Smotritskii, Meletii

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Smotritskii, Meletii


Born circa 1578; died Dec. 27, 1633, at the Derman’ Monastery. Scholar and philologist. Churchman and public figure of southwestern Rus’.

Smotritskii was the son of Gerasim Smotritskii, a clerk from Kamenets who later became rector of the Orthodox Academy in Ostrog, where Smotritskii studied. The young Smotritskii was sent to the Wilno (Vilnius) Jesuit College. He also studied at the universities of Leipzig and Wittenberg. Smotritskii’s first published work was Antigraph (1608), a polemic directed against Catholicism and the Brest Union (1596). In Vilnius he published the treatise Threnody, or The Lament of the Eastern Church (1610). The entire edition was destroyed on the order of King Sigismund III. Smotritskii had written the work under the pen name Theophilos Orthologos, and his identity was not discovered. He published additional polemical treatises between 1619 and 1623.

Smotritskii spent the years from 1623 to 1625 in Constantinople and in 1627 secretly joined the Uniates. The following year he published in L’vov his Apologia for a Journey to the East, in which he retracted the ideas he had set forth in the Threnody. In 1629 he published Exethesis and also Paraenesis, or A Reminder to the Russian People, in which he sought to justify his conversion to Uniatism.

Smotritskii’s only work of real importance is The Correct Syntagm of Slavonic Grammar (1619), called by M. V. Lomonosov “the gates of learning.” His writings are marked by clarity and by orderliness of presentation. His philosophic views are an eclectic combination of Christian theology and Aristotelianism, which had been sanctioned by the church.


Osinskii, Af. S. M. Smotritskii, arkhiepiskop Polotskii. Kiev, 1912.
Zasadkevich, Nikifor. M. Smotritskii, kak filolog. Odessa, 1883.
Solov’ev, S. M. Istoriia Rossii s drevneishikh vremen v piatnadtsati knigakh, book 5. Moscow, 1961. Pages 429-34,454.
Prokoshina, E. Meletii Smotritskii. Minsk, 1966.

S. KNIAZEVA [23–1867–]

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.