SHCHAVELEV A.S. New “Russian Translation” of the Treatise “De Adminstrando Imperio” Amid Its Contemporary Studies


Aleksei S. Shchavelev

Candidate of Sciences (History), Senior Researcher,

Department of History of Byzantium and Eastern Europe, Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences,

Leninskiy Prosp., 32a, 119334 Moscow, Russian Federation

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Abstract. Introduction. The article is a critical essay about an attempt to translate the Constantine’s treatise “De Administrando Imperio” into an artificially archaic “Pseudo-Slavic” language, made by R.A. Gimadeev. It is shown that his commentaries accompanying this translation are extremely primitive, the author does not follow scientific methods and he is not familiar with modern scientific literature. This is especially clearly seen, since this publication takes place against the backdrop of a fundamental rethinking in modern Byzantine studies of political history and the system of power organization in the “Eastern Roman Empire” of the 10th century. This rethinking of basic Byzantine issues is vastly based on the re-interpretations and new commenting of the classic text of “De Administrando Imperio”.

Discussion. In recent years several special articles and monographs have been published, in which the questions about authorship, text structure, stylistics and ideology of the text of “De Administrando Imperio” and related subjects were re-posed.

Analysis. For a number of parameters, the text of the introduction and commentaries on the text of the treatise in this new edition made by R.A. Gimadeev is far from the standards of academic writing. His attempts to reason about the paleography of the manuscript and the text’s structure are devoid of formal arguments and arbitrary rhetorical in their nature. The translation of the text into some artificial archaic “Slavic Russian Language” does not convey the pragmatics and stylistics of the original, but leads to a distortion of its perception. The uniformity of the principles of translating special vocabulary is not maintained: in some cases, the translator refuses the usual transliterations, in others – he introduces new ones. The publication practically does not take into account modern historiography, partly, apparently, intentionally, but often, out of unfamiliarity with the necessary studies. Perhaps, some ideas of R.A. Gimadeev will be confirmed and find application in the future, but all his observations require the most careful verification.

Conclusions. The considered attempt of a new reconstruction of the Greek text of the treatise and its translation by R.A. Gimadeev are not fully scientific and qualified. As a result, the new edition turned out to be a kind of historiographical deviation, especially evident against the background of modern studies of this masterpiece of Byzantine literature.

Key words: Constantine Porphyrogenitus, “De Administrando Imperio”, Byzantium, historiography, pseudoscience.

Citation. Shchavelev A.S. New “Russian Translation” of the Treatise “De Adminstrando Imperio” Amid Its Contemporary Studies. Vestnik Volgogradskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta. Seriya 4. Istoriya. Regionovedenie. Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya [Science Journal of Volgograd State University. History. Area Studies. International Relations], 2020, vol. 25, no. 6, pp. 292-304. (in Russian). DOI:

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