DAREJAN L. MENABDE                                                                                                                                                       # 10



The Story of Dinara is one of the oldest specimens of Russian literature, which, according to the widely held view, is based on Georgian historical material. It was composed in Moscow, at the turn of the 15th-16th cc. At present, more than 80 manuscripts of the work are known, the oldest of which belongs to 1564-1565.

The author of the composition is unknown. Presumably, he must have been from the circle of well-educated diplomats from Moscow who struggled for the consolidation of the autocratic state of Russia and asserted the divine origin of the king of Moscow. The Georgian translation of the work was published in the collection “Russian Writers about Georgia” compiled by V.Shaduri (translated by B.Baratashvili). As V.Shaduri supposed, The Story of Dinara must have become known in Georgia from the 16th c. It enjoyed wide popularity both in Russia and Georgia. As is known, Ivan the Terrible before the seizure of Kazan (1552) encouraged his army by the examples of Dinara’s battles. The story is entered in The History of the Kazan Kingdom (1564-1565), Chronograph and other collections of the 16th-17th cc. In the work the ideology of the centralized state is stressed – the author appears as a supporter and apologist of the “Moscow ideology”. The story reflects not only the events from the past of Georgia, but also the spirit of a certain period of Russia, thus being a historical and political work.

The majority of the scholars interested in this issue (M.Brosset, I.Snegirev, A.Sobolevski, M.Speranski, I.Tsintsadze, T.Rukhadze, T.Buachidze, etc.) studied the composition for the purpose of historiography or in the context of the Russian-Georgian literary contacts, tried to establish the interrelation of Dinara-Tamar and the coincidence of separate sections of the text with the historical events in Georgia. As a matter of fact, researchers did not study specially the religious content of the work, the author’s ideology and world view in this regard and the valuable material provided by The Story of Dinara concerning Georgia as the country fallen by lot to the Mother of God. Some scholars paid attention to the religious content (ecclesiastical aspect) of the legend on Dinara (A.Sobolevski, A.Zimin, and others) and regarded it to be a work translated from Greek, but this view is not generally accepted.

The main idea of the composition is that Iveria (Georgia) is the country fallen by lot to the Mother of God and She will protect it from any danger. Exactly the power of the Most Holy Theotokos saved newly enthroned, 15-year-old virgin Queen Dinara (“wise and brave” daughter of King Aleksandre of Iveria) and her country from the devastating campaign of Persian King Melekh (Adramelekh). Dinara was firmly convinced that by the intercession and aid of the Mother of God she would defeat numerous enemies. After this, the King of Persia set out against Iveria with innumerable troops. Frightened boyars (noblemen) refused to fight. Queen Dinara addressed with encouraging words first the boyars and then the army, and convinced them that in the fair battle the Mother of God would protect them, for She would not abandon the country “fallen by lot” to Her. Then Dinara went to the Shabreni Monastery “to pray to the Most Holy Theotokos to assist them in the fight against the enemy” (The Story of Dinara 1949: 9). After the prayer the queen engaged in the battle. The Iverians won a brilliant victory, beheaded Adramelekh, took countless riches and imposed tribute on the Persians. “Dinara returned to her country with a glorious victory thanks to the aid of the All-Immaculate and Most Holy Mother of God” (ibid: 10) (the author regards Dinara as a saint. It is significant that an icon and iconographic monuments of St. Dinara are found in Russia).

M.Brosset was the first to advance a hypothesis in 1853 that Dinara is Queen Tamar. Although in the story Dinara is mentioned instead of Tamar, and Aleksandre instead of Tamar’s father Giorgi, it is difficult to establish the identity of “Adramalekh”, the origin of “the Shabreni Monastery”, etc. From the time of M.Brosset, many scholars shared the view that the story alluded to Queen Tamar and her period. Kirion Sadzaglishvili expressed a different opinion, according to which, the main character of the story is Queen Dinara of Hereti, living in the 10th c. In order to elucidate the question, I.Tsintsadze specially compared the text of the story with the works of Tamar’s historians and offered many noteworthy views. Scholar T.Buachidze devoted a quite extensive study to the given question. In his view, The Story of Dinara is not based on the existing Georgian historical chronicles about Queen Tamar, and identification of Dinara with Tamar is impossible. According to his hypothesis, “in Byzantium or the Kingdom of Trebizond, probably in the 13th c., a poetic work was composed about Queen Dinara of Iveria, in which some facts from the life of Queen Tamar might have been reflected as well”( Buachidze 1970: 275).

The Story of Dinara is interesting for the study of the history of the Georgian Church as well – as was noted above, it contains significant information concerning Georgia as the country fallen by lot to the Mother of God. According to the work, Georgia is “the lot of the All-Immaculate and Most Holy Mother of God” (The Story of Dinara 1949: 10), therefore, Dinara believes: “The Most Holy Mother of God will grant me a victory” (ibid: 10). “Will not God and the Most Holy Theotokos assist us?” (ibid: 10) The enemies “will not conquer the country of the Most Holy and All-Immaculate Mother of God, She will assist us and give us courage to defend the country fallen by lot to Her”, “the Most Holy Mother of God will give us power to defeat the enemy”, “by the aid of the Most Holy Theotokos we shall not let the enemy enter our country”, etc (ibid: 10).

The Story of Dinara is a noteworthy source for the study of the question of Georgia’s being fallen by lot to the Mother of God. Along with this, it should also be noted that this is a difficult, multifaceted problem, calling for further research. The interest of Byzantinists in the given question is also desirable.



1.                               Buachidze 1970: Buachidze, T. Literary letters, II Tbilisi, 1970

2.                               The Story of Dinara 1949: The Story of Dinara. Russian writers about Georgia. Compiled by Shaduri, I. Tbilisi 1949



Volume 1, issue 1


Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature

Georgian Electronic Journal of Literature