This book is the first printed work of the new Ukrainian literature written in the popular language. It introduced to the world the Ukrainian people with their history, language, traditions, faith, and ethical and aesthetic views, drawing upon materials derived from the social life of Ukraine of the late 18th–early 19th centuries. The work is based on The Aeneid, the epic poem by the Roman poet Virgil (circa 70–19 BC), but the author, Ivan Petrovych Kotlyarevsky, transforms Virgil’s ancient heroes into Ukrainian cossacks. The author used a poetic form that was new for that time: decasyllabic strophe of iambic tetrameter with right rhyme interchange. The work met with great success among contemporary readers and led to the displacement of the old bookish language by the new Ukrainian folk language. At its beginning, the edition has a dedication that reads: “To those who love Malorussian words.” At the end is a Ukrainian–Russian dictionary compiled by O.K. Kamenetzky, entitled “Collection of Malorussian Words.” Malorussian (literally “little Russian”) was a term used in the Russian Empire, now obsolete, to denote the Ukrainian language and people. This is one of five copies of the first edition of Èneida (The Aeneid) of 1798 held by the V.I. Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine.
M. Parpura, Saint Petersburg
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- Wolodomyr T. Zyla, “A Ukrainian Version of the ‘Aeneid’: Ivan Kotljarevs’kj’s ‘Enejida’,” Classical Journal, 67, number 3 (February–March 1972).
Last updated: December 24, 2013