Mikalojus Daukša
Mikalojus Daukša was a Lithuanian
Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

 and Latin religious writer, translator and a Catholic church official. He is best known as the first among Lithuania's humanists to underline the need to codify and promote the Lithuanian language
Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

 over Chancery Ruthenian and Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

, which were in use in the Grand Duchy at the time. Daukša's Lithuanian translation of Jacob Ledesma's catechism became the first book in Lithuanian to be published in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Born probably after 1527 somewhere in the territory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

 (in Babėnai?), Daukša probably received his education in Vilnius
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania, and its largest city, with a population of 560,190 as of 2010. It is the seat of the Vilnius city municipality and of the Vilnius district municipality. It is also the capital of Vilnius County...

 and at one of the Western European Universities. He spoke several languages and had a personal library including books by Erasmus of Rotterdam and Philip Melanchthon.

Daukša was a canon
Canon (priest)
A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

 of Medininkai
Varniai , is a city in the Telšiai County, western Lithuania. In the Middle Ages the city was known as Medininkai. It was established in the 14th century, on the bank of the Varnelė River, near an important Samogitian castle. It was the center of Samogitian Catholic church: after the baptism of...

 (nowadays Varniai) and an official member of the Samogitia
Eldership of Samogitia
The Duchy of Samogitia had been the administrative unit of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1422 . Between 1422 to 1441 it was known as the Eldership of Samogitia...

. Under the auspices of bishop Melchior Giedroyć, he translated the catechism
A catechism , i.e. to indoctrinate) is a summary or exposition of doctrine, traditionally used in Christian religious teaching from New Testament times to the present...

 by the Spanish Jesuit theologist Jacobo Ledesma. The book, translated from the Polish translation by Jakub Wujek
Jakub Wujek
Jakub Wujek son of Maciej Wujek; a Polish Jesuit, religious writer, Doctor of Theology, Vice-Chancellor of the Vilnius Academy and translator of the Bible into Polish.-Life:...

, was published in 1595
1595 in literature
-Events:*Lope de Vega leaves the service of the Duke of Alba and returns to Madrid.* December 9 - Shakespeare's Richard II is possibly acted at a private performance at the Canon Row house of Sir Edward Hoby; Sir Robert Cecil attends.-New books:...

, and became one of the means to fight paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

. Paganism was at that time still practiced in Lithuania. The work also served to counter the growing threat posed to Catholicism by the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, which was promoted in Lithuania by the mighty Radziwiłł family. It was also the first book in Lithuanian to be printed in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

In 1599 Daukša published another important work, the Lithuanian translation of the Polish language collection of sermon
A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. Sermons address a Biblical, theological, religious, or moral topic, usually expounding on a type of belief, law or behavior within both past and present contexts...

s by Jakub Wujek, the "Postilla catholica". There are two prefaces to this work, one in Latin and one in Polish. In the Polish preface, Daukša advocates the promotion of the Lithuanian language in the Grand Duchy and gave a brief definition of the Lithuanian nation
A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders. However, it can also refer to people who share a common territory and government irrespective of their ethnic make-up...

 and state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

. The book is regarded as more valuable and important than the Catechism, and constitutes one of the monuments of the Lithuanian language.

In his translations, Daukša used the central High Lithuanian dialect, influenced by both eastern High Lithuanian and Samogitian. As one of pioneers of written Lithuanian, he is credited with the introduction of several neologisms, among them mokytojas (teacher), valia (will), įkvėpimas (inspiration
Artistic inspiration
Inspiration refers to an unconscious burst of creativity in a literary, musical, or other artistic endeavour. Literally, the word means "breathed upon," and it has its origins in both Hellenism and Hebraism. The Greeks believed that inspiration came from the muses, as well as the gods Apollo and...

) and išmintis (wisdom). Of special importance for our knowledge of the Lithuanian language are the accent signs Daukša employs in the Postilla.

External links

Daukša's place in the history of Lithuanian language and literature at Lithuanian Classic Literature anthology by the Institute of Lithuanian Scientific Society Short bio http://pogranicze.sejny.pl/archiwum/wydawnictwo/venclova1.htmTomas Venclova
Tomas Venclova
Tomas Venclova is a Lithuanian scholar, poet, author and translator of literature.Tomas Venclova is son of poet and Soviet politician Antanas Venclova. He was educated at Vilnius University. As an active participant in the dissident movement he was deprived of Soviet citizenship in 1977 and had...

on Daukša]
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