Mitevski V. Virago (Woman-Warrior) in Byzantine and Macedonian Epic Poetry
1. In traditional Indo-European poetry, the man (hero) is central and independent, while a womanʼs character, as a rule, is associated with the man – as hero’s mother, hero’s wife etc. The exception of this rule is the woman warrior (virago) – the only one who steps forward as autonomous and independent character.
2. In the most known Byzantine Epic of Digenes Akritas, apart from everyday female characters (mother, wife) who are dependent on the man, there is a typical virago character represented by the figure of the Amazon warrior Maximo. She was defeated in the duel with the main hero Digenes, but at the same time, she will seduce the hero, defeat and humiliate him morally, and he will eventually kill her because of that.
3. In Macedonian epic songs about the hero King Marko (collected in the 19th century) there is an occurrence of several female warrior characters who fight the main hero. The most suitable song for comparative analysis is the song Марко ја погубува невестата на Секула детенце (Marko Kills the Wife of Sekula the Kid) in which the typical virago is defeated in the duel with a man, she seduces her opponent and he marries her, but she is eventually killed by Marko because she inflicted him a humiliating defeat as a woman.
4. The character of virago in Byzantine and Macedonian epic poetry is probably shaped according to an identic archaic motif (thematic pattern), but regarding the ideas, it represents the tragic fate of the woman who in the heroic world of men tries to abandon the imposed norms of the community and to step forward as an independent human person.
epic poetry, woman-warrior, virago, Byzantine epics, Digenes Akritas, Macedonian epics, King Marko, duel, emancipation, the spirit of tragedy