This question involves minor spoilers for The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov.

Koroviev is one of Woland's entourage, and ostensibly serves as his translator. However, unlike the other characters involved with Woland, he has no clear mythological counterpart. The other members of the group all do: Woland is Satan himself, Behemoth appears to be linked to the monstrous animal mentioned in Job, and Azazello seems linked to the Biblical Azazel, albeit that is a place rather than a person.

At the end of the novel, all the demonic characters assume their true appearance. But Koroviev's real nature seems to add the mystery.

In place of him who had left Sparrow Hills in a ragged circus costume under the name of Koroviev-Fagott, there now rode, softly clinking the golden chains of the bridle, a dark-violet knight with a most gloomy and never-smiling face. He rested his chin on his chest, he did not look at the moon, he was not interested in the earth, he was thinking something of his own, flying beside Woland.

"Why has he changed so?' Margarita quietly asked Woland to the whistling of the wind.

‘This knight once made an unfortunate joke,' replied Woland, turning his face with its quietly burning eye to Margarita. 'The pun he thought up, in a discussion about light and darkness, was not altogether good. And after that the knight had to go on joking a bit more and longer than he supposed. But this is one of the nights when accounts are settled. The knight has paid up and closed his account.'

Which seems to imply that Koroviev has either been consigned to hell or, if a demon from the original fall, been punished somehow, for making a bad joke. Either fate seems pretty extreme for a poor pun. It's also not clear in what way his account has been "closed" here.

So, does Koroviev's character have any mythological originals, and can they help explain the peculiar nature of his punishment and possible forgiveness?

  • I have a feeling I already saw a Fagot question somewhere on the site, though it could have been on SFF
    – DVK
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 21:05
  • @DVK I guess it'd this one - relevant but not a duplicate literature.stackexchange.com/questions/19996/…
    – Matt Thrower
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 21:40
  • 1
    There've been plenty of researches on Bulgakov's "Master and Margarita" but I couldn't find any of them translated into English. In a nutshell: No, the direct mythological originals of Koroviev-Fagott have not been established and his "bad joke about light and darkness" remains a riddle for the researchers. A couple of links (all in Russian but you might try Google translate and similar tools): Bulgakov.ru, -->
    – tum_
    Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 10:52
  • 1
    --> Licey.net
    – tum_
    Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 10:52
  • 1
    Just a hunch, not really an answer, but might the bad pun about light and darkness be a reference to Bulgakov’s own biography? Obviously B. put a lot of himself into The Master, but he may have also seen Koroviev as a representative of the author
    – Kevin Troy
    Commented Feb 1 at 13:58


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