Among the theories about the origin of the Russian heroic epic songs (byliny), the theory of their aristocratic origin has aroused the greatest controversy. This theory was advanced by the main representative of the so-called historical school, Vsevolod Miller, at the turn of this century. In the introduction to his Ekskursy he compared the byliny to grandiose ruins, in whose upper chambers and towers princes once lived, but in whose sheds that were still habitable some unpretentious Olonets peasants had finally settled. Miller dealt with this problem in greater detail in his Ocherki, stressing first that the byliny sang of princes and retainers and their military feats. He argued that “they were created and disseminated among the population that was, in its development and social standing, close to the princely court and retinue, belonging, according to contemporary notions, to the ‘intelligentsia.'” The byliny were, according to Miller, composed among the cream of the society, where the pulse of life throbbed more strongly, where there was affluence and leisure, and where there was a demand for songs.