Ilya Muromets – Russian bogatyr
Ilya Muromets was a hero of the Russian epic tales, or byliny, a Russian bogatyr. Ilya’s surname is actually an epithet that simply means he came from the city of Murom, not far from Moscow. He was born in the village of Karacharovo and Muromets was used to identify him after he had left his hometown. Ilya was born a cripple and he was too weak to even move. At the age of 33 he was miraculously cured by a group of men, who gave him a drink made of honey. They told Ilya how he should spend his life.
Shortly after his cure, Ilya traveled to Kiev, to offer his services to Prince Vladimir Bright Sun and his wife Evpraksiya. He had his wonderful horse Sivushko, which galloped like the wind and cleared mountains in a single leap.
When Ilya approached Chernigov he saw that the city was under siege. He killed the entire army and the people of Chernigov welcomed him as a hero and offered to make him their tsar. Ilya refused, and went to Kiev.
He came to a stream called Smorodinka, beside which, in a nest in a tree, lived Solovey-Razboynik (Nightingale the Robber or Solovei the Brigand). As Solovey-Razboynik saw the bogatyr, he whistled with all his might. All the trees and grass were flattened and even Ilya’s horse stumbled. The bogatyr caught Solovey-Razboynik and tied him to the stirrup of his horse and continued on his way.
Ilya came at last to Kiev and presented himself to Vladimir Bright Sun. Muromets was accepted as a great knight and served his prince faithfully for many years.
One day, when he realized that his end was near, he decided to ride across his beloved countryside one last time. On the way he came to a three-way crossroad: one road led to certain death, the second led to certain marriage, and the last led to certain wealth. Ilya took the first road. Soon he came to a huge palace, the home of robbers. Ilya defeated them all, returned to the signpost and changed the wording so that anyone knew the road was now safe. Then he returned to Kiev and his last act was to build a cathedral. As soon as it was completed he died and his body turned to stone.
There is practically no official information about the life and death of this famous defender of the Fatherland. Only from the yellowed sheets of the chronicles of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra we can learn that the epic Ilia Muromets is a real historical figure.
And his remains are kept in the caves of the Kiev Pechersk Lavra, along with the ashes of 69 holy saints of the Russian land.