|Born||3 December 1722
village of Chernukhy, Lubny Regiment, Kiev Governorate (now Ukraine)
|Died||9 November 1794 (age 71)
village of Ivanovka, Kharkov Governorate, Russian Empire (now Ukraine)
|Occupation||Writer, composer, Teacher|
|Language||Latin, Greek, Church Slavonic, Ukrainian|
Hryhorii Savych Skovoroda (Ukrainian: Григорій Савич Сковорода; Russian: Григо́рий Са́ввич Сковорода́, Grigory Savvich Skovoroda; 3 December 1722 – 9 November 1794) was a Ukrainian philosopher, poet, teacher and composer who lived in the Russian Empire and who made important contributions to Russian philosophy and culture. He lived and worked in Ukraine and passionately and consciously identified with its people, differentiating them from those of Russia and condemning Russia's interference in his homeland. Skovoroda was so important for Russian culture and development of Russian philosophical thought, that he is often recognized as a Russian philosopher. He has been referred to as the "Russian Socrates." 
Skovoroda received his education at the Kiev-Mohyla Academy in Kiev. Haunted by worldly and spiritual powers, the philosopher led a life of an itinerant thinker-beggar. In his tracts and dialogs, biblical problems overlap with those examined earlier by Plato and the Stoics. Skovoroda's first book was issued after his death in 1798 in Saint Petersburg. Skovoroda's complete works were published for the first time in Saint Petersburg in 1861. Before this edition many of his works existed only in manuscript form.
Skovoroda was born into a small-holder Ukrainian Cossack family in the village of Chornukhy in Kiev Governorate, Russian Empire (modern-day Poltava Oblast, Ukraine), in 1722. He was a student at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (1734–1741, 1744–1745, 1751–1753) but did not graduate. In 1741, at the age of 19 he was taken from Kiev to sing in the imperial choir in Moscow and St. Petersburg returning to Kiev in 1744. He spent the period from 1745 to 1750 in Hungary and is thought to have traveled elsewhere in Europe during this period as well. In 1750 he returned to Ukraine where he taught poetics in Pereyaslav from 1750–1751. For most of the period from 1753 to 1759 Skovoroda was a tutor in the family of a landowner in Kovrai. From 1759 to 1769, with interruptions, he taught such subjects as poetry, syntax, Greek, and ethics at the Kharkоv Collegium. After an attack on his course on ethics in 1769 he decided to abandon teaching.
Skovoroda is known as a composer of liturgical music, as well as a number of songs to his own texts. Of the latter, several have passed into the realm of Ukrainian folk music. Many of his philosophical songs known as "Skovorodyski psalmy" were often encountered in the repertoire of blind itinerant folk musicians known as kobzars. He was described as a proficient player on the flute, torban and kobza.
In the final quarter of his life he traveled by foot through Ukraine staying with various friends, both rich and poor, preferring not to remain in one place for too long.
This last period was the time of his great philosophic works. In this period as well, but particularly earlier, he wrote poetry and letters in Ukrainian language, Greek and Latin and did a number of translations from Latin.
There is much debate regarding the language Skovoroda used in his writings. Skovoroda used a form of written Ukrainian which differed somewhat from the vernacular Ukrainian. As a scholar studying in a religious institution that relied heavily on various forms of the Church-Slavonic language although the foundation of his written language was Ukrainian.
Apart from written Ukrainian, Skovoroda was known to have spoken and written in Greek, Latin, German and Hebrew. His poetry has been analysed for foreign non-Ukrainian elements. After an in depth study of Skovoroda's written works the Slavic linguist George Shevelov was able to deduce that apart from Ukrainian it contained 7.8% Russian, 7.7% non-Slavic, and 27.6% Church Slavonic vocabulary, and that the variant of Church Slavonic he used was the variety used in the Synodinal Bible of 1751. Skovoroda's prose however a higher content of non-Ukrainian vocabulary: 36.7% Church Slavonic, 4.7% other non-Slavonic European languages, and 9.7% Russian.
After an in depth analysis of Skovoroda's language, G. Sheveliov came to the conclusion that the high incidence of Church-Slavonic and the occurrence of Russian words reflect the circle of people with which Skovoroda primarily associated himself with, and on who he was materially dependent – and not the villagers and the village language that he knew and spoke.
Three days before he died, he went to the house of one of his closest friends and told him he had come to stay permanently. Every day he left the house early with a shovel, and it turned out that he spent three days digging his own grave. On the third day, he ate dinner, stood up and said, "my time has come." He went into the next room, lay down, and died. He requested the following epitaph to be placed on his tombstone:
|“||The world tried to catch me, but hadn't succeeded.||”|
"Вода без риби, повітря без пташок, час без людей бути не можуть." – "Water does not exist without fish, just as air without birds, just as time without humans"
"Не може не блудити нога твоя, коли блудить серце." – "Your feet can't help but lose their way, when your heart has lost it"
"Чи може людина, сліпа у себе вдома, стати зрячою на базарі?" – "Can a person, who is blind at home, see clearly in the marketplace?"
"Не розум від книг, а книги від розуму створились." – "Wisdom does not come from books, books are created from wisdom"
On 15 September 2006, Skovoroda's portrait was placed on the largest banknote in circulation in Ukraine, the 500-hryvnia note.
Skovoroda's works during his life were not printed, because the then censor found that his sacred writings were offensive to Monasticism. Brought up in a spirit of philosophical and religious studies, he became an opponent of dead church scholasticism and spiritual oppression of the Moscow centred Orthodox Church, based in its philosophy to the Bible. "Our kingdom is within us" he wrote "and to know God, you must know yourself...People should know God, like themselves, enough to see him in the world...Belief in God does not mean belief in his existence and therefore to give in to him and live according to His law...Sanctity of life lies in doing good to people."
The official Moscowite stance divided humanity into more or less blessed by God and blessed, and those that are cursed, such as the serfs. Skovoroda taught that "all work is blessed by God", but distribution of wealth outside the circle of God called unforgivable sin. The Muscowite Orthodox clergy was intolerant to Skovoroda's teachings as considered them heretical. Skovoroda taught that the only task of philosophy was to seek the truth and to pursue it. But in terms of human life, this goal is unattainable, and human happiness lies in the fact that everything has to find the truth. This goal can go in different directions, and intolerance of those who think differently, has no justification. Similarly, religious intolerance does not find justification for eternal truth revealed to the world in different forms. In relation to himself he was utterly uncompromising however in complete harmony with their teaching and their lives. He was very gentle and observant in relation to others.
Skovoroda defended the right of the individual in each person, but translated this into concrete political language of the time. This meant a strong democratic trend that was associated with sympathy for enslaved peasant masses, with sharp hostility to the Muscovite oppressors.
It was only in 1798 that his "Narsisis or Know thyself" was published in the Russian Empire and even then without the inclusion of his name. In 1806 the magazine "Zion Vyestnyk" printed some more of his works. Then in Moscow in 1837–1839 a few of his works were published under his name, and only in 1861 the first almost complete collection of his works was published. The best and most complete, was published in 1896 in Kharkiv under the editorship of Professor. D. Bahaliy. Here 16 of his works, with 9 of them appearing for the first time! Also published here Pans biography and some of his poems. Another edition of the works in December. A full academic publication of Skovoroda's works still does not exist, because manuscripts are held in various archives and libraries where access to them is difficult.
List of works
- Skovoroda, Gregory S. Fables and Aphorisms. Translation, biography, and analysis by Dan B. Chopyk (New York: Peter Lang, 1990) Review: Wolodymyr T. Zyla, Ukrainian Quarterly, 50 (1994): 303–304.
- Skovoroda, Hryhorii. Piznay v sobi ludynu. Translated by M. Kashuba with an introduction by Vasyl' Voitovych (L'viv: S$vit, 1995) Selected works (original: Ukrainian language).
- Skovoroda, Hryhorii. Tvory: V dvokh tomakh, foreword by O. Myshanych, chief editor Omelian Pritsak (Kiev: Oberehy, 1994) (original: Ukrainian language, translated from other languages).
- Skovoroda, Hryhorii (Gregory), "A Conversation Among Five Travelers Concerning Life's True Happiness" (original: Russian language).
- Skovoroda, Hryhorii (Gregory), "Conversation about the ancient world".
- Wilhelm Goerdt, Russische Philosophie: Zugänge und Durchblicke (Freiburg: Verlag Karl Arber, 1984). See also a "Review" of this work in: Studies in Soviet Thought 30 (1985) 73.
- Konrad Onasch, Grundzüge der russischen Kirchengeschichte(Göttingen: Hubert & Co, 1967), vol. 3, p. 110. See also on-line version
- (Russian) G.S. Skovoroda in History of Russian Culture by Aleksei Losev.
- (Russian) Skorovoda`s biography on diclib.com
- "Hryhorij Savyč Skovoroda: An Anthology of Critical Articles". CIUS Press. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- "Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy". Hantula.net. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- Valery Belous. "Skovoroda Grigory Savvitch". Kharkov.vbelous.net. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- . JSTOR 2494760. Missing or empty
- "Hryhorij Savyc Skovoroda: An Anthology of Critical Articles [CIUS Book of the Month]". Brama.com. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- "Skovoroda, Hryhorii". Encyclopediaofukraine.com. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- "Victoria Gaidenko, Khmelnitskiy Humanities and Pedagogic Institute, Ukraine". Aatseel.org. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- (Ukrainian)"Welcome to Ukraine". Wumag.kiev.ua. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- "Розділи журналу :: Інститут Українознавства". Ualogos.kiev.ua. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- (Russian)"Лосев А. Г. С. Сковорода в истории русской культуры". Gumer.info. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- (Russian) Article in the online encyclopedia Krugosvet
- (Ukrainian)"СКОВОРОДА, ГРИГОРИЙ САВВИЧ / (1722–1794), русский и украинский философ, поэт, педагог. Родился". Diclib.com. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- Stephen P. Scherer. (1994). Skovoroda and Society. In Hryhorij Savyč Skovoroda: an anthology of critical articles edited by Richard H. Marshall, Thomas E. Bird. University of Alberta, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, pp.63–65. One of several examples written by Skovoroda: "The hunter does not sleep. Be alert. Carelessness is the mother of misfortune...indeed Great Russia considers all of Little Russia as so many grouse."
- И. И. Кальной, Ю. А. Сандулов. Философия для аспирантов. От философии сродности до философии общего дела, от монолога к диалогу
- Указ об учреждении губерний и о росписании к ним городов, Электронная библиотека Исторического факультета МГУ им. М. В. Ломоносова
- George Y. Shevelov. Skovoroda's Language and Style. In book: Hryhorij Savyč Skovoroda. An Anthology of Critical Articles, Toronto, 1994, P.131
- (Ukrainian) "About the Institute." Hryhoriy Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy at NASU. URL accessed 19 October 2006
- Dytyniak Maria Ukrainian Composers – A Bio-bibliographic Guide – Research report No. 14, 1896, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, Canada.
- Ern, Vladimir F. Григорий Саввич Сковорода. Жизнь и учение (Мoscow: Путь, 1912)
- Marshall, Richard H. Jr., and Bird, Thomas E. (eds.) Hryhorij Skovoroda: an anthology of critical articles (Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1994)
- Pylypiuk, Natalia. ‘The Primary Door: at the threshold of Skovoroda’s theology and poetics’, Harvard Ukrainian Studies, 14(3–4), 1990, pp551–583
- Zakydalsky, Taras, "The Theory of Man in the Philosophy of Skovoroda" (1965)
- Naydan, Michael M. (ed.) 'Special issue on Hryhorii Skovoroda', Journal of Ukrainian Studies, 22(1–2), 1997
- Shreyer-Tkachenko O. Hryhoriy Skovoroda – muzykant., Kiev, 1971
- "The world tried to catch him but failed — Hryhoriy Skovoroda, the 18th-century Ukrainian philosopher", Welcome to Ukraine, 2003, 1