Magocsi   Letter 03   16-Aug-1999   Nathan Hanover's flying snake

August 16, 1999
Robert Paul Magocsi
Department of History
University of Toronto
Toronto, ON M5S 1A1

Robert Paul Magocsi:

Perhaps if you ever revise your A History of Ukraine, you will give your readers a better idea of how reliable is the Nathan Hanover account from which you quote at length of the Khmelnytsky rebellion of 1648 by quoting also such symptomatic excerpts as the following:

And it came to pass when they had been there a long time, that the enemy contrived a scheme.  By the use of witchcraft they let a viper soar in the sky, and they took unto themselves as a sign: "If the viper will turn his face toward the city, we will subdue it before us, and if he will turn his face toward us we will flee before them.  And it came to pass at midnight, when they saw the viper ascending skyward, and he remained suspended for about a half hour with his face toward the city.  After that he turned toward the camp of the Cossacks and the Tartars.  They realized that this was an evil omen for them and that evil was before their faces.

Nathan Hanover, Abyss of Despair (Yeven Metzulah), Transaction Books, New Brunswick (U.S.A.) and London (U.K.), 1983, pp. 90-91.

Lubomyr Prytulak