KETEVAN BEZARASHVILI                                                                                                                                                    # 3




The development of the peculiarities of Hellenophilism in Georgian literature is studied as one of the main reasons of development of Georgian secular literature. These peculiarities consist of some aspects of interrelation of faith and reason. These are: dual attitude to rhetoric and philosophy (accepting and rejecting Classical wisdom), the new interpretation of the concepts of "philosophy", "hellenism", the paradigm of "fishers" and "Aristotelian" widespread in the Middle Ages, the paradigm of dual logos, the new interpretation of the levels of style, and the dual aspects of the concept of mimesis, the problem of the level of readers and listeners, the idea of sacred features of rhetoric and poetry etc.

These features characteristic of Georgian Hellenophile literature determined the further development of the cultural orientation of Georgians. The way from plainness to high elevated Hellenophile style, from monastic theology to scholastic method of dogmatic theology (well known from the works of Ioane Petritsi) determined the high level and outlook of Georgian secular literature of the 12th-13th centuries. Because of the limited volume of the present publication only some above mentioned paradigms will be discussed below in order to show the way of development of Georgian secular literature.

a) The dual attitude towards rhetoric and philosophy was also reflected in secular literature. E.g., it is said in poetry of this period that the classical scholarship and rhetoric (the astrologs, Homer, Plato etc.) cannot praise Queen Thamar (Shavteli, v. 2, 4; Chakhrukhadze, v. 1, 4). On the other hand, the rhetoricians and wise men are mentioned together and rhetoric is considered to be necessary mean for expressing divine wisdom (Shavteli, vv. 4, 4; 8, 1; 59, 4; Chakhrukadze, v. 94, 26).

The concepts and terms of the group "philosophy" are used in their new meaning in the secular literature as well as in translated literature. E.g., the theologians are also mentioned as philosophers ("the philosophers mention the time to be created" Chakhrukhadze, v. 101, 3). Rustaveli also uses the term "philosopher" for denoting the theologian ("the previous philosophers mentioned you as the image of God" _ Rust. v. 837; "what is the wisdom of philosophers if I will not realize it?" - v. 790). The wisdom of philosophers may be used here in its dual sense _ divine and secular, for it expressed both these meanings in the Middle Ages. cf. Jac. 2, 26; I Cor. 13, 2).

b) The necessity of "outer wisdom" along with divine one becomes actual in the writings of this period. E.g., Gregory of Nyssa is mentioned as the owner of both of these wisdoms in the iambic verse of anonymous writer of Gelati school: "He is a priest like Christ, and Attician like Socrates" (cod. Tbilis. A 109, s. XII-XIII, f. 116r; A 85, s. XIII, 210r). In the "History and Eulogy of Monarchs" Ioane Shavteli is characterized as "a philosopher and rhetorician, a poet". "Attic and Patristic" contemplation are mentioned together expressing dual wisdom (pagan and Christian) in Shavtheli's poetry (v. 53, 1). Rustaveli's hero Avtandil is also skilled in double wisdom. He defends his opinions according to classical and Christian wisdom: "I'll say Platonic teaching"; "Have you read the explanation of Love by Apostles?"

Georgian writers (historians, eulogists) of this period were well aware in Hellenic literature. They mentioned the mythological names, the names of Greek philosophers etc. (T. Kaukhchishvili, T. Otkhmezuri). All this created a new outlook and made a sound ground for development of secular literature.

Hellenophile language and terminology had its influence on further original literature (Petre Gelateli, Iezekieli, Arsen Bulmaisimisdze, Nikoloz Gulaberisdze). The language of Ioane Petritsi was reflected in Rustaveli's poem, in Chakhrukhadze's "Tamariani", Shavteli's "Adulmesiani", in the "History and Eulogy of the Monarchs", also in the History of David the Builder (E. Chelidze, D. Melikishvili).

c) Hellas and  Athens as symbols of secular wisdom also became widespread under the influence of translated literature.  E.g., In Georgian sources the high school of the 12th century in Gelati is called "second Jerusalem and another Athens".  Here the coexistence of theological and secular teaching is made explicit  ("History of King David the Builder"). Gelati is also called "Hellas": "Gelati - Hellados" (Ioane Shavtheli, v. 105, 4). The wise man from Athens praise" Queen Tamar in secular poetry (Shavtheli, v. 2, 1; Rustaveli, v. 694, 4), etc.

 d) Georgian secular literature was an expression of the so-called Aristotelian, i.e. Attician, Hellenic, style in its form and contents. The evangelic plainness was not the object of mimesis in this period. The iambic philosophical poetry was widespread. It showed the literary taste and demands of the epoch expressing the ideas of Christian theology in its contents and the laconism of Greek philosophy in its form. Hellenization of language, high rhetorical style were imitated. The iambic versification as a laconic form rendered from Byzantine verse and aimed for enlightened rare readers differed from natural language of liturgical poetry that was aimed for common ecclesiastical purposes. The linguistic calques  used in iambic verses reflected Greek philosophical language and metaphorical style. It is noteworthy that the theoretical review of classical versification spread in this period was a result of Greek education, knowledge of hermeneutic grammar and Byzantine rhetorical theories in Georgian Hellenophile tradition (K. Bezarashvili).

The language, style and literary form of this kind was in fashion at that period and widespread in original literature, too. The iambic verses of this kind were used for expressing the personal religious feelings and opinions, prayers and dedications by Demetre, Thamar, anonyms, Arsen of Iqalto, Iezekieli, Petre Gelateli, Ioane Petritsi (the 12th-13th centuries) etc.

The high rhetorical-philosophical style reached its extreme forms in the writings of Eulogists, where the esthetics of obscurity was worked out. The beauty and musical features of panegyric is expressed by using extra-ordinal means: desemantization of words, making anti-language (using obscure expressions). The structure of the verse is based on omonymic rhytms which express the antithesis of word and silence, contents and anti-contents, definition and non-definition by means of Neo-Platonic and Areopagetic style (T. Lomidze).  On the other hand, the informational obscurity is the reason of esthetic category of beauty and high style through frequent use of metabole as a rhetorical figure being an opposition of linguistic norms. This is explained as realization of the inner nature and abilities of language (T. Bokvadze).

It is noteworthy that with these features the Georgian eulogies are closer to Hellenophile literary traditions where (especially in Ioane Petristsi's language) the rare and archaic or dialectic means of word-building hidden in language are frequently used for making scholarly meta-language in order to form the terms adequate to Greek (D. Melikishvili). The frequent use of rhetorical devices is also characteristic of Hellenophile literature (K. Bezarashvili). The writings of eulogists continue the traditions of Hellenipiles according to world outlook, too, using classical philosophy, rhetoric and its theory that was a subject of general education at that period. Using rare words and enigms as well as stylistic and contextual obscurity was a basis for making beauty according to Aristotle and his Neo-Platonic commentators.

Thus, Hellenophile orientation was transferred from translated literature into original literature. Hellenophile cultural orientation and positive attitude towards outer wisdom, i.e. towards literary-philosophical form, was a sound reason for development of Georgian  secular literature.



Volume 1, Issue 1


Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature

Georgian Electronic Journal of Literature