Durmitor Legends

According to some very old legends the old Greek Gods from Olympus mountain chose expressly Durmitor for their resting place and for their sleeping place. It is known that in the old time Greeks lived in this parts, and it is possible that they chose this very mountain for their secondary Olympus. It is something there to be said about this secondary place for Gods, and for all of this region surrounding it, and the Gods caring and protecting it. The Gods care and protect it, together with fairies which live deep in the bosom of the mountain, and with winged horses which fly from one peak to another. In long ages a host of legends about Durmitor were spun, about the peaks, about the caves, about the lakes; about Pirlitor and Pasina voda, about the Bukovica gora, about the uskok (guerrilla fighter), tepac, lake, and saran heroes. In the following we shall narrate some of them, and when you come here, and when you walk Durmitor, and when in the long winter or short summer nights you hear the thud of horses’ hooves or the song of a fairy from Durmitor you will understand the legends, or are they true?

A very long time ago Jezera (The Lakes) (today a large plateau) were covered with pine and fir. All of sudden, the lightening strikes, the thunder roars, the pines caught fire, and the winds carried the flames all over the mountain. The forest was full with beasts and ghosts. The beasts run for Durmitor to find a hiding place, the fairies made for the skies to hide in the clouds, and the devil and the she-devil hid in the lake, in the middle of the Jezera (The Lakes). The devil and she-devil made a wonderful palazzo all of ice crystals in the middle of the lake, and even to this day they live here. And so, this tame lake, as the devil’s own home now is called Vrazje jezero (Devil’s lake). If you take in bath in it you will feel how cold it is – as a matter of fact it is the coldest of all Durmitor lakes – and that cold comes from the devil’s palazzo. Spreading all over the lake. An if a young girl takes a swim across the lake, the devil immediately jumps out of the lake, seizes her, and down it goes into his ice palazzo.

. If on the other side a young boy takes a swim across the lake, the she-devil immediately jumps out of the lake, seizes him, and again, down it goes to the palazzo. Some say that the devil shows itself when it is dark, and then, sometimes even ashore. Sometimes the devil was seen as a great black stallion, sometimes as a young bull, with enormous horns. The young bull grazes the grass by the shore, terribly roars, so that all the shore and the region nearby trembles of his voice. But, as it goes, some say that it is not so, but like this: in old time when Saint Elijah was passing in the skies with his golden coach, everybody was afraid of his lightening and thunder. To him, only the devil dared to show defiance, he even showed him his tongue, and made fun of him. Saint Elijah tried to persuade the lake to drown the devil, but the Lake, possibly out of fear, or maybe in spite, refused. Seeing that this way he could not avail, Saint Elijah tried to persuade The Flaming Mary to burn the devil, but also to punish the Lake for refusing to kill the insolent rebel on this Earth. She, so the legend says, chased the insolent rebel, but was no more charitable to the Lake. But, let us return to the drama playing between Saint Elijah and the devil. Saint Elijah wanted to burn the devil with the lightening, but the devil being the devil and very swift, always somehow succeeded into escaping into one of the lakes in the Lakes district. And even tomorrow, the incorrigible devil continued to show his red tongue to Saint Elijah.

Beside the devil in the lake there’s also a red-coated stallion. In the long, starry nights the red-coated stallion emerged from the lake and made love to the mares from the flock of the celebrated Duke Momcilo, who lived nearby, in the town of Pirlitor. After their love act being consummated, the red-coated stallion kicked the mare in the stomach with both hind legs to make her loose the fruit of their love act. But, once, when he was readying to kick the mare, from the nearby hills shepherds came running, according to a preceding accord, kidnapped the mare, and forced the red-coated stallion to return to his lake. The mare in question later gave birth to the winged horse, named Jabucilo, on whose back Duke Momcilo flew from Pirlitor right onto Durmitor.

Beside Gods, taking their rest on Durmitor, the fairies also chose this wonderful place. Right after the sun sets they fly down to the foot of this mountain, to the flowery meadows. They dance “kolo” (a dance where the dancers are in a circuit, often holding hands), and because they are beautiful, they seduce the best boys with their charms and beauty. But…there’s always a “but”. The chosen one must not have a single iron thing with him if he has the idea of dancing in the “kolo” and making love to one of the fairies. A long time ago, their was a handsome youth from the town of Piva, named Todor. He was valiant in every way, and the fairies were casting amorous eyes upon him. One starry night, when Todor was willing and able to make love to one of the fairies, to steal honey from their lips, unfortunately he took with him a knife. The fairies, being fairies, felt it immediately, got him by his hands and feet, and took him from the peak to a valley. Taken to the valley, the poor Todor fell asleep, never to waken again. That’s why this wonderful valley full of meadow flowers at the feet of the Durmitor is named Todor’s valley.

Nearby the lake where once the caravan way connecting the sea shore to north and further, passed. Once, in old times, when Kraljevic Marko (Prince Marco) lived, he once passed this way, across the Bukovica mountain to Pirlitor, where he wanted to pay a visit to his uncle Duke Momcilo, he heard a gun firing, and this very gun shot killed his dog. Not believing what he saw, he cried out: “As the gun fired, my dog disappeared!”, and than, in his rage, he pulled his sword from the scabbard and cut a big stone into pieces, the pieces still standing right there.

I cannot keep for myself the wonderful story how the most beautiful of all the mountain eyes – The Black Lake (Crno Jezero) came into being, even at the price that you never shall bathe in it. Across this lake Saint Sava came, and took refuge in one of the monasteries at the feet of the Durmitor. The monastery, at that time was located in the middle of a small town, in a valley, where now is Crno jezero. The monks were fine amphytrions to Saint Sava, but as history wills, put forward their doubts about his saintity. Not wishing to risk very much they made an agreement to play a practical joke on him. Therefore, during the night they slew a cock, and put the dead cock into the bag of the Saint. Early in the morning, as was custom, Saint Sava got underway. But, the monks wishing to make their practical joke come true came running after him crying: “Hey father, you who claimed to be a Saint, why did you steal our cock in the night?” “What do you say, in the name of God and all his Angels, me to steal a cock from a monastery?” “Yes, you!” cried the monks, teared off the bag from the Saint’s shoulders. And, woe, right there in the bag the slewn cock was. Very much enraged, Saint Sava cried out: “Let God, right were your monastery is, the earth collapse, and let there be no town or village there, but let it be a lake”. After that he raised the dead cock, and made him a grouse. When the monks returned to their monastery, they were awe-struck: the earth had collapsed, no more monastery, no more town, no more village, only a lake before their eyes – The Black Lake – and in the swirling waters in the middle of the lake a black cap of one of the monks was slowly turning .

And, when you visit the mountain, where Gods rest, and in the night you hear the fairies dancing, or the whinnying of winged horses, or you see the monk’s cape swimming in the middle of the lake during your swim in the Black Lake, you will for sure remember this legend, and you will know this to be legends only. Or else?


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