A New Theory on the Etymology of the Designations of the Georgians.
Man in Panther-skin and Philaster by Beaumont and Fletcher.
Lancelot and Avtandil.
A New Theory on the Etymology of the Designations of the Georgians
The popular etymologies of the European designations of the Georgians, Georgia, must be erroneous, viz. a) linking it semantically to Greek and Latin roots (respectively, georgØc “tiller of the land” and georgicus “agricultural”) and b) its derivation from the name of St. George. It probably stems from the Persian-Arabic designation of the Georgians (gurğ, ğurğ), later becoming likened to the Greek-Latin stem just cited. It should be noted here that the term Georgia, at the early stage of its appearance in the Latin world, was not always written in the same transliteration. The first consonant was spelt J (Jorgia), Ge (Georgia), or Gi (Giorgia). The observation appears to be correct according to which the Italian world – where this spelling appeared first – perceived the initial sound of this place name as j, attempting to render it, which points to the clearly Eastern, predominantly Arabic, provenance of this name (Janashia 1959: 226-27). The Russian designation of Georgia (Gruziya) also derives from the Persian gurğ via its Syriac-Arabic development (gurz-ān // gurz-iyān). Gruzin and Gruziya are modified forms of Gurzi, which became established as a term designating Georgia, occurring in Russian chronicles as far back as the 14th century.
The New Persian designation of Georgians gurğ and gurğān stemming from the Ancient Iranian and Middle Persian designations (vrkān, waručān) – and the latter and their Greek variant (^Urkanëa) coincide with the designations of the Ancient Eastern trans-Caspian province of Gurgan, preserved in oriental sources (Tsereteli 1993: 102-103). The ethnonym of the Georgians in Old Armenian (veria, virk) stems from the same root.
The present study is largely based on the findings of Georgian linguistics, viz. (a) the possible interchange of the members of triads of homorganic stops (b-p-p.; g-k-k.) as well as labial and sonors (b-v; r-l) recognized in general phonetics (G. Akhvlediani), in accounting for the interrelationship of different ethnonyms of the same people, recorded in various periods or sources; (b) individual cases of correspondence of suffixes forming geographical names in Georgian and Armenian (A. Shanidze), on the one hand, and in Georgian and Zan (Th. Gamkrelidze, G. Machavariani), on the other; (c) the establishment of the peculiarities of the structure and variational changes of some stems in Indo-European languages (Th. Gamkrelidze, V. Ivanov).
In my view, the term Iberia should also be linked to the same Ancient Iranian designation (vrkān), and not only because it is used in ancient parallel texts as a Greek substitute for the Middle Persian and Parthian designations of Kartli but for the following reasons as well:
a) As hypothesized by Marr (Marr 1935: 189), and later by Deeters (Deeters 1956: 85-86), the i in Iberia is a formant, and ber is the root. This is confirmed by the fact that ethnonyms formed from the root ber are attested as the ancient designation of the Georgians: ber is the name of the ancient habitat of the Georgians in Kakheti (“Ber was the name of the place first built in Kakheti” – Leonti Mroveli); according to classical sources (Hippolytus of Rome), ber-anoi was the name of a tribe living next to Iberians; the root ber is preserved in the name of a Kartvelian tribe, Speri, referred to as Sasperes in classical sources (Herodotus, Xenophon, Apollonius Rhodius, Strabo); the ancient Armenian designations of Kartli, Veria, Virk, are derived from the ber/ver root.
b) The root uel (vel) is reconstructed as the initial one designating the wolf in the family of Indo-European languages. The ancient Indian vŕ.kah is derived by adding the suffix -k[h]o to the ul[uel] root, forming the initial stem of a group of Georgian ethnonyms deriving from Old Iranian. Not all the designations of the Georgians, deriving from this totemic name, seem to have been formed via the Old Persian, as attested by the Old Armenian veria and virk, these latter being directly linked to the uel root. The root ber found in the ethnonym Iberia must be a counterpart of the same uel root.
The ancient Persian vrk-ān (vark-ān) changed into gurg-ān in New Persian. The change of the final k of the root vark to č (varč-ān), subsequently yielding ğ (gurč-ān, gurğ-ān), before the suffix (i)ya that forms ethnic names, is a regular phonetic phenomenon in the word formation of proto-Aryan and Ancient Persian languages (Tsereteli 1993: 103; Abuladze 1934: 296). As to the alteration of the initial v/g, it is reducible to the level of various dialectal forms of Persian. It has been observed that through the intermingling of the Parsee tribe with the indigenous population of Persia “the term Vehrek (vrk) changed to the purely Persian gorg” (Abuladze 1934: 295). The Old Persian v has been found to yield g in late Middle Persian, while the Old Iranian r. changes to ur (Chkheidze 1993: 113).
I believe that the self-designation of the Georgians – formed from the Kart stem (Kartli, Kartveli) – is related to the cycle of the above ethnonyms of the Georgians. I consider it a parallel linguistic form of the Ancient Iranian, Middle and New Persian designations of the land of the Georgians (Vark-ān, Waruč-ān, Gurg-ān). The relation of the segment kar of the stem Kart to the above ethnonyms and to the Ancient Indic initial form vŕ.kah (New Persian gurg) is accounted for by the established phonetic rules. The provenance of the final t of the Kart stem is to be explained. The possibility of explaining the stem Kart – as hypothesized by me – is the following. The final t of this stem must be the remnant of the -et suffix of geographical names, or of the -ta suffix of genetival derivation, added to the kar root (Suffixaufnahme in Kartvelian see: Boeder 1995). The isolation of the root kar in the ethnonym Kart is supported by the following circumstances:
1) In the family of Indo-European languages the root uel is reconstructed as the initial root denoting wolf, to which the suffixes -k[h]o- and -p[h]- are added (Gamkrelidze and Ivanov 1984: 492). The Ancient Indic vŕ.kah is derived by adding the -k[h]o suffix to the -ul (uel) root. Now, vŕ.kah is the initial stem of the above-said group of ethnonyms of Georgians, deriving from Ancient Iranian. If it is assumed that kar is the root in the Kart lexeme, it follows that, in place of the IE suffix -k[h]o, the kar segment, regularly substitutive of the cited IE root (vr.), adds the most archaic Georgian suffix -et (Kar-et), forming geographical names from ethnic ones (Her-et-i, Ovs-et-i, Kakh-et-i, Kukh-et-i). Alternatively, which is not ruled out, it may add the -ta suffix of geographical names of genetival derivation (Gogolaur-ta, Chkhikv-ta, Gurian-ta). Subsequent contraction of this suffix yielded the Kart stem. In this case, the formation of the ethnonym Kart should be assumed to have taken place independently from the IE vr. root (which changed in New Persian into gur) rather than in the series of transitory ethnonyms from Anc. Iranian to New Persian (vrkān, waručān, gurgān).
2) The Old Armenian name of Kartli, Vir-k, appears to be similar in construction as the ethnonym *Kar-et. In it vir is the root deriving from the above-cited IE vr. complex, while k must be a plural-forming suffix. It has been noted that the suffix -et, forming Georgian geographical names, has its corresponding -k of plurality, in Armenian (Shanidze 1953: 140).
3) The existence of place names derived from the kar root is attested on the territory of Kartli (Kar-eli), which is suggestive of the identification of a root and suffix (*Kar-et) in the Kart stem.
4) Two more Georgian self-designations, viz. E-gur-i // E-ger-i (= Egrisi ) and Gur-ia, seem to be related to the totemic name of wolf – either to the form (ger-i), attested in Kartvelian languages, or to the IE gurg stem. In the latter case, the final-consonant of the suffix is clipped.
The ethnonym *Karet-i yields the stem Kart through the contraction of the vowel e, caused by the addition to it of the suffix of provenance -el and of the suffixes -ev or -av of geographical names. It has been hypothesized (Burchuladze 1999: 128) that Kartveli and Kartli were derived independently from the Kart stem: *Kart-ev-el-i // *Kart-av-el-i > Kartveli. *Kart-el-i > Kartli. The latter hypothesis is supported by the Megrelian and Laz Kortu (Kort-u=Kart-el): Kort is a regular correspondence of Georgian Kart, and as has been observed (Gamkrelidze and Machavariani 1965: 89-93; see Boeder 1982), the Zanian -u is a transformation of the Georgian -el suffix.
The etymology of the Ancient Iranian vrkān and its corresponding Middle Persian, Parthian, and New Persian geographical names waručān, wiršān, gurgān – deriving from it – is clear. Varkān, deriving from the Ancient Indic vŕ.kah - wolf, denotes “the land of wolves”. Among ancient peoples the wolf, as a totemic animal, gave rise to ethnonyms. According to the ancient religious and mythological notions of the Georgians, the wolf was a totem – a mythical ancestor and patron of the tribe, which is attested by the extant historical sources, the ancient traditions of the Georgian tribes and by surviving specimens of ritual-graphic art (Bardavelidze 1957: 37-53).
For a more detailed analysis of the present hypothesis on the etymology of the designations of the Georgians, their interpretation in the historical context, explanation on the basis of archaeological and ethnographic data, as well as demonstration of the alternation of the br and gr complexes in the other ethnonyms of Indo-European peoples the reader is referred to my monograph devoted to the same problem, published in Georgian and English (Khintibidze 1998).
Abuladze, Iustine 1934. “Towards the Etymology of the Term gurji”, Collection of Papers Dedicated to Acad. N. Marr. Tbilisi (in Georgian).
Bardavelidze, Vera 1957. The Ancient Religious Beliefs and Ritual Graphic Art of Georgian Tribes. Tbilisi: Metsniereba (in Russian).
Boeder, Winfried 1982 (editor). Thomas V. Gamkrelidze – Givi Mačavariani: Sonantensystem und Ablaut in den Kartwelsprachen. Eine Typologie der Struktur des Gemeinkartwelischen. Ins Deutsche übersetzt, bearbeitet und mit einem Nachwort versehen von Winfried Boeder (= Ars Linguistica 10). Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.
Boeder, Winfried 1995. “Suffixaufnahme in Kartvelian”. Double case.
Agreement by Suffixaufnahme. Edited by Franz Planck: 151-215. New york – Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Burchuladze, Genadi 1999. “Again on the Ethnonym Kartvel”,
Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Kartvelian Studies. Tbilisi: Tbilisi University Press (in Georgian).
Chkheidze, Teo 1993. “Terms Designating Georgia and the Georgians in the Middle Persian and Parthian”, The Foreign and Georgian Terminology Designating Georgia and Georgians: 107-120. Tbilisi: Metsniereba (in Georgian).
Deeters, Gerhardt 1956. “Der Name der Kaukasischen Iberer”, Mn¢mhc Q„rin. Festschrift P. Kretschmer. Vol. 1. Wiesbaden-Wien.
Gamkrelidze, Thomas V. and Givi I. Machavariani 1965. The System of Sonants and
Ablaut in Kartvelian Languages. Tbilisi: Metsniereba (in Georgian).
Gamkrelidze, Thomas V. and Vjacheslav V. Ivanov 1984. Indo-European
and the Indo-Europeans. Vol. 2. Tbilisi: Tbilisi University Press (in Russian).
Janashia, Simon 1959. Works. Vol. 3: Tbilisi: Metsniereba (in Georgian).
Khintibidze, Elguja 1998. The Designations of the Georgians and their Etymology. Tbilisi: Tbilisi University Press.
Marr, Nicholas 1935. Selected Works. Vol. 5. Leningrad (in Russian).
Shanidze, Akaki 1953. Fundamentals of Georgian Grammar. Tbilisi: Tbilisi University Press (in Georgian).
Tsereteli, George 1993. “Towards the Iranian Designation of Georgia”,
The Foreign and Georgian Terminology Designating Georgia and Georgians: 92-106. Tbilisi: Metsniereba (in Georgian).
Man in Panther-skin and Philaster by Beaumont and Fletcher
This part of the book is a direct continuation of my study appearing in “The Kartvelologist” #14, in which an entirely new fact is brought to light in Rustaveli Studies, namely that The Man in Panther-skin first appeared in the European literary arena not early in the 19th century in Russia, as was believed earlier, but in England in the early 17th century; furthermore, the MPS served as the hitherto unknown subject source of A King and No King, a major play by Shakespeare’s contemporaries Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher.
I published the study of this unique fact of Georgian-English literary contacts with the proviso that the discovery was in the nature of stating the problem, and that I planned to continue research in this direction. My subsequent research along these lines largely dealt with the study of the available rich literary-critical legacy on the subject – since the 17th century to the present day. To this end I worked at major British centres – the British Library (London), the Bodleian Library (Oxford), and Shakespeare’s archive and library (Stratford-upon-Avon).
First I should like to stress that to the present day English literary criticism considers the principal source of the plot of A King and No King to be unknown. Remote and approximate parallels of separate situations of the play are pointed out (e.g. the love of the prince and princess of the play are believed to parallel the love of the step-mother and the prince of the Classical sources) at the same time it is emphasized that “no single source for the plot has been discovered ...”.
Again about my research method. I begin to assert the derivation of the plot of A King and No King from the MPS not by my direct observation of the literary style and peculiarities of the English play but by an analysis of the facts and specificity brought to light in English literary criticism as a result of centuries-old research into this plot, and by interpreting the possible relation of this specificity to the MPS. The following is the rationale for the choice of this method: as I assert the dependence of the plot of A King and No King on the MPS, in order to maximally exclude subjectivism in my further research, I prefer to look at the details of the literary style of the play in question that are already considered to be specific in English literary criticism.
Large-scale literary polemic around A King and No King commenced in English literary criticism prior to the 17th century, launched by the renowned literary critic Thomas Rymer . In 1678 Rymer published a critical article on two tragedies of Beaumont and Fletcher and one by Shakespeare, attacking them basically from the ethical position. (“The Tragedies of the Last Age Consider’d and Examin’d by the Practice of the Antients, and by the Common Sense of All Ages”).The principal among them is A King and No King. Rymer, for whom the love of the prince and princess of the play by Beaumont and Fletcher is unacceptable, sees in their marriage a very important and useful resolution of the intrigue of the royal court from the position of the state. Indeed resolution of the rivalry between the two successors to the throne (the heiress and the son reared as successor) through their marriage was doubtless very important for a medieval monarchic state. Interestingly enough, this specific finale of the play claimed the attention of English literary criticism from the start. A solution of this kind regarding the succession to the royal throne is the basic implication of the MPS, the latter being the plot source of A King and No King. This implication is so obvious and essential in Rustaveli’s poem that the historical memory of the Georgian people reconceptualized this political implication of the MPS into historical reality, creating legends on Rustaveli’s descent from the royal dynasty and his love for Queen Tamar.
Rymer is the first researcher to give thought to the astonishing contrastiveness of the main character of A King and No King. He notes that the authors of the play themselves stress this specificity of the character of Arbaces, voiced by General Mardonius, a friend of Arbaces and a character of the play: (I, i): “He is vainglorious and humble, and angry and patient, and merry and dull, and joyful and sorrowful, in extremities, in an hour”. Almost all principal researchers pay attention to this specificity of depicting the main character of A King and No King. According to E. Waith, a twentieth-century researcher, this peculiarity of the character of Arbaces distinguishes it from other plays of Beaumont and Fletcher. He notes that there is so much contrastive in the character of Arbaces as is not to be found in mutually contrastive characters in another play by the same authors (“Faithful Shepardess”). It has also been noted that such contrastivity is not only a specificity of the character of the main hero: it is generally the style of A King and No King: parallel and symmetrical contrasts in the characters of the personages with respect to each other.
The MPS may be a source of this specificity of A King and No King. At any rate, conceptualization of contrastive qualities as a single whole is a characteristic feature of Rustaveli’s literary style. It is seen nonfragmentally both in the portrait of a character (Rostevan was “exalted, generous, modest” – 22.), and in the depiction of the emotion of the character, e.g. Tariel’s first encounter with Pridon is seeing a knight on the verge of madness: “a knight cried out haughtily … he threatened his foes, was wrathful, cursed, complained” (576). Following the exchange of a few words with Pridon, Tariel views him as sweet father and tender man: “I led him with me; we went away fonder than father and son. I marvelled at the tender beauty of the knight” (580). The same contrastive style is visible in the action of the characters of Rustaveli’s poem: the hero, blacked out by sentimental mood and shedding tears, comes to his mind instantly, relentlessly slaying the twelve men sent to capture him. There are many other examples.
This style of Rustaveli of depicting the characters is based in medieval mystic theology. I mean the single naming of the positive and negative characteristics of the Supreme being, i.e. cataphatics-apophatics, which also is Rustaveli’s style in referring to the Supreme being: “Sunny night”, “Being and Everlasting” (816). In Beaumont and Fletcher’s A King and No King this has no world view basis. It is taken over ready made, serving the alternation of the tragic and comic.
English critics, astonished at the combination of extreme oppositions in the character of Arbaces, subject his first entry into the play to repeated analysis. It is pointed out that the victorious Iberian king introduces the defeated Armenian King Tigranes “… with the utmost politeness and at the same time with insufferable arrogance.” Another researcher, namely P. Finkelpearl, is puzzled at such inordinate mercy and respect for the captive king, and he looks for the images of merciful kings in Classical sources. He draws attention to traditions of Cyrus’ mercifulness in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia. Indeed, images of merciful kings are not rare in Classical historical and literary sources, but in this case I want to pay attention to the main hero of the MPS, Tariel – a prototype of the main hero, Arbaces of A King and No King. In particular, the similarity of the reception at the royal court of a neighbouring king, defeated by Arbaces, and the reception at the royal court accorded to the neighbouring king defeated by Tariel. A famous theologian, Father Genadi Ekalovich, when asked to comment on a mystic concept in Rustaveli, recalled this scene, adding that such philanthropy was amazing: a defeated king is received at the royal court with great respect and suavity and is sent back to his own country with lavish presents. Thus, in this case too an immediate parallel of this specific scene in A King and No King is found in the MPS.
The contrastive character of a hero is not the only specificity in the literary structure of A King and No King that points to the MPS. The most debatable issue around this play is its ethical world. As noted above, the play was attacked from this point of view by the first critic, Thomas Rymer, triggering a century-old polemic, which has diverse continuations and resolutions in English literary criticism. I wish to draw attention to the generally accepted assessment of the moral position of the play, which was clearly expressed by Robert K. Turner, the editor of the critical text of by A King and No King in his introductory study: the moral world of A King and No King is rather relaxed than the standards of Christian humanism. For those foreign literary critics who are less acquainted with Rustaveli Studies I should like to point out that the MPS stands out with its non-dogmatic religious position – with a much freer, yet profound, religious outlook, formed on the basis of highly developed Christian theology, feeling constrained in the confessional frame prescribed by dogmatics.
Love is one of the basic themes by which the MPS fails to fit in the medieval prescribed moral. The worldly, human love of the MPS is devoid of the allegorical elements of mystic reinterpretation into divine love: However through deep theological interpretation, it is a reconceptualization of man’s free emotional world into the highest, hence divine, manifestation; it is based on deep theological interpretation of the love of Christian neighbour through courtly love, as such love is an inordinately great, hurricane-like feeling, elevating one to divinity. This is considered to be the specificity of the love of the MPS by those researchers of world literature, who have included the MPS in their discussion of this process. The expression of feeling, namely love, by the characters of A King and No King in extremely vivid manner and at the same time exaggerated form is one more specificity of the literary structure of this play. The well-known dramatist and major representative of 17th-century English literary criticism John Dryden (1631–1700), who immediately came out against Rymer’s criticism, was the first to note this specificity of the demonstration of this feeling. Dryden’s discovery was subsequently elaborated by other literary critics. The feeling of love in the characters of Beaumont and Fletcher was claimed to be greater and possess more real solidity than the characters themselves.
Another specificity pointing to the vivid reality of the feeling of love in A King and No King is its ideal: marriage. The aspiration driving the pair in love in A King and No King is marriage. In this, too, the play echoes its plot prototype – the MPS. Marriage, as the goal and ideal of man and woman is one of the most important specificities of the love in the MPS. In this it differs not only from the divine love of Rustaveli’s day, but also from worldly love - both of oriental Sufism and Western courtly love.
I want to end the parallels between A King and No King and the MPS in the peripeteias of the pairs in love with one more detail: the woman’s initiative prevails in the relationship of woman and man, namely in making the decision. This is manifested before the unravelling of the amorous knot by the woman’s letter to her love. In the MPS this letter is of plot purpose, while in A King and No King it is a functionless component, as it were: it seems to be forced, as though a simple etiquette or imitation. This imitation (the woman’s letter to her future beloved) by Beaumont and Fletcher of the MPS will become clearer on another occasion, which will be shown below.
Imitation per se of separate components of the subject frame of the MPS is felt also in other details of the love intrigue of A King and No King. That these details are an imitation is seen from the fact that they are largely functionless for the plot of the play, being brought in artificially, as it were. Thus, for example, Arbaces has his love Panthea locked up in prison. Let me remind, or inform, the reader that Panthea’s prototype Nestan of the MPS is also in prison. However, this is not a custody for an offender: Nestan is locked up in an inaccessible tower of a city-fortress, so that she might not escape or get lost, awaiting marriage to the prince who must return from a campaign. To Tariel she has been lost for a long time. After a futile search for her, Tariel has ground to consider her dead, which is naturally followed by his meditation on his reunion with his beloved in the other world. With its world view significance, this meditation is a new word in the reconceptualization of love in the space from the Middle Ages to the Renaisance: “Lovers here parted, there indeed may we be united, there again see each other, again find some joy” (862). “How shall the lover not see his love, how forsake her! Gladly I go to her; then will she wend to me. I shall meet her, she shall meet me; she shall weep for me and make me weep” (863).
This plot episode of the MPS does not work in A King and No King, but its main components are visible. Panthea – the double of Nestan – is put in prison; however, the necessity of this act is not strictly motivated by the plot of the play. More important is Arbaces’ imagining Panthea to be dead in the scene of his suddenly falling in love with her. This is so unexpected and unexplained that researchers persistently look for the cause (or example) by the dictation or influence of which Beaumont and Fletcher played this scene “detached from its context”. And which is more important, the development of this scene – imagining his beloved to be dead by the hero – in A King and No King follows in the wake of the MPS: it develops into the hero’s meditation. Furthermore, the philosophical context of Arbaces’ meditation would seem to be a reminiscence of Tariel’s respective meditation in the MPS: the Iberian Prince philosophises on moving from this world to the other (III, 1):
“My sister! – is she dead? …
… She died
A virgin though more innocent than sleep,
As clear as her own eyes, and blessedness
Eternal waits upon her where she is.
I know she could not make a wish to change
Her state for new, and you shall see me bear
My crosses like a man. We all must die,
And she hath taught us how.”
This “skilfully devised trick”, as noted by English literary criticism, clearly preserves an “ elegant and controlled exaggeration which is almost never found in Shakespeare’s verse”.
Lanselot and Avtandil
That The Man in the Panther’s Skin – along with the Bible – made an immesurable contribution to the shaping of the world view and morality of the Georgian people is attested unanimously and unequivocally by numerous sources of written and material culture. This is how Akaki Tsereteli begins the story of Bashi-Achuki, a popular hero of the Georgian reader: “It was not for nothing that in olden times the clergy complained that the country came to like The Man in the Panther’s Skin more than the Gospel; over the centuries, big and little, all learned it avidly; men imitated Tariel and Avtandil, women tried to be like Nestan and Tinatin, kings and courtiers claimed to be Rostevan and Sograt, servants wanted to be like Shermadin and maids and nurses presumed to be like Asmat”. Georgia took a special liking for Avtandil with his wise, active and loyal-to-a friend nature. The liking for Avtandil’s person is so great that, with his positive image, he even turned into a scholarly argument in Rustvelological literature. when Georgia’s Catholicos-Patriarch Kalistrate Tsinsadze sought to demonstrate the Christianity of Rustaveli’s world view by specifically commenting on the plot of (The Man in the Panther’s Skin), he divided the types of the poem into positive (good) and negative (evil) pairs. He opposed the sins of Tariel and Nestan (care for their own fame, irreverence to their parents, the slaying of the innocent bridegroom...) to the goodness of Avtandil and Tinatin (putting off of their own cares and dedication to the friend in trouble).
The foreign reader’s attitude to the types of The Man in the Panther’s Skin, and precisely to Avtandil, is not analogous. The first foreign reader who did not conceal his negative attitude to the literary and moral world of Rustaveli’s poem – three times for that matter: in Tbilisi, Paris and Brussels was a Frenchman, Jean Mourier. Along with the literary images of the poem he was irritated, as he put it, by Avtandil’s “coldness and perfidiousness (cunning)”. Oliver Wardrop’s observations with regard to Avtandil’s literary image are more interesting. The point is that, whereas Mourier’s work is devoid of scholarly value and an irritated tone is felt in his attitude to Georgian culture, Wardrop is an admirer of the Georgian phenomenon and an expert of Rustaveli’s work. In his introduction to the first edition of Marjory Wardrop’s rendering of The Man in the Panther’s Skin , written in high literary taste and perfect knowledge of the poem, Oliver Wardrop notes that several episodes of the conduct of the characters of the poem are unacceptable – at least for the English reader, namely the killing of Chaschnagir by Avtandil and Tariel’s slaying of the bridegroom.
The episode of Avtandil’s liaison with Patman which, by foreign researchers is at times considered an unacceptable flirt from moral positions, occasionally as perfidy, and at other times, as will be seen below, “Avtandil’s adultery”, is given a radically opposite assessment in Georgian literary criticism. Even it has been suggested that Avtandil’s love of Patman was genuine: The character lying beside Patman felt as, it were, that his eye was now opening, that he has elevated Patman to Tinatin’s status, that he is lying not with a casual woman but a lover, thus Avtandil loves Patman and that “nowhere, in any situation has he ever been so candid as in his relations with Patman”.
The modern literary and aesthetic style is amenable to free interpretation of the cultural, literary and even philosophical legacy of the part. One producer reinterpreted Hamlet’s words that forty thousand brothers could not love his sister as he love Ophelia as carnal love, and on the stage of a major European had an act performed in the scene of Ophelia’s burial, weird even from the standpoint of sexual relations. This is extremism. In other cases, however, our literary vision perceives modern reinterpretations of old literary themes and motifs as a high creative style. But confusing it will lead to misunderstanding in scholarly research. Literary study of a literary work of past times aims at scholarly-analytical interpretation of the literary images they possess in a difficult literary structure, or within the work in which it was placed by the author. This is largely effected through unraveling the language of the text, figures of speech, and symbolic-allegorical style in the dimension it is directly rend or to which there is an indication in the work. Otherwise, the researcher-interpolator goes beyond the limits of a definite literary structure and, on its basis, creates a new literary world from positions of his own subjective vision, which may sometimes be acceptable and even elevated from the creative point of view, but unacceptable from the view point of literary criticism.
Rustaveli does not censure the episode of the love of Avtandil and Patman. However, he neither tells us or intimates that Avtandil fell in love with Patman. On the contrary, the poet writes the chapter on “Patman Falling in Love with Avtandil”, and not the story of Avtandil falling in love. Patman’s love letter immediately reminded Avtandil of Tinatin:
“He said: “She knows not my heart, who is she who courts the lover of
her whose I am? The beloved I have – how can I compare her
(beauty) to this one’s?” (Marjory Wardrop’s translation. St. 1067).
He at once realized his attitude to Patman’s love:
“Said he: “What hath the raven to do with the rose, or what
have they in common?… What says she? What nonsense she
talks! What a letter she has written!” (1068).
He also clearly conceived his plan of action:
“This woman sits here seeing many men” (1070); “For the sake of that for which I am a wanderer, since I wish to seek her (Nestan)”(1069); “I will consent, she will tell me all; however much the fire lurnes me with its flames”(1070).
He defined from the beginning his future relationship with Patman: ”Perchance she will be of some use to me; I shall know how to pay my debt to her” (1070). Avtandil is well aware of the psychology of a woman in love:
“He said: “When a woman loves anyone, becomes intimate with him and gives him her heart,… whatever she knows she declares, she tells every secret. It is letter for me, I will consent: perchance I shall somewhere find out the hidden thing”” (1071).
Avtandil’s attitude to Patman did not change either at the culmination of their amorous intrigue. The telling of Nestan’s story by Patman made Avtandil shed a tear of joy:
“For the knowledge of this story he magnified God with tears. P’hatman thought of herself; therefore she was again: burned up. The knight kept his secret, he lent himself to love” (1229). “That night P’hatman enjoyed lying with Avt’handil; the knight unwillingly embraces her neck with his crystal neck; remembrance of T’hinat’hin slays him, he quakes with secret fear” (1230).
There is no intimation of Avtandil having fallen in love with Patman. In none of the episodes of his amorous adventure with Patman does Avtandil forget Tinatin. He is even aware of the somewhat humiliating character of his amorous intrigue.
“Avt’handil secretly rains tears, they flow to mingle with the sea;… He says: Behold me, O lovers, me who have a rose for mine own! Away from her, I, the nightingale, like a carrion-crow, sit on the dung-heap!” (1231).
Thus, Avtandil did not fall in love with Patman, but in his love intrigue with Patman there does seem to be some kind of adultery, which was given a principled assessment by the American literary historian G. Koolemans Beynen who discussed love in The Man in the Panther’s Skin in relation to the structure of the European courtly romance.
A view has taken shape in Western Rustaveli Studies regarding the relationship of The Man in the Panther’s Skin to courtly literature (V. Zhirmunski, M. Bowra, P. Dronke, R. Stevenson), according to which The Man in the Panther’s Skin is placed at the initial stage of courtly literature, in as much as it resembles both the epic model (which praises loyalty to one’s native country or the royal court) and courtly literature (with its accent on fidelity to one’s love). In Beynen’s view, The Man in the Panther’s Skin, in as much as in it patriotism is secondary and it is born only of devotion to one’s love, has no essential relationship to epic poetry. It is the high, final stage of development of courtly literature. The placement of the The Man in the Panther’s Skin at the final stage of courtly literature is due – in the researcher’s opinion – to the structure which he himself sees in roamnus of courtly love. He singles out two models in European romance: 1. Members of the primary love relations: Queen Guinivere and Lanselot, additional personage: King Arthur. Of these,in Beynen’s terminology, King Arthur and Queen Guinivere are matured or socially established personages, while Lanselot is less established. 2. Members of the primary love relation: Isolde and Tristan, additional personages: King Mark and Isolde Second. Of these King Mark and Isolde are established personages, while Tristan and Isolde the Second are less established. In the The Man in the Panther’s Skin Beynen perceives two more models of courtly love structure: the first is in the Prologue to the The Man in the Panther’s Skin. It is an earlier stage as compared to the above cited two models: Queen Tamar and the poet Shota Rustaveli are members of the principal love relationship. Of these Queen Tamar is socially established, while the poet Shota Rustaveli is less established. The second model is of the subject proper of the MPS, and it is the highest, final stage of courtly love structure: two couples of love relation: Avtandil and Tinatin, Tariel and Nestan. Of these Avtandil and Tinatin are socially more established, while Tariel and Nestan are less established. Towards the end of the poem the socially less established personages (Tariel and Nestan) become matured and established.
In my view, the placement of the MPS in the structural scheme presented by the Aemrican scholar is somewhat forced because of the essential difference of the poem’s main framework from the courtly love structure. To begin with, Beynen’s thesis that the prologue of the MPS is based on the basic courtly model is questionable. The attitude of the author of the poem (Rustaveli) to the Queen patron (Tamar) – as recorded in the Prologue – should rather be considered the loyalty, devotion and love of the encomiast poet to the patron king, turned traditional in oriental epic – hyperbolized praise of a female sovereign by a court poet. That is why the poet begins not with the praise of his love Tamar but by praising king-patrons: “Of that lion whom the use of lance, shield and sword adorns…” (3), “By shedding tears of blood we praise King T’hamara…”(4). and by station that he had been entrusted to praise them: “She bade me incite sweet verses in her praise…”(5). Beynen’s point of view that the courtly love scheme of the Prologue has open slots which are filled in the epilogue of the MPS, ……………………….the less established male (the poet Rustaveli) by a more established rival (King David) (similarly to King Arthur of the Arthurian romances), is based on incomplete knowledge of Rustvelological problems and on subjective interpretation. Opinions differ as to whether the mention of King David in the epilogue belongs to Rustaveli, and as to the identity of this King David. At any rate, the transfer of the epilogue’s David to the prologue of the poem and considering him to be the rival of the poet Rustaveli seems forced. It is important to note that textual and structural study of a literary text should not be based on the biography of the author of the poem, for that biography is based only on later popular and literary tradition.
However, basic in Beynen’s structural analysis is the model of courtly love perceived in the plot of the poem. I want to agree with the foreign researcher in the existence of some typological relation to courtly love in the MPS, which is more appreciable than relation with the epic model. However, a bachground of problems of epic literature is also noticeable in the poem. In my view, seeing a model of courtly love in the relations of the enamoured pairs does not seem to be right. In the first place, the beloveds of Rustaevli’s knights are not the spouses of anybody and with them love history does not take its course against the bachground of adultery or any other hint to such happening. Secondly, the poem’s hero in love does not double-cross another male in the love of a woman, or in other words, there is no love triangle in the poem. Were there such a scheme in the MPS, we should study its relation primarily with Visramiani rather than with the models of Western Courtly love. Of course, structurally the relation with the model of cortly love should not be perceived in the attempt to break up the romance of Nestan and Tariel, as expressed in the invitation of a bridegroom. And finally, the most important, it is inadmissible to view one of the two pairs in the MPS as a development of one of the additional characters of the Tristan cycle model (King Mark and Isolde II), and hence as a variation of this model. King Mark and Isolde II are characters involved in the love intrigue of Tristan and Isolde, and the pairs of Avtandil and Tinatin or Tariel and Nestan cannot be obtained by any kind of development and variation of their structural place. Neither can Avtandil and Tinatin and Tariel and Nestan be distinguished by means of the terms: more mature (socially unestablished). These two pairs are equally established at their respective royal courts. Their adventures develop differently and its explanation by means of courtly love schemes is forced.
At this point I am interested in the interpretation of Avtandil’s adultery in Beynen’s interesting study. In the researcher view, Avtandil’s episode is opposed in many respects to the love of courtly literature. In his opinion, neither can this episode be explained by taking Avtandil’s conduct as a means to the end. In his words, “Avtandil could have got the desired information by merely suggesting he would sleep with Patman, or he could have gone to the market of Gulansharo and got the information there, since, after all, that is where Patman got her information too. Also, the adultery occurs after Avtandil has acquired the information…, and he had already embarked on his adultery before Patman had even mentioned Nestan-Daredzhan.” The researcher gives a specific explanation of this: In Avtandil’s character we are dealing with a case of the model of courtly love when an already socially established or socially mature hero acts (which is not seen in models of typical courtly love). The established hero shows a changeable level of maturity: he is characterized by both positive deviations (helping Tariel) and negative deviation (adultery with Patman). As I noted above, seeing a so-called established hero of courtly literature in Avtandil’s character, and generally search for a new model of courtly love in the poem seems forced. More interesting, in my view, is the fact that the researcher considers Avtandil’s adultery (himself an established male characters) astonishing from the positions of courtly literature, taking it for the hero’s lapse.
From the principles of court love – more broadly from positions of European chivalrous romance - Avtandil’s love relation with Patman is indeed incomprehensible and hard to explain. Hence it is difficult for Beynen, a researcher into the structure of courtly literature to interpret nor is it admissible to O. Wardrop, a student of the MPS, inspired by the principles of European chivalrous romance.
The point is that the reader does not expect from a hero of courtly literature such behaviour in an analogous situation. Obviously, it is hard to find an exact analogue and all characters of this literature do not act in the same way in the same situation. However, the typical image of the European chivalrous romance is perceived in a somewhat different model.
Lanselot is a typical hero of courtly literature. He is selflessly in love with his king’s consort Guinevere. The knight is ready to rescue his beloved from any trial, but also to fulfill all her wishes and demands – even such that harm his reputation of a knight, viz. not to joust full-heartedly and to give his opponents a chance to succeed; or to get on to a humiliation ex-cart, driven by a dwarf, in order to reach quickly the place of the captive queen. At this point we are primarily interested in Lanselot’s amorous adventures. On his way to rescue his captive lady and beloved Guinevere, Lanselot comes up to a wondrous or magic palace to spend the night there. The owner of the palace is a young woman who agrees to host the knight under condition that he sleeps with her. Lanselot rejects the proposed categorically, yet he is forced to stay in the palace of the unknown hostess. The woman treats the knight to a capital supper, then rescues him from an attack by the knight guarding the palace and his attendants; she enters the sleeping-room, lies down and waits for Lanselot to enter; the latter comes in and lies down next to the shameless lady; however, he neither turns towards her nor utters a word; after a long wait the woman leaves the knight, goes to her room and falls into deep seep.
From this point of view, of Lanselot’s numerous adevntures one belonging to the cycle of continuation of Chretien de Troyes’ “Lanselot ou le chevalier de la charrete” is more interesting to the present subject. The 15th century English writer Thomas Malory claims to have culled the stories of King Arthur, the Holy Grael, Sir Lanselot and Queen Guinevera from ancient French books, conveying them to us in his romance “Le Morte d’Arthur”. Malory narrates in detail the wonderful story of one fair maid from Astolat who falls in love with Lanselot.
King Arthur appointed a grand tournament far from his palace at Winchester. Lanselot refused to take part in the tournament, for he still suffered from the wounds received in a previous combat. Queen Guinevere, too, refused to attend the tournament. But she rebuked Lanselot for his staying in the palace, as evil tongues would put an evil construction on both of them keeping away from the king. Lanselot promised the queen to go to Winchester, but would fight under the guise of an unknown knight against King Arthur’s knights. On his way incognito to the tournament, Lanselot spent the night in the fortress of the old baron Barnard of Astolat. The host failed to recognize his guest. Nor did Lanselot disclose his identity to the old baron. Moreover, he asked for the baron’s shield, explaining to him that he wished to joust incognito. The host lent Lanselot the shield of his elder son and sent his younger son, to whom Lanselot took a liking, as his attendant. The old baron’s beautiful daughter Elaine was charmed by the appearance and conduit of Lanselot. She served the guest with great love, asking him to fightat the tournament under her sleeve as a token. Lanselot, who had never fought under the token of any woman, accepted from the girl a sleeve of red cloth with a large pearl, as under this sign he would remain unknown to King Arthur’s knight. The knight worked wonders at the tournament but was wounded gravely. Lanselot and his attendant found shelter in a hermit’s house in a dense forest. When the virgin Elaina learnt at her home of the Lanselot’s heroism and of being gravely woubded, she declared her love for the knight for everyone to hear and, setting out in search of him, she found the hermit’s house with her brother’s help. In Malory’s words: “So this maiden Elaine never went from Sir. Launcelot, but watched him day and night, and did such attendance o him, that the French book saith these was never woman did more kindlier for man than she”(pp. 296-297).
Elaine never left Lasnelot foe several months, until he recuperated. Then the brother and sister, together with the knight, went to Astolat to their old father. Here, in the presence of her father and brothers, Elain asked Lanselot to marry her. The latter thanked the virgin for such ardent love, adding: “I cast me never t be wedded man. Then, fair knight, said she, will ye be my paramour? Jesu defend me, said Sir Lanselot, for than I rewarded your father and your brother full evil for their great goodness”(p. 302).
Lanselot promised the desperate girl to be her faithful knight until death. He added that he would apportion a generous monetary gift annually for her, for her future spouse as well as their posterity. The fainted Elaina was taken into the next room by her maids. The life of the virgin in love ended tragically. She ceased to eat, drink and sleep, but did not stop thinking of Lanselot. Before her death she explained to her old father: “… My belief is I do none offence though I love an earthly man; and I take God to my record I loved never none but Sir Launcelot du Lake, nor never shall, and a clene maiden I am for him and for all other: and sithen it is the sufferance of God that I shall die for the Love of so noble a knight, I beseech the High Father of Heaevn to have mercy upon my soul…” (pp. 303-304).
Elaine died soon after. Her father and brothers fulfilled her last wish. Her lavishly attired corpse, holding in her land the letter dictated by herself, was placed in a boat and the boatman rowed down the Thames, to King Arthur’s Palace at Westminster. The last farewell letter of the Astolat beauty was read to Lanselot in the presence of the king, the queen and the knights of the Round Table.
Lanselot does not respond to the love of any other woman, for he obeys the laws of courtly love. Uncompromising loyalty to one’s love and to the queen is the basic demand of this love. Guinevere reacts bitterly to every detail in the manifestation of Lanselot’s devotion to her: she chides her love even for his momentary vacillation in getting into the humiliating coach; she does not want to pardon his participation in the tournament with the sleeve of an unknown woman. However, Guinevere’s caprices are invariably devoid of real ground. Lanselot does not betray his love. He is an ideal image of a courtly love.
Can Avtandil’s conduct be assessed from the position of the same, courtly love? I am inclined to answer this question in the negative. The matter is that the MPS is not a courtly romance. Its relation to European courtly literature remains within general typological boundaries, which should be accounted for by the overall spirit of the times. Partly, however, by the relation of 12th –century European romance as well as, and predominantly, by the relation of the MPS to the Persian epic, in particular to the Vis Ramin. Yet, the difference between them is substantial, which is primarily due to the differing national character and native literary roots. Chrètien de Troyes and Rustaveli have different literary sources for both the love plot and individual details of the subject. In this respect, whereas the MPS is basically related to the oriental epic (Ramayana, Vis u Ramin, Leyle wa Majnun, etc.), and partly to the ancient Greek epic, Chrètien de Troyes is based on Classical Latin literature (Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Art of Love, Fastes, Apuleus’ Golden Mule, Petronius’ Satiricon, Boethius’ Consolation through Philosophy, etc). The model of love intrigue differs also in medieval European literature and in its Georgian counterpart of the same period. In particular, old Georgian literature is not familiar with the triangular model of love, which is crucial in the European courtly romance (Tristan, Isolde, King Mark; Lanselot, Guinevere, King Arthur).
Hence, it should be presumed from the beginning that the interpretation of the essence of love must differ absolutely in the MPS and the European courtly romance. Indeed, the idea of Rustaveli’s characters on the betrayal of one’s love does not coincide with Lanselot’s stand. Thus, Tariel, boundlessly in love with Nestan, does not reject a woman Asmat that has come to him for love (stanzas 362-378).