Network analysis of the Kyiv bylyny cycle: east Slavic epic narratives

Ralph Kenna, Joseph Yose, Yurij Holovatch, Petro Sarkanych, Padraig MacCarron, Yurij Holovatch

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1 Citation (Scopus)
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In recent times, the advent of network science permitted new quantitative approaches to literary studies. Here, we bring the Kyiv bylyny cycle into the field — East Slavic epic narratives originating in modern-day Ukraine. By comparing them to other prominent European epics, we identify universal and distinguishing properties of the social networks in bylyny. We analyze community structures and rank most important characters. The method allows to bolster hypotheses from humanities literature — such as the position of Prince Volodymyr — and to generate new ones. We show how the Kyiv cycle of bylyny fits very well with narrative networks from other nations — especially heroic ones. We anticipate that, besides delivering new narratological insights, this study will aid future scholars and interested public to navigate their way through Ukraine’s epic story and identify its heroes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2240007
Number of pages25
JournalAdvances in Complex Systems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Open Access since October 2022. This is an Open Access article published by World Scientific Publishing Company. It is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY) License which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Digital humanities
  • comparative mythology
  • bylyny
  • Ukraine
  • Kyiv cycle
  • Volodymyr
  • complex networks
  • social networks
  • comparative literature
  • heroes


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