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One of the most popular medieval books, “The Ladder” (Lestvica) by John Climacus, is still to be a subject that has been little explored. The article deals with the lexical structure of the book by analysis of the text of the most ancient Russian manuscript created in the middle of the 12th century in the Kiev territory. In the manuscript, there are many words indicating the time and the place of the fi rst Slavic translation of “The Ladder” (Preslav Literary School). The outstanding medieval Bulgarian scholar and writer John the Exarch was possibly the translator. The medical and astronomical terms, names of animals, plants and chemical elements are considered in the article. The terms related to the monastic life are described: the names of dwellings, words conveying a way of life in the monastery, names of monks. Special attention is paid to the words calling evil spirits. This group of words in “The Ladder” is extremely diverse. The devil and his suite (demons) do their sophisticated work against the monk, personifying a particular vice. John Climacus expressively describes the struggle of the monk against these demons (the demon of vanity, the demon of adultery, the demon of despondency etc.). In the original text, the author tries to replace lexemes of the devil or a demon with indirect names (the enemy, the wolf, the dragon, the robber etc.). The Slavic text of the monument is still characterized by big aspiration to avoid the use of the direct names. When reading the manuscript one gets the impression that the scribe specifi cally omits the names of the demons. In general, observations on the text of the Slavic manuscript in comparison with the Greek original lead to the belief that the fi rst Slavic translation of “The Ladder” was done at a high level. In the Slavic manuscript there are missing text fragments and therefore the meaning of the original text is often lost. However, this is not due to bad translation, but the activity of copyists of this text translation is to be blamed.


John Climacus, The Ladder, Medieval Slavic Manuscripts, Old Russian language, Lexicon, Translation of Greek into Old Church Slavonic

Aleksandra D. Bondareva - Northern (Arctic) Federal University named after M. V. Lomonosov, Russia, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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