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Russian Language and Literature

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    Russian is a Slav language belonging to the Indo-European family. The dispersion of the Slav tribes in prehistoric times resulted in the formation of various Slav dialects, of which Shafarik counted twelve, although other writers recognize only six or seven. The Slav dialects are divided into the South-Eastern dialects and the Western dialects. To the former, which culminate in the Bulgarian, belongs the Russian, or rather the three Russian dialects of Great Russia, Little Russia, and White Russia. Russian has many affinities with the Bulgarian and Servian languages, because Russia received her primitive literature from the Bulgarians and Servians. The absence of documents, however, makes it impossible to define with precision the character of the primitive language of Russia, or rather the relations between that language and the Russian of literature. According to Sreznevski and Lavroff, the similarity between the two languages was almost complete, and consisted in turns of expression rather than in grammatical forms. Before the thirteenth century, the literary, ecclesiastical, and administrative language was one. But in the fourteenth century the ecclesiastical language began to differ from the literary language and this difference grew considerably in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Palæoslavic or ecclesiastical language, however, varied little in either case from the language of the people. In time Russian underwent local changes of form that gave rise to the dialects of Kieff, Novgorod, Vladimir, and Moscow. The Vareghi, the Greeks, the Tatars, the Lithuanians, and the Poles left traces of their political domination on the language of Russia, and in the time of Peter the Great many words were added from German, French, and English. The question of the primitive language of Russia is connected with the ethnological question, and in the nineteenth century gave rise to lengthy and spirited polemics which, however, led to no definite results. A leading work for the study of this controversy is Buslaeff's "Historical Grammar of the Russian Language" (1858). Political and nationalist questions also enter into the philological researches concerning the primitive language of Russia. The Ruthenians, or Little Russians, claim that their language was the original Russian, and therefore that primitive Russian literature should rather be called Ruthenian. On the other hand Sobolevski and the nationalists of Great Russia declare that the present Ruthenian is not the primitive language of Kieff. This philological controversy between the nationalists of Little Russia and those of Great Russia has not yet terminated.

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    From its earliest history Russia has possessed a literature that was handed down by tradition from generation to generation. It was not before the seventeenth century that this literature took a written form. The collection of Russian proverbs was begun: in the eighteenth century Daniloff published the first collection of Russian byline: at the end of the same century and at the beginning of the nineteenth, Tchulkoff, Popoff, and Macaroff published the first collections of popular songs. Upon this literature, which conveys so much information on the religious, civil, and social life of primitive Russia, great light was thrown by the studies of Kalaidovitch, Snegireff, Sakharoff, Kirieevski, Bielinski, Athanasieff, Kostomoroff, Maikoff, Buslaeff, Bezsonoff, and Vselovski. The popular Russian songs are divided into several classes. There are the mystic or ritual songs ( obriadnyia piesni ), which were sung in the sacred games, and on other solemn occasions; they contain many memories of the ancient pagan feasts, celebrating the glories of Dazh-Bog (the sun-god), of Koliada (traced by Russian writers to the Latin Calendœ ), and of Ovsen. Others, illustrating the promiscuity of pagan tradition, celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ ( sviatotchnyja piesni ); others relate to the spring feasts ( vesnianki ), or accompany the dance ( khorovodnyja ). To this same class belong the nuptial songs ( svadebnyja ), the kupal'skija (literally, songs of the baths), the rusal'nyja , in honour of the Rusalke , a term that probably served to designate the souls of the departed.

    The byline are the most beautiful treasures of this popular literature, of which they form the heroic cycle. The term byline is derived from the verb byl (it was), and etymologically signifies the recital of that which happened in times gone by. They tell of the deeds of the legendary heroes of primitive Russia. History, legend, and mythology together furnish the matter of these epic songs. In them the Russian heroes are called bogatyr , a name that some believe to be derived from Bog ( God ), as if they were demigods; others believe that the term is derived from Tatar or Mongolian ; and yet others from the Sanskrit ( bhaga , force, happiness ). The heroes who are immortalized in the byline belong to the epoch of Vladimir the Great, or to more ancient times, and partake of a mythological character. These heroes, who act together with those of the time of Vladimir the Great, but nevertheless are endowed with a mythological character, are Sviatogor, Mikula Selianinovitch, Volga Sviatoslavitch, Sukhman Odikhmantévitch, and Don Ivanovitch; the historians of Russian literature designate them by the epithet of starshie ("ancient heroes"). The "young heroes" ( mladshie ) belong historically to the epoch of Vladimir; their names are Elia Muromec, Dobrynja Nikititch, Alesha Popovitch, Solovei Budimirovitch, etc. Kieff is so to speak, their geographical centre, and Vladimir their star. In the Russian chronicles they are mentioned between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. Elia of Murom lived at the end of the twelfth century, and his remains rest in the grotto of the sanctuary of Petcherskaia at Kieff. They combat the monsters that assail Russia from within or from without, that is, paganism and thieves among the first, and the Petchenegi, the Polovcy, and the Chozari among the second. The historical, philological, and poetical importance of these ancient monuments of literature is very great. Other byline of later date, more commonly called historical songs, refer to the Tatar invasions, to the period of Ivan the Terrible, and also to that of Peter the Great. The songs and legends of Little Russia are called dumy (elegies, ballads), and celebrate the struggles of the Cossacks and Little Russians against the Turks or Tatars and the Poles, and the union of Little Russia with Great Russia. The songs that refer to domestic life are called bytovyja piesni . They sing the popular feasts and games, and the sad as well as happy events of domestic life, while they preserve many traces of paganism. The best collections of them are those of Tchulkoff (St. Petersburg, 1770-74); Novikoff (Moscow, 1780-81); and Sakharoff (St. Petersburg, 1838-39).

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    To popular literature belong the fanciful novels called skazki , which resemble somewhat the stories of the Fates. Their protagonists are strange beings created by the ardent popular fancy, Baba-Iaga , serpents with six or twelve heads, stags, horses, etc. The forces of nature are personified. At times the mythological element predominates in them entirely; and again it is blended with Christianity. The oldest novels are characterized by their simplicity and by the repose of their recital. Some of them, like the one entitled "The Judgment of Shemjaka", are satirical compositions. Others are derived from Western novels, especially the Italian. The proverbs also belong to popular literature. They are called poslovicy , and are very abundant, the first complete collection of them having been made by D. Kniazhevitch in 1822. They are the spontaneous product of the wisdom, caustic spirit, and rudimentary culture of the Russian people, and reflect the various historical ages of Russia. Some of them date from pagan times, others emanate from the people's knowledge of Holy Scripture , and others originate in the events that produced the greatest impressions on the popular imagination. To popular literature belong also the enigmas or riddles ( zagadki ), collected by Khudiakoff (Moscow, 1861) and by Sadovinikoff (St. Petersburg, 1876); the incantations ( zagovory ), the conjurations ( zakliatia ), and the lullabies ( platchi ), which are most useful for the study of Russian folk-lore and primitive Russian life.


    The first written literature of Russia is coincident with the conversion of Russia to Christianity. Bulgaria was the first Slav educator of Russia, and the first translations of the Scriptures and the liturgies were Bulgarian. The most ancient monument of Russian literature, and at the same time of the ecclesiastical Palæoslavic language common to the primitive Slav Christians, is the Gospel called "Ostromirovo", written at Novgorod in 1056-57 by the Deacon Gregor, by order of Ostromir, first magistrate ( posadnik ) of the city. This valuable document was published by Vostokoff in 1843. Ancient Russian literature is of an eminently religious character. The greater portion of its monuments are sermons, homilies, letters, lives of saints, pilgrimages ; even the profane works, as chronicles and voyages, have a religious tone. On the other hand, owing to the fact that the Russians received their Christianity from Byzantium, their literature was openly Byzantine in character, the early Russians either translating the Byzantine works, or being inspired by the spirit of those works, and writing as if they were Byzantines. Primitive Russian literature, however, was subject also to other influences. The Slav influence was due to the Bulgarians and Servians, who, until the fifteenth century, gave many cultured men to Russia, e.g., the Metropolitan Cyprian and Gregor Camblak. Greek influence lasted a longer time, and flourished in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

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    Russian literature in the beginning consisted of translations from the Greek and of original works. Its development was very slow, because the prices of codices were very high. The copying of books was considered not only a useful contribution to culture, but a supernatural work. The Princess of Polotsk, St. Euphrosyne (twelfth century), copied books, a work to which monks, and even bishops, devoted themselves. Russian monks were wont to go to Constantinople, or to Mount Athos, and there to become amanuenses and enrich the first Russian libraries by their work. The first books that were translated were those of the Holy Scripture that were most used by the people (Psalms, the Gospels, Proverbs, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom of Jesus the son of Sirach). There were also collections of extracts from the Holy Scripture , called Paremii . The translation of all the books of the Holy Scripture in a single codex was made in 1499, by order of Gennadius Gonzoff, Archbishop of Novgorod (1484-1504).

    Simultaneously with the Holy Scripture , the writings of the Fathers of the Church were greatly in vogue, especially those of St. John Chrysostom. Highly esteemed also were the doctrinal explanations of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, the canons of St. Basil, the homilies of St. Theodore the Studite, the discourses of St. Athanasius against Arianism, the discourses of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, the "Klimax" of St. John Climacus, and the works of St. Isaac the Syrian, St. Ephraem the Syrian, and St. John Damascene. Until the seventeenth century, the theological writings of St. John Damascene were the sources of Russian Orthodox theology. The great popularity of the works of the Fathers gave rise to the formation of collections of extracts from their discourses, and to annotated copies, with explanations, for the study of their writings, called sborniki , of which there are several: "Zlatoust", a collection of moral sermons and homilies (112), mostly from St. John Chrysostom ; "Margarit", another collection from St. John Chrysostom , included in the monologue of the Metropolitan Macarius, and published for the first time at Ostrog in 1596; "Izmaragd", a collection of sermons and homilies from St. Basil, St. John Chrysostom, St. Ephraem, St. Gregory the Great, and St. Cyril of Alexandria ; "Andriatis", a collection of the homilies recited by St. John Chrysostom at Antioch ; "Zlataia ciep" (golden chain), a collection of discourses on the moral virtues, taken from the Fathers of the Church and from Russian writers; the "Ptchely" (bees), a collection of the literary flowers of St. Maximus the Confessor. The famous "Sbornik" of Sviatoslaff Yaroslaffitch, Prince of Tchernigoff, which was translated in Bulgaria from the Greek, for the Tsar Simeon, in 1073, also has texts from the Fathers and from profane writers.

    The Greek synaxaria , the Patereka of Sinai and Jerusalem, translated in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the "Patericon" of the Petcherskaia Shrine of Kieff, which is very valuable for the study of primitive Russian hagiology, are of a sacro-historical character. The Greek synaxaria took in Russian the name of Prologos . Collections of discourses in honour of the feasts of Our Lord, of the Blessed Virgin, and of the saints received the name of "Torzhestvenniki". An historical compendium of the Old Testament, called "Palei", from palaia diatheke , dates from the earliest times of Russian Christianity. The oldest codices of the "Palei" are of the fourteenth century, but their origin is much older. To sacred and profane literature belong the so-called chronographoi , collections and transformations of writings of Byzantine chroniclers, especially of Malala, Amartolos, Manasses, and Zonaras, as also the Slav version of the "Christian Topography" of Cosmas Indicopleustes.

    Partly to sacro-profane and partly to profane literature belong many novels and stories translated from Byzantine, Servian, and Bulgarian writings, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. One of the most famous novels, taken from the literature of Constantinople, is the history of Barlaam and Josaphat. At the end of the sixteenth century, the influence of Polish literature helped to spread in Russia two works that were much in vogue in the West, the "Gesta Romanorum", and the "Speculum Magnum." The apocryphal books of the Old Testament (story of Adam and Eve ; story of the Tree of the Cross; story of the Just Enoch, etc.), and those of the New Testament (story of Aphroditian on the miracles in Persia ; dispute of Christ with the Devil ; conversation of Adam and Lazarus in Limbo, etc.) were also widely disseminated in the literature of that time. There were also translated into Palæorussian the "Elucidarium sive dialogus de summa totius religionis christianæ", attributed to Honorius of Autun by Migne ; books of magic and books of astrology ("Gromnik", "Molnianik", "Koliadnik", etc). Under the influence of this literature, religious songs were created that became very popular with the people ( Dukhovnye stikhi ). These little poems or songs treat of the most varied subjects, and it is very difficult to divide them into different classes. They are of a moral and religious character, referring to the Creation, to St. Michael the Archangel , to the sufferings of the damned, to the birth or passion of Jesus Christ, to the Russian saints, etc. And beside these poetical productions sprang up the hagiological legends, of which the best known refer to St. Nicholas of Myra , St. Parasceve, and St. Cassian. The deep researches of Arkhangelski and Sobolevski throw a great deal of light on the Russian versions of the Fathers and of the Byzantine writings.


    Russian literature, properly so called, from the period of the advent of Christianity in Russia to the time of Peter the Great, comprises discourses, instructions, and letters that are intended to infuse Christian sentiments, and to draw the people from pagan practices; polemical works, directed at first against the Latins, and later against the first Russian heresies ; lives of saints, chronicles, and historical Works, pilgrimages and voyages, and juridical monuments. There is almost a total absence of poetry. The first centres of culture were Kieff and Novgorod; in the sixteenth century, Moscow. Among the writers who left a name for sacred eloquence in the period from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, mention is made of Luke Zhidiata, Archbishop of Novgorod (1035-59), whose discourse is a brief recapitulation of the truths of the Faith ; St. Hilarion , Metropolitan of Kieff in 1051, whose discourses contain very valuable data for the early history of Russian Christianity ; the Blessed Theodosius Petcherski, who wrote discourses for the people and the monks ; Nicephorus, Metropolitan of Kieff (1104-20), whose discourses and letters, written in Greek were translated later into Russian; Cyril of Turoff (1171-82), a brilliant writer who, on account of his natural and vigorous eloquence, resembling that of St. John Chrysostom, is called the Chrysostom of Russia. His discourses, homilies, writings on monastic life, and prayers are among the most important monuments of the ancient ecclesiastical literature of Russia.

    The polemics against the Latins found almost their only exponents among the Greeks who in the beginning governed the Russian dioceses. Leontius, metropolitan (992-1008), wrote against the Arians ; George, metropolitan (1065-73), wrote a "Dispute with a Latin", in which the various pretended innovations of the Roman Church are attacked; Ivan II (1186-89) is the author of a letter to Clement III, in which the Latins are reproved only on account of the insertion of the Filioque in the Creed. The letter on the Faith of the Vareghi (or Variazhskoi vierie ), which by some is attributed, although without strong arguments, to St. Theodosius Petcherski, is believed by some to be of Russian origin. Among the first Russian hagiologists mention should be made of Jacob, a monk of the Petcherskaia hermitage, who wrote an account of the martyrdom of Sts. Boris and Glieba, and the panegyric of St. Vladimir; of Nestor, the most famous of the ancient Russian writers, a monk of the hermitage of Kieff, who died in 1114. He is the author of the lives of Boris and Glieba of the Blessed Theodosius, and of a chronicle ("Lietopis") The original of the chronicle of Nestor has not come down to us; the most ancient copy of it is that of the monk Lawrence, made in 1377 for Demetrius Constantinovitch, Prince of Suzdal. Nestor was not the first Russian chronicler. Other chroniclers, whose names and works have not been handed down to our times, wrote before him at Novgorod. The national and literary importance of the chronicle of Nestor is very great. The Russians rightly consider it as an epic history, warm with the love of country. It finishes with the year 1110, but was continued by other writers, under various names, as "Chronicle of Kieff", "Chronicle of Volhynia", "Chronicle of Suzdal", etc. They are of an eminently religious character, and abound in texts from the Scriptures and in ascetic considerations.

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    Another important work in which the Russian national sentiment predominates is the journey of the higumeno Daniel (thirteenth century) to the Holy Places: before the Holy Sepulchre he prays "for all the land of Russia ". Anthony, Archbishop of Novgorod, visited Constantinople four years after the taking of that city by the Latins (1204), and left a short but very important description of its churches and monasteries.

    To profane literature belong the "Testament" Vladimir Monomachus, written in 1099, in which its author gives a recital of his enterprises; and the celebrated account of the battle of Igor ("Slovo" or "Polku Igorevie"), which was found in 1795 in the library of Count Musin Pushkin. It is the only poetical work of the Russia of the princes, and relates the military expedition of Igor Sviatoslavitch, Prince of Novgorod-Sieverski, against the Polovcy (1185). It is characterized by the grandeur of its poetical sentiment, the beauty of its descriptions, and love of country. In the twelfth century was written the discourse of Daniel Zatotchnik ( Captivus ), who, imprisoned in the Government of Olonetz, writes to a prince to ask for his liberty, making a great display of his learning. Among the juridical monuments of that age we may cite the "Russkaia Pravda" (Russian code) of Prince Yaroslaff I, and the Greek Nomocanon , translated in the earliest times of Russian Christianity, and qualified with the epithet of Kormtchaia kniga , corresponding to the Greek pedalion . To the nomocanon were added the "Ecclesiastical Regulations" ("Cerkovnye ustavy") of Vladimir and Yaroslaff, which however are not of those princes, at least in the form in which they have been transmitted to us in codices of the thirteenth century. The monasteries were centres of the literary culture of Russia in the eleventh and twelfth centuries; and the Greco-Russian clergy laboured for the diffusion of it. From the Greek clergy came the polemical works, and the hatred of the Latins that became fixed in the hearts of the Russian people. The first Greek polemics who lived in Russia spread the most absurd calumnies against the Latins, and anathematized as heretical the most simple liturgical customs: the Metropolitan George enumerated twenty-seven points of divergence between the Greeks and Latins. The thirteenth century is very poor from the standpoint of literature. The Tatar invasions stopped the progress of culture, and prevented intellectual work. Among the literary monuments of that century are cited a letter of Simon, Bishop of Vladimir (1215-26), to Polycarp, a monk of the Petcherskaia hermitage; the life of Abraham of Smolensk, a most important historical document; the sermons of Serapion, Bishop of Vladimir (1274-75), and a synodal and canonical decision of Cyril II, Metropolitan of Kieff (1243-80), which is inserted in the Kormtchaia kniga .


    In the period from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, literary culture, paralyzed by Tatar oppression in the region of Kieff, continued to flourish at Novgorod and Pskof, and from there was carried to other centres, viz., Vladimir, Rostoff, Murom, Yaroslaff, Tver, Ryazan, and finally Moscow, which received the name of the Third Rome. In the fourteenth century sacred sermons were written by various authors, among whom were Peter, Metropolitan of Moscow ; Alexei, another metropolitan of Moscow (1293-1377) who, in a codex of the Gospel which he transcribed, corrected the ancient Slav version in many points, by the Greek original; Matvei, Bishop of Sarai; the Metropolitan Cyprian (1376-1406), a Servian by birth, who also left various letters and translated the Psalter, the Missal ( Sluzhebnik ), the Nomocanon , etc.; the Blessed Cyril, founder of the monastery of Bielozero, the author of several letters to the sons of Prince Demetrius Donskoi; Basil, Archbishop of Novgorod (1331-1352), who wrote a letter to Feodor, Bishop of Tver, to convince him of the existence of a terrestrial paradise. Brief descriptions of Constantinople and its churches in the fourteenth century were left by Stephen, a monk of Novgorod, by Ignatius, a deacon of Smolensk, and by Alexandr D'jak ("judge", "magistrate"). Among the novels special mention should be made of the "Zadonshina", written by Sofronio or Sofonio of Ryazan, an epic story that relates the military acts of Prince Demetrius Donskoi, who vanquished the Tatars at Kulikovo (1380).

    In the fifteenth century the beginning of heresies in Russian Christianity, which originated in the decadence of monastic asceticism as well as in the gross ignorance of the clergy and laity, opened up new fields to Russian religious polemics. Photius, Metropolitan of Moscow (1410-31) and Gregor Camblak, Metropolitan of Kieff (1416) composed letters and moral sermons ; Gennadius, Archbishop of Novgorod (1485-1504), wrote against the sect of the Judaizers, which originated in that city about 1471; the higumeno Josef Sanin of Polotsk assailed the same sect in his tedious work "Prosvietitel" ("the illuminator"). Nil Sorski (1433-1508), founder of a hermitage on the banks of the Sora River, is the author of writings that were directed towards the reformation of the ideals and the life of Russian monasticism. Among the travellers of this period Zosimus, hiero-deacon of the hermitage of St. Sergius, and a merchant, Basil, left accounts of their pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Simeon, hiero-monk of Suzdal, accompanied Isidore, Metropolitan of Moscow, to the Council of Florence, and left an interesting recital of his voyage to Italy, and a short but important account of the council, which is one of the monuments of the Russian polemics against the Latins. Anthony Nikitin, a merchant of Tver, went to India through Persia in 1466, returned to his country in 1472, and in the account of his travels gave important information on the religious beliefs of the people of India. In historical literature, besides the valuable sketch of the Council of Florence, there should be mentioned the account of the foundation and the taking of Constantinople, which was very popular among the Russians.

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    The sixteenth century, as Porfiréff rightly states, was one of criticism and restoration. Its literature, always eminently religious, proposed to revive the ancient customs, and the ancient traditions, and to restore religion and the family. The most famous and most learned champion of these reforms was Maximus the Greek, born at Arta, in Albania, and educated in Italy. He entered monastic life on Mount Athos, and in 1518 repaired to Russia, where he took an active part in the religious life of the country, and in the correction of the liturgical books ; he suffered a painful imprisonment in various monasteries, from 1525 to 1553, and died at the hermitage of St. Sergius in 1556. A most learned theologian, he wrote polemical works against the Gentiles, the Jews, the Judaizers, the Mohammedans, and the Latins, especially in opposition to the supremacy of the pope and to the Filioque; he combatted astrology, and wrote short works and discourses on moral subjects. Among the Russian prelates of the sixteenth century, Daniel, elected Metropolitan of Moscow in 1522, acquired fame. He was the author of sixteen discourses that prove him to have read assiduously, and to have had a profound knowledge of patristic literature. The most important monument of the literature of the sixteenth century is the "Domostroi", attributed to Sylvester, a priest who was the contemporary of Ivan the Terrible; Sylvester was, however, the compiler rather than the author of the work. It is a book of a moral character, in which are propounded the rules for living according to the precepts of the Faith and Christian piety, the duties of man as a member of the family, and the way to govern the home well and to care for domestic economy. The "Domostroi", therefore, is a compendium of the duties of a Christian man, and at the same time a true picture of the social and domestic organization of Russia in the sixteenth century. Another great work, which had remained unpublished until now but which the Archæographical Commission of St. Petersburg is now bringing to light, is the "Tchet'y Minei" of the Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow (1542-64). From the beginnings of its literature, Russia possessed lives of saints, the number which increased from century to century. The Metropolitan Macarius collected into a vast work the lives of all the saints of the Greco-Russian Church, adding panegyrics and discourses in their honour, and also whole books of Scripture, with commentaries, writings of the Fathers, and synaxaria , so that his menologies are almost a complete répertoire of the ancient literature of Russia, rather than a simple hagiological collection. To the same century belong the hagiological legends, which are lives of the saints, or episodes in them, embellished by popular fancy, examples of which are the legends of the Tsarevitch Peter (thirteenth century), of St. Mercurius, of Martha and Mary, of Prince Peter of Murom, and of his consort, Febronia.

    Prince Andrew Kurbski, a warm defender of the Orthodox Church, translated the dialectics and the Pege gnoseos of St. John Damascene , and wrote a brief history of the Council of Florence and a history of Ivan the Terrible, with whom he was in correspondence; these letters are preserved to our day. An important work of religious polemics was written by the monk Zinovii of Otna, who refuted the heretical and Judaistic doctrines of Kosoi. The title of the work is "Istiny pokazanie" (demonstration of the truth ), and it consists of fifty-six chapters. Of the sixteenth century there are also two small works, written in refutation of Protestantism, which at that time was beginning to spread in Russia. Among the Russian pilgrims who visited the Holy Places and who wrote an account of their travels the most distinguished are Trifon Korobeinikoff and George Grekoff, who went to Jerusalem in 1583.


    The seventeenth century witnessed the Renaissance of Little Russia, which became the instructor of Great Russia. Under Catholic and Polish influence Little Russia drew near to the West, assimilated Western science, and modelled its schools upon those of the Latins. The "Union" of Brest in 1596 gave an efficient impulse to Orthodox culture. Confraternities were established to open schools and printing-offices for the publication and dissemination of polemical works; among them those of Lemberg, Vilna, and Kieff were famous. Scholastic theology and philosophy entered into and dominated the Russian academies and seminaries. Latin became the official language in the teaching of theology. Peter Mogilas, Metropolitan of Kieff, transformed into a superior school of theology the school established by the Confraternity of the Church of the Apparition of the Lord. The works of St. Thomas Aquinas exercised a great influence on Orthodox theology, and in the academy of Kieff the Immaculate Conception was upheld. The literature of the religious polemics against the Latins, to which the Union of Brest gave rise, is very rich. In 1597 was published the "Ekthesis", or Orthodox history of the Union of Brest ; Kristofor Bronski, under the pseudonym of Filalete, wrote the "Apokrisis" against Peter Skarga, and later the "Perestroga" (admonishment). Meletius Smotricki, Archbishop of Polotsk (died 1633), wrote the "Threnos" and other works of religious polemic, and finally embraced Catholicism ; in 1622 Zacharias Kopystenski wrote the "Palinodia", the most important work in this polemical literature. The writings of Meletius Smotricki in defence of Catholicism, which he had on other occasions so strenuously opposed, were confuted by Andrew Muzkilovski, by Job Borecki, Metropolitan of Kieff, and by Gelasius Diplic. Joannikius Galiatovski, rector of the academy of Kieff (died 1688), wrote several works against the Catholics, one of them against the Filioque , confuted the Hebrews in his work "The True Messias ", and also wrote several works in refutation of the Koran. Another polemic against the Latins was Lazarus Baranovitch, Archbishop of Tchernigoff (died 1694); in a work that was directed against the Jesuit Boyme, he opposed the supremacy of the pope and the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Son.

    The first Orthodox catechisms appeared in the seventeenth century, written by Laurence Zizanii and by Peter Mogilas; the latter, in the work Lithos (attributed to him), defends the Orthodox Church against the charge of Protestantism ; he is considered to be the author of the famous Orthodox Confession of the Eastern Church, approved by the special Council of Jassy in 1643. Among the preachers whom the sacred orators of the East sought to imitate, mention may again be made of Joannikius Galiatovski, who wrote a treatise on the art of oratory, entitled "Kliutch razumienia"; Anthony Radivilovski, higumeno of the hermitage of Kieff; and Lazarus Baranovitch. In 1591 there was published at Lemberg the first Slavo-Greek grammar; Lawrence Zizanii wrote a Slav grammar in 1596, and the grammar of Meletius Smotricki was published in 1619. Zizanii added a small Slav dictionary to his grammar, but the first Slavo-Russian lexicon was published by Berynda, hiero-monk of Kieff, in 1627. Western influence is revealed also in the poetry of the academy of Kieff. Besides the sacred cantata, the "Mysteries" were introduced to the schools and colleges ; these "Mysteries" were sacred plays, modelled upon those of the Jesuit colleges. Among the historical works of Little Russia, mention should be made of the "Synopsis" of the history of Russia by Innocent Gizel, Archimandrite of Kieff, the "Enegesis" or history of the school of Kieff, and the"Paterikon" of the Petcherskaia hermitage by Sylvester Kossoff, Metropolitan of Kieff (died 1657).

    From Kieff Western culture was carried to Moscow, to which city masters and learned men of Little Russia were called to organize schools, compose works, and print books; but they did not receive a friendly welcome. Their orthodoxy was suspected; the more so since several of the most illustrious theologians of Kieff admitted with the Latins the dogmatic truth of the Immaculate Conception, and the efficacy of the words of consecration alone to effect Transubstantiation. The suspicion against the purity of their theological teachings became so strong that the Russians turned to the Greeks for masters. In 1685 the Greek school was established at Moscow, and in time took the name of Greco-Slav-Latin Academy. Its first masters were the Greek hieromonks Joannikius and Sophronius Likhudes, who had studied in Italy, and who taught Greek literature at Moscow from 1685 to 1694. They wrote many polemical works against the Latins, against Protestants, and against the theologians of Little Russia who leaned towards the Latins, especially against Sylvester Medviedeff. In ecclesiastical literature the most distinguished authors were Epiphanius Slavinecki, the first of Russian bibliographers; Arsenius Sukhanoff, author of "A Voyage to the Holy Land" ("Proskynitarion"); Simon Polocki (of Polotsk), author of one of the first systematic treatises on Orthodox theology ("Vienec viery"), and also of sermons that are highly prized, of sacred poems, and of sacred plays; St. Demetrius of Rostoff (1651-1709), one of the most illustrious bishops of the Russian Church, a theologian, historian, poet, polemic, and hagiologist. He was the author of two Orthodox catechisms, of a very strong work against the Raskolniki ("Rozysk"), of a diary of his life, the "Tcheti minei" (menologies), a work upon which he spent twenty years; many sacred discourses that are appreciated for the simplicity of their style and for their depth of religious sentiment, and, finally, of several sacred plays, one of the most interesting of which is the "Birthday".

    Epiphanius Slavinecki and an unnamed priest of Orel were also distinguished as sacred orators. The former rendered a great service to Patristic literature by translating into Russian a great many of the writings of the Fathers ( St. Justin, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. Basil, and St. John Damascene ). One of his scholars, Eutimius, wrote a polemical work, called "Osten", against the theories of Sylvester Medviedeff, who sided with the Latins in the question of the Epiklesis. Against the Raskolniki, besides St. Demetrius of Rostoff, there wrote Simeon of Polotsk in 1666 ("Zhely pravlenija"); in 1682 the Patriarch of Moscow, Jacob ("Uviet dukhovnii"); likewise, the Metropolitan of Siberia, Ignatius, and George Krizhanitch. The latter, who was a student of the Greek College of St. Athanasius at Rome (1640), became famous on account of his theories of the cause of the schism between East and West, which he attributed to politics and the antagonism between Greeks and Latins, due to Panslavist ideas and political doctrines. The Learned Sergius Bielokuroff devoted four volumes to the life and works of Krizhanitch. In the seventeenth century there began to be published the first Greco-Latin lexicons, and also the first scientific books, arithmetics and geographies. Historical literature is represented by the chronicle of the Patriarch Nicomachus, which is brought down to 1631; by the chronicle called "Voskresenski", after the monastery where it was written, of which the relation finishes with the year 1560; and by several special chronicles, as the account of the siege of the Shrine of St. Sergius by the Poles in 1610, by Abraham Polycin, and by others of the diak Feodor Griboiedoff, of the deacon Timothy Kamevevitch Rvovski, of Andrew Lyzloff, a priest of Smolensk, and of Sergius Kubasoff.


    Under Peter the Great there began a new period in Russian literature. The foundation of St. Petersburg put Russia in more direct contact with the West. Peter the Great, by violence and absolutism, dragged Russia out of her isolation, and directed her upon a new way. A new and more simple alphabet took the place of the old Slav alphabet, the new characters being adapted from the Latin. The first book that was printed with the new characters is a treatise on geometry (1708). In arithmetical books, Arabic figures were substituted for the Slav letters that represented numerals (1703). Schools of navigation, of military science, and of medicine were established. Peter the Great determined to establish an academy of sciences at St. Petersburg, and Catherine I carried out his project in 1726. Many foreign books were translated into Russian, and the most intelligent students were sent to foreign countries to complete their studies. Russian literature lost its ecclesiastical character and assumed a lay form; and in ecclesiastical literature itself there was effected a transformation towards the modern, due to the reforms of Peter the Great.

    The first period of this new literature begins with Peter the Great, and closes with Lomonosoff and Sumarokoff. In the realm of sacred literature there became famous Stephen Javorski (1658-1723), patriarchal vicar and Metropolitan of Ryazan, and Theophanus Procopovitch, Archbishop of Novgorod. (1681-1736). The former, in his "Kamen viery" (Rock of Faith ), wrote a most learned refutation of Protestantism, taking much from Bellarmine ; the second, who was the author of the "Ecclesiastical Regulations" of Peter the Great, wrote a voluminous course of Orthodox theology in Latin, and acquired fame as a man of letters and orator. In profane literature the influence of the French entirely predominated. There began the period of the new Russian poetry, the rules of which were propounded by Tredianovski (1703-69), who translated into Russian the "Ars Poetica" of Horace, and the work bearing the same title by Boileau. Prince Antiochus Dmitrievitch (1708-44), a Rumanian in the service of Russia, inaugurated the era of classicism in Russian poetry with his satires, which are often servile imitations of Horace, Juvenal, and Boileau. Michael Vasilevitch Lomonosoff (1711-65) deserves to be called the Peter the Great of Russian literature on account of his versatility, of the multiplicity of his works, and of his great literary influence: he wrote a treatise on Russian poetry (1739), on rhetoric (1748), on grammar (1755); he composed an epic poem on Peter the Great, two tragedies (Tamira and Salim, and Damofonte); he translated the Psalms into verse and wrote lyric poems, among which the ode to the Empress Elizabeth has remained famous. Alexander Petrovitch Sumarokoff composed many tragedies, some of them with Russian subjects (Yaropolk and Dimisa, Vysheslaff, Demetrius, Mstislav); he founded the national Russian drama, wrote the comedies "Opekun" (The Tutor), and "Likhoimec" (The Concussionist), composed satires, and in 1759 established the first Russian literary periodical, the "Trudoliubivaia Ptchela" (The Working Bee).

    Among the prose writers, Ivan Pososhkoff (1670-1725), in his "Zavieshanie otetcheskoe" (testament of the Fatherland), shows the necessity of well-ordered reforms in Russia, and in his book on poverty and wealth ("Kniga o skudosti i bogatstvie") he develops in an original way his theories on political and social economy. Basil Nikititch Tatishsheff (1685-1750) gathered the chronicles, the synaxaria , and the historical documents, and subjecting them to critical analysis, wrote the "History of Russia ". The academician Schlötzer spent forty years elucidating the origin and the historical problems of the primitive national chronicles of Russia. In 1728 the Academy of Sciences began the publication of the "S. Petersburgskija Viedomosti", under the direction of the academician Müller, who in 1755 also founded the first scientific-literary periodical, called the "Ezhemiesatchnyja sotchinenia".


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