Grigor Parlichev

Grigor Stavrev Parlichev (also spelled Prlichev, Parlitcheff or Prličev; Bulgarian language: Григор Ставрев Пърличев; Greek: Γρηγόριος Σταυρίδης, romanizedGrigorios Stavrides, Macedonian: Григор Прличев) was a Bulgarian[1][2] writer and translator. He was born January 18, 1830 in Ohrid, Ottoman Empire and died in the same town January 25, 1893. Although he thought of himself as a Bulgarian,[3] according to the post-WWII Macedonian historiography,[4][5][6] he was an ethnic Macedonian.[7][8][9]

Grigor Stavrev Parlichev
Grigor Parlichev cropped.jpg
Native name
Григор Пърличев
Born18 January, 1830
Ohrid, Ottoman Empire
Died25 January 1893 (aged 63)
Ohrid, Ottoman Empire
Pen nameGrigorios Stavrides (for his Greek works)
Occupationpoet, writer, teacher, public figure
LanguageBulgarian, Greek
PeriodBulgarian National Revival
Notable worksO Armatolos
1762 leto
Notable awards1st prize, Athens University Poetry Competition (1860)
SpouseAnastasiya Uzunova
ChildrenKonstantinka Parlicheva
Luisa Parlicheva
Kiril Parlichev
Despina Parlicheva
Georgi Parlichev
Teachers and students from the Bulgarian Men's High School of Thessaloniki, which foundation Parlichev initiated. He is the third man with the white beard, sitting from left to right in the first row.


Parlichev studied in a Greek school in Ohrid. In the 1850s he worked as a teacher of Greek in the towns of Tirana, Prilep and Ohrid. In 1858 Parlichev started studying medicine in Athens but transferred to the Faculty of Linguistics in 1860. The same year he took part in the annual poetic competition in Athens winning first prize for his poem "O Armatolos" (Ο Αρματωλός, in Bulgarian "The Serdar"), written in Greek. Acclaimed as "second Homer", he was offered scholarships to the universities at Oxford and Berlin. At that time he was pretending to be a Greek, but the public opinion in Athens emphasized his non-Greek origin. Disappointed Parlichev declined offered scholarships and returned to Ohrid in the next year.[10]

The house of Grigor Prličev in Ohrid, North Macedonia

In 1862 Parlichev joined the struggle for independent Bulgarian church and schools, though he continued to teach Greek. After spending some time in Constantinople in 1868 acquainting himself with Church Slavonic literature, he returned to Ohrid where he advocated the substitution of Greek with Bulgarian in the town's schools and churches. The same year Parlichev was arrested and spent several months in an Ottoman jail after a complaint was sent by the Greek bishop of Ohrid. At that time he began to study of standard Bulgarian, or, as he called it himself, the Slavonic language.[11] From this time until his death Parlichev continued writing only in Bulgarian.

From 1869 Parlichev taught Bulgarian in several towns across Ottoman Empire, including Struga, Gabrovo, Bitola, Ohrid and Thessaloniki. He initiated the creation of the Bulgarian Men's High School of Thessaloniki. In 1870 Parlichev translated his award-winning poem "The Serdar" into Bulgarian in an attempt to popularize his earlier works, which were written in Greek, among the Bulgarian audience. He also wrote another poem "Skenderbeg". Parlichev was the first Bulgarian translator of Homer's Iliad in 1871, though critics were highly critical of his language. Parlichev used a specific mixture of Church Slavonic and his native Ohrid dialect. He is therefore also regarded as a founding figure of the literature of the later standardized Macedonian language.[12] In 1883 Parlichev moved to Thessaloniki, where he taught at the Thessaloniki Bulgarian Male High School (1883-1889). In the period April 16, 1884 - May 1, 1885 he wrote his autobiography. After his retirement in 1890, he returned to Ohrid, where he died on January 25, 1893.

Parlichev's son Cyril Parlichev was also a prominent member of the revolutionary movement in Macedonia and a Bulgarian public figure.


Per Raymond Detrez, who is an expert of the issue,[13] in his early life Parlichev was a member of the “Romaic community”, a multi-ethnic proto-nation, to comprise all Orthodox Christians of the Ottoman Empire. It had been under way until the 1830s, when the rise of Greek nationalism destroyed it and that lead later to the formation of the modern nations on the Balkans. Parlchev, is seen by Detrez as belonging basically to the Romaic community, and initially he had no well-defined sense of national identification. However in his youth he developed Greek,[14] and as an adult, finally he adopted Bulgarian national identity.[15] In the last decade of his life, he adhered some form of vague local patriotism, though continued to identify himself as a Bulgarian. In this way Parlichev’s national identity has been used by Macedonian historians to prove the existence of some kind of alleged Macedonian ethnic identification during the late 19th century.[16][17]

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ MacKridge, Peter (2009-04-02). Language and national identity in Greece, 1766-1976, Peter Mackridge, Oxford University Press, 2009, ISBN 0-19-921442-5, p. 189. ISBN 9780199214426. Retrieved 2013-11-18.
  2. ^ Becoming Bulgarian: the articulation of Bulgarian identity in the nineteenth century in its international context: an intellectual history, Janette Sampimon, Pegasus, 2006, ISBN 9061433118, pp. 61; 89; 124.
  3. ^ Raymond Detrez, Grigor Parlichev’s Autobiography as a “self-hagiography”, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Journal: Литературна мисъл, 2015, Issue No: 2, Page Range: 56-79. Summary/Abstract: Among the many Bulgarian autobiographies written in the national revival period, that by Grigor Parlichev one occupies a particular place due to its highly fictional nature. On the one hand, the author provides very little factual information on the historical developments he participated in; on the other hand, he widely elaborates on events with little documentary relevance, inserting dramatic dialogues that cannot possibly be authentic. These particularities of Parlichev’s Autobiography can be explained assuming that Parlichev used the medieval zhitiye (hagiography, vita) as a model for his own biography. Strikingly, nearly all the topoi of the zhitiye as described by Th. Pratsch in his exhaustive Der hagiographische Topos. Griechische Heiligenviten in mittelbyzantinischer Zeit (Berlin, New York, 2005) also feature in Parlichev’s work, moreover in roughly the same order. The most elaborate episodes in Parlichev’s Autobiography ― his victory at the Athenian poetry contest on 1860, which made him a Greek celebrity, and the weeks he spent in prison in Ohrid and Debar in 1868 ― transpire to be secularized versions (in the spirit of national revival) of the main topoi in most hagiographies: the temptation of the saint and his or her suffering for the sake of Christ. As a result, Parlichev succeeds in similarly representing himself in his Autobiography as a “martyr” for the Bulgarian national cause. Happily for the reader, this whole operation is accompanied by a refreshing dose of (unconscious?) self-irony that sometimes makes Parlichev’s Autobiography remind of Sofroniy’s Life and sufferings.
  4. ^ "Yugoslav Communists recognized the existence of a Macedonian nationality during WWII to quiet fears of the Macedonian population that a communist Yugoslavia would continue to follow the former Yugoslav policy of forced Serbianization. Hence, for them to recognize the inhabitants of Macedonia as Bulgarians would be tantamount to admitting that they should be part of the Bulgarian state. For that the Yugoslav Communists were most anxious to mold Macedonian history to fit their conception of Macedonian consciousness. The treatment of Macedonian history in Communist Yugoslavia had the same primary goal as the creation of the Macedonian language: to de-Bulgarize the Macedonian Slavs and to create a separate national consciousness that would inspire identification with Yugoslavia." For more see: Stephen E. Palmer, Robert R. King, Yugoslav communism and the Macedonian question, Archon Books, 1971, ISBN 0208008217, Chapter 9: The encouragement of Macedonian culture.
  5. ^ "At any rate, the beginning of the active national-historical direction with the historical “masterpieces”, which was for the first time possible in 1944, developed in Macedonia much harder than was the case with the creation of the neighbouring nations of the Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians and others in the 19th century. These neighbours almost completely "plundered" the historical events and characters from the land, and there was only debris left for the belated nation. A consequence of this was that first that parts of the “plundered history” were returned, and a second was that an attempt was made to make the debris become a fundamental part of an autochthonous history. This resulted in a long phase of experimenting and revising, during which the influence of non-scientific instances increased. This specific link of politics with historiography in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia... was that this was a case of mutual dependence, i.e. influence between politics and historical science, where historians do not simply have the role of registrars obedient to orders. For their significant political influence, they had to pay the price for the rigidity of the science... There is no similar case of mutual dependence of historiography and politics on such a level in Eastern or Southeast Europe." For more see: Stefan Trobest, “Historical Politics and Histrocial ‘Masterpieces’ in Macedonia before and after 1991”, New Balkan Politics, 6 (2003).
  6. ^ "The origins of the official Macedonian national narrative are to be sought in the establishment in 1944 of the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. This open acknowledgment of the Macedonian national identity led to the creation of a revisionist historiography whose goal has been to affirm the existence of the Macedonian nation through the history. Macedonian historiography is revising a considerable part of ancient, medieval, and modern histories of the Balkans. Its goal is to claim for the Macedonian peoples a considerable part of what the Greeks consider Greek history and the Bulgarians Bulgarian history. The claim is that most of the Slavic population of Macedonia in the 19th and first half of the 20th century was ethnic Macedonian." For more see: Victor Roudometof, Collective Memory, National Identity, and Ethnic Conflict: Greece, Bulgaria, and the Macedonian Question, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN 0275976483, p. 58; Victor Roudometof, Nationalism and Identity Politics in the Balkans: Greece and the Macedonian Question in Journal of Modern Greek Studies 14.2 (1996) 253-301.
  7. ^ Shea, John (1997-01-01). Macedonia and Greece: The Struggle to Define a New Balkan Nation, John Shea, p. 199. ISBN 9780786402281. Retrieved 2013-11-18.
  8. ^ "Gligor Prlicev". Retrieved 2013-11-18.
  9. ^ Prlicev and Sazdov, Gligor,Tome. Izbor. Matica. ISBN 978-86-15-00214-5.
  10. ^ Elka Agoston-Nikolova ed., Shoreless Bridges: South East European Writing in Diaspora, Rodopi, 2010, ISBN 9042030208, pp. 56-57.
  11. ^ Jolanta Sujecka, Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Profile of Grigor Prličev, (Grigorios Stawridis), p. 240.
  12. ^ L. M. Danforth: The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World, Princeton University Press 1995, p.50, 62.
  13. ^ In 1986, Detrez received his Ph. D. from the University of Ghent. In his thesis, he investigated nineteenth century Balkan nationalism on the basis of the life and work of the poet and activist Grigor Parlichev (Ohrid 1831-1893).
  14. ^ Although modern Greek identity has been based on this assumption of continuity, the "proper" geographical boundaries of Greece and the ethnic characteristics of the Greeks remained vague for some time. Only during the second half of the nineteenth century did the consolidation of the national narrative take place. As late as 1824, the Phanariot Theodore Negris identified Serbs and Bulgarians as Greeks, a definition that was closer to that of the Orthodox religious community of the Rum millet than to the definition of a modern secular Greek identity. But between 1839 and 1852 an important ideological change occurred... The gradual rise of the Bulgarian national movement, and the religious revival within the Greek kingdom all collided, suggesting the need for a different evaluation of Greece's historical past... and transforming the religiously based identity of the Rum millet into a modern, secular national identity. But this project did not put down strong roots in the local "Romaic" popular consciousness. For more see: Victor Roudometof, Nationalism and Identity Politics in the Balkans: Greece and the Macedonian Question. Journal of Modern Greek Studies 14.2 (1996) 253-301.
  15. ^ Yordan Ljuckanov, Bulgarian Cultural Identity as a Borderline One, INTERLITTERARIA 2015, 20/2: 88–104, p. 96. DOI: .
  16. ^ Raymond Detrez, Canonization through Competition: The Case of Grigor Părličev, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 2007, Journal: Литературна мисъл, Issue No: 1, Page Range: 61-101, Summary/Abstract: The normal criteria for an author to be included in a national literary canon are that he should belong to the nation to which the canon is related, that he must write in the nation’s (standard) language, and that his work is of reasonable size and aesthetic value. A criterion of secondary importance, valid in societies marked by nationalism, may also contribute to an author’s canonization: the “national” character of his work in the sense that it deals with national themes, displays the national identity, or attests to the author’s devotion to the national cause — a devotion preferably supported by his real-life heroism or martyrdom. Părličev’s canonization has proven to be problematic in all respects. To which nation did he actually belong? In his youth he had no well-defined sense of national identity and probably considered himself a “Greek” in the sense of being a Greek Orthodox Christian. As an adult he explicitly identified himself initially with the Greek and later with the Bulgarian nation. In the later decades of his life, he seemed to have been inclined to adhere to some form of vague local particularism, though apparently continuing to perceive himself as a Bulgarian. Given this evolution, it is understandable that Părličev’s national identity grew into a sensitive issue in the framework of discussions about the existence of Macedonian nation between Bulgarian and Macedonian (literary) historians...
  17. ^ "Until the late 19th century both outside observers and those Bulgaro-Macedonians who had an ethnic consciousness believed that their group, which is now two separate nationalities, comprised a single people, the Bulgarians. Thus the reader should ignore references to ethnic Macedonians in the Middle ages which appear in some modern works. In the Middle ages and into the 19th century, the term ‘Macedonian’ was used entirely in reference to a geographical region. Anyone who lived within its confines, regardless of nationality could be called a Macedonian. Nevertheless, the absence of a national consciousness in the past is no grounds to reject the Macedonians as a nationality today." "The Early Medieval Balkans: A Critical Survey from the Sixth to the Late Twelfth Century," John Van Antwerp Fine, University of Michigan Press, 1991, ISBN 0472081497, pp. 36–37.

Further reading

Parlichev's Autobiography

  • Parlichev, Grigor. Автобиография. Сборник за народни умотворения, наука и книжнина, book IX, Sofia (1894). (  Media related to Parlichev's Autobiography at Wikimedia Commons) (in Bulgarian)
  • Parlichev, Grigor. Автобиографија. Skopje, 1967 (scan)(in Macedonian).


Historical context

  • Shapkarev, Kuzman. Материали за възраждането на българщината в Македония от 1854 до 1884 г. Неиздадени записки и писма (Materials about the Bulgarian Revival in Macedonia from 1854 to 1884. Unpublished Notes and Letters). Balgarski Pisatel, Sofia (1984) [1] (in Bulgarian)
  • Sprostranov, Evtim. По възражданьето в град Охрид (On the Revival in the City of Ohrid), Сборникъ за Народни Умотворения, Наука и Книжнина, book XIII, Sofia, pp 621–681 (1896) [2] (in Bulgarian)