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Author: Lyudmila G. Dorofeeva
Information about the author:

Lyudmila G. Dorofeeva, DSc in Philology, Assistant Professor, Professor, Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, A. Nevsky 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. 



For citation:

Dorofeeva, L.G. “Topos of Ladder in the Life (Vita) of John the Sinai (Based on the Optina Translation of the ‘Ladder’).” Germenevtika drevnerusskoi literatury [Hermeneutics of Old Russian Literature]. Issue 22. Ed.-in-chief O.A. Tufanova. Moscow, IWL RAS Publ., 2023, pp. 312–328. (In Russian) https://doi.org/10.22455/HORL.1607-6192-2023-22-312-328 

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22455/HORL.1607-6192-2023-22-312-328
UDC: 821.161.1.0
Keywords: Old Russian translated literature, hagiography, the Life (Vita) of John the Sinai, hagiographic topic, topos of ladder, image of the saint, poetics.
Date of publication: 20.09.2023

Acknowledgements: The article was completed with the support of the Russian Science Foundation (grant no. 22-18-00005 “Iconography and hagiography of the Ladder of John the Sinai”).


The article examines the study of poetics of the short life (vita) of John of the Ladder, compiled by Daniel of Raifa. The text analysis is carried out on the material of the Russian translation of The Optina Pustyn Monastery. The life is an integral part of the creation of John the Sinai the Ladder. The author of article focuses on the topos of ladder, its semantic content, forms of expression and its function in the structure of the life (vita). The essential nexus of the life of the saint with his own creation determines the principle of comparison of the texts. The image of St. John of the Ladder is in the centre, as in the icon, organizing all the elements of poetics, including the topos of ladder. The ladder contains 30 steps (or “degrees”), which are reflected in the life (vita), but not in direct sequence, but in subordination to the law of iconicity and the basic principle of creating a hagiographic image — the reverse perspective. The main thing in the life (vita) is the space of Divine eternity, and for the hagiographer it is not the temporal progression of external or even internal events that is important, but hierarchy of virtues and its expression in the image of the saint whose example is to be followed. The panegyric nature of the life determines its metaphoricity, imagery, which allows the hagiographer to express briefly the main idea of the Ladder — ascent of the saint along the steps of virtues.


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