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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 287

Epics such as The Song of Igor's Campaign often glorify war, or at least view it as a legitimate, even laudable, way of pursuing political goals. Examine how attitudes towards war, and what war itself involves, have changed in recent times, especially since the Vietnam War. Are our heroes today warriors like Igor, or have we come to value different virtues? If Igor's campaign had taken place today, for example, what would have been the reaction of the world to the conduct of the Russians after they were victorious on the first day of battle? (Lines 151-70.)

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Russians treasure The Song of Igor's Campaign as part of their literary and national heritage, yet the epic records not a great victory but a catastrophic defeat. Research and examine other examples in history of how a great defeat has been enshrined in a nation's mythology and given a positive meaning. Examples might include the way Serbian nationalism has been fueled by a defeat suffered by Serbian forces in Kosovo in 1380; and the way the British turned the evacuation of their troops from Dunkirk in France in 1940 into a kind of moral victory. An example from American history might be the heroic but doomed defense of the Alamo against Mexican forces in San Antonio, Texas, in 1836. Is there something about a brave defeat that moves us more than a great victory?

Kievan Rus was torn apart by internal conflict between rival principalities. No single group had the power to dominate the others. When the Soviet Union was formed following the Russian revolution in 1917, what methods did the communist government use to try to ensure that a vast country, full of disparate ethnic groups, would remain loyal to the Soviet state?

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