• Mzia Surguladze Doctor of Historical Sciences K. Kekelidze Georgian National Centre of Manuscripts Head of Source Studies and Diplomacy Department, Chief Researcher


The article discusses the information in Georgian literature of the Middle Ages about the Georgian language as the clearest sign of the pre-modern unity of the Georgian people. Their analysis provides an opportunity to find out how Georgian authors perceived the social phenomenon of language and what functions they assigned to it in different historical eras. According to this criterion, three chronological periods are distinguished in the article: pre-Christian (III c. BC – IV c. AD), early Christian (IV – X c.) and Byzantine (the second half of the X c. – XI c.).

The notes, discussed in accordance with the mentioned periods are picked out from the earliest layers of "Life of Kartli", hagiographic work of the X century “Grigol Khandztelis Tskhovreba” ("Life of Grigol Khandzteli") and colophons of Georgian manuscripts of the 10th-11th centuries.

The obtained information about the functions of the Georgian language gives such a picture according to the periods: 1. In the multi-ethnic Kartli of the pagan epoch, King Parnavaz recognized the dominance of the Georgian language; he created Georgian writing system and literacy (mythological model of the creation of the state); knowledge of the Georgian language was mandatory for the king, if he belonged to a foreign dynasty. 2. As a result of adoption and wide spread of Christianity, the Georgian language became a religious (and at the same time literary) language. Regular church practice had a great impact on the Georgian folk language - on its "Christianization." During this period, the content of the notion of "a Georgian" is being brought closer to the concept of "a Christian."  3. From the second half of the X century through the whole XI century, church literature previously translated into Georgian is being revised in relation to the Greek texts; The works of authors and genres unknown till that time to Georgian readers are translated, the translation method is improved, theological and philosophical terminology is developed, new notions-terms are formed based on the Georgian language.

The article shows the accompanying historical circumstances, the combination of which in certain social groups, mainly educated monks and clerics and political circles close to them, was leading to greater sensitivity to language, its perception as a tool for broad public and state tasks, assigning it new functions and making relevant practical decisions.


Keywords: Middle Ages; Christian East; Georgian Literature; Greek Language; Georgian Translation; Constantinople Ethnocentrism; Language Function; Language Identity.

How to Cite
SURGULADZE, Mzia. LANGUAGE ISSUE IN ANCIENT GEORGIAN LITERATUR. HISTORY, ARCHAEOLOGY, ETHNOLOGY, [S.l.], n. VIII, p. 68-82, dec. 2022. ISSN 2449-285X. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 20 apr. 2024.