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Shota Rustaveli – the Poet of Georgia

In world literature there are very few creations which have outlived their own creator.On the other hand, some creations are not well-acclaimed despite the author being famous which leads to otherwise ordinary creations get a wide circulation.

However, on a rare occasion, there can be some exceptions to this.

When the author and his work both are worthy of the praise then it acts as a sparkling combination.

Shota Rustaveli and his wonderful epic “The Knight in the Tiger’s Skin” is an example of this type of combination.

Not only the poem is rich in its artistic expressions but also the poet himself is a larger than life character.

Shota Rustaveli was an adored courtier in Queen Tamar’s court who ruled Georgia from 1184 to 1213.

Queen Tamar’s ruling period is considered a Golden Era in Georgian History.

To immortalize Queen Tamar, Shota Rustaveli created his masterpiece which he bases the central character upon the personality, character, and biography of Queen Tamar.

Though it is mainly a love story, one can’t label it entirely as an epic of Love.

Rustaveli has made it in such a way that it is bustling with philosophical thoughts on life, courage, chivalry, sacrifice and above all it reflects the true character of Georgian people.

Queen Tamar

15 things about Queen Tamar the Great !!!!

Rustaveli wrote

“A lion’s roar is the same, whether it be male or female” (10:39),

which not only shows his admiration for Queen Tamar, but also his belief that both sexes are equal, an idea which far preceded Western Europe.

Unlike most of Europe, which at the time had absolutist monarchies and was in the midst of feudalism, Rustaveli wrote

“It is very wholesome to eat and drink, but what profits to hoard? What thou givst away is thine: what thou keepest is lost.”

(12:50)

Instead of praising the wealth and grandeur of nobility and royalty, Rustaveli writes on the virtues of humility and charity.

Although there is not any direct reference to Georgia or historical events related to it, the epic is in its essence reflects Georgian culture which is a mixture of Christian virtues, Love and Golden era under Queen Tamar’s rule.

The epic is such deeply ingrained in Georgian culture that it is a custom to gift a copy of this book to every newly-wed bride on her wedding day.

The epic abounds with quotations putting stress on importance of sacrifice in a platonic relationship.

It was also a motivational book of its time and some of its quotes are still relevant in today’s time when we are in need of positive message to keep us going through a depressive phase.

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Some more Quotes from "The Knight in the Tiger Skin"

7: 22: „მიჯნური შმაგს გვიქვა არაბული ენით, იმიტომ, რომ მისი ვერწვდომის წყენით შმაგობს

“ – In the Arabic tongue they call the lover a “madman” because by non-fruition he loses his wits.

8:30: „ავ კაცს ავი სიტყვა ურჩევნია სულსა და გულსა“

An evil man loves evil words more than his soul and heart.

28: 129: „შეუპყრიხარ სიყვარულს, შენი გული დაუტყვევებია

“—Thou art made prisoner by love; thy heart is taken captive.

34: 154: „კაცს მართებს არ შუდრკეს გასაჭირს, არამედ მამაცურად შეებრძოლოს.

“–…a man must not bend before misfortune, but meet it like a man.

41:185: „ავსა კარგად ვერვინ შეცვლის და ვერც თავს იშობს ხელახლა

“—No man can turn evil to good; none can be born again of himself.

42: 190: „განგებას ვერვინ შეცვლის, არსაქმნელი არ იქმნება

“—No one can change that which is decreed; that which is not to be will not be.

53: 255-256: „ მოყმემ უთხრა: ეს საქმე ამას ჰგავს და არა სხვას: ორი კაცი მოდიოდა, სადაურნი ადგნენ გზას, უკანამ დაინაკა, რომ წინა ჭაში ჩავარდნილიყო; ზედ მიადგა, ჩაჰყვიროდა, ტიროდა და ვაებდა.“ „ასე უთხრა: მეგობარო, მანდ იყავი მომიცადე, წავალ თოკის მოსატანად, მწადს მანდედან ამოგიყვანო. ქვემოთას გაეცინა და ძალიან გაუკვირდა კიდეც: ამოსძახა: არ გელოდო, სად წავიდე?

“—The knight replied: “This only resembles one thing (this is like a certain story): Two men were journeying somewhere along some road; the one who was behind saw the one in front fall into a well. He came up, called down, weeps and cries ‘Woe!’” “Thus he spoke: ‘Comrade, stay there, wait for me, I go to bring ropes, I want to pull the out.’ The man who was beneath laughed, he marveled greatly, he shouted up ‘Unless I wait, whither can I flee from thee, whither can I go?’”

91: 432: „კარგი საქმე კაცს თრმე ასე არ დაეკარგება

“—A good deed to a man cannot go by unrewarded

** This article is prepared by

Visiting Georgia
We are an informational website aimed at making Georgia accessible
Mariam Bughadze
Mariam is a violinist and a miniature artist from Georgia.

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