The Woman of the Myths: the Satanaya Cycle

(1989, a) The Woman of the Myths: the Satanaya Cycle, in Howard I. Aronson (ed.), The Annual of the Society for the Study of Caucasia  2: 3-11.

Privotal to the entire Nart saga tradition is the multi-faceted figure of Lady Satanaya. There are other female figures whose identities stand fully apart from hers, but it is Satanaya who plays the most prominent role in the vast majority of myths, so much so that many female figures merge into her and her name is at times elevated to the status of a little conferred upon women to honor them. She is simultaneously a figure of beauty, eternal youth, passion and lust, devotion and treachery. She is the embodiment of profound wisdom and intelligence, while also being a sorceress and seeress. She is often within the same myth both a victim, usually of rape or seduction, while at the same time a manipulator and victimizer. In her figure have been drawn together a vast spectrum of themes ad features associated in the Caucasian tradition with the role of woman. Whatever complex mixture of Chivalric, Medieval, Classical and more ancient traditions may still be seen in the Nart corpus, whatever odd overlay and mixing of what we think of as Oriental and Occidental themes may emerge in the sagas, few traditions, either literary or cultural, afford woman such a central position and such a high status as does that of the Caucasian Nart sagas.

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