Muscovite Period of Old Russian Literature

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The Muscovite period of Old Russian literature begins with the rise of Moscow as a new center of power in the 15th century and ends with the opening of the country to the west by Peter the Great at the turn of the 17th century to the 18th century .

The literature of this time, most of which was written by learned monks , serves primarily to legitimize and glorify the growing power of state and church, and to underpin the theory of Moscow as the "third Rome" after the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 .

Thus literary tendencies can be identified in the Moscovite state, as they were typical for the Byzantium of the 10th century under Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogennetus . This includes, on the one hand, the overgrowth of the biographical content of the lives of saints and princes through pathetic rhetoric, and on the other hand, an encyclopedic collective work , as its results u a. comprehensive historical or moral theological compilations emerged.

The lives of saints and princes

Due to the increasing contacts with Byzantium and the Balkans after the end of the Tatar yoke , new literary influences could increasingly penetrate into Russia. Russian monks who visited the Studion Monastery in Constantinople or the monasteries on Mount Athos to study , but even more South Slavic hagiographers who emigrated north, brought a completely new style to Russian hagiography . Among the most important representatives of this flowery style of the Byzantine hagiographers Symeon Metaphrastes back in the 14th century by representatives of a hesychastic as flow Gregorios Palmas was revived, resources include from the Bulgarian Tarnovo originating Gregory Tsamblak or his older friend and relative Kiprian . In 1390, as Metropolitan of Moscow, the latter completely rewrote the life of Petros, the first Metropolitan of Moscow, and thus gave the signal for a stylistic reworking of all hagiographic literature.

The rampant use of elaborate rhetorical figures, behind which the biographical factual material fades into the background, is characteristic of this new style, which is also known as "verbose" (slovopletenie). It is no longer a matter of a simple description of his life, as in the Premoscovite period of Old Russian literature , but of the glorification of the heroes of the Vitus. This is where the introduction and concluding praise begin to play an increasingly important role. In the introduction, the writer often actually begins with Adam and Eve in order to explain the direct descent of his hero from important saints or rulers. In praise, the description of the heroic or miraculous deeds and the miracles that occurred after the death of the person described emphasizes his holiness again.

It is also completely new that the hagiograph is now stepping out of anonymity for the first time . It is now customary among writers to incorporate comments on their own biography or their own philosophical considerations into their vitae. This practice can be found for the first time at Kiprian and is particularly cultivated by the Pachomi Serb (Logofet), who immigrated from Serbia .

The heroes of the Viten are mostly not already canonized saints, but men who have performed great services for the state or the church and whose sanctification can help to further consolidate the closely interwoven power of state and church. So it is no wonder that the line between the life of princes and the life of saints is blurred and that the "writing of history" is also covered by the new style of homage. A typical example of this clericalization of the prince's biographies, which began as early as the Tatar period, is the life and death of Grand Duke Dimitrij Ivanovich , the Russian tsar , whose authorship has not been clearly established.

The heroes of the vites from the ecclesiastical sphere are not infrequently themselves hagiographers, whose lives are honored by their own students. For example, Jepifani Premudry praised his two teachers in the Vita of Stephen of Perm and the Vita of Sergius of Radonezh .

Encyclopedic Endeavors in the 16th Century

The self-portrayal of the Moscovite rule as the splendid end point of the historical development also wanted the most important literary evidence to be combined into comprehensive compilations in various areas , especially under the rule of Ivan IV . Metropolitan Makarij was the driving force behind many of these ventures . He was the initiator of the great reading menus , which assembled a wide variety of church texts , the Stoglav Moral Code and the Book of Levels - a collection of rulers' vites. He probably also had an influence on the compilation of the Azbukovnik , an encyclopedia that gathered the knowledge of the time against the background of the Muscovite-autocratic ideology, as well as the Domostroj , a guide to housekeeping based on the system of governance.

A series of historical compilations should show the story as a logical development from creation to the Moscovite Empire as the completion and climax. These include the Resurrection Code , which ended in 1541 , the Nikon Code (completed in 1558 ) and the Lvovskij Codex (completed in 1560 ). The last two formed the basis for the Illustrated Chronicle requested by Ivan IV , which also contained the Bible, translated Byzantine chronicles, the Old Russian Chronicle , the Alexander Roman and the description of the Trojan War .

The above-mentioned step book and the continuation of the chronograph created by Pachomij Logofet in 1442 also belong to the major historical works .

see also: Grand Duchy of Moscow