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Georgian Literature

The Man in the Panther's Skin
by Shot'ha Rust'haveli translated by Marjory Scott Wardrop.

the 'Man in the Panther Skin' (also known as 'the Knight in the Panther Skin') is a 12th century medieval epic poem. It is considered one of the masterpieces of Georgian literature, and has been called the Georgian national epic. The author, Prince Shota Rustaveli, was a noble in the court of Queen Tamar, and served as her treasurer. He was also a painter who created frescoes in the Georgian monastery of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. We do not know specific birth and death dates for Rustaveli. The poem was first printed in 1712 in Tblisi. This translation is, thankfully, into clearly written prose, unlike some of the awful 19th century attempts to versify translated poetry. Wardrop's translation, which she modestly called an attempt, makes enjoyable reading. Buy from Amazon or read online.

Anthology of Georgian Poetry
by M Kveselava

Below is an extract from " On the Going of Avt'andil to Pridon's when he met him at Mulghazanzar"

"O moon, I faint for weariness;
see how I sicken, pity me.
The sun fills and empties too, 
but now I shrink and wane like thee"

Georgia: In the Mountains of Poetry
Peter Nasmyth 

A Psychological geography that takes a literary path into the fascinating national character of Georgia. It covers and eleven year period in the momentous change in this central Caucasian nation. It also provides a historical investigation into the emotions and culture driving these changes.

The Literature of Georgia by Donald Rayfield

Across the ages Georgia has joined the great civilizations of north and south as much as east and west. Despite prolonged subjection to Byzantine, Iranian and Russian overlords for more than fifteen hundred years, its literary language has evolved to produce a broad corpus of literature that has given rise to such extraordinary works as Knight in the Panther's Skin (above) to poets of genius and originality as the anonymous hymnographers of Byzantine times or, in modern times, the great nineteenth century man of letters Ilia Chavchavadze and major twentieth century poets such as Vazha Pshavela and Galaktion Tabidze.

Jason and the Golden Fleece

In Greek mythology, the land of Colchis in Western Georgia bordering the Black Sea, was a fabulously wealthy land situated on the mysterious periphery of the heroic world. Here in the sacred grove of the war god Ares, King Aeetes hung the Golden Fleece guarded by a fire breathing Dragon until it was seized by Jason and the Argonauts. Colchis was also the land and where the mythological Prometheus was punished by being chained to a mountain while an eagle ate at his liver for revealing to humanity the secret of fire.

Read an excellent version of the 
story by Mel Harris in Ariel 8

Why a Golden fleece? Fleeces are connected with magic in many folk traditions. One theory on the origin is based on fact.A sheepskin was used by "Placer" miners in ancient Georgia to filter tiny gold flakes out of streams. For the ancient Etruscans a gold coloured fleece was a prophecy of future prosperity for the clan.

The Land of Medialand of Medicine
The story of the Golden Fleece includes the tale of Medea, a devotee of the goddess Hecate, and a renowned sorceress in the 7th century BC. Medea was the daughter of King Aeetes of Colchis the keeper the golden fleece. Medea fell in love with Jason and used her magic to help him complete the tasks set by the King. In return, Jason married her and Medea bore Jason two children. Jason meanwhile fell in love with the daughter of Creon, the king of Corinth. Medea, overtaken by jealousy, took revenge by killing Jason's children, and poisoning the robe and crown of Jason's lover. Thus, Creon's daughter perished in agony, in her father's arms. 
This gruesome part of the tale has inspired many artists and writers. The famous poster by Alphons Mucha shows Sarah Bernhard in the role of Medea in Fin de Siecle Paris. 
The Euripedes play was reworked for the actress by the playwright Catulle Mendes.

From Medea to Medicine
The land of Media was rich in plants endowed with the property of restoring health or of acting as poison. These herbs from Media came to be called the Median herbs or herba medica, by the Romans. Soon, a medicamentum came to signify an ointment that could be used either for poisoning or for healing so the word Medicine is also of Georgian origin.
More information on pubmed central here.

The Two Cities - Kutaisi Culture

Medea by Anselm Feuerbach 1870 (Neue Pinakothek Munich)

Medee by Mucha 1898

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