Theophanes, Prokopovitch

, an historian who may be ranked among those to whom Russia is chiefly indebted for the introduction of polite literature, was the son of a burgher of Kiof; born in that city, June 9, 1681, and baptised by the name of Elisha. Under his uncle, Theophanes, rector of the seminary in the Bratskoi convent at Kiof, he commenced his studies, and was well grounded in the rudiments of the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew tongues. Though his uncle died in 1692, he completed his education in that seminary; and in 1698, in the eighteenth year of his age, he travelled into Italy. He resided three years at Rome, where, beside a competent knowledge of Italian, he acquired a taste for the fine arts, and improved himself in philosophy and divinity. Upon his return to Kiof he read lectures on the Latin and Sclavonian art of poetry in the same seminary in which he had been educated: and, with the monastic habit, assumed the name of Theophanes. Before he had attained the twenty-fifth year of his age he | was appointed praefect, the second office in the seminary, and professor of philosophy. In 1706 he distinguished himself hy speaking a Lain oration before Peter the Great; and still more by a sermon, which in 1701) he preached before the same monarch after the battle of Pultawa. Having once attracted the notice, he soon acquired the protection of Peter, who was so captivated with his great talents, superior learning, and polite address, as to select him for a companion in the ensuing campaign against the Turks; a sure prelude to his future advancement. In 1711 Theophanes was nominated abbot of Bratskoi, rector of the seminary, and professor of divinity. His censures against the ignorance and indolence of the Russian clergy, and his endeavours to promote a taste for polite literature among his brethren, rendered him a fit instrument in the hands of Peter for the reformation of the church, and the final abolition of the patriarchal dignity. He was placed at the head of the synod, of which ecclesiastical establish* merit he himself drew the plan; was created bishop of Plescof; and, in 1720, archbishop of the same diocese; soon after the accession of Catharine he was consecrated archbishop of Novogorod, and metropolitan of all Russia; and died in 1736. Beside various sermons and theological disquisitions, he wrote a treatise on rhetoric, and on the rules for Latin and Sclavonian poetry; he composed verses in the Latin language; and was author of a “Life of Peter the Great,” which unfortunately terminates with the battle of Pultawa. in this performance the prelate has, notwithstanding his natural partiality to his benefactor, avoided those scurrilous abuses of the contrary party, which frequently disgrace the best histories; and has been particularly candid in his account of Sophia. Peter, from a well-grounded experierce, had formed such a good opinion of the talents of Theophanes, as to employ him in composing the decrees which concerned theological questions, and even many that related to civil atf’airs. Theophanes may be said not only to have cultivated the sciences, and to have promoted them during his life, but likewise to have left a legacy to his cou itrymen, for their further progress after hi-, decease, by maintaining in his episcopal palace fifty hoys, who>e education he superintended under his an>piccs they were instructed in foreign languages, and in various branches of polite knowledge, which had teen hitherto censured by many as profane acquisitions | thus transmitting the rays of learning to illuminate future ages and a distant posterity. 1


Coxe’s Travels into Russia, vol. II.—Mr. Coxe, in the history of Theophanes, has followed implicitly Muller, whose fidelity and accuracy always appear to him unquestionable. Mons. Le Clerc differs from Mr. Muller in relating the earliest part of this prelate’s life. He also informs us, that Theophanes persuaded Peter to introduce the protestant religion into Rus sia; and that the emperor was inclined to follow his advice, but was prevented by his death. This important anecdote Mr. Coxe would not venture to adopt (though he could not controvert it), as the ingenious author has not cited his authority. See Le Clerc’s Hist. Anc. de Rnssie, p. 262; aud Hist. Mod. p. 65, 66.