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At the time of the apex of the Serbian state, archbishop Danilo ii wrote his works, relying heavily on Domentian’s poetics. Using the tradi-
tional Serbian biographical form, he attempted to explain the complex destiny of people who were predestined at birth to the difficult task of ruling, a theme which had al- ready been broached at the end of the twelfth century. in Danilo’s work, man and his relationship with good and evil is in the foreground. Danilo bore witness to his time through the biographies of three characters from the ruling family, all connected by emotive and conceptual ties. This offered him the possibility of constructing three powerful person- alities and of making use of several points of view at the same time.
Queen Helena was the literary counterpart of Nemanja (1316). Her elder son, King Dragutin, was not a negative hero even though he desecrated the Serbian throne through his transgression toward his father; he was truly penitent and through the strength of his will he gained esteem (1317). Danilo (after 1321) rewrote the autobiography of Dragutin’s younger brother King Milutin (1317) in which his numer- ous successes on the battlefield are attributed to the heav- enly protection of the Serbian saints, Sava and Simeon. Danilo liberated the biography of hagiographic additions and excessive rhetoric, of miracles and pathos; he was thus able to present Milutin’s life as a real and coherent cycle of stories about wars, and the success Milutin experienced on the battlefield was attributed to his skill as a warrior. Dani- lo retained the traditional conception of the dual accom- plishments of the ideal Serbian ruler, those of state and those of the faith, but he does not insist on Milutin’s per- sonal spiritual accomplishments, because the ideal man and ruler had come to be seen in alexander the Great, who Danilo used as a comparison to his own hero. The Serbian ruler is no longer the loving father, like Nemanja, but is rather the powerful sovereign of a mighty state on the brink of becoming an empire. Gathered into one collection, these three biographies present a sweeping version of the history of Milutin’s time, which was a significant step in the spread of historical concepts in Serbian literature.
Danilo’s anonymous “Pupil” continued to write along the same lines. The Pupil described the life of his teacher (after 1337), but presented only the spiritual life and eccle- siastical career of Danilo. Danilo’s profuse activity as a statesman was presented by expanding the role he played in the biographies of the rulers which Danilo himself had
Archbishop Danilo II, Church of the Mother of God Hodegetria, naos, southwest pilaster, the Patriarchate of Peć, after 1337
written, while in the biographies of King Stefan Dečanski (after 1331) and his son Dušan as king (after 1335), of which the Pupil was the author himself, he gave Danilo a leading role from the very start. By uniting all these texts after- wards, adding to them a series of biographies of leaders in the Serbian Church, texts by Danilo and other authors, the Pupil put together a great historical codex entitled Danilo’s Annals; this volume represents the greatest degree of the development of narrative structure in Serbian medieval literature.
Radmila Marinković

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