Grigol Orbeliani

Prince Grigol Orbeliani or Jambakur-Orbeliani (Georgian: გრიგოლ ორბელიანი; ჯამბაკურ-ორბელიანი) (October 2, 1804 – March 21, 1883) was a Georgian Romanticist poet and general in Imperial Russian service. One of the most colorful figures in the 19th-century Georgian culture, Orbeliani is noted for his patriotic poetry, lamenting Georgia's lost past and independent monarchy. At the same time, he spent decades in the Russian military service, rising through ranks to highest positions in the imperial administration in the Caucasus.

Grigol Orbeliani
Prince Grigol Orbeliani
Tbilisi, Russian Empire
Tbilisi, Russian Empire
Allegiance Russian Empire
RankImperial Russian Army 1904-a-p18r.png General of the infantry
Commands heldRussian forces around the Caspian theatre
Chairman of the Caucasus Viceroyalty
Governor-general of Tiflis
Battles/warsCaucasian War
Russo-Persian War (1826–1828)
Russo-Turkish War (1828–1829)
Other workMember of the State Council
Patriotic poetry


Grigol Orbeliani was born into a prominent aristocratic family in the Georgian capital of Tiflis (Tbilisi), three years after the Russian government deposed the Bagrationi dynasty of Georgia and annexed their kingdom. His father Dimitri (Zurab), a prince of the House of Orbeliani, served at the court of the last Georgian kings, while mother Khoreshan née Andronikashvili was a granddaughter, on her mother, Princess Elene’s, side, of Erekle II, the penultimate and popular king of Georgia, whose cult would later be introduced into Georgian literature by Grigol Orbeliani himself.

Orbeliani had close family and friendly ties with the contemporary Georgian aristocratic and literary élite: Nikoloz Baratashvili, the most important poet of Georgian Romanticism, was his sisterly nephew; Orbeliani was in love with Griboyedov’s widow and Alexander Chavchavadze’s daughter, Nino, who inspired the poet with desperate, but courtly passion for nearly thirty years, although he had been betrothed in the cradle to Princess Sopio Orbeliani.[1] He was a cousin of the two poets and generals - Alexander and Vakhtang Orbeliani. To distinguish himself from his namesake cousins, Grigol Orbeliani also used an ancestral name "Qaplanishvili".[2]

Service career

Orbeliani received his early education at local nobility gymnasium and artillery school. In the 1820s, he entered the Russian military service, and took part in a series of expeditions against the Dagestani tribes, and the wars with the Ottoman and Persian empires. In March 1833, he was arrested by the Russian police in Nizhny Novgorod for his involvement with the 1832 conspiracy of Georgian nobles who plotted to murder Russian officials and reestablish Georgia's independence from the empire. Orbeliani was placed in the Avlabar prison in Tiflis, but was soon released as, due to his absence from Georgia, his contribution to a planned coup was limited to an intellectual support such as translations from the Decembrist ideologues and a bellicose poem, The Weapon (იარაღი).[2]

By virtue both of his aristocratic status and his abilities, Orbeliani was able to resume his military career and would rise to high positions in the Caucasus Viceroyalty. He, like many other Georgian nobles who years earlier had plotted to overthrow the Russian hegemony, would make peace with the imperial autocracy, a change aided by liberal policies of the Russian viceroy Mikhail Semyonovich Vorontsov. A typical romanticist and patriot in his poetry, Orbeliani, like his older contemporary, fellow poet and general Alexander Chavchavadze, remained a loyal officer in the imperial service throughout his career.[3][4]

Orbeliani spent most of his military career in the Caucasus War against the rebellious mountaineers, with a brief spell in the Neva Infantry Regiment in Wilno (Vilnius, Lithuania) as a punishment for his participation in the 1832 conspiracy. On returning to the Caucasus in 1838, he mostly fought in Dagestan and was made colonel in 1846. Being in command of the Apsheron Infantry Regiment, Orbeliani played a decisive role in storming the Dagestani stronghold Gergebil in 1847/8 and was promoted to major general in 1848. In the following years, he governed the restive districts of Avaristan, and Tchar-Belakan, and oversaw the Lezgin line. He fought off an attack by Shamil, a leader of anti-Russian insurgency in the North Caucasus, and scored a series of victories over the rebels in Tchar-Belakan in 1853, winning the rank of lieutenant general. In 1855, he was made commander of the pre-Caspian troops and promoted to adjutant general in 1857. He was appointed chairman of the viceroy's council in 1857 and three years later became governor-general of Tiflis, acting as a de facto viceroy in 1862. Orbeliani was further promoted to Infantry General in 1864 and received a seat in the State Council in 1866. He was an advocate and organiser of a new social order in the Caucasus. In 1871, the Imperial administration organized, in Tiflis, a 50-years anniversary of Orbeliani's service, attended by the visiting Tsar Alexander II who awarded the general an Order of St. Andrew, the highest in the empire. In old age, he switched his fervor to the promotion of literacy and education for Georgians and publication of Georgian heritage as well as sponsoring literacy programs for the Abkhaz and Ossetians. He was a member of the Imperial Geographical Society and an Honorary President of the Georgian Nobility Bank. In the 1880s he played a leading role in establishing a standard text for Shota Rustaveli's medieval epic The Knight in the Panther's Skin.[2]

Cultural legacy

Although Orbeliani's earliest writings are in prose dating to 1824, his prose pieces have fallen into oblivion. Most of his poetry is noted for patriotic motifs and extravagant praise of wine and women. Like his contemporary Georgian romanticists, Orbeliani's lyrics are pervaded with laments over the lost past and the fall of the Georgian monarchy. What distinguishes him, however, is his love for the street poetry and the ashug minstrelsy to which he himself added with such lyrics as Mukhambazi (მუხამბაზი).[5][6]

Orbaliani's poetry prior to the collapse of the 1832 conspiracy is remarkably bellicose and optimistic, while post-1832 lyrics are more elegiac, infused with sentimental patriotic feelings about the irretrievable glory of the past. His best and longest works is an ode A Toast, or A Night Feast after War near Yerevan (სადღეგრძელო, ანუ ომის შემდგომ ღამე ლხინი, ერევნის სიახლოვეს) whose original version was composed on the occasion of the battle of Yerevan during the Russo-Persian War in 1827, not without influence of the Russian poet Vasily Zhukovsky. It was further reworked and expanded until it acquired its final shape as late as 1879. A nostalgic memory of military glory, the poem begins by honoring all those who have fallen in defense of their homeland, then the poet travels through history, celebrating all Georgia's tribes, kings, heroes, and martyrs. Finally, an elegiac mood replaces the exaltation, as the poet returns from his fantasy and memoirs to see just himself and one other link to that past still living.[4][7]

Orbeliani's mutual relations with the new generation of Georgian intellectuals were ambiguous. This new movement, dubbed as "the sons", spearheaded by Ilia Chavchavadze and Akaki Tsereteli, was critical of "fathers", old Georgian nobility who had pledged their allegiance to the Tsar. Orbeliani was praised by Chavchavadze as presiding over "the strength and wealth of our verse," but his 1871 jubilee was met by the younger generation in cold silence. In the 1860s, Orbeliani tried to stand aside from the quarrels between "the sons and the fathers", but he could not refrain from attacking the new generation in a caustic rhymed response published in 1874. This did not prevent him, however, from being alone in acclaiming the melodramatic prose of one of the "sons", Alexander Kazbegi, in 1881.[8]

Grigol Orbeliani died in Tiflis at the age of 79. He is buried at the Kashveti Church of St. George.


  1. ^ Rayfield, pp. 139, 143-4.
  2. ^ a b c Rayfield, p. 143.
  3. ^ Suny, pp. 75, 124.
  4. ^ a b Kveselava, p. 16.
  5. ^ Rayfield, p. 144.
  6. ^ Mukhambazi on YouTube, Russian translation by Nikolay Zabolotsky, music and song by Elena Frolova (first song in record)
  7. ^ Rayfield, pp. 144-5.
  8. ^ Rayfield, pp. 143-4.


  • Rayfield, Donald (2000), The Literature of Georgia: A History. Routledge, ISBN 0-7007-1163-5.
  • Kveselava, M (2002), Anthology of Georgian Poetry, p. 16. The Minerva Group, Inc., ISBN 0-89875-672-3. (The book also includes the English translations of Orbeliani's poems Before the Fresco Painting of Queen T'amar in the Church of Bet'ania, and When I Wake)
  • Suny, Ronald Grigor (1994), The Making of the Georgian Nation. Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-20915-3.


was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1883rd year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 883rd year of the 2nd millennium, the 83rd year of the 19th century, and the 4th year of the 1880s decade. As of the start of 1883, the Gregorian calendar was

12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

Arseny Tarkovsky

Arseny Alexandrovich Tarkovsky (Russian: Арсе́ний Алекса́ндрович Тарко́вский, June 25 [O.S. June 12] 1907 in Elisavetgrad – May 27, 1989 in Moscow) was a prominent Soviet poet and translator. He is considered one of the great twentieth century Russian poets. He was predeceased by his son, film director Andrei Tarkovsky.

Caucasus Viceroyalty (1801–1917)

The Caucasus Viceroyalty was the Imperial Russian administrative and political authority in the Caucasus region exercised through the offices of glavnoupravlyayushchiy (Russian: главноуправляющий) (1801–1844, 1882–1902) and namestnik (наместник) (1844–1882, 1904–1917). These two terms are commonly, but imprecisely, translated into English as viceroy, which is frequently used interchangeably with governor general. More accurately, glavnoupravljajuçij is referred to as High Commissioner of the Caucasus, and namestnik as Viceroy.

Over more than a century of the Russian rule of the Caucasus, the structure of the viceroyalty underwent a number of changes, with the addition or removal of administrative positions and redrawing of provincial divisions.

Culture of Georgia (country)

The culture of Georgia has evolved over the country's long history, providing it with a unique national culture and a strong literary tradition based on the Georgian language and alphabet. This has provided a strong sense of national identity that has helped to preserve Georgian distinctiveness despite repeated periods of foreign occupation.


Grigol (Georgian: გრიგოლ) is a Georgian masculine given name. It is a cognate of the name Gregory.People with the name Grigol include:

Grigol Abashidze (1914–1994), Georgian poet

Grigol Bediashvili (born 1980), Georgian footballer (goalkeeper)

Grigol Chanturia (born 1973), Georgian footballer

Grigol Dolidze (born 1982), Georgian footballer

Grigol Giorgadze (1879–1937), Georgian historian, jurist and politician

Grigol Lordkipanidze (1881–1937), Georgian politician and author

Grigol Mgaloblishvili (born 1973), Georgian politician and diplomat, Prime Minister of Georgia from 2008 to 2009

Grigol of Kakheti (died in 827), prince of Kakheti in eastern Georgia from 786 to 827

Grigol Kipshidze (born 2005), Georgian singer

Grigol Orbeliani (1804–1883), Georgian Romanticist poet and soldier in the Imperial Russian service

Grigol Peradze (1899–1942), famous Georgian ecclesiastic figure, theologian, historian, Archimandrite, Professor

Grigol Robakidze (1882–1962), Georgian writer, publicist, and public figure

Grigol Tsereteli (1870–1938), distinguished Georgian scientist, one of the founders of Papyrology

Grigol Uratadze (1880–1959), Georgian Social Democratic politician, diplomat and author

Grigol Vashadze (born 1958), Georgian politician, diplomat and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Georgia

Grigol Dadiani (Kolkhideli)

Prince Grigol Dadiani (Georgian: გრიგოლ დადიანი; 6 October 1814 – 24 December 1901) was a member of the Georgian noble Dadiani family of Mingrelia. He was a son of Levan V Dadiani, Prince-regnant of Mingrelia, and member of the regency council for his nephew, Niko I Dadiani. As an officer in the Imperial Russian service, he took part in the Russo-Turkish, Crimean, and Caucasus wars, and retired with the rank of General of the Infantry. He was also a literature enthusiast and himself a poet of some talent, writing in the spirit of Georgian Romanticism under the pen name of Kolkhideli (კოლხიდელი, "Colchian").

House of Orbeliani

The Orbeliani (Georgian: ორბელიანი) was a Georgian noble family (tavadi), which branched off the Baratashvili family in the 17th century and later produced several lines variously called Orbeliani, Orbelishvili (ორბელიშვილი), Qaplanishvili (ყაფლანიშვილი), and Jambakur(ian)-Orbeliani (ჯამბაკურ[იან]-ორბელიანი). They were prominent in Georgia’s politics, culture, and science; remained so under the Russian rule in the 19th century – when most of the Orbeliani lines were received among the princely nobility (knyaz) of the Russian Empire – and into the 20th century.

Ivane Abkhazi

Ivane Abkhazi (Georgian: ივანე აფხაზი) or Ivan Nikolayevich Abkhazov (Russian: Иван Николаевич Абхазов) (1764 or 1786 – 1831) was a nobleman from Georgia, who served in the Imperial Russian military and rose to the rank of major-general during the Caucasus War.

Abkhazi, born of a princely family from Kakheti, was one of the first Georgian noblemen who joined the Russian military on the Tsar's annexation of Georgia in 1800. He rose in seniority during the war with Iran (1804–13), being an aide to General Pyotr Kotlyarevsky. He was promoted to major in 1812, colonel in 1821, and major-general in 1826. He was instrumental in defeating the rebel prince Aslan-Bey in Abkhazia in the 1820s. During the second war with Iran (1826–28) Abkhazi was chief of staff of General Nikita Pankratiev's corps and then a military administrator of the South Caucasian Muslim provinces. In 1830, he commanded a punitive force which forced the Ingush and Ossetian highlanders into submission. His service had been awarded by the Order of St. George, 4th Rank (1813). Count Ivan Paskevich, his former superior in the Caucasus, summoned Abkhazi to service in Warsaw on his transfer to Poland, but Abkhazi died on his way to a new appointment.

Kashveti Church

The Kashveti Church of St. George (Georgian: ქაშვეთის წმინდა გიორგის სახელობის ტაძარი) is a Georgian Orthodox Church in central Tbilisi, located across from the Parliament building on Rustaveli Avenue.

The Kashveti church was constructed between 1904 and 1910 by the architect Leopold Bilfeldt, who based his design on the medieval Samtavisi Cathedral. The construction was sponsored by the Georgian nobility and bourgeoisie. Kashveti was built on the site of a damaged church built of brick at the request of the Amilakhvari family in 1753. Significant contributions to the current church's ornate design were made by N. Agladze. Kashveti's frescoes were painted by the influential Georgian painter, Lado Gudiashvili, in 1947.

The name "kashveti" is derived from Georgian words kva for a "stone" and shva "to give birth." Legend has it the prominent 6th century monk David of Gareja of the Thirteen Assyrian Fathers was accused by a woman of making her a pregnant in Tbilisi. David prophesied his denial would be proved when she gave birth to a stone. She did, and the place received the name of "kashveti."


Khanuma (Russian: Ханума; ['xanuma];) is a 1978 Soviet television film directed by Georgy Tovstonogov. It is a screen version of the same name classic vaudeville by Avksenty Tsagareli.

The text of the play Tsagareli was updated by Boris Ratser and Vladimir Konstantinov. This work is considered one of the best works of Tovstonogov.

List of Georgian writers

An alphabetic list of prose writers and poets from the nation of Georgia.

List of Romantic poets

The six best-known English authors are, in order of birth and with an example of their work:

William Blake – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

William Wordsworth – The Prelude

Samuel Taylor Coleridge – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

George Gordon, Lord Byron – Don Juan, "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"

Percy Bysshe Shelley – Prometheus Unbound, "Adonaïs", "Ode to the West Wind", "Ozymandias"

John Keats – Great Odes, "Hyperion", "Endymion"

Notable female poets include Felicia Dorothea Hemans, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, Charlotte Turner Smith, Mary Robinson, Hannah More, and Joanna Baillie.

Nikolay Zabolotsky

Nikolay Alexeyevich Zabolotsky (Russian: Никола́й Алексе́евич Заболо́цкий; May 7, 1903 — October 14, 1958) was a Russian poet, children's writer and translator. He was a Modernist and one of the founders of the Russian avant-garde absurdist group Oberiu.

Nikoloz Baratashvili

Prince Nikoloz "Tato" Baratashvili (Georgian: ნიკოლოზ "ტატო" ბარათაშვილი; 4 December 1817 – 21 October 1845) was a Georgian poet. He was one of the first Georgians to marry modern nationalism with European Romanticism and to introduce "Europeanism" into Georgian literature. Due to his early death, Baratashvili left a relatively small literary heritage of fewer than forty short lyrics, one extended poem, and a few private letters, but he is nevertheless considered to be the high point of Georgian Romanticism. He was referred to as the "Georgian Byron".

Nino Chavchavadze

Princess Nino Chavchavadze (Georgian: ნინო ჭავჭავაძე; also known as Nina Alexandrovna Griboyedova in a Russian manner) (November 4, 1812 – June 28, 1857) was a daughter of the famous Georgian knyaz (prince) and poet Alexander Chavchavadze and wife of Russian diplomat and playwright Alexander Griboyedov.

Nino was raised in the Tsinandali palace, eastern Georgia, where her father was writing his historical novels and poetry. When Nino turned sixteen, she met Russian poet and novelist Alexander Griboyedov during one of her father's parties in Tiflis. Griboyedov proposed to her soon after the meeting and they married at Tbilisi Sioni Cathedral on August 22, 1828. Later in the same year, she accompanied her husband on his fatal mission to Persia, but Nino became ill and Griboyedov chose to leave her in Tabriz. After hearing of her husband’s death in Teheran (January 30, 1829), Nino gave birth to a premature child, who died soon after. Pursuant to Griboyedov's will, Nino reburied him to Mount Mtatsminda, Tbilisi, and ordered a grave stone with the inscription in Russian: "Your spirit and achievements will be remembered for ever. Why still does my love outlive you?" This epitaph also figures in the novel Ali and Nino by Kurban Said when the couple visits the gravesite in Tbilisi.She never remarried, rejecting her numerous suitors (including the prominent Georgian poet and military commander, Grigol Orbeliani, who, inspired with hopeless passion towards Nino for thirty years, also never married) and winning universal admiration for her fidelity to his memory. She spent most of her unhappy life in the Tsinandali residence, frequently visiting Tiflis and her sister, Ekaterine, in Mingrelia.

Nino died in 1857, and was buried next to Griboyedov. On the burial stone of Alexandr Griboyedov at the Mtatsminda Pantheon in Tbilisi, the statue of Nino is depicted weeping over the death of her beloved husband.

Prince Okropir of Georgia

Okropir (Georgian: ოქროპირი) known in Russia as Tsarevich Okropir Georgievich Gruzinsky (Russian: Окропир Георгиевич Грузинский), (June 24, 1795 – October 30, 1857) was a Georgian prince royal (batonishvili) of the Bagrationi Dynasty.

Princess Elene of Georgia

Elene (Georgian: ელენე; 1753 – 17 June 1786) was a Georgian princess royal (batonishvili), a daughter of Heraclius II, King of Kartli and Kakheti. She was the mother of Solomon II of Imereti, the last king to have reigned in the Georgian polities.

Three Hundred Aragvians

The Three Hundred Aragvians (Georgian: სამასი არაგველი, translit.: samasi aragveli) is the name by which the Georgian historiography refers to a detachment of the highlanders from the Aragvi valley who fought the last stand at the battle of Krtsanisi, defending Tbilisi against the invading Qajar army in 1795. The Georgian Orthodox Church had the 300 Aragvians and those who fought and died in the battle canonized as martyrs in 2008.

Vakhtang Orbeliani

Prince Vakhtang Orbeliani (Georgian: ვახტანგ ორბელიანი) (April 5, 1812 – September 29, 1890) was a Georgian Romanticist poet and soldier in the Imperial Russian service, of the noble House of Orbeliani.

Vakhtang Orbeliani was born in Tiflis (Tbilisi), then under Imperial Russian rule, to Prince Vakhtang Orbeliani and Princess Tekle, a beloved daughter of the penultimate Georgian king Erekle II. He was a brother of Alexander Orbeliani and a cousin of Grigol Orbeliani, fellow Romanticist poets. He studied at the Tiflis nobility school and enrolled into the St. Petersburg Page Corps which he did not graduate from and returned to homeland to lead, in 1832, a failed coup attempt against Russian rule in 1832. The conspirators planned to invite the Russian officials in the Caucasus to a grand ball where they would be given the choice of death or surrender. After the collapse of this plot, Orbeliani was arrested and sentenced to death, but reprieved and exiled to Kaluga. The abortive uprising and relatively mild punishment that followed forced many conspirators to see the independent past as irremediably lost and to reconcile themselves with the Russian autocracy, transforming their laments for the lost past and the fall of the native dynasty into Romanticist poetry. In 1838, Orbeliani joined the Russian military service and served in the Nizhny Novgorod Dragoon regiment. Most of his military career was spent in the struggle against the rebellious mountainous tribes during the Caucasus War. He was placed in command of the Georgian Grenadier Regiment in 1855 and promoted to major general in 1860. Between 1858 and 1863, he carried out various administrative and military duties in the North Caucasus, including being commander in the restive districts of Kabarda and Terek. Later in his career, he served as a member of peasants’ council and worked as an arbitrator.

Like his elder brother Alexander’s, his poetry is obsessed with the destruction of the Georgian monarchy at the end of the 18th century, and the poet seeks console in a Christian patience. His best poetry is dominated by the sacred image of Georgian Christianity — Grapevine cross of St. Nino. Vakhtang Orbeliani is buried in the western corner of Tbilisi Sioni Cathedral.

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