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heartfelt diplomacy - larvatus prodeo
October 11th, 2005
10:17 pm

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heartfelt diplomacy
    The following exchange is traditionally attributed as the demand for fealty made by the Turkish sultan Mehmet IV (1642—1693) to the Zaporozhian Dnieper Cossacks, followed by the answer given by the Cossacks and their chieftain Ivan Sirko (1605?—1680).
    Son of sultan Ibrahim I born of and brought up by his Russian concubine Turhan Hatice, Mehmet IV ascended to the Ottoman throne following the assassination of his father in 1648. His reign witnessed great military victories against Venice, Transylvania, and Poland. However, his ambition to extend his rule into Podolia and Ukraine in the East, and Austria and Hungary in the West, was thwarted on September 12 of 1683 by the rout of the Ottoman armies at the walls of Vienna, at the hands of the coalition led by Charles IV, Duke of Lorraine and king Jan III Sobieski of Poland. In the wake of a further defeat in 1687 at Mohacs, inflicted by the Holy League led by Charles V of Lorraine, Mehmet IV was deposed and imprisoned by his council. He lived out his days with two concubines, confined in quarters overlooking his favorite hunting grounds.
    Cossack chieftain Ivan Sirko distinguished himself in campaigns against Poland, the Ottoman Empire, and Crimean Tatars, accompanied by constant fluctuation in principles and alliances. A characteristic episode in his military exploits has him liberating seven thousand Christian prisoners from Moslem captivity. To these beneficiaries of his martial prowess Sirko offered a choice between accompanying his Cossacks to Rus, and returning to their original Crimean homes. He then dispatched his trops to slaughter three thousand Christians that chose to return to their homes instead of starting from scratch amongst the Cossacks. Surveying the ensuing carnage, the heroic chieftain spoke: Forgive us, brothers, and sleep here until the Last Judgment of our Lord, lest you multiply in the Crimea amongst the infidel, vexing our brave spirits, and causing your eternal unbaptized damnation. (Простите нас, братья, а сами спите тут до страшного Господнего суда, чем размножаться вам в Крыму между бусурманами на наши молодецкие головы, а на свою вечную без крещения погибель.) This amalgam of pragmatic interest in preempting the reproduction of potential enemies with altruistic concern for saving Christian souls provides a vivid illustration of the Cossack chieftain’s favorite saying: «Нужда закон змінює», need will amend law. Today, this intrepid Cossack hero is celebrated in official Ukrainian coinage.
    Предложение Магомета IV-го.
    Я, султан, сын Мухаммеда, брат Солнца и Луны, внук и наместник Бога, владелец царств Македонского, Вавилонского, Иерусалимского, Великого и Малого Египта, царь над царями, властитель над властелинами, необыкновенный рыцарь, никем непобедимый воин, неотступный хранитель гроба Господня, попечитель самого Бога, надежда и утешение мусульман, смущение и великий защитник христиан — повелеваю Вам, запорожским казакам, сдаться мне добровольно безо всякого сопротивления и меня Вашим нападками не заставлять беспокоиться.
    Султан турецкий Мухаммед IV
    Proposal Of Mehmet IV.
    I, sultan, the son of Mohammed, the brother of the Sun and the Moon, grandson and the deputy of God, the owner of the kingdoms of Macedonia, Babylon, Jerusalem, Great and Lesser Egypt, the tsar of tsars, the lord of lords, knight extraordinary, soldier invincible by anyone, stalwart keeper of the crypt of our Lord, trustee of God himself, hope and comfort of Moslems, contender and great defender of Christians — command you, Zaporozhian Cossacks, to surrender yourselves to me voluntarily without any resistance and not to compel my vexation with your attacks.
    Turkish Sultan Mehmet IV
    Отвit Запорожцiв Магомету IV.
    Запоріжські козаки турецькому султану! Ти, султан, хуй турецкий, i проклятого чорта брат i товарищ, самого Люцеперя секретарь. Якiй ти к хуям лицарь, коли голою сракою їжака не вб’єш. Чорт висирає, а твоє вiйсько пожирає. Не будеш ти, сукiн ти сину, синiв христiянських пiд собой мати, твойого вiйска ми не боiмось, землею i водою будем биться з тобою, распройоб твою мать. Вавилоньский ты кухарь, Макидоньский колесник, Іерусалимський бравірник, Александрiйський козолуп, Великого и Малого Египту свинарь, Армянська свиня, Подолянська злодиюка, Татарський сагайдак, Каменецький кат, і у всего свiту i пiдсвiту блазень, а нашого Бога дурень, самого гаспида онук и нашого хуя крюк. Свиняча морда, кобиляча срака, різницька собака, нехрещений лоб, мать твою в’йоб. От так тобi запорожцi виcказали, плюгавче. Не будешь ти i свиней христiанских пасти. Теперь кончаємо, бо числа не знаємо i календаря не маємо, мiсяць у небi, рік у книзі, а день такий у нас, який i у Вас, за це поцілуй в сраку нас!
    Пiдписали: Кошовий атаман Іван Сірко зо всiм кошем Запоріжськiм
    Response of the Zaporozhians to Mehmet IV.
    Zaporozhian cossacks to Turkish sultan! Thou, sultan, Turkish prick, and brother and comrade to the accursed devil, secretary to Lucifer himself. What sort of cock-wrangling knight art thou, if thy naked arse canst not smother a hedgehog. What the devil shits, thy army eats. Never wilt thou have Christian offspring under thee, thou son of a bitch; we fear not thy armies, by land and by water we shall fight thee; may thy mother be fucked all the way through. Thou Babylonian hash monger, Macedonian bullshitter, Jerusalemite braggart, Alexandrian wether, Greater and Lesser Egypt’s swineherd, Armenian swine, Podolian villain, Tatarian gopher, Kamenetskian executioner, fuckwit to the entire world and its underworld, fool to our Lord, grandson to the asp and crook to our cock. Pig’s snout, mare’s arse, feral dog, heathen blockhead, fucked be thy mother. So the Zaporozhians spoke unto thee, dastard. Thou wilt not lead even the Christian pigs. Now we end, for the date we know not, calendars we have none, the moon is in the sky, the year is in the book, the day with ye the same as with us, and for that thou canst kiss us in the arse!
    Signed: Division chieftain Ivan Sirko with the entire Zaporozhian division
    This apocryphal tale inspired Guillaume Apollinaire (1880—1918) to condense legendary Cossack obloquy into a digression within his great love lyric La Chanson du Mal-Aimé, first published in the Mercure de France on May 1st, 1909. On 29 September, 1969, its Russian rendering played a key part in the first performance of Symphony No. 14, Opus 135 by Dmitri Shostakovich (1906—1975). Thus the tale of Eastern European diplomacy came full circle.

Réponse des Cosaques Zaporogues au Sultan de Constantinople Ответ запорожских казаков Константинопольскому султану The Zaporozhian Cossacks’ Answer to the Sultan of Constantinople The Answer of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to the Sultan of Constantinople
Plus criminel que Barrabas
Cornu comme les mauvais anges
Quel Belzébuth es-tu là-bas
Nourri d’immondice et de fange
Nous n’irons pas à tes sabbats
Ты преступней Варравы в сто раз,
С Вельзевулом живя по соседству.
В самых мерзких грехах ты погряз.
Нечистотами вскормленный с детства.
Знай, свой шабаш ты справишь без нас.
You are a hundred times more criminal than Barabbas.
Living as the neighbor of Beelzebub,
You wallow in the most foul vices.
Fed on filth since childhood,
Know this: you’ll celebrate your Sabbath without us.
More criminal than Barabbas
Horned like the fallen angels
With Beelzebub you are down there
Fed on garbage and filth
We will not come to your Sabbaths
Poisson pourri de Salonique
Long collier des sommeils affreux
D’yeux arrachés à coup de pique
Ta mère fit un pet foireux
Et tu naquis de sa colique
Рак протухший, Салоник отбросы,
Скверный сон, что нельзя рассказать!
Окривевший, гнилой и безносый,
Ты родился, когда твоя мать
Извивалась в корчах поноса.
Rotten cancer crawfish, Salonica’s refuse,
A terrible nightmare which cannot be told,
One-eyed, putrid and noseless,
You were born while your mother
Was writhing in fecal diarrhoetic spasms.
Rotten fish of Salonica
Long chain of frightful dreams
Of eyes torn out with a pike thrust
Your mother blew a liquid fart
And you were born out of her colic
Bourreau de Podolie Amant
Des plaies des ulcères des croûtes
Groin de cochon cul de jument
Tes richesses garde-les toutes
Pour payer tes médicaments
Злой палач Подолья, взгляни:
Весь ты в ранах, язвах и струпьях.
Зад кобылы, рыло свиньи,
Пусть тебе все снадобья скупят.
Чтоб лечил ты болячки свои!
Evil butcher of Podolye, look:
You are covered in wounds, sores and scabs.
Rump of a horse, snout of a pig,
May Get them to buy you all the drugs be found
For you to heal treat your ills!
Tormenter of Podolye Lover
Of wounds of ulcers of scabs
Groin of a pig arse of a mare
Alll your riches you should hoard
To spend on your treatments
Guillaume Apollinaire, tiré de La Chanson du Mal-Aimé, qui fait partie des Alcools — Перевел с французского Михаил Кудинов — English translation from the Russian by Joan Pemberton Smith, corrected by MZ in reference to the French original — English translation from the French by MZ
    Owing largely to the aspectual inflections of its verbs and their derivative participles and gerunds, Russian obscenity is uniquely suited to conveying fine shades of meaning in the designation of sexual aggression. Its provincial sample attributed to the Zaporozhian Cossacks is neither as elaborate nor as far-reaching as the best known productions in its genre. In this regard, the restraint manifested by Apollinaire in his choice of contumely is all the more admirable, when properly understood and appreciated.

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