Proglas 3

14 K O N ‰ T A N T Í N F I L O Z O F Our poet looked at the Word that was at the beginning of the life of our nation and that was its strength for generations: ”O, Lord preserve the word of our fathers, for that was the manna on which our youth flourished and gave fruit, that was the manna that gave and will give our people power to grow, even when hit by hard times ...“ Look at the ideas that were considered central in the lives of our forefathers. This is a prayer that we can find in ”The Life of Constantine“: ”My Lord and my God you extended the sky and laid the earth, you made everything out of nothing you always hear those that obey your will and your commandments. Hear my prayer ...“ From the beginning our manna in the desert was the word of the Gospels. This word, which later, due to unfavourable circumstances, was not used directly on our territory, was in an astonishing way preserved among the heirs of eastern liturgy, kept alive though the contacts with other Slavonic languages and incorporated in church songs that were sung here for centuries. Literary scholars characterised ”Proglas“, or the Foreword to the Gospels as a universal and ”passionate poetic celebration of Slavonic translation of the Scriptures.“ In ”Proglas“ we can find the essence of Constatnine’s philosophy. In his view man as a intelligent creature is able to understand the Word. It nourishes his soul, it is the source of his strength, as God is the basis, and the source of everyone’s existence. Man must gain knowledge of the “letters”, of the script, in order to find his way to the “Law of God”, to spiritual life. Critics dubbed ”Proglas” a ”unique piece of poetry, a fervent praise of the Word, written with an exquisite sense for the beauty of the word and a gift to explain the truth and mysteries through metaphors and images.“ A connoisseur of Old Slavonic and other literatures of that time, wrote that such an invocation to a nation to cherish books written in its own language is absolutely unique. ”Proglas“ demonstrates the high level that Old Slavonic reached in the field of poetry from its beginnings. This all in age when most of the other nations in Europe could boast no artistically demanding poetry forms written in their national languages. Today it is necessary to underline that inventing the Old Slavonic script was not only a cultural milestone. It was also a spiritual and a truly Christian act. The first books that were translated into Old Slavonic were the Holy Scriptures and liturgical books. Other books, dealing for example with law and other topics, were written only later. And the first work of art, the wonderful poem ”Proglas“, was again directly connected with faith. The foremost task of the new script was to serve the faith and Christian life. This is what Emperor Michael said to prince Rastislav in ”The life of Constantine“: