Anthology of Old Russian Literature

By Adolf Stender-Petersen | Go to book overview

RHETORIC AND LYRICISM
Old Russian literature in its earliest period developed a characteristic lyrical style which was applied mainly to religious themes and to forms of religious self-expression. The source of this lyrical style is undoubtedly to be found in classical Byzantine rhetoric. The literature soon fell under the influence of Russian folk poetry, proverbs, lamentations, etc. Religious lyricism in Old Russian literature, however, never transgressed the borders of scholastic symbolism and allegorical interpretation of life and nature. Only when employd for secular purposes did it approach poetry.The different forms of Old Russian rhetoric and lyricism are here represented by the following texts:
The Sermon on Law and Grace by Metropolitan Hilarion
Two sermons by Cyril of Turov
Three prayers by Cyril of Turov
The Canon of Supplication by Cyril of Turov
The Sermon on the Merciless Heathens by Serapion of Vladimir
The Lament of Daniel the Exile.

METROPOLITAN HILARION'S
SERMON ON LAW AND GRACE

The theme of this sermon is the antithesis between Judaism and Christianity, represented, respectively, by Hagar, the bondwoman, and her thrallborn son, Ishmael; and by Sarah, the free wife of Abraham, and her freeborn son, Isaac. Hilarion attributes the victory of Christianity in Russia to Prince Vladimir, the grandson of old Prince Igor and son of Prince Sv'atoslav. The sermon was first delivered in the presence of Prince Vladimir's son, Prince Jaroslav of Kiev ( 1015-54), whose Christian name was George, his wife Princess Irina, and other members of the family. At the time, the author was still presbyter of Prince Jaroslav's private church at Berestovo, but he was later ( 1051) appointed Metropolitan of Kiev. The sermon tends to glorify Prince Vladimir, whom the Byzantine hierarchy did not officially accept as a saint of the Russian Church.

The text is reprinted in excerpts from A.V. Gorskij,

I ( Moscow, 1844).

-109-

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Anthology of Old Russian Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introductton v
  • Contents xix
  • Abbreviations xxii
  • Old Kievan Literature 1
  • Annalistic Literature 3
  • Hagiography 34
  • Rhetoric and Lyricism 109
  • Heroic and Epic Literature 153
  • Old Muscovite Literature 187
  • Hagiography 189
  • Historiography 239
  • New Muscovite Literature 315
  • Historiography 317
  • Hagiography 380
  • Fiction 425
  • Glossary 471
  • Index of Authors and Titles 505
  • Index of Names 511
  • Genealogical Tables 529
  • Errata 541
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