Proglas 3

62 K O N ‰ T A N T Í N 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 socalled 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