The work, based on the Byzantine heroic epos, begins with a story about how the Arabian king Amir kidnaps his wife a beautiful maid of the royal family from the “Greek land.” Her brothers, after learning about the abduction, rush in pursuit of Amir in the Saracen land, intending to kill him. When the brothers get to the tent of Amir, he tells them that their sister’s body is on a mountain where many women and beautiful girls have been hacked, because she refused to fulfill his will. However, Amir deceives them, and then the brothers have to throw lots – who to go out with him to a duel. When the opponents prepare for battle, darkness reigns on Amir’s side, and on the side of the younger brother, who has three lots to fight, is light, as if from the sun’s radiance.
And when the younger brother defeats the Arabian king and drags him by the hair to his brothers, Amir begs for mercy and promises to be baptized for the love of a beautiful girl and become their son-in-law. He tells where to find a captive, and only after making sure that Dhmr treated her respectfully and that he is immediately ready to renounce his Saracen (ie, Muslim) faith, the brothers change their anger to mercy.
Cunning, not speaking about his true intentions, Amir collects rich gifts and goes to the “Greek land.”
With a large crowd of people, which even embarrasses Amir, he is baptized in the river Euphrates, and the patriarch himself performs the rite, and the king of that city becomes his godfather.
Soon Amir’s mother finds out that her son renounced faith because of his love for the girl; she gives the order to return him from the “Greek land” with his new wife, but the girl dreams a prophetic dream, thanks to which the plot is exposed, and three Saracens who have come for Amir are also converted to Christianity and left to live in the “Greek land.”
After these events, Amir’s son and his wife give birth to the son of Devgeny.
Already at the age of twelve Devgenii Akrit (the border guards called the Akritians guarding the borders of Byzantium) plays with a sword, at thirteen with a spear, and at fourteen wants to overcome all the beasts. At the same time, he is pious and believes that strength, luck and gaiety are from God (“I hope for God-creator, that I will not hunt labor, but great joy”). The first feats of Devgnia are on the hunt: he easily defeats
various animals – so he squeezes the bear with his elbows, that she exhales, tears the bear’s head, tears the elk, dissects the lion and, eventually, chop off the three heads to the huge snake. From this, the author concludes: “It is not a simple man, but God Himself created.”
Another version of “Devgeniev’s deed” then tells of the victory of Devgnia over the brave Filipapa and the Maid Maximian, who planned to take him prisoner, “like a hare in the net.” Filipapa tells Devgnia that there is still a stronger person in the world than Devgenia – Stratigus, whose daughter, “glorious Stratigovna”, surpasses all beauty, and besides, has a man’s audacity and courage. Wise Devgeny learns from a book of his fate: if he marries Maximian, then he will live sixteen years, and if on the girl Stratigovne, then thirty-six years. After entrusting Filipap and Maximian to his father and mother and having blessed them, Devgeny goes to “conquer” the bride. He arrives at Stratig’s court, which at that moment is not there, and begins a “siege”. Devgeny dresses up in expensive clothes, singing songs,
Stratigovna at first sight falls in love with Devgenia, who, without delaying matters, asks Stratigovna whether she wants to be his wife or a polonnik?
Representations of honor mean a lot to Devgnia, so he explains to Stratigovne that he does not want to become like a thief and secretly take her away – Stratigovna must tell her father that she was abducted.
When Stratig comes back, Devgeny returns to his yard, breaks the gate and waits three hours for Stratig, calling him with his sons, but Stratig does not believe that anyone can dare to behave this way in his court. Devgnia still has to abduct Stratigovna, and putting her on his horse, singing and glorifying God, he leaves the yard. But there is no pursuit, then Devgeny returns to the house of Stratigus (“I will cover myself with a great shame, if there is no chase after me”) and starts rioting there. Finally, Stratig understands that Devgeny really inflicted disgrace on his house, and begins to call his mighty sons and collect soldiers. While Stratig is engaged in military preparations, Devgeny is asleep, and Stratigovna is guarding his dream.
Finally Stratig gathers the army, and it is approaching Devgenia. Stratigovna wakes him up, and they agree that Devgeny will not kill his future relatives. “As a strong falcon” strikes Devgeny “in the middle of the army and, like a good scythe grass mows: once galloped – killed seven thousand, returned back – killed twenty thousand.” He strikes Stratiga, strikes him lightly on the helmet, and Stratig begs for mercy, saying that he wants them from Stratigova’s happiness. Devgeny takes them prisoner, while he ties the sons of Stratig, and does not bind Stratig himself.
Stratig and his sons pray to Devgeny to release them, Stratigovna also joins in their requests. Devgeny agrees, but at first wants to put a brand on them, but Stratigovne manages to dissuade him. In memory of the defeat, Devzheny takes priceless golden things from Stratig and his sons – the great-grandfather’s cross and buckles with pearls and precious stones, and then invites to the wedding. They agree that at first three months they will have a wedding at Stratig, and then three months at Devgenia. The author dwells on the description of wedding gifts for a long time, and then concludes that Devgeny is an example for all Christians.
Another feat of Devgnia Akrita was the victory over Tsar Vasily, who “guarded the entire country of Cappadocia.” Tsar Vasily, after hearing about the courage of Devgnia, decides to capture him in a fury. Basil sends Devgnia a false deed, where he invites him to himself, to marvel at his daring. Basil and Devgeny exchange letters and ambassadors, while the Cappadocian king from flattering words increasingly turns to threats, while Devgeny, revealing his black designs, calls on Basil to come with a small army to the river Euphrates. Through his ambassador, Devgni sends to the arrogant lord: “Tell your king: if you trust in your strength, then I trust in God the Creator, and your strength can not be compared with the power of God.”
While reading the words of Devgenia and listening to the ambassador, Vasily becomes more and more furious, collects the army and advances towards Devgnia, but, not seeing his troops, begins to be afraid: “He learned something about us and planned, or he wants to come with a large army “. Devgeny alone opposes the forces of the tsar, and he, obeying the boyars (“What is your power, the king, if you are afraid of one soldier, you can not see the troops with him”), decides to fight with Devgeny. Devheny defeats the enemy’s army, and the king with a handful of soldiers turns to flight. Devgeny overtakes them, takes them prisoner, and then occupies the city. Devheny reigns in the city of Basil, and releases the prisoners according to the words of the Scripture: “A slave can not be more than his master, and a son is greater than his father”. Soon, Devgeny puts on the throne of his father, saying that those twelve years of life,