Duk Stepanovich (Дюк Степанович) is a bogatyr, a hero of the Kiev epic cycle. Duk Stepanovich was the ruler of the city of Stepan in Volyn, one of the most ancient cities in Russia. Hence his name Stepanovich (Duk Stepanovich). “Duk Stepanovich” is one of the most original Russian epics, reflecting the features of the real life of Russia in the XIV century.
Initially, the Volyn land was considered the homeland of Duke. Over time, to the extent of the spread of the epic, India, the Galicia-Volyn principality, Galich, Korela began to be considered his homeland.
The young boyar Duk Stepanovich is getting ready for Kiev from the rich Volynets (Volyn). In some versions of epics, he asks for leave from his mother, Mamelfa Timofeevna. The mother warns her son not to boast of heroism and her, mother, at the princely feast in Kiev.
On the way to Kiev, Duk must pass through three great outposts: “lions are eating”, “snakes biting”, “pushing mountains, they come together and diverge.” Duk overcomes these obstacles on the advice of his mother. Outposts are the castles of the Templars in Russia, which, after the death of the Templars, passed into the ownership of the local princes. In this case, these are the Templar castles between the cities of Stepan and Kiev.
“Lions” – Klevan Templar Castle. The name Klevan comes from the word “lion”. Near Klevan there is the village of Zastavye (Ukrainian Zastav’ya), which is part of the Zaryanskiy village council of the Rivne district of the Rivne region of Ukraine. The name Zastavye comes from the word “outpost” in russian. This is the first outpost that Duk Stepanovich crossed on the way from Stepan to Kiev.
“Snakes biting” is, presumably, the land near the ancient castle Korets. There was a large Templar castle in Korets. Snakes are common in these lands.
“The mountains are pushing, they come together and diverge” – these are the rocky banks of the Teterev River near Zhitomir. Here, near the village of Guiva, the Templar castle was located.
Duk Stepanovich was traveling from Stepan to Kiev along the route Stepan – Klevan – Korets – Zhitomir (Guiva) – Kiev.
In some of the versions of the epic, on the way to Kiev, Duk runs into the tent in which Ilya Muromets is resting. Ilya wants to compete with an unfamiliar hero in strength, but Duk Stepanovich evades the battle and recognizes Ilya’s superiority. Ilya Muromets likes it, and he warns Duk that if it is hard for him in Kiev, let him notify him, and he, Ilya, will come to the rescue.
Arriving in Kiev, Duk Stepanovich meets Prince Vladimir in the church at Mass. The prince is surprised at the speed of his move from Volyn. Duk Stepanovich brags about his horse. The Templars had developed horse breeding, their horses were very good and expensive.
On the way from the church to the courtyard, Duk Stepanovich is surprised at the poverty of Kiev and brags about the luxury of his city. The poverty of Kiev is explained by the fact that the events took place after the invasion of the Mongol Tatars and the devastation of Kiev in 1240.
Duk Stepanovich also brags at the feast, calls both wine and the prince’s rolls tasteless and brags about his dresses and countless treasury.
Duk also defeated the local hero in a race across the Puchai River.
To test Duke’s boast, Prince Vladimir sends an embassy to Duke’s mother. The embassy admits that if you sell Kiev and Chernigov and buy paper for the inventory of Duke’s wealth, then there will not be enough paper. Duk Stepanovich was the son of a Templar and was very rich.
One of the sons of Duk Stepanovich settled near the city of Stepan in the area where the village of Duksyn appeared, which means “Son of Duk”.
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