First Editions of Five Georgian Classics, Published by Platon Ioseliani

A collection of five texts (all published, in five volumes) of classical Georgian literature, edited and with an introduction by Platon Ioseliani (1809–1875), the Georgian linguist, philologist, and historian.

A collection of five texts (all published, in five volumes) of classical Georgian literature, edited and with an introduction by Platon Ioseliani (1809–1875), the Georgian linguist, philologist, and historian. The son of a priest and a hereditary nobleman, Platon Ioseliani graduated from the Tiflis Theological Seminary (1830) and later St. Petersburg Theological Academy (1835). The study of ancient Georgian manuscripts held at the Tiflis Seminary sparked his interest in Georgian antiquity. Ioseliani went on to write a number of works on archeology, philology, and history of the Georgian Orthodox Church, including a description of archeological digs at Kakheti, standardized “Georgian Grammar” (1837), “History of Georgian Grammar” (1840) and “A Brief History of Georgian Orthodox Church” (1841). He was also the editor of “Transcaucasian Messenger” (1845–1855). In 1849 he traveled to the Ivirion Monastery on Mt. Athos, to study the ancient Georgian manuscripts among its holdings, which he found “strewn all over the floor and unmarked shelves.” His research resulted in five travelogue essays and a history of Georgian Saints with “historical, geographical, chronological and philological observations,” all published in 1850. One of Ioseliani’s great contributions is his publication of five classics of medieval and early-modern Georgian literature, for which he provided introductions. The introductions to the two travelogues in this collection are informed by his own travels to Mt. Athos. The commentary on the two poetic works benefit from Ioseliani’s linguistic expertise and his historical research.

The present series was likely printed in a small print run and funded by Ioseliani. With the exception of no. 5, the titles are in attractive contemporary full calf bindings, with the titles embossed to front board in cyrillic. The spines rubbed; lacking the publisher's wrappers; overall a very good set.

List of titles included:

1.  T’imote, Mtavar-Ep’isk’op’osi (Archbishop Timothy; მთავარ-ეპისკოპოსი ტიმოთე). Mokhilua ts’mindata da skhuata aghmosavletisa adgilta, t’imotesgan kartlisa mtavar-ep’isk’op’osisa / ts’inasit’q’vaoba p’lat’on egnat’is-dze ioseliani [Review of Platon Egnatia-dze Ioseliani, Archbishop of Kartli / Timothy, from the Holy Places of Saints and Others in the East; მოხილუა წმინდათა და სხუათა აღმოსავლეთისა ადგილთა, ტიმოთესგან ქართლისა მთავარ-ეპისკოპოსისა / წინასიტყვაობა პლატონ ეგნატის-ძე იოსელიანი]. Edited and with a preface by Platon Ioseliani. Tbilisi: self-published (k’avk’as. namest’n. k’antsel. st’), 1852. Octavo (20 cm). 188 pp. 

First edition. The first publication of the eighteenth-century travelogue to Jerusalem, through Mt. Athos and Constantinople, written by the Georgian cleric, cartographer, calligrapher, and travel writer Timothy (Gabashvili) Archbishop of Kutaisi (1707–1764). Timothy’s four-year journey (1755–1759) had spiritual as well as political and historiographic motivations. Although many Georgian predecessors traveled to Jerusalem, Timothy was the first to seek out historical and archeological material and to compile a documentary history of the Georgian colony in Jerusalem in his travelogue. Printed in the original old Georgian, “most modern scholars consider Timothy's Georgian complicated” as it reflects the significant changes Georgian underwent in the eighteenth century. His style changes according to his subject matter with “high style” reserved for theological discussions and more colloquial “middle style” used for discussions of everyday life, with this work serving as an excellent example of the linguistic changes in this period (See Miza Ebanoidze and John Wilkinson, Pilgrimage, p. 59). Platon Ioseliani’s introduction to this edition was the first attempt at providing a biography of Timothy Gabashvili who came from an ancient Georgian royal family. Born shortly after the introduction of the first printing press to Georgia in 1707, Timothy spoke Armenian, Russian, Turkish and Greek. He became the Archbishop of Kutaisi in the early 1730s. In 1737–1740 Timothy was sent on a diplomatic mission to Russia, for which he prepared a detailed large format color map of Imereti (Western Georgia), that contained strategically important information for the Russian empire, embroiled in war with Turkey. His travels to Jerusalem and Constantinople seem to have had similar political motivations. Ioseliani’s publication of Timothy’s work reflects his own interest in Georgian antiquity and is informed by his own trip to Mt. Athos. As of May 2020, KVK and OCLC only show one copy, at the University of London SOAS.

2.  Archil Mepe (King Archil; არჩილ მეფე). Tskhovreba mep’isa T’eimuraz p’irueilisa, aghts’erili leksad archilisagan mepisa / [k’oment’ariebi da shenishvnebi p’lat’on ioselianisa]. [Life of King Teimuraz Pirueil, described in verse by Archil King / [Comments and Notes by Plato Ioseliani; ცხოვრება მეფისა თეიმურაზ პირუეილისა, აღწერილი ლექსად არჩილისაგან მეფისა / [კომენტარიები და შენიშვნები პლატონ იოსელიანისა]. Tbilisi: self-published (K’avk’as. namest’n. k’antsel. st’), 1853. Octavo (22 cm). [4], 185 pp.

First edition. First publication thus of King Archil’s “acclaimed masterpiece,” the work offers a lyric overview of the tumultuous reign of Teimuraz I (1589–1661) the early seventeenth-century “poet king.” Written in 1681–1685 in the form of a “dispute” in 19 responses, it runs to over 1100 stanzas. Embroiled in constant wars with the Persian Shah, Teimuraz I died in captivity. King Archil II (1647–1712), whose reign was also beset by wars, pays tribute to his royal and poetic predecessor and identifies with his plight (See Donald Rayfield “Literature of Georgia,” pp. 107–109). Both kings had strong ties to Georgian print culture. The first book printed in Georgian, an Italian-Georgian dictionary, was in fact printed at King Teimuraz’s behest. Archil II spent his last 13 years in exile in Russia, where he became one of the founders of the Georgian community in Moscow. In 1703 he established the first Georgian printing press in Russia, printing the Psalms in Georgian, with the first printing press in Georgia established in 1707. While Teimuraz I was a lover of Persian poetry, Archil II was against Persian influences in Georgian language and composed in more traditional Georgian meter. Platon Ioseliani’s interest in this work seems to have been sparked by the involvement of these “poet kings” in the development of Georgian language and print culture. As of May 2020, KVK and OCLC only show one copy, at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.

3.  Iona, Metropolitan of Ruisi (Iona, Ruisis Mit’rop’olit’i; იონა, რუისის მიტროპოლიტი). Mimosula anu mgzavroba iona ruisisa mit’rop’olit’isa / [ts’inasit’q’v. avt’. p’.e. ioseliani] [Travel or journey of Ioana (Gedevanishvili), with a preface by P. E. Ioseliani; მიმოსულა ანუ მგზავრობა იონა რუისისა მიტროპოლიტისა / [წინასიტყვ. ავტ. პ.ე. იოსელიანი]. Tbilisi: self-published (k’avk’as. namest’n. k’antsel. st’), 1852. Octavo (20 cm). [4], 172, [2] pp.

First and only edition of an eighteenth-century travelogue “through the entirety of Christian East” written by Metropolitan Iona (Gedevanishvili; 1737–1821) which provides important insights into political, social, and cultural aspects of life in late eighteenth-century Georgia and the Middle East. Raised under the mentorship of Patriarch Anton I, Iona served as Metropolitan 1775–1780. In 1780 Iona was removed from the post for an unnamed offence (possibly due to disagreements with King Erekle II) and seems to have undertaken the travels in part to vindicate himself. In the course of 1783–1795 he visited Constantinople, Greek Islands and Mt. Athos, Beirut, Damascus, Egypt, Jerusalem, as well as Venice, Vienna, and Poland. Iona apparently had some manner of diplomatic status for the journey as he was well received by the heads of the Church. Among other things, he worked with the eleventh-century Georgian manuscripts at the Iviron Monastery at Mt. Athos and managed to negotiate their temporary transfer to Tiflis for copying. At the close of his journey he was welcomed at the court of Catherine the Great. He subsequently settled in Moscow where he wrote this account of his travels between 1805–1810. This edition is appended with a decree by Patriarch Anton I, which named Iona Metropolitan in 1775. Ioseliani’s publication of this work is informed by his own trip to Mt. Athos. As of May 2020, KVK and OCLC only show one copy, at Harvard.

4.  Ant’on I, K’atalik’osi (Anton I, Catholicos-Patriarch of Georgia; ანტონ I, კათალიკოსი). ts’q’obil-sit’q’uaoba / kmnili ant’onisagan p’iruelisa, k’atalik’os-p’at’riarkhisa q’ovlisa sakartueloisa. p’ort’ret’iturt tvit ant’onisa ; [ts’inasit’q’v. avt’ori: p’.e. ioseliani] [Word formation: by Anton by Pyrrhus, Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia. With a portrait of Anton himself; introduction by P. E. Iosaliani; წყობილ-სიტყუაობა / ქმნილი ანტონისაგან პირუელისა, კათალიკოს-პატრიარხისა ყოვლისა საქართუელოისა. პორტრეტითურთ თვით ანტონისა ; [წინასიტყვ. ავტორი: პ.ე. იოსელიანი]]. Tbilisi: self-published (k’avk’as. namest’n. k’antsel. st’), 1853. Octavo (20 cm). XXVI, 317 pp. This volume with a chromolithograph print, a frontis portrait of Anton I.

First edition. A history of Georgian culture in verse written by Anton I, a philosopher, historian, linguist and Patriarch of Georgian Orthodox Church 1744–1755 and 1764–1788. Composed in 880 iambic stanzas in 1769, Tskobilsitkvaoba contains information about Georgian history and culture not found in other historical sources, with portions of the work dedicated to biographies of Georgian kings, clerics and poets. Born a royal prince, Teimuraz Bagrationi (1720–1788), and raised with his cousin, future King Erekle II, Anton became a monk at the Gelati Monastery at age 18. In 1744, coincident with King Erekle II ascent to the throne, Anton was elected Patriarch. In this position he took active part in the foreign policy of King Erekle II, establishing contacts with Western European nations and promoting educational institutions in Georgia on the European model. During his tenure, Anton I presided over the establishment of several new seminaries, reopened printing and publishing operations, and personally oversaw teaching curricula. Anton also authored a number of philosophical theological works, the most famous of which is his “Martiri” (1769). He also oversaw standardization of Georgian grammar, published the first Georgian grammar textbook, and translated a Physics textbook by K. Wolf, helping create new Georgian vocabulary for physics terminology. As of May 2020, KVK and OCLC only show one copy, at the University of London SOAS.


5. Tpileli, Ioseb (თფილელი, იოსებ, 1620–1688). Didi Mouraviani / tkmuli saak’adzis-dzis ioseb tbilelisagan, damat’ebit skhuatatsa mista tkhzulebata ; ts’inasit’q’v. p’lat’on ioseliani [Didmouraviani, by the son of Saakaże Ioseb Tbileli, in addition to his other works; preface by Platon Iosaliani; დიდი მოურავიანი / თქმული სააკაძის-ძის იოსებ თბილელისაგან, დამატებით სხუათაცა მისთა თხზულებათა ; წინასიტყვ. პლატონ იოსელიანი]. Tbilisi: self-published (k’avk’as. namest’n. k’antsel. st’), 1851. Contemporary cloth-backed marbled paper boards; [3], 79, [1] pp. Lightly resized to binding; still about very good.

First printing of this epos in verse by Ioseb Tpileli or Tbileli (1620–1688), which depicts the life of Giorgi Saakadze (or Saakaze), also known as the Grand Mouravi, an important early seventeenth-century Georgian warlord and politician. Tbileli is believed to have been the son of Saakadze’s nephew and, after growing up in the Kvat’akhevi Monastery in Georgia, he went on to a career in the clergy, ultimately serving as metropolitan in Tbilisi. The work was republished in the 1930s as Didmouraviani. As of June 2020, no copies in KVK, OCLC. We can only locate the holding at Universitäts und Landesbibliothek Bonn.

Book ID: 50830

Price: $7,500.00