Petrović-Njegoš, Petar (1813–1851)

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Petar Petrović-Njegoš, Prince Petar II of Montenegro, was born in the village of Njegusi near Cetinje. As the government of Montenegro was then a theocracy, Njegoš, who ruled from 1830 to 1851, had to act as high priest, much against his own views and wishes. He was religious by conviction, but opposed to any religious fanaticism or formalities. By setting up a number of civil and cultural institutions, he transformed Montenegro from a tribal to a modern state.

Njegoš was one of the greatest Yugoslav poets. His principal works are Slobodijada (Ode to liberty), Gorski Vijenac (The mountain wreath), Luča Mikrokozma (The ray of the microcosm), Šćepan Mali (Schepan the small), and a number of minor poems, the best of which is the reflective poem Misao (The thought). His main themes were man's destiny, marked by struggle and suffering, and freedom, which he understood as partly the struggle for national liberty. The elaboration of these themes led Njegoš to many philosophical thoughts and meditations. Being predominantly a poet, he presented these thoughts in poetic images and visions. The philosophical conception implicit in these images is a Platonic dualism. God and matter are coeternal. Mind and body are opposed principles both ontologically and axiologically. Mind originates in heaven, whereas body belongs to the "realm of decay." The body is "the physical shackles of the soul"; passions "lay man below the beast," whereas mind makes him "equal to immortals." In Luča Mikrokozma Njegoš interpreted the union of mind and body as a consequence of sin and the Fall. The first man, Adam, was once pure spirit, but he joined Satan in his rebellion against God, although he soon repented. He was then "clad in a body" and cast upon Earth, which was created by God as a place of expiation after man's sin. Thus, Njegoš's Adam, unlike John Milton's or the Adam of official church doctrine, sinned prior to his bodily creation.

Luča Mikrokozma can be seen as providing metaphysical and religious reasons for the inevitability of suffering. Gorski Vijenac is a mighty hymn to the national struggle for liberation and to the struggle against evil in general. To justify this struggle Njegoš elaborated a dynamic and basically dialectical conception of the world. The world is made up of opposed and dangerous forces at permanent war. Through this struggle, order emerges out of chaotic disorder, and spiritual power triumphs over great confusion. Struggle and suffering are not mere evils but have a positive, creative aspect as well. The spark appears only after the flint is struck hard, and the soul that has endured temptations "nourishes the body with internal fire." Heroism is the master of evil, and human life has an aim only if it contributes to the realization of liberty, honor, and dignity. Njegoš's ethics were essentially derived from his people and, in turn, had a powerful influence on them in all the trying moments of their history.

See also Dialectic; Dualism in the Philosophy of Mind; Milton, John; Mind-Body Problem; Platonism and the Platonic Tradition.


works by petroviĆ-njegoŠ

Cjelokupna Djela, 9 vols. Belgrade, 19511955.

works on petroviĆ-njegoŠ

Djilas, Milovan. Legenda o Njegošu. Belgrade, 1952.

Latković, Vido. Petar II Petrović Njegoš. Belgrade, 1963.

Petronijević, Branislav. Filozofija u "Gorskom Vijencu" i "Luči Mikrokozma." Belgrade, 1924.

Šmaus, A. Njegoševa "Luča Mikrokozma." Belgrade, 1927.

Velimirović, Nikolaj. Religija Njegoševa. Belgrade, 1921.

Vuko Pavićević (1967)

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Petrović-Njegoš, Petar (1813–1851)

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