March 01, 1997

Letters to the Editor

To the Editors:

As usual, your January 1997 issue was excellent. Of particular interest to me was your article The Father of Tsarism. However, to complete the picture of Ivan IV, a few comments would be in order.

On translation from Russian. When crowned, Ivan IV partook of Christian Mysteries (mandatory confession and communion), he was not “initiated into the Holy Secrets.” The Stoglavy Sobor is usually rendered in English as the Stoglavy [Church] Council. Indeed, Grozny has no obvious equivalent in English and has been translated as Awesome and Dread besides the Terrible. It is crucial to understand, as the author of the article Andrei Yurganov points out, that the adjective Grozny carried in the 16th Century a positive meaning (his grandfather Ivan the Great was also sometimes called Grozny) and that the common use of the Terrible is a gross mistranslation. A more appropriate translation of Grozny would be August (incidentally, it was believed already in the 15th Century Moscow that the Ryrik dynasty takes its lineage from the brother of Augustus Caesar).

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