The Origin of the Word 'Rus'

From: (Kevin Cordell)
Newsgroups: soc.culture.soviet
Subject: Re: Origin of the word "Rus"
Date: 1 Jan 1994 18:07:44 -0500
Lines: 30 ...

>Can anyone tell me where the word "Rus" came from? I've read several
>different historical works and there doesn't seem to be any concensus on it.
>Were the "Rus" a people or a geographical area?
> In two books that I am reading:

A History of the Vikings by Gwyn Jones
A History of Russia by John Lawrence

The term Rus is a Finnish term for the Swedes, when the Vikings would
come down the Dnieper from the Dvina.

The Viking by the name of Rurik, thought to be Rurik of Jutland,
set himself up at Novgorod. Vladimir Prince of Kiev is descended from him.
Here is the passage from A history of the Vikings (page 247 footnotes):

Rus comes from the Finnish name for Sweden, Ruotsi.....
The name Ruosti, it is argued, arose from roosmenn,
men of the rowing-way, the people of today's Roslagen,
the Rowing-Law, the coastal area of Swedish Uppland.
Those were the people known to the Finnish, whether the Vikings came
from Denmark, Sweden or Norway.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------- Newsgroups: soc.culture.soviet
From: (dmitry pruss)
Subject: Re: Origin of the word "Rus"
Date: Sun, 2 Jan 1994 02:07:58 GMT
Lines: 38

In early Byzantine accounts about the Rus, they most often hold Scandinavian , also other non-Slavonic personal names, and they come both from Lower Dnepr and Lower Don (probably even more often from the latter), so it appears that the term refers to a particular subgroup of the Rus' associated with Kiev.

In later accounts, Kievan Rus is somewhat more Slavonic than the Rus of what's today the Sea of Azov. So the Rus' originally wasn't a clear reference to a place or an ethnic group but rather to an occupation. Was it an ethnically homogenous group?

The most probable anser is 'no'. But who else had been there except for the pre-Swedes-or-Danes (or, later, the locals) isn't clear. Some people argued about a German-Gothic or a Slavonic group from either Galicia or Pannonia, but it's all arguable. BTW, anyone knows where the Latin replica word came from?

D ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ From:
Newsgroups: soc.culture.soviet
Subject: Ruthenes
Date: 1 Jan 94 23:12:28 -0400
Lines: 26 ...

Encyclopedia Americana has an interesting thing to say about the word "Ruthene": "The name 'Ruthene' is merely the German or Austro-Hungarian title for 'Ukranian'; by what ever name they are called, they are one people, and form a racially compact mass of some 30,000,000 souls, extending from the Dnepr to the Carpathians and into Hungary. Russia regards the Little Russians as an integral part of the Great Russian family and their language as a Russian dialect. Austria, on the other hand, encouraged the Ruthenes to regard themselves as a separate Slav race and their language as a distinct Slav idiom."

Vol. XXIV, p. 66, 1955 edition.

Regards, Robert ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: (Eduard Ponarin)

Newsgroups: soc.culture.soviet
Subject: Re: Origin of the word "Rus"
Date: 3 Jan 1994 17:18:34 GMT
Lines: 17

The synopsis is indeed that Vikings > Ruotsi > Rus'. And that originally it referred to the people and then to the country. However, there are some authors (e.g., Boris Rybakov) who argue the opposite, that the word Rus' originally referred to a geographical area to the West of R. Dnieper. (There is also a tribute of Dnieper named Ros'.) Some indirect support for this theory is found in the fact that early Arab sources mention the country before the Age of the Vikings.

Ed Ponarin,


Sources: As listed above

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