The Song of Igor’s Campaign: Text in Translation with Explanations of the Rules of Accents and Rhyme in the Old Russian Language


Presented here is a translation into Ukrainian of Slovo o polku Igoreve (The song of Igor’s campaign), the heroic poem from the end of the 12th century that is one of the great monuments of Old Russian literature. The translation was issued in 1884 by the printing house of the Shevchenko Scientific Society in Lvov (present-day L’viv), at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia (the southeastern part of which was heavily Ukrainian). It uses the orthography that was developed for Ukrainian in Galicia, beginning in the 1860s (publishing in Ukrainian was banned in the Russian Empire until after the revolution of 1905). The book includes a reconstructed text of the Slovo in Old Russian in Church Slavic letters (pages 11‒32); a translation into modern Ukrainian using the Galician orthography (pages 33‒48); notes on accentuation and prosody (pages 51‒106); an Old Russian to Ukrainian dictionary (pages 119‒45); and the text of the Slovo as originally published by Count Aleksei Ivanovich Musin-Pushkin in Russian with civil (not Church Slavic) letters (pages 147‒57). The Slovo recounts the story of Prince Igor Sviatoslavich (circa 1151‒1202), one of four Kievan Rus’ territorial princes from throne towns on the rivers Desna and Seym who, on April 23, 1185, set out for the prairies beyond the river Donets to fight the Kumans. On May 12, the army of the four princes was crushed by the enemy. Igor was captured and held prisoner for a year or more before he escaped and made his way home. The Slovo tells the story of the ill-starred campaign, which it nonetheless praises as a heroic venture: “Hail, princes and knights / fighting for the Christians/ against the pagan troops! / To the princes glory, and to the knights / glory—Amen.” The Slovo was lost and forgotten for centuries until around 1790, when Musin, a collector of antiquities and a high-ranking lay member of the Russian church synod, obtained a manuscript copy of the work that is believed to have been made in the 16th century. Musin purchased the manuscript from an intermediary who is thought to have acquired it from a monastery that was disbanded in 1788. Musin published the text in 1800. In the 20th century, the Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov translated the epic into English.

Date Created

Publication Information

Shevchenko Printing Partnership, L'viv, Ukraine

Title in Original Language

Слово о полку Игоревомъ : текстъ зъ перекладомъ и зъ поясненємъ старорускихъ правилъ акценторыхъ и ритмичныхъ

Type of Item

Physical Description

159 pages


  1. Vladimir Nabokov, The Song of Igor’s Campaign: An Epic of the Twelfth Century (New York: Vintage Books, 1960).

Last updated: January 27, 2016