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Author: Lyudmila G. Dorofeeva
Information about the author:

Lyudmila G. Dorofeeva, DSc in Philology, Associate Professor, Professor, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, A. Nevsky St. 14, 236041 Kaliningrad, Russia.

ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3622-8379

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Author 2: Natalia P. Zhilina
Information about the author 2: Natalia P. Zhilina, DSc in Philology, Associate Professor, Professor of the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, A. Nevsky St. 14, 236041 Kaliningrad, Russia. ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2114-0451 E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 


For citation:

Dorofeeva, L.G., Zhilina, N.P. “Key Motifs in Old Russian Hagiography of the Lithuanian Martyrs Anthony, John and Eustathius: to the Problem of Hagiographical Topic.” Germenevtika drevnerusskoi literatury [Hermeneutics of Old Russian Literature]. Issue 21. Ed.-in-chief O.A. Tufanova. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2022, pp. 251–266. (In Russian) https://doi.org/10.22455/HORL.1607-6192-2022-21-251-266 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22455/HORL.1607-6192-2022-21-251-266
UDC: 821.161.1.0
Keywords: Old Russian hagiography, Life (Vita) of the Lithuanian martyrs Anthony, John and Eustathius, hagiographic topic, “imitatio Christi” motif, motif of brotherhood, poetics of “nuances.”
Date of publication: 16.12.2022


The article examines the key motifs in the Vita of the Lithuanian Martyrs Anthony, John and Eustathius. The question of relationship between “hagiographic scheme” and “live content” of Vita, which consists in the uniqueness of saints’ personality and poetics of “nuances” (G.P. Fedotov), is resolved. The leading motifs that determine the content and structure of Vita are the motif of acting like Christ (“imitatio Christi”) and the motif of brotherhood (kinship), which is considered in their connection and mutual influence. The first and main topos of the martyrdom lives “imitatio Christi” is influenced in this hagiography by the second key motif, topos of the brotherhood, which makes up the storyline of brothers Anthony and John. “Imitatio Christi” is the first and main topos in Vita of martyrs. The content of the motif is determined by the opposition of flesh (brotherhood by blood) and Spirit (brotherhood by the faith in Christ). Elder brother John after going through temptation by flesh, fear of suffering and death, agrees to act according to pagan customs outwardly, while maintaining faith internally. But this leads to his falling away from Christ and to Anthony’s rejection of any kinship with him. John’s return to Christ and his way to martyrdom is associated with his kindred love for Anthony, which develops the meaning of brotherhood in the Spirit, while the topos “imitatio Christi” is represented here by its semantic variant — the way of the saint “not following Christ, but towards Him” (T.R. Rudi). The image of Eustathius, adding to and thus “tripling” the holiness of his relatives — martyrs Anthony and John, introduces the idea of Trinity of God, expressed in building the church in the name of Holy Trinity on place of the martyr’s death of his brothers, the saints, which also brings additional meaning to the motif of “imitatio Christi” — men’s service to Trinital God.


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