Anyway, a good deal more could be said about this book, but I wanted to focus on just one of the many interesting historical references Kostova makes. In Part II, Chapter 41, two of the protagonists discover a book in the library of the University of Budapest entitled, ‘Ballads of the Carpathians, 1790’ (Kostova, p. 338). Inside, they discover a number of woodcuts including one that shows a forest with some animals seemingly hidden within it, among which is a dragon, a domed church, and letters spelling the word ‘Ivireanu’ (Kostova, p. 352). While they ask another scholar in Budapest if he has any clue as to its meaning, this first fellow is clueless (Kostova, p. 354), and it is not until they meet a very interesting character in Bulgaria, Anton Stoichev, that they learn the significance of this word. Asked if he knows it, Stoichev replies:
‘Yes, yes, my son.’ Stoichev seemed to be looking through me without seeing. ‘It is the name of Antim Ivireanu, a scholar and printer at Snagov at the end of the seventeenth century—long after Vlad Ţepeş. I have read about Ivireanu’s work. He made a great name among the scholars of his time and he attracted many illustrious visitors to Snagov. He printed the holy gospels in Romanian and Arabic, and his press was the first one in Romania, in all probability. But—my God—perhaps it was not the first, if the dragon books are much older. There is a great deal I must show you!’. . . (Kostova, p. 493)
Snagov is an island in one of the lakes surrounding Bucharest, and is located in the heart of the Vlasie forest. The island is about a mile in length, and a half mile in width. Today, a small brick chapel is all that remains of the ancient monastic complex. This chapel, one of three that originally belonged to the monastery, was rebuilt in 1517. It is here that tradition assigns Dracula’s grave. . . .
As in the case of Castle Dracula, one may safely pressume that the island monastery with its secure strategic position was originally built on an extensive scale, either by Dracula’s grandfather, Prince Mircea of Wallachia, or by one of the boyars at his court. From official documents we do know that mircea often resided at the monastery and that he endowed it with vast tracts of land from the surrounding villages. Relatively few official documents mention this monastery in Dracula’s reign, but in the 16th century a Wallachian prince, in an act of endowment, confirmed those estates bestowed upon the monastery by Dracula. In addition, we know that between 1436 and 1447 Dracula’s father endowed Snagov with more land than any other monastery of the realm, and that in 1464 Radu the Handsome endowed it with three additional villages: Vadul Parvului, Calugareni and Stroiesti. These along with gifts from other memberss of the family lead the conclusion that Snagov is par excellence a Dracula ecclesiastical establishment.
In Dracula’s time, Snagov undoubtedly was one of the three largest and most important monasteries in Wallachia.
In the 17th and 18th centuries the monks of Snagov printed on their own presses numerous service books and books of religious teaching destined for Orthodox Romanians, Greeks, Arabs, and Georgians. At the turning point between these two centuries, Abbot Anthimus of Iberia (Georgia), the future Metropolitan of Wallachia, particularly distinguished himself by his publishing activities. (Bishop Seraphim, p. 58)
The venerable Metropolitan Anthimus was born in Georgia. His parents, John and Maria, gave him the name of Andrew at his baptism. In his youth he was made a slave by the Turks, and he lived for many years in Constantinople, where he learned the Greek, Arabic, and Turkish languages, as well as the arts of sculpture, painting, and embroidery.
About 1690 Andrew was brought to the Romanian Land by Constantine Brîncoveanu. There he learned the art of printing from Bishop Metrophanes, and after a year he became a monk and was ordained a priest.
From 1691 to 1694 he directed the royal printing house in Bucharest and printed three books. Between the years 1694 and 1696 he founded a new printing house at Snagov Monastery, and from 1696 to 1701 he was abbot of that monastery. During that time he printed fourteen books, four of which were in Romanian, and the others in Greek, Slavonic, and Arabic.
Between 1701 and 1705 he again directed the printing house in Bucharest, where he printed fifteen books, most of them service books.
From 1705 to 1708 he was bishop at Rîmnicu Vîlcea, founding the first printing house there. During those three years he printed ten books, seven of which were in Romanian. From 1708 to1716 he was Metropolitan of the Romanian Land, where he founded new printing houses and produced another nineteen books, of which twelve were in Romanian.
In the autumn of 1716 Metropolitan Anthimus was imprisoned by order of the Turks, defrocked, and exiled to the Monastery of Saint Catherine on Mount Sinai. On the way there he was martyred by the soldiers and thrown into the Tungia River, near Adrianople (today’s Edirne in Turkey). It is now thought that he may have been drowned in Snagov Lake. (Fr Ioanichie, pp. 383-4)
29. What profit is it for the body to be empty of food, but the soul full of sins? What profit is it to be pale and withered from fasting, but burning with envy and covetousness? What profit is it to abstain from wine, but to be drunk with the venom of anger? What profit is it to not eat meat, but to rend the flesh of our brethren by slander? What profit is it for us to cease from things which are sometimes allowed, but to do things that are never allowed? God loves and honors those who keep themselves from what is forbidden. (Fr Ioanichie, pp. 388-9)
70. Death is a great gift and merciful cure given to man by God, for this body of sin decays and another spiritual body, incorrupt and deathless is raised up at the general resurrection. Death brought great gain to man, says St Gregory the Theologian, for sin is cut off so that evil may not live forever. (Fr Ioanichie, p. 396)