Instructional literature

Instructional literature. A genre of oratorical, didactic prose that was popular in ancient and medieval times in Europe. There are many translated and original works of this genre in Old Ukrainian literature—speeches, discourses, and homilies. Among translated works the oldest are the instructions of Xenophon and Theodora in the Izbornik of Sviatoslav (1076). Of the original works the most important are Prince Volodymyr Monomakh’s Poucheniie ditiam (Instructions to [My] Children), Metropolitan Ilarion’s ‘Slovo o zakoni i blahodati’ (Sermon on Law and Grace), the sermons and instructions of Cyril of Turiv, the ‘Poucheniie o liubvi’ (Instructions on Love) attributed to Klym Smoliatych, and the instructions of Luka Zhydiata and of Serapion of Vladimir. Some anonymous works were also widely known: ‘Slovo o pravdi i nepravdi’ (A Sermon on Truth and Falsehood), ‘Slovo o linyvim i sonlyvim’ (A Sermon on a Lazy and Sleepy Man), a sermon on parental respect, and others. The nature of poetry in Ifika iieropolitika (1712) was also instructional. Works of instructional literature typically consist of an appeal to children or the faithful to live righteously, learn, work hard, be merciful toward others, and live humbly and simply.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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