Marey Alexander

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  • № 3, 2018

    • About Princes and Sovereigns

      The article deals with a seminal problem of the meaning of political terms, in particular, an adequate translation into Russian of the political language of the European Middle Ages. On the example of the term princeps, the author demonstrates that, in contrast to the texts of the Modern and Contemporary History, to which techniques developed by various translation theorists are applicable, medieval texts need a different approach. It should include not only clarification of the conceptual framework of the translated text, but also clarification of the conceptual apparatus of a translator herself.

      On the basis of the analysis of the political and theological discourse of Thomas Aquinas and Ptolemy da Lucca, the author comes to the conclusion that the medieval language model was dominated by the language of the Holy Scripture, where the term princeps usually referred to a direct subordinate to a dominus. In those rare cases, when that concept was used to describe an absolute ruler, God was placed above the ruler, and princeps appeared only as one of its subordinates. The situation was similar within the Russian political language, where they started to use the term sovereign (gosudar in Russian) to translate Latin princeps only in the XVIII—XIX centuries. According to the author, such translation became first choice because it was consonant with the establishment of the tradition that implied unity between the political subject and political authority, which allowed for only one form of government — the state (gosudarstvo in Russian) — and only one image of the political leader — sovereign (gosudar).

      In the final part of the article the author examines the evolution of the term princeps in the modern Russian political language, where this term is often used to describe the incumbent president of the Russian Federation. The author shows how the inadequate use of the term leads to the formation of an absurd concept: a wise and fair ruler who builds his rule upon lies and hypocrisy.

      DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2018-90-3-50-73

      Pages: 50-73