Etymology of Rus and derivatives

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This article should include the material from Rus' (people).

Originally Rus (Русь, Rus’) was a medieval country and state that comprised mostly Early East Slavs. The territories of that Rus are today distributed among Belarus, the northern part of Ukraine and the European part of the Russian Federation.

"Rus" as a state had no proper name; by its inhabitants it was called "Ruskaya zemlya" (with Ruskaya alternatively spelled as Rouskaya, Ruskaya, Rus'kaya, and Russkaya), which might be translated as "Rus land" or "Land of the Rus". In a similar fashion, Poland is still called Polska by its inhabitants, and the Czech Republic (Česká republika) is commonly called by its adjectival name.

In order to distinguish "Rus" state from other states that subsequently derived from it, it is denoted by modern historiography as "Kievan Rus."


[edit] Etymology

There is no complete agreement on the origin of the word Rus, though many theories were introduced:

According to the Normanist theory, which has the broader traditional acceptance in the West, the word "Rus'" was adopted by the Slavs from the Norse root roðr, in compounds roþs- (roths-), either directly or via the Finnish Ruotsi. This root is the same as the English row and may have referred to the fact that the Varangians mainly rowed down the East European waterways; cf. the Swedish region, Roslagen, which means "naval districts."

Theories of native Slavic origins for "Rus", known as the Anti-Normanist theories garner a narrower support among western scholars but are widely popular within Russian historical thought. Suggested origins for "Rus" include:

  • The Iranian tribe of the Roxolani, who inhabited southern Ukraine, Moldova and Romania (from the Old- Persian rokhs meaning light, white)
  • One of two rivers in Ukraine, the Ros and Rusna (near Kiev and Pereyaslav), whose names are derived from a postulated Slavic term for water, akin to rosa (dew), rusalka (water sprite), ruslo (stream bed). (The relation to Sanskrit 'rasa' (water, juice, essence) suggests itself.)
  • Rusiy (Русый) light brown with a grey tint, about hair color (translation "reddish-haired", a Slavic cognate of "ryzhiy" (red-haired) and the English "red", is not quite exact)
  • A postulated proto-Slavic word for bear, cognate with arctos and ursus

Medieval Polish chroniclers would derive Rus' from the Latin rus, ruris ("country"). The early Rus may well have seemed to visitors from Byzantium to be "rustic" and "rural" — both, terms derived from the Latin rus. And the name of the semilegendary founder of the early Rus state, Rurik, does suspiciously resemble the genitive case of rusruris.[citation needed]

A Russian linguist I.N. Danilevskiy in his "Ancient Rus as Seen by Contemporaries and Descendants" argued against these theories, pointing out that anti-Normanists discount the realities of Anciet Slavic languages: and the nation name Rus' could not be created out of any proposed origins:

  • People from the river Ros would be known as Roshane;
  • Red-haired or bear-origin people would end their self-name with a plural -ane or -ichi, and not a singular -s'
  • Most theories are based on a Ros- root, and in Ancient Slavic an o would never become an u in Rus'.

Danilevskiy subsequently argues that the term follows the general pattern of Slavic names for Finno-Ugric neighbors (Chud', Ves', Perm', Sum', etc), however the only possible word it could be based on, Ruotsi, presents a historical dead-end, since no such tribe or nation name are known from non-Slavic sources.

Furthermore, Danilevskiy shows that the oldest historical source, the Primary Chronicle is very inconsistent in what it refers to as the Rus': in neighboring passages the Rus' are grouped with Varangians, with the Slavs, and even set apart from a grouping of Slavs with Varangians. Danilevskiy therefore presents a theory that the Rus' were originally not a nation, but a social class, and as such, explains all the irregularities in the Primary Chronicle, and the lack of early non-Slavic sources.

[edit] Early evidence

In Old East Slavic literature, the East Slavs refer to themselves as (muzhi) ruskie ("the Rus men") or rarely, rusichi. It is thought the Slavs adopted that name from the Varangian elite, which was first mentioned in the 830s in the annals of Saint Bertan. These annals relate that Holy Roman Emperor Louis II's court at Ingelheim, in 839 (the same year as the first appearance of Varangians in Constantinople), was visited by a delegation from the Byzantine emperor. In this delegation there were two men who called themselves Rhos (Rhos vocari dicebant). Louis enquired about their origins and learnt that they were Swedes. Fearing that they were spies for their brothers, the Danes, he incarcerated them. They were also mentioned in the 860s by the Byzantine patriarch Photius under the name of Rhos.

Rusiyyah was used by Ibn Fadlan for Varangians near Astrakhan, and by the Persian traveler Ibn Rustah who visited Novgorod and described how the Rus' exploited the Slavs.

As for the Rus, they live on an island ... that takes three days to walk round and is covered with thick undergrowth and forests; it is most unhealthy... They harry the Slavs, using ships to reach them; they carry them off as slaves and... sell them. They have no fields but simply live on what they get from the Slav's lands... When a son is born, the father will go up to the newborn baby, sword in hand; throwing it down, he says, "I shall not leave you with any property: You have only what you can provide with this weapon." (Ibn Rustah, according to National Geographic, March 1985)

When the Varangians arrived in Constantinople, the Byzantines considered and described the Rhos (Greek Ρως) as a different people from the Slavs. De Administrando Imperio[1] gives the names of the Dnieper cataracts in both Rhos and Slavic. The Rhos names are:

  • Essoupi (Old Norse vesuppi, "do not sleep");
  • Oulvorsi (Old Norse holmfors, "island rapid");
  • Gelandri (Old Norse gjallandi, "yelling, loudly ringing");
  • Aeifor (Old Norse eiforr, "ever fierce");
  • Varouforos (Old Norse varufors, "cliff rapid" or barufors, "wave rapid");
  • Leanti (Old Norse leandi, "seething", or hlaejandi, "laughing"); and
  • Stroukoun (Old Norse strukum, "rapid current").

According to the Primary Chronicle, a historical compilation attributed to the twelfth century, Rus was a group of Varangians who lived on the other side of the Baltic sea, in Scandinavia. The Varangians were first expelled, then invited to rule the warring Slavic and Finnic tribes of Novgorod:

The four tribes who had been forced to pay tribute to the Varangians - Chuds, Slavs, Merians and Krivichs drove the Varangians back beyond the sea, refused to pay them further tribute, and set out to govern themselves. But there was no law among them, and tribe rose against tribe. Discord thus ensued among them, and they began to war one against the other. They said to themselves, "Let us seek a prince who may rule over us, and judge us according to custom. Thus they went overseas to the Varangians, to the Rus. These particular Varangians were known as Rus, just as some are called Swedes, and others Normans and Angles, and still others Gotlanders, for they were thus named. The Chuds, the Slavs, the Krivichs and the Ves then said to the Rus, "Our land is great and rich, but there is no order in it. Come reign as princes, rule over us". Three brothers, with their kinfolk, were selected. They brought with them all the Rus and migrated.

Later, the Primary Chronicle tells us, they conquered Kiev and created Kievan Rus'. The territory they conquered was named after them as were, eventually, the local people (cf. Normans).

Other spellings used in Europe during the ninth and tenth centuries were as follows: Ruzi, Ruzzi, Ruzia and Ruzari. But perhaps the most popular term to refer to the Rus was Rugi, a name of the ancient East Germanic tribe related to the Goths. Olga of Kiev, for instance, was called in the Frankish annals regina Rugorum, that is, "the Queen of Rugia."

In the eleventh century, the dominant term in the Latin tradition was Ruscia. It was used, among others, by Thietmar of Merseburg, Adam of Bremen, Kozma of Prague and Pope Gregory VII in his letter to Izyaslav I. Rucia, Ruzzia, Ruzsia were alternative spellings.

During the twelfth century, Ruscia gradually made way for two other Latin terms, Russia and Ruthenia. Russia (also spelled Rossia and Russie) was a dominant Romance-language form, first used by Liutprand of Cremona in the 960s and then by Peter Damiani in the 1030s. It became ubiquitous in English and French documents in the twelfth century. Ruthenia, first documented in the early twelfth-century Augsburg annals, was a Latin form preferred by the Papal chancellery (see Ruthenia for more information).

[edit] From Rus to Russia

In modern English historiography, Kievan Rus is the most common name for the ancient East Slavic state (often retaining the pedantically-correct apostrophe in Rus’, a transliteration of the soft sign, ь) followed by Kievan Russia, Ancient Russian state, and, extremely rarely, Kievan Ruthenia. It is also called the Princedom or Principality of Kiev, or just Kiev.

But Kievan Rus actually has two meanings:

  • a small princedom around Kiev, incorporating the cities of Vyshgorod and Pereyaslav (roughly within a 200-kilometre radius of Kiev), and
  • a vast political state (of the territories mentioned above) ruled first from Novgorod and then from Kiev.

The latter country was subsequently divided into several parts. The most influential were, in the south, Halych-Volyn Rus; and, in the north, Vladimir-Suzdal Rus and the Novgorod Republic. The southern part fell under Catholic Polish influence; the northern part, under much weaker Mongol influence, and went on to become a loose federation of principalities.

Byzantine hierarchs established their own names (in Greek) for the northern and southern parts: respectively, Μακρα Ρωσία (Makra Rosia, Great Russia) and Μικρα Ρωσία (Mikra Rosia, Russia Minor or Little Russia).

By the fifteenth century, the rulers of Muscovy (the Grand Duchy of Moscow) had reunited the northern parts of the former Kievan Rus. Ivan III of Moscow was the first local ruler to become universally recognized under the title Grand Duke of all Rus. This title was used by the Grand Dukes of Vladimir since early 14th century, and the first prince to use it was Mikhail Yaroslavich of Tver. Ivan III was styled by Emperor Maximilian I as rex albus and rex Russiae. Later, Rus’ — in the Russian language — evolved into the Byzantine-influenced form, Rossiya (Russia is Ρωσία [Rosia] in Greek).

In the modern Russian language, there are two adjectives, each of which may be translated as "Russian." These are: russky (русский), relating to the Russian people and their language; and rossiysky (российский), relating to the Russian state.

[edit] The S's in Russia

While constant in Western sources, in Slavic documents two historical spellings are common, with one or two s's (Rosiya or Rossiya (noun), and ruskiy or russkiy (adjective)). In earlier sources, dating back to the Kievan Rus, the spelling with one s is found most often; while in modern Slavic languages two s's are used. The doubling of the s can occasionally be found as far back as the Kievan Rus, however the one-s variant was prevalent until the 17th century; for example, the 16th century correspondence between Ivan the Terrible and Prince Kurbsky constantly uses the one-s spelling.

By the 16th century, the Slavic adjective russkiy (Russian) is usually spelled with two s's, while the greek-influenced noun Rosiya is spelled with one s, to conform to the original Greek spelling. The two-s spelling of the noun then follows the adjective in the 17th century. Finally, the two-s spelling of both the noun and the adjective in Russian was made standard by Lomonosov's Grammar in 1755.

[edit] From Rus to Ukraine

Meanwhile the southwestern territories of historical Rus had been incorporated into the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (whose full name was Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Rus' and Samogitia). The Grand Duchy of Lithuania, as a whole, was dominated by Rus, as it was populated mainly by Rus, its nobles were of Rus origin, and a variant of the Old East Slavic language close to Belarusian is the sole language of most surviving official documents prior to 1697.

The southern territories dominated by Lithuania have cognate names in Russian and Polish, respectively:

While Russian descendants of the Rus called themselves Russkiye, the residents of these lands called themselves Rusyny, Ruthenians.

In 1654, under the Treaty of Pereyaslav, the Cossack lands of the Zaporozhian Host came under the protection of Muscovy, including the Hetmanate of Left-bank Ukraine, and Zaporozhia. In Russia, these lands were referred to as Little Russia (Malorossiya). Colonies established in lands ceded from the Ottoman Empire along the Black Sea were called New Russia (Novorossiya).

In the final decades of the eighteenth century, the Russian Empire, Prussia and Austria dismembered the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in a series of partitions, and all of historic Rus, save for Galicia, became part of the Russian Empire.

During a period of cultural revival after 1840, the members of a secret ideological society in Kiev, the Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius, revived the use of the name Ukrayina for the homeland of the "Little Russian" people. They drew upon a name which had been used by 17th-century Ukrainian Cossacks. It had earlier appeared on 16th-century maps of Kiev and its local area (Kievan Rus). Ukrayina was originally an Old East Slavic word for a "borderland," attested as far back as the 12th century. See krajina for cognates.

In the early twentieth century, the name Ukraine became more widely accepted, and was used as the official name for the short-lived Ukrainian People's Republic, West Ukrainian National Republic and Ukrainian Hetmanate, and for the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Application of the name "Ruthenia" (Rus') became narrowed to Carpathian Ruthenia (Karpats’ka Rus’), south of the Carpathian mountains in the Kingdom of Hungary, where many local Slavs consider themselves Rusyns. Carpathian Ruthenia incorporated the cities of Mukachiv (Rusyn: Mukachevo; Hungarian: Munkács), Uzhhorod (Hungarian: Ungvár) and Presov (Pryashiv; Hungarian: Eperjes). Carpathian Rus had been part of the Hungarian Kingdom since 907 AD, and had been known as Magna Rus but was also called Karpato-Rus’ or Zakarpattia.

[edit] See also

[edit] External references

  • "How Rusyns Became Ukrainians," Zerkalo Nedeli (Mirror Weekly), July, 2005. Available online in Russian and in Ukrainian.
  • "We Are More 'Russian' than Them: a History of Myths and Sensations," Zerkalo Nedeli (Mirror Weekly), January 27 – February 2, 2001. Available online in Russian and in Ukrainian.
  • "Such a Deceptive Triunity," Zerkalo Nedeli (Mirror Weekly), May 2–8, 1998. Available online in Russian and in Ukrainian.
  • Hakon Stang, The Naming of Russia (Oslo: Meddelelser, 1996).
  • Ya. M. Suzumov. Etymology of Rus (in Appendix to S. Fomin's "Russia before the Second Coming", available on-line in Russian.)
  • P. Pekarskiy. Science and Literature in Russia in the age of Peter the Great. (St Petersburg, 1862)
  • S. M Solovyov. History of Russia since the ancient times. (Moscow, 1993)
  • E. Nakonechniy. The Stolen Name: How the Ruthenians became Ukrainians. (Lviv, 1998)de:Rus

fr:Étymologie de Rus et de ses dérivés pl:Lista etymologii nazw państw

Etymology of Rus and derivatives

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