Proglas - Herba - page 49

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T A N T Í
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F
I
L O Z O F
T H E O N E WHO A LWAY S L O V E D W I S DOM
Constantine the Philosopher (827
869), (who was in central Europe better known under the
name of St Cyril) is the author of the first Slovak, and Slavic poem ever. The poem was named after
its first word ”Proglas“ which means foreword: ”To the holy Scriptures I am the Foreword“.
Constantine was born in Saloniki in Greece in 827, the youngest of seven children. He came
with his brother Methodius to the land of the forefathers of present-day Slovaks in 863 after
Prince Rastislav asked the Byzantine Emperor Michael III to send him a teacher who could spread
Christianity and educate the people of Great Moravia in a language they would understand.
The language was an insurmountable obstacle for the priests coming from the Frankish Empire
who were called Nemci by our forefathers because although these people spoke to them,
they were in effect nemí - mute, as Slavonic people could not understand them.
Sometime between the years 863 and 867 after finishing the translation of the Gospels and before
leaving for Rome, Constantine created a real masterpiece of poetry equalled by none of the works
of contemporary European writing . It especially stands out when compared with works written
in national languages as opposed to Latin. It is true that the oldest Romance rhymed riddle, known
as Indovinello Veronese, was written half a century before ”Proglas“ but it consists of only four
rhymed lines. ”Proglas“, on the other hand, consists of 110 unrhymed lines. Most of them are
twelve syllables long and usually there is a
caesura
after the
fifth
, or
seventh
syllable. These
characteristics of the original text have been preserved in the translation into modern Slovak,
on which the translation into English is based. Verses in ”Proglas“ imitate so-called iambic
trimeter which was the verse of Greek drama.
Oedipus Rex
by Sophocles was also written
in this form. That is why this verse is called
”dramatic“
verse.
The last line of ”Proglas“ consists of one word only: ”AMEN“, meaning ”So be it.“ It remains
to be added that the mysterious fifth line
...”THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED IN OUR SEVENTH
MILLENNIUM “- holds the key to the dating of the translation of the Gospels and to the creation
of the poem itself. According to Byzantine dating Christ was born 5,508 years after the Creation,
and if we add to it 863 years, (the year SS Cyril and Methodius came to Great Moravia)
we get 6,371 years, or the seventh millennium.
Constantine the Philosopher was a great connoisseur of old and new Greek poetry, familiar with
Homer, Gregory of Nazianus and many other poets. He was one of the greatest scholars in the
whole of the east Roman Empire. He studied and later taught at the oldest University of the world,
founded in 425 by the emperor Theodosius II in Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) .
When he was sixteen he defeated in a dispute the old iconoclastic patriarch Jannes
(John VII
Grammaticus)
, who claimed that pictures of God and the Saints were not to be worshipped.
It was not by accident that Constantine was even at such an early age called the Philosopher.
”Filo sofia“ in Greek means ”love of wisdom.“ The philosopher is, then, someone who loves
wisdom. And Constantine had become enchanted by wisdom long before this dispute.
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