Proglas 3

64 K O N ‰ T A N T Í N F I L O Z O F We mentioned in the beginning the oldest Romance poem which is certainly not an easy riddle to solve. A free translation would go like this: HE IS DRIVING THE OXEN. HIS PLOUGH IS WHITE. PLOUGHING THE WHITE FIELD, HE SOWS BLACK SEEDS. Initially this little poem, written at the end of 8th or beginning of the 9th century and discovered in 1924 in Verona (that is why it is called Indovinello Veronese – or Veronese riddle), was interpreted as the celebration of the work of the ploughman. The only thing that seemed to contradict this interpretation were the “black seeds”. Four years later literary scholars discovered that the poem hides another meanings as well-it describes the work of the scriptor, or writer-White oxen are the fingers of the writer, the white plough is the quill, the white field is the parchment and black seeds are letters written with black ink. The main “characters” of the oldest Romance poem are letters-just as in the oldest Slavonic and Slovak poem. “As the seed that fell into the soil,so every human heart on earth needs the rain of God’s letters, so that God’s fruit will grow to its fullest.” (Proglas 69 -72) Not for nothing do people say that books have their fates (habent sua fata libelli). The Veronese riddle was discovered 1000 years after it was written and it took almost four years to solve it. Similarly modern science discovered “Proglas” almost 1000 years after its birth, in 1858. Half a century later it was discovered that “Proglas” was not a prosaic text, but poetry! In the Middle Ages it was common to write lines together, and not in separate rows as we do today. To understand “Proglas” fully it is necessary to read it together with ”The Life Of Constantine Cyril“, – the first Slovak and Slavonic prose text. This literary masterpiece was written shortly after Constantine’s - Cyril’s death under the supervision of his brother Methodius, probably by their disciple St Clement of Ochridia. The focal point of this biography is the 14th chapter, where the invention of the Glagolitic script for the Old Slavonic language is described. This was the language that was spoken by Slavs living near Saloniki and it was very close to the language of the Sloviens in Great Moravia. Glagolitic script, or Glagolica (glagolati meant to speak in Old Slavonic), the first Slovak alphabet was invented by Constantine the Philosopher: He first asked the Emperor for permission for this ”invention“ and then asked for God’s assistance. The description of this wonderful scene with Constantine, Methodius, the Emperor and Rastislav’s envoys deserves to be included at the beginning of all textbooks of Slovak and Slavonic literatures. Constantine had then a vision: “Shortly after God, who listens to the prayers of his servants, appeared to him and he put the letters together and started to write the words of the Gospel: ”In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.“ (John 1,1) Emperor Michael III sent to Rastislav other magnificent gifts (among them was probably the pyx of âierne Kºaãany as well), but in an accompanying message he said that the greatest gift, a gift