Catherine the Great of Russia. The 'Cultural Translation' and Its Role for the Moldavian 'Mirror of Princes' at the End of the 18th Century

12 Pages Posted: 7 May 2016

Date Written: May 5, 2016


The secular texts that enter Romanian soil in the second half of the 18th century play different functions for the intellectuals of the time. Mostly translations from Greek, they aim to wire the new-forming Romanian modern culture to the Enlightenment’s ideas of Western Europe. Through this massive import of cultural goods, the Danubian Principalities try to escape from the cultural and political exclusion and to re-position themselves in the European order. Therefore “historical” text such as the History of Catherine the Great, receive almost automatically an ideological and propagandistic value. A text that illustrates this movement was written in Vienna, by J.M. Schweighofer, as part of a weekly journal and was intended to help forming a public opinion favourable to a Russian-Austrian alliance. This text was translated the same year into Greek and from Greek it traveled to Moldavia were it was translated into Romanian one year later (1788). In the target culture, the text gains an informative role. The “mirror of princes” offered by the text serves as an information-note, containing important data on the political and military movement in Central Europe. The shift in target public is visible at a textual level, by means of translation strategies that give nuances and pin-point certain aspects of the text. As an ideological discourse with traits of an enlightened nature, the image of the tsarina receives involuntarily the literary traits of a heroine who acts only for the benefit of her subjects and the educational value (visible in the Russian history overview) becomes a secondary scope. The Romanian translation, as a faithful translation of the Greek intermediate, fails to reproduce word by word the German original and transforms the text intention in accordance to a new kind of public and according to a new reception reality of the target culture a value that would be appreciated by the posterity.

Keywords: cultural translation, Enlightenment, Mirror of princes, adaptation strategies

Suggested Citation

Chiriac, Alexandra, Catherine the Great of Russia. The 'Cultural Translation' and Its Role for the Moldavian 'Mirror of Princes' at the End of the 18th Century (May 5, 2016). Available at SSRN: or

Alexandra Chiriac (Contact Author)

Alexandru Ioan Cuza University ( email )

Carol I Blvd, Nr.11
Lasi, 700506

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