Lecture by Russell at NAASR (Belmont, Mass.)

SEPT. 17, 2009 * LECTURE BY RUSSELL AT NAASR. Prof. James R. Russell, Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University, will give the first lecture of NAASR’s fall 2009 series. His lecture, titled “From Parthia to Robin Hood: The Armenian Version of the Epic of the Blind Man’s Son (Koroghlu),” is about the epic cycle of the Son of the Blind Man (or Koroghlu in Turkish), which is popular from Greece and Anatolia in the west, to Iran, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan in the east. Versions exist in many languages, including Kurdish and Armenian, the latter transcribed from an oral reciter and published but not carefully studied hitherto. Its hero is a Robin Hood figure; and though the epic belongs pre-eminently to the Turkic cultures, and crystallized around a historical figure of the 17th century, it seems to have roots in Armenia in the Parthian period—two millennia ago. How can we trace the ancient sources of this epic cycle? Why are legends about bandits perennially popular? Why do they often have apocalyptic overtones? What do they tell us about human self-identity and social development? These are some of the questions to be addressed in this first report on a work in progress. The lecture begins at 8 p.m. at the NAASR Center, 395 Concord Ave. in Belmont, Mass. For more information, contact NAASR (617-489-1610, hq@naasr.org).

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