Summary of “Sadko”

Bylina “Sadko” is considered the most ancient example of the Russian folk epic, which has survived to the present day. The work belongs to the Novgorod cycle of epic stories that tell about the life, life and beliefs of the inhabitants of Veliky Novgorod. The central character of the epic is the guslar Sadko, who thanks to his luck and enterprise becomes a revered man in Novgorod.

The presented short retelling of the epic will suit the reader’s diary in the 7th grade.

Main characters

Guslar Sadko – was a poor musician who played at feasts, but took advantage of the advice of the sea king, became a successful merchant, and then one of the richest people of Novgorod.

Other heroes

Mykola Mozhaisky is a gray-haired old man who helped Sadko get out of the captivity of the sea king.

Sea King – Ruler of the underwater world, helped Sadko win in a dispute with the Novgorod merchants and get three shops with the goods.



Novgorod there lived a gardener Sadko, who, in addition to the lynx gusli, had nothing. He was engaged in playing music at banquets, entertaining merchants and boyars. But suddenly they stopped calling him for a feast-they do not call the day, the second, the third. Upset Sadko comes to the Ilmen-lake, sits on the “bel-fuel” and until the evening plays on the harp. Late in the evening, the hero notices that “the water has been in the lake,” and, frightened, returns to the city.

However, the next three days of guslar again no one called for feasts, he again went to the lake and, again frightened by the unrest on the water, returned to the city. When the hero came to Ilmen-lake for the third time, suddenly a sea king appeared from the lake. The ruler decided to thank the hero for his “great joys” and “gentle play,” and told the guslar that he would go to Novgorod and argue with the merchants that there are fish-gold feathers in Ilmen-lake. On the advice of the sea tsar, Sadko was to lay down his “stormy head” in the dispute, and

ask the merchants to “store the goods red.” The seaman himself will give him three goldfish for this matter.

As soon as the guslar returned to Novgorod, they invited him to a feast. In the midst of merriment, the drunken Sadko began to boast to the merchants that he knew “a miracle, wonderful” – in Ilmen-lake there is “fish – gold feathers”. The merchants did not believe the ghuslar, and then he offered the merchants, as the sea king advised, to argue. Immediately “tied a silk net and drove to Ilmen-lake.” Three times they threw into the lake “Tonya” and caught three fish with “golden feathers”. The merchants recognized Sadko’s victory in the dispute and gave him three shops with the goods.

So the gusliar became a Novgorod merchant, he began to trade in Novgorod and other cities, quickly became rich, “built white stone chambers”, in which he “made everything in heaven”.

Sadko summoned rich merchants, abbots and peasants to a rich feast. Satisfied, the guests began to boast of who than: gold, horses, fatherland, fortune, smart – parents, insane – a young wife. They decided to ask Sadko why everyone is boasting, but he is not. The merchant replied:

“What to me, Sadka, boast?”
“And to boast – do not boast of a countless gold treasury:
At its treasury of gold treasury I will
raise New Town goods,
Thin goods and good!”

Sadko did not have time to finish how the abbots, outraged by his self-confidence, decided to argue with the merchant for thirty thousand, that he could not do it.

Early in the morning, Sadko ordered his squad to buy out all the goods in the city – “thin and kind.” But the next day the merchant found out that the shops of Novgorod were full again-twice as much for the night. And again Sadko ordered everything to be redeemed. On the third day the merchant came to the “shopping streets” and found that the goods tripled – “the goods arrived in Moscow”. Sadko thought that if he redeemed them, soon they would bring overseas all the same – “not to redeem the goods from all white light.” Having decided that it would be more reasonable to do this, the merchant gave the deans of the thirty thousand disputed.

“To the treasury of gold,” Sadko built thirty black ships and loaded them with Novgorod goods, traveled through the Volkhov, Ladoga and Neva, and then the blue sea to the Golden Horde. The trade was profitable, and he was returning with barrels of forty in red gold and pure silver.

However, on the way home the ships fall into a heavy storm:

“A wave of something beats, sails tear,
Broken ships are blackened,
And the ships go from a place on the blue sea.”

Sadko realized that this sea king requires tribute, because they traveled the sea for a long time, and did not pay anything to him. They threw out a “barrel of silver” on the orders of the merchant in the sea, but nothing changed. They lowered the “barrel-magpie red gold” into the sea, but the ships continued to stand still.

Sadko became clear that the sea king demanded a “living head”. Twice the merchant and his team threw lots into the sea with the names written on them, and both times people “float on the water with a gogol on the water,” and Sadko has “the key to the bottom.”

The hero understood that it was he who “demands” the king of the sea. The merchant quickly made a will, in which he remembered both the churches, the “poor brotherhood,” and the young wife, and the “hobro brigade.” Saying good-bye, he asked Sadko to give him a goose and an oak board, so that it would not be so scary to “die in the blue sea”. As soon as the merchant was launched into the water, so immediately the ships sailed, “flew like black crows.”

Left in the sea, Sadko soon fell asleep and woke up when he was already at the bottom. In the white-stone palace the hero meets the sea king, and he asks him to play on the harp. Only Sadko began to play, the sea king began to dance. Gusliar plays for three days – three days the sea king dances. And at that time a terrible storm began on the sea – many ships were crashed and people died.

The people prayed to Mikola Mozhaisky to save them from the disaster. The saint appeared in the image of a gray-haired old man to Sadko and touched his right shoulder, asking him to stop the game. Mikola answered the guslar that he was servile in the sea and carried out the orders of the sea king. The old man advised Sadko “to raise the strings” and “to punch the spins”, telling the sea king that he has no other strings and spins and he does not have, so he can not play anymore.

In addition, the old man told that the sea king will offer Sadko to marry a red girl and the gusliar must agree. In the morning the Sea King will show him brides, and if the merchant wants to return home, he must skip three hundred first and three hundred second girls, and choose the last one in the third hundred – Chernavushka. And in order to thank the elder for his help, Sadko will have to build the cathedral church of Mikola Mozhaisky on arrival.

Sadko did everything the way the old man advised him. After the wedding feast, the merchant immediately fell asleep and woke up already in Novgorod – by the river Chernava “on a steep ridge”. Sadko saw that his ships were swooping down the Volkhov. Discovering the merchant alive and unharmed, people could not believe their eyes. The merchant greeted his squad, and afterwards, going into the chambers, and with his young wife.

Having unloaded all his wealth from the ships, he built Sadko “the church of Mikola Mozhaisky”.

“Sadko did not go any more in the blue sea,
He began to live Sadko in Novye Grad.”


Bylina “Sadko” is the only product of the Russian epic, in which the main character not only travels to another country, but also finds himself in a different, other world – in the possession of the sea king. This detail brings the epic into a fairy folk tradition, while the merchant life of Novgorod is depicted with considerable historical accuracy. That is why the style of the work is dual and combines both fantastically fantastic and vividly realistic elements.

We recommend not to be limited to reading a brief retelling of “Sadko”, but to familiarize yourself with the full version of the epic.

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Summary of “Sadko”