Panegyrical Works. The Eulogy of the Life and Death of Grand Prince Dmitry, Son of Ivan
The Eulogy of the Life and Death of Grand Prince Dmitry, Son of Ivan. Stylistically The Eulogy of the Life and Death of Grand Prince Dmitry, Son of Ivan, and Tsar of Russia belongs to hagiographical works of the expressive-emotional style. It is a eulogy to Dmitry Donskoy. At the end of his work the author announces with the self-denigration customary for the genre: “But I, unworthy one, because of the poverty of my mind have been unable to compose a eulogy worthy of a prince and a Christian.” 32 In style and composition the Eulogy is akin to the works of Epiphanius the Most Wise.33
There are different opinions about when the Eulogy was written. Most specialists date it to the 1390s, assuming that it was written by someone who witnessed the death and burial of the prince (who died in 1389). Varvara Adrianova-Peretts suggests the 1420s, and Marina Salmina the end of the 1440s, linking its appearance with the 1448 compilation.34 These dates are hypothetical and so far it is impossible to give preference to any of them.
The author shows little interest in biographical facts about Dmitry Donskoy and historical information. At the beginning he traces Dmitry’s parentage back to Grand Prince Vladimir I and stresses that he was related to the princes Boris and Gleb. The Battle on the Vozha and the Battle of Kulikovo Field are mentioned. Both in these and other sections of the Tale which deal with concrete events, there is not so much an account of them as a generalised description. The main content of the Eulogy are eulogies to Dmitry and the author’s complex philosophical discourses on the prince’s greatness. He compares his hero with Biblical characters, stressing his superiority to them. In these comparisons Dmitry is represented as the greatest ruler that the world has ever known.
The lament by Dmitry’s wife, Princess Eudoxia, is deeply lyrical and shows the influence of the traditional widow’s lament: “How could you die, my precious life, leaving me a lonely widow! Why did I not perish earlier? The light has gone out of my eyes! Where have you gone, treasure of my life? Why do you not speak to me, dear heart, to your wife?” Eudoxia’s lament was very popular with Old Russian scribes, who often reworked it introducing tales about the death of other princes.
The character and content of The Eulogy of the Life of Grand Prince Dmitry were determined by the style of The Book of Degrees of the Tsar’s Genealogy, one of the most important ideological literary works of the sixteenth century.35 In its panegyric style The Eulogy to Prince Boris of Tver resembles the Lay.