Friday, August 23, 2013

Nestor the Chronicler

Saint Nestor the Chronicler (c. 1056 - c. 1114, in Kiev) was the reputed author of the Primary Chronicle, (the earliest East Slavic chronicle), Life of the Venerable Theodosius of the Kiev Caves, Life of the Holy Passion Bearers, Boris and Gleb, and of the so-called Reading.

Nestor was a monk of the Monastery of the Caves in Kiev from 1073. The only other detail of his life that is reliably known is that he was commissioned with two other monks to find the relics of St. Theodosius of Kiev, a mission which he succeeded in fulfilling. It is also speculated that he supported the reigning prince Svyatopolk II and his pro-Scandinavian party and disliked Greek influence in Kiev.

His chronicle begins with the Deluge, as those of most Christian chroniclers of the time did. The compiler appears to have been acquainted with the Byzantine historians; he makes use especially of John Malalas and George Hamartolus. He also had in all probability other Slavonic language chronicles to compile from, which have since been lost.  Many legends are mixed up with Nestor's Chronicle; the style is occasionally so poetical that perhaps he incorporated bylinas which are now lost.

As an eyewitness he could describe only the reigns of Vsevolod I and Svyatopolk II (1078-1112), but he could have gathered many interesting details from the lips of old men, two of whom could have been Giurata Rogovich of Novgorod, who could give him information concerning the north of Rus', Pechora River, and other places, and Yan Vyshatich, a nobleman ninety years of age, who died in 1106. Many of the ethnological details given by Nestor of the various tribes of the Slavs are of the highest value.

Nestor the Chronicler

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