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Duel of Unequal Adversaries in South Slavic Epic Poems

Danijela Petković


This paper presents the various forms that the plot schema of conflict between unequal adversaries may take in a corpus of South Slavic epic folk poems. Mythological ancestors and the epic descendants of Goliath and David are analysed, as well as the original pattern of the battle between a man and a giant and its further transformations into individual duels of a weaker hero against a stronger adversary and collective conflicts where a small group of protagonists does battle against a more numerous enemy. The opposite type of conflict is also examined: a stronger hero versus a weaker adversary, and more numerous heroes against less numerous adversaries. These reversals are cited as signs of the deformation of the original pattern and the intrusion of reality into the epic sphere.


giant, hero, adversary, myth, epic poem, plot model, duel, fight


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