St. Petersburg, October 6, 2016
Manuscripts of the prominent Greek writer and translator Venerable Maximus the Greek (c. 1475-1556) are being presented at an exhibition at the National Library of Russia for the first time. The exposition which tells about the activities of this great teacher and scholar in Russia is timed to coincide with the opening of the international conference, “The Byzantine Empire— Russia—Balkans: the Crossroads of Cultures,” reported Alexei Alexeyev, head of the Manuscripts Department of the National Library of Russia, to the TASS agency.
“In this cross-cultural year between Russia and Greece St. Maximus the Greek is a living embodiment of the old ties of our countries’ cultures. The mature period of his creative work is connected with Russia, and his contribution to our culture is universally recognized: he translated texts of the Holy Scriptures and he is the author of several hundred writings and translations. His works survive: they are moral-accusatory, didactic, polemical, philosophical and theological treatises—we have his collected works at the Manuscripts Department which he created himself. Although his works can be found in other libraries as well, our collected works of St. Maximus the Greek rank as the most authoritative ones,” A. Alexeyev said.
According to him, unique portraits of St. Maximus the Greek survive too and are presented at the exhibition as well. “One of them which was obviously made during his lifetime and taken from an ancient manuscript depicts St. Maximus in profile with a broad and thick beard.” Later portraits are of the eighteenth century which, in A. Alexeyev’s view, “indicates that he was held in high respect and enjoyed authority in Russia.”
Scholars from Russia, Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland, Germany and Italy are taking part in the international conference which is dedicated to the study of Greek and Slavonic writing traditions. Their reports are devoted to the centuries-old Greek-Slavic cultural relations which are echoed in the literary monuments of various epochs. Matters of national characteristics, influence and continuity of literary and other written traditions of Greece, Russia and other Slavic states will be discussed during the conference. A number of speakers will devote their reports to works related to Athos and Athonite ascetics. There will also be reports from Greek manuscript researchers, many of which will be based on documents from collections of the National Library of Russia.
The conference which is being held already for the eleventh time is also called “Zagrebin Readings” in honor of the Russian paleographer and researcher of the south Slavic writing tradition Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Zagrebin (1942-2004). The conference has grown from a memorial meeting into a meaningful forum of Slavicists which receives guests from Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Poland. “Although we are unable to cover any of their expenses, they annually gather here which is indicative of the respect that our foreign colleagues have for this event,” A. Alexeyev said.