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The Tale of Queen Dinara

 

The Tale of Queen Dinara has come down to us in a miscellany of works connected with the circle of Metropolitan Macarius (the tales of the Crimean invasion and the Moscow fire of 1547), and evidently appeared in the first half of the sixteenth century.23 The main heroine is the Queen of Iveria (Georgia); her prototype appears to have been the famous Queen Tamar of Georgia who ruled in the late twelfth and the early thirteenth century. The plot of The Tale of Dinara is simple. It is briefly as follows: the King of Persia demands that the young Queen of Iveria shall submit to him; she refuses. Angered by her refusal, the king invades the land of Iveria (Georgia) with his army. Dinara’s noblemen hesitate, but the queen urges her warriors on and , promises to present Persian treasures that they win to the Convent of the Virgin. When the Persian army approaches the queen at the head of her army gallops out with a spear in her hand to meet them. The Persians flee in terror. After defeating the Persians the queen keeps her promise, presents the treasures “to the house of God” and reigns happily for many years.

The difference between sixteenth-century tales, such as The Tale of Dinara, and the tales of the second half of the fifteenth century was clear to people of that day; it was even specially emphasised. Whereas the works proscribed by the Church in the late fifteenth century were called “useless tales”, The Tale of Dinara was given the special subtitle of “a very useful tale of great worth”.

The tales listed (and the first redaction of The Tale of the White Mitre) evidently appeared not later than the middle of the sixteenth century. No tales have survived from the second half of Ivan the Terrible’s reign: the period of the Oprichnina was evidently not particularly conducive to the development of literature.

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