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Lorenzo Pompeo:

Humanistic Ethnography in Jan Sandecki Malecki's Letter on the Beliefs and Sacrifices of the Old Prussians


The author publishes a selection of excerpts from the work of Ionannes Meletius from the third decade of the sixteenth century. These excerpts address pagan customs concerning the harvest in region comprising present-day Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and the Ukraine. They are followed by a description of a goat sacrifice that may be related to the spring fertility cult. Customs carried out on the day of St. George (23. April), when gifts were offered to Pergrubius, the god of plants and seeds, are also depicted. The funeral rituals are described in greatest detail, rituals that are considered to have been experienced first-hand by Meletius. They are recorded in the dialect spoken in the region between Poland and the Ukraine, Meletius' native land. These rituals prove that Slavs belived in existence after deth. There is a surprising accordance between the accounts recorded by Meletius and the reports of later ethnographic sources analyzing the same region.

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