Medieval Russian Saints and Death
Keywords:old Russian hagiography; Last Judgment; salvation of the soul; theme of death; the Reverend
In recent decades, Russian scholars have focused on thanatological motifs in literature which have already borne fruitful results in the foreign academic tradition. However, the works of medieval Russian literature have not yet been considered from such a position. This article analyses the Lives of Feodosii Pechersky and Avraamii Smolensky, revealing ideas about the end of earthly life and the transition to the afterlife. The author analyses narratives about the last days of the monks, direct statements of the saints and hagiographers about these phenomena, and other subjects related to this issue. The author compares the thanatological motifs in the Life of Theodosius and in Greek hagiography (the Life of Sabbas the Sanctified, Life of Euthymius the Great, Life of St Anthony the Great), which a medieval Russian writer could rely on. It is established that the outline of events in Byzantine hagiography is in many cases similar to the corresponding texts of the Life of Feodosii. However, it is only in Nestor’s work that we find a reflection on the end of earthly life and the fate of the soul after death. There is no such reflection in the story of the repose of Feodosii in The Tale of Bygone Years. In the Life of Avraamii Smolensky, thanatological subjects take up a lot of space because they were central to Avraamii’s preaching. As a result of the study of this hagiography, it can be concluded that the two highly educated and talented old Russian hagiographers Nestor and Efrem reflected the mystical aspirations of the time and portrayed for their descendants the ideas of the intellectual elite about the mystery of the human soul’s transition from earthly life to another world and the expectations of the Second Coming.
Abramovich, D. I. (1902). Issledovanie o Kievo-Pecherskom paterike kak istorikoliteraturnom pamyatnike [A Study of the Kyivan Cave Patericon as a Historical and Literary Work]. St Petersburg, Otdelenie russkogo yazyka i slovesnosti Imperatorskoi Akademii nauk. 213 p.
Abramovich, D. I. (Ed.). (1911). Paterik Kievskogo Pecherskogo monastyrya [The Patericon of the Kyivan Cave Monastery]. St Petersburg, Tipografiya M. A. Aleksandrova. 275 p.
Artamonov, Yu. A. (2003). Zhitie Feodosiya Pecherskogo: problemy istochnikovedeniya [The Life of Feodosii Pechersky: Issues of Source Studies]. In Drevneishie gosudarstva Vostochnoi Evropy: 2000 god. Problemy istochnikovedeniya. Moscow, Vostochnaya literatura. 446 p.
Biblioteka literatury Drevnei Rusi [Library of Medieval Russian Literature]. (1997). St Petersburg, Nauka. Vol. 1. 544 p.
Bugoslavskii, S. A. (1914). K voprosu o kharaktere i ob”eme literaturnoi deyatel’nosti prepodobnogo Nestora [On the Nature and Scope of the Literary Activity of the Reverend Nestor]. In IORYaS [Proceedings of the Department of Russian Language and Literature of the Imperial Academy of Sciences]. Section 2. Vol. 19. Book 3, pp. 153–191.
Knyazevskaya, O. A., Dem’yanov, V. G., Lyapon M. V., Kotkov, S. I. (Eds.). (1971). Uspenskii sbornik XII–XIII vv. [The Uspensky Collection of the 12th–13th Centuries]. Moscow, Nauka. 770 p.
Konyavskaya, E. L. (2002). Kakuyu letopis’ pisal Nestor? [What Chronicle Did Nestor Write?]. In Rodina. No. 11–12, pp. 89–91.
Konyavskaya, E. L. (2004). Problema obshchikh mest v drevneslavyanskikh literaturakh (na materiale agiografii) [The Problem of Common Places in Old Slavic Literatures (with Reference to Hagiographic Material)]. In Ruthenica. Vol. 4, pp. 80–92.
Konyavskaya, E. L. (2006). Drevneishie redaktsii Kievo-Pecherskogo paterika [The Oldest Edition of the Kyivan Cave Patericon]. In Drevnyaya Rus’. Voprosy medievistiki. No. 1 (23), pp. 32–45.
Loparev, Kh. M. (1914). Grecheskie zhitiya svyatykh VIII i IX vekov. Opyt nauchnoi klassifikatsii pamyatnikov agiografii [The Greek Lives of Saints of the 8th and 9th Centuries. An Attempt at an Academic Classification of Hagiographic Works]. Petrograd, Tipografiya Imperatorskoi Akademii nauk. Part 1. 568 p.
Ranchin, A. M. (1999). Zhitie Feodosiya Pecherskogo: traditsionnost’ i original’nost’ poetiki [The Life of Feodosii Pechersky: Traditional and Original Poetics]. In Ranchin, A. M. Stat’i o drevnerusskoi literature. Moscow, Dialog – MGU, pp. 83–104.
Rozanov, S. P. (1912). Zhitiya prepodobnogo Avraamiya Smolenskogo i sluzhby emu [The Life of Avraamii Smolensky and Offices to Him]. St Petersburg, Otdelenie russkogo yazyka i slovesnosti Imperatorskoi Akademii nauk. 166 p.
Shakhmatov, A. A. (1896). Neskol’ko slov o Nestorovom Zhitii Feodosiya [A Few Words about Nestor’s Life of Feodosii]. In IORYaS [Proceedings of the Department of Russian Language and Literature of the Imperial Academy of Sciences]. Vol. 1. Book 1, pp. 46–65.
Shakhmatov, A. A. (2003). Kievo-Pecherskii paterik i Pecherskaya letopis’ [The Kyivan Cave Patericon and The Chronicle of the Holy Dormition Kiev-Pechersk Lavra]. In Shakhmatov, A. A. Istoriya russkogo letopisaniya. St Petersburg, Nauka. Vol. 1. Book 2, pp. 75–102.