Ivan Tsarevich is a placeholder of sorts for the male protagonist of many famous Russian folk, myths and legends (Ivan is one of the most common names in Russia). Sometimes Ivan is the son of a peasant, sometimes he is the son of a tsar, (“tsarevich” means “tsar’s son”) but he is just about always the youngest of three sons. While his two older brothers fail due to ineptitude or maleficence, Ivan always succeeds in his task. Many folktales relate encounters Ivan has had with mythical creatures- both good and evil. One of his most famous quests is called The Tale of Ivan Tsarevich, the Firebird, and the Grey Wolf.
Legend has it Tsar Vislav had a wonderful orchid of which he was very proud. One morning while walking among his apple trees, the Tsar realized that someone had been sneaking into the orchid and stealing his apples. Enraged, the Tsar ordered guards to patrol the orchid, however, they could not catch the culprit who continued to steal more and more apples every night. The Tsar began to grow despondent.
“Dear Father, don't grieve, we ourselves will guard the garden,” said his three sons. That night the oldest son, Dmitry, stood guard but by midnight had fallen asleep. The next morning the Tsar asked, “Well, did you see the culprit?” “No, Father,” said Dmitry. “All night I didn't sleep, my eyes never closed, but I didn't see anything.”
The next night the middle son, Vasiliy, stood guard in the orchid but by midnight he too had fallen asleep. The next morning the Tsar asked, “Well, did you see the culprit?” “No, Father,” said Vasiliy. “All night I didn't sleep, my eyes never closed, but I didn't see anything.”
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