуће,/ којим противити се/ није ми могуће.“ [Рајићева напомена]* „Звери овде разумевају се велике бојне галије свију народа.“

24 For the intertextual echo of ancient literature in Rajić’s work see more in : Miron Flašar, „Antike Götter in Des Drachen Kampf mit den Adlern“, Živa antika – Antiquite vivante, VII, 12, Skopje, 1957.

25 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 123„При узећу јуришoм Ожакова, које је случило се 1788. года, дек[мврија] 6. по старому, с турске стране на месту пало 8370 људи, измеђ којих било 283 официра, а од рана помрло 1140, заробљених било више од 4000 од гарнизона, међ којима находио се један Паша од три тхуга. Артилериста и морских официра 448 било. А к тому Руси 780 барјака и 310 топова и авантопова. А с росијске стране во опште пало јеадан генерал мајор, један бригадир, три штабсофицира, 25 официра и 926 простих солдата, рањених било 19 штабсофицира, 1100 оброфицира и 1704 гемајнера.“

26 Jovan Rajić, ibid, 126. „Меркуриј, мудрости и трговине бог, купно и божији поштар и скороход.”

27 Nicolas Boileau, L’Art poétique, Œuvres poétiques, Imprimerie générale, 1872, vol. 1, Chant III, Lines 160-176 ; 189-192.

28 Nicolas Boileau, ibid., Chant III, Lines 229-236.

29 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 128. „Лаудон/ војевода славни,/ У Цесарској Армији/ командирац главни ;/ Гедеон И[зра]иљев/ прозорљиви, мудри,/ Старец, телом средован,/ али духом бодри.“

30 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 121. „Минерва је, море, ту,/ велим зло ћеш проћи./ Међ цесарци Лаудон,/ бодри старeц мудри ;/ А међ Руси Потемкин,/ солдат неутрудни./ [...] Суворова зар не знаш,/ да је јунак дивни ?/ [...] Катарину добро знаш,/ Јосифа не знадеш ;/ не будали, нег мируј,/ да га не познадеш./ У њима је дух један/ и срце једино,/ војска им је учена/ и сви стоје чино./ С орлови се вадиш,/ почувај де очи,/ ископаће доиста/ тко пређе доскочи.“

31 Matthew Smith Anderson, Europe in the Eighteenth Century 1713-1783, Second edition, Longman, London, 1976, 185.

32 Matthew Smith Anderson, ibid., 179.

33 Vladimir Stojančević, ibid.,157.

34 Vladimir Stojančević, ibid.,159.

35 Jovan Rajić, ibid., 141. „Мухамеде ! Што беседим,/ пишем и погађам, / што не видим и не знам,/ желим и нагађам.”

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Dragana Grbić, «The Allegorical Epic Poem The Battle of the Dragon with the Eagles», Le Recueil Ouvert [En ligne], mis à jour le : 12/10/2021, URL : http://ouvroir-litt-arts.univ-grenoble-alpes.fr/revues/projet-epopee/353-the-allegorical-epic-poem-the-battle-of-the-dragon-with-the-eagles

Quelques mots à propos de :  Dragana  Grbić

University of Cologne, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Slavic Department
Dragana Grbić is Lecturer at the University of Cologne in the Institute of Slavonic Languages and Literature. She is the author of three monographs : Alegorije učenog pustinoljubitelja (Allegories of The Learned Hermit. The Allegorisation Method in the Opus of Jovan Rajić Belgrade, 2010), Vorentscheidungen. Halle-Leipzig, Wendepunkt im Leben von Dositej Obradović (Belgrade-Halle, 2012) and Das Werk von Dositej Obradović im europäischen Literatur- und Kulturkontext (Belgrade, 2018). She has also published essays in peer-reviewed journals and edited collections on eighteenth-century literature and travel writing, the Enlightenment in the Balkans, and the history of newspapers. She studied at the Faculty of Philology of the University of Belgrade and she received her PhD from the Depatment of Slavic Studies at The Martin-Luther-Universitaet Halle-Wittenberg in Germany and in Literature at The Univeristy of Belgrade on influences of German enlightenment on the Serbian literature and culture of the late 18th century. She is editor in chief of Dositejev vrt (Dositej’s Garden) specialized magazine for the 18th century studies published by “The Dositej Obradović Endowment” in Belgrade.