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Ancient Russian writer Daniil Zatocnik: biography, works

Daniil Zatocnik is the author of one of the most famous works in Old Russian literature. His work is the subject of long scientific discussions, it is included in the curriculum of education at historical faculties. The reason for this attitude is that his work is the brightest monument of the epoch, reflecting the idea of a representative of the middle strata of society.

Briefly about biography

Daniel Zatocnik, whose biography is almost unknown, most likely came from people who somehow related to the princely service. At least that's what most historians think. Some believe that he was an artisan by profession, but most of the experts still agree that he was close to the princely entourage, because in his works he discovers knowledge of how the rulers' affairs were going.

In science, opinions are expressed that, perhaps, he was a member of the younger squad, others suggest that he was an adviser to the prince (Duma member in Old Russian terminology). But the abundance of conversational lexicon, popular aphorisms, sayings in his writings testifies to the fact that he was close to the people's circles. Most historians agree that he was a native of Pereyaslavl. In his works there are appeals to the ruler of this city. Subsequently, he was exiled, imprisoned, or voluntarily took on himself slave labor on Lake Lache (Olonets region). One chronicle mentions that it was in this area that he lived. Historians believe that Daniel Zatocnik lived in the 12th century, but some refer to the years of his life by the 13th century.

Features of works

This man was remembered for his writings, dating, the content of which still causes arguments among specialists. Researchers can not decide whether the two surviving monuments, the authorship of which are attributed to him, one work, but in different editions, or is it all the same different works belonging to different people. The "Prayer" of Daniel Zatotnik is an appeal to the prince, in which the author complains about his unjust fate, complains about the misfortunes that befell him and asks his ruler to help him, to save him from harm, as he himself put it. A characteristic feature of this monument is that it first clearly expressed the idea of the needs and aspirations of the average nobility. At least, this is how scientists characterize these sources. The "word" of Daniel Zatotnik is textologically close to the above source, so they are often treated as a single whole. However, this makes it difficult to determine the dates of compilation of these works.

Value in the literature

These works were very popular in Russia: they corresponded, were written down and, obviously, were perceived as sources of worldly wisdom. These different strata and stratifications make it very difficult to determine the original source text, and yet historians as a whole reconstructed these monuments in their original form. "Prayer" by Daniel Zatyonnik represents, according to a number of researchers, the most interesting monument of noble publicistic thought, which subsequently influenced the development of public consciousness. It is this circumstance that explains this interest in the monument, because it is a kind of reflection of the interests and aspirations of one of the main estates in Ancient Rus.


The style of narration has long been a subject of interest of many historians, as it demonstrates the circle of the author's interests. In these works there are quotes from the Holy Scripture and other famous books. Daniel Zatochnik seems very educated and well-read person. He himself admitted that he loved to read, in which he found solace. In the work there are quotations from other works. This indicates a great erudition and education of the author. At the same time, there are many proverbs and proverbs in the work, as well as aphorisms, which the author calls everyday wisdom. The content of "Prayer" by Daniil Zatotnik is interesting in that respect, which shows the author's wide horizons.

The combination of book citations and popular expressions proves that the writer was perfectly fluent in the literary syllable, since, obviously, he belonged to the educated circle of people. He also cited and quoted excerpts from Izbornik, a work that was written in 1073. The work from the lexical point of view is also extremely interesting: it includes a plea, a request, a petition, and at the same time there are satires, pamphlet attacks, teachings, allegories.

Mailing Problem

In science, the question of who addressed the work to Daniel Zatocnik was not resolved. It is believed that the first edition was addressed to the son of Vladimir Monomakh, Yaroslav, but many scholars dispute this version, believing that it was sent to Yuri Dolgoruky or his brother Andrei Dobrom. Regarding the second version there are no such discrepancies. Most authors acknowledge that the message was intended for the prince, who ruled in Pereyaslavl.

Historical Context

The mention of the possibility of the conquest of the Russian land by the Tatars suggests that the work was written in the 13th century, just at the time when there was a real threat of the invasion of the Mongols. Daniel Zatocnik, whose works reflected the realities of that era, the court of the text, very vividly reacted to the events around him and, despite the imprisonment, was well-informed, observant, which increases the value of the source. In it, the writer asks the prince to return him to serve as an adviser. The author himself, although he speaks of himself in a pejorative tone, nevertheless, quite obviously, knows the value of his knowledge. This suggests that in the 12-13th centuries the role of the nobility under the prince increased, moreover, the circle of knowledgeable and educated people expanded.

"Prayer" by Daniel Zatotnik, whose analysis allows for a better understanding of the structure of Old Russian society, is a vivid monument of the time under study, because the author reflected the realities of the social structure of Ancient Rus 12-13 centuries. On its basis, readers can judge what the estates represented on the eve of the Tatar-Mongol invasion. In the work there is a description of the princely administration (the author is talking about the tyoons, princely managers of the economy), the social structure (the author speaks about the ryadovichi), and there are some information about the Grand Duke's administration (there are references to the manor and the court of the ruler). All this is an expressive sketch of Old Russian life in the centuries mentioned. The creation of the "Prayer" by Daniel Zatyonnik is the most important stage not only in the Old Russian chronicle, but also in Russian literature in general. As a journalistic monument, he, moreover, is the spokesman of the interests of the nobility.

The ratio of two products

It has already been said that in science the question of how these two monuments are connected is still not settled. In science there is a point of view that the second variant (meaning "Prayer") is more concrete and historical, and that it is possible to trace the author's fate more or less. Judging by the context, he suffered humiliation from the boyars or was in any dependence on them. Obviously, he was in poverty and legal incompleteness and therefore seeking protection and support from the prince. In addition, the second version provides a number of historical facts, while the first variant is more generalized and therefore received the name "Word". In Old Russian literature, this meant a genre that suggested reasoning on some topic in order to convince the interlocutor.

The influence

The author is credited with another work - "The Word of the Death of the Russian Land." However, this opinion was not confirmed in the literature. This work was written after the ruin of the Russian lands by the Mongol-Tatars. Some historians believe that the author of this work was a South Russian scribe. This monument, along with the works of Daniel Zatyonnik, should be considered in the context of the development of ancient Russian literature, which in the period under review reacted very vividly to the events occurring around it. Their authors not only described the events around them, but also expressed their attitude towards them and gave their assessments to some or other of the incidents whose contemporaries they were becoming. One of the most striking examples is the essay "The Word of the Perishing of the Russian Land," written in the 13th century, in which the author expressed his sorrow over the ruin of Russian regions and cities.

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