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Petro Kraliuk: «Will Ukraine celebrate the 1150th anniversary of Slavic script?»

January 09, 2013

In 2013, it will be 1150 years from the time when Cyril Constantine created the Slavic script. However, it seems that neither our statesmen, nor workers in culture are aware of that. Or do not want to be? That is a pity.
This event was directly related to Ukrainian lands. Moreover, Ukrainians made a great contribution to the development of the Old Slavic script. Furthermore, the first printed Bible in this language was published exactly in Ukraine. I mean Ostroh Bible. The first printed grammar of the Old Slavic language was made here by Meletii Smotrytskyi.

The Slavs’ Apostle
Let us look back on Cyril Constantine and his work.
It is known from the hagiological literature that he was from the town Solun (modern Thessaloniki) situated on the border between the Slavic and the Greek worlds. Therefore, brothers Cyril Constantine and Methoduis were born in a mixed family. In his young days, Constantine went to the capital of Byzantium, Constantinople, and got an excellent education there. Constantine’s mentors were prominent thinkers Lev Mathematician and Photios. The latter eventually became the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Constantine, while accomplishing diplomatic tasks, visited Syria and Khazaria, and also modern Ukrainian lands, took part in religious disputes aimed at converting heathens into Christianity.

Approximately in 860, Constantine visited Chersonese. According to the so-called Pannon legend, in Chersonese he «found the Gospel and the Psalter written in the Rus (Old Ukrainian) language, and also a man who spoke with him in that language». It should be mentioned that in those old times Ukrainian lands were called Rus.

That is why the evidence about the Gospel and the Psalter, «written in the Rus language»,was vaguely interpreted. Maybe, the «Chersonese episode» inspired Constantine to create a standardized script for Slavs. Constantine’s activities on Ukrainian lands preceded his Moravia mission. It began in 862.

He came to Moravia with his elder brother Methoduis. According to the hagiological literature, Constantine created a Slavic alphabet for Moravians in 863. After that, he and his brother Methoduis translated the Gospel and the Apostle (Acts and Epistle of Saint Apostles), Psalter and other liturgical books into Old Slavic language, which allowed liturgy reciting.

The significance of the mission of brothers from Solun for Ukraine

All in all, the brothers from Solun made an important contribution to the standardisation of the Old Slavic written language.
In spite of the fact that cultural activities of the brothers were outside Ukrainian lands, their impact was felt here as well. Eventually, the Old Slavic written language was established here and stimulated the publishing of many books, which were translated into this language.

The mission of the brothers from Solun had a great significance for the whole Slavic world, for Ukraine-Rus in particular. 1150 years ago, Slavic peoples got the script which allowed creating their own literature, philosophy, law etc. that played a crucial role in the process of formation of statehood. Our ancestors, using this language and adapting it to their needs, managed to create the unique Ukrainian civilization. Unfortunately, we have not estimated completely the significance of Constantine and Methoduis’ contribution till now. Therefore, the jubilee of the Slavic script would be a good occasion for everyone to think about it.

Tags: Kraliuk