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- Dimitrie Cantemir (1673–1723), prince of Moldavia, was a philosopher, historian, composer, and man of letters. His father was a mercenary of peasant origin who rose to become the voivode (prince) of Bogdan, the Turkish name for Moldavia. As a boy, Cantemir pursued studies in Greek, Latin, Slavonic, and other subjects. At age 14, he replaced his brother as a hostage of the Ottomans in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), serving as a guarantee of his father’s loyalty to the Sublime Porte. There he continued his education, studying Turkish, Arabic, Persian, Tartar, French, and Italian, as well as philosophy, geography, history, and music. After his father’s death in March 1693, Cantemir was proclaimed voivode of Moldavia, but the Sublime Porte refused to validate him for the throne and he resumed his life of study in Constantinople. In November 1710, Cantemir finally ascended the throne of Moldavia, where he instituted policies of reform and social progress. He formed an alliance with Tsar Peter I (Peter the Great) and joined Russia in a campaign against the Ottomans aimed at securing Moldavia’s autonomy and Russian protection against the Turks. The defeat of the Russian-Moldavian army in July 1711 at Stănileşti forced Cantemir to flee and take refuge in Russia, where he remained for the rest of his life. Cantemir wrote books on history, geography, philosophy, and linguistics, mainly in Latin. He completed Divanul sau Gâlceava înţeleptului cu lumea sau Giudeţul sufletului cu trupul (The divan or the quarrel of the wise man with the world or the judgment between the soul and the body), a work of logic and philosophy composed in Romanian, in late 1697. The book was printed the following year, with a parallel translation in Greek by Eremiah Cacavela, at the Monastery of the Three Hierarchs in Iaşi (also called Jassy). It is one of only two works by Cantemir published during his lifetime and is the first Romanian imprint by any author. The book is printed using the Greek alphabet.
Monastery of the Three Hierarchs, Iaşi
Title in Original Language
Divanul sau Gâlceava înţeleptului cu lumea sau Giudeţul sufletului cu trupul
Type of Item
- 9 unnumbered pages, 138 [-144] pages: illustrated; folio (30 x 21 centimeters); 37 lines per page (23 x 14 centimeters)
- Copy 001: Inventory number 491; page 5 missing; leather binding with gilded ornamentations; handwritten notes on page 144 verso. Parallel text in two columns, Romanian-Greek. Woodcuts: coat of arms of Moldova; the soul and the body, after a drawing by Cantemir, page 9 verso.