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    Abstract. The disordered scenes of theArbore Akathiston have been identified,resorting to parallel versions, in connection

    with the stanzas they illustrate; remarks onthe infrequent arrangement of images leadto certain supposed new meanings of thecycle, revealing characteristics of the

    Moldavian societys life towards the middleof the 16th century: prayer and pain.

    It is obvious to anyone who paid the leastattention to the iconography of the AkathistosHymn in the Moldavian monuments, that theArbore version (fig. 1) displays a mysteriousdisorder, the reason of which has not yet been

    deciphered. The present endeavour to clarifythe unknowns started from the objectiveexamination of the 24 stanzas, aiming atidentifying the illustrations having uncertainconnection to the text.

    The analysis was directly dependent onthe results of the recent investigation of thewhole group of nine variants circumscribed in an approximate order for a number of cases

    to the reign of Petru Rares (1527-1538;1541-1546): Probota, St. George and St.Demetrius in Suceava, Humor, Moldovia,

    Baia, Prhui, Arbore, Vorone1.One of these conclusions2 relates a

    number of images, mainly pertaining to thecycles of Prhui and Arbore, with anunexpected source: the Byzantine icondatable to the end of the 14thcentury, now inthe Dormition Cathedral (Uspensky Sobor) ofthe Moscow Kremlin, The Praise of theTheotokos with the Akathiston (fig. 2), whichdisplays a comparable disorder of the last 12scenes of the hymn3; related to it in terms ofversion is the cycle in the church at

    Therapont, painted in 1502 by Dionysius andhis disciples.

    The illustrators acquaintance of thereferences the mentioned ones and manyothers in Moldavia during Petru Rarescould be seen in terms of a direct experience,

    but more likely, of a repertory of drawingsstocking the Palaeologan and post-Palaeologan workshops image invention forthis dogmatic, poetic text, abstract in content.

    NOTES ON THE AKATHISTON AT ARBORE

    Constana Costea

    The exploration of the Arbore Akathistonbegan with the scene by scene identificationas reported to the stanza illustrated. An initialdifficulty was set forth by the inscriptions, as,unlike other monuments where they areindicative through the incipit of thekontakion/eikos, here the situation is

    perfectly atypical: in many cases they havenot been meant at all and, when present, theyhave a different content, as an ad hoccompound written with many mistakes,sometimes hardly decipherable due to the

    ignorant use of certain letters as if themastermind would have intended to surprisethe beholder.

    The first part of the hymn the first12 stanzas, relying on the chronology of theevents in Jesus infancy unfolded in twotiers, is lacunary: severe damages, variablein extent, altered stanzas 2, 3, 4, 9-12, whilestanzas 5 and 6 (The Visitation and

    Doubting Joseph) lack completely.Out of the preserved scenes, attention

    could be drawn by the version of the first

    episode of the Annunciation with theArchangels visitation at the fountain, forthe closeness to the Uspensky type, as wellas by the composition of the Nativity(fig. 3), for the infrequent laconic variant,with the single figure of Joseph and theimage of the Universe as a celestial sphere

    populated by angels, incorporating the earthand its miraculous events; it is arepresentation of the world originating in

    REV. ROUM. HIST. ART, Srie BEAUX-ARTS, TOME XLVII, P. 2530, BUCAREST, 2010

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    the late 14thcentury works the Uspenskyicon, Cozia and in the contemporary ones

    Probota as well.

    Though in the first part of the poem theinscriptions appear in no more than twoillustrations, the structure of the imagesreveals a classical to the iconography ofthe Akathiston consecution of theEvangelical events, one scene excepted,which initialize the first surprise of thecycle: theReturn of the Magi replaced by theunprecedented in the context Circumcision,

    brajan[e]4with the Infant in the Virginsarms (fig. 4); a detail seems to separate theversion from its parallels: the much

    reclined position of the Child, the headclose to the Mothers breast and the crossedlegs, suggesting Anapeson,Christ preparedfor the sacrifice5.

    The second, dogmatic part of the hymn,adds to the already introduced strangeelements the disorganization of scenes andthe uncanonical form of the inscriptions adifferent one: two supplementary images,complicating the clarification of theconnection with the text.

    The attempt to identify the 14 illustrations

    has been oriented, in the main, by the parallel,

    or contemporary versions.

    Considering the images in their extant

    sequence, it results a new order.

    Stanza 13/eikos 7, When the Creatorappeared he revealed us, through himself, as

    a new creation, has been replaced by stanza16, The angelic nature was wholly surprisedat the great act of thine Incarnation, in thevariant known from Moldovia and Baia, withEmanuel in clipeus and with the peculiar

    feature of the kneeled angels holding thePassion instruments; the inscription reads

    k{ , Thecross (fig. 5).Instead of stanza 14/kontakion 8,

    Having beheld a strange Birth, let us be

    estranged from the world, it is illustratedstanza 13, When the Creator appeared herevealed us, through himself, as a new

    creation, with Christ pointing to the Bookin the tree, as in the Uspensky icon, avariant retrieved at Moldovia, Prhui6orVorone; the inscription, independent from

    the content of the poem, seems somehow

    misleading: x{spok{aja (unikom svoim)

    gramota {na drhvh, Christ showed his

    disciples the Scripture in the tree and, onthe leaf of the Scripture, with many

    grammar errors: slava {c/i seno i/s{eo

    d/ux/ i n{n/ i pri/sno v (v)eki Gloryto the Father and the Son and the Holy

    Spirit now and ever (fig. 6).Stanza 15/ eikos8, The boundless Word

    was altogether with the earthly ones, butwas not absent at all from the heavenlyones, has not been displaced. It is theillustration of this text, for the evidence ofthe sources: Uspensky though itsiconography is more complicated, includingthe Passion instruments and the cave of thedead and Therapont; the inscription

    molene Intercession registers, once more,the data of the image, in an attempt toescape the relation with the hymn; in thesegment of heaven, close to the Ancient of

    Days, it is noted: tec i sno i dx[]The Father and the Son and the Spirit.

    Instead of stanza 16/ kontakion 9, The

    angelic nature was wholly surprised at the

    great act of thine Incarnation, there appearsstanza 18, When the Adorner of all wishedto save the world, he went to it called by

    himself, withElcomenos, Christ lead, handsbound, to the Cross, as in the Byzantineicon in Moscow, as in Moldovia or inPrhui; the inscription seems to havenever existed.

    Instead of stanza 17/ eikos9,Behold, theeloquent with wide speech have become in

    thy comprehension like fish without voice,

    there appears stanza 22, When the Remitter

    of the debts of all mankind wished tobestow his grace of the remission of the old

    debts, represented as the Descent intoLimbo, a formula with no Byzantinereferences in the cycle, but encountered inconnection with this case, at Probota,Humor, Moldovia; the inscription

    vsk{sene xt{va, the Resurrection ofChrist can be met in the correspondingillustration at Humor and Moldovia.

    Instead of stanza 18/ kontakion10, Whenthe Adorner of all wished to save the world,

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    he went to it called by himself it has beenillustrated stanza 20, All praise falleth short,O holy king, when it stretcheth toward the

    bounds of thy bountiful compassion (fig. 7);the inscription missing completely, recoursehas been made to the again indicativeUspensky reference (fig. 8), with theidentification, accepted by the Russianscholars, of the representation in the icon of amiracle, related by the Russian pilgrims in14th-15th century, which took place in themonastery of Christ Philanthropos inConstantinople (Ancient Serail): from

    beneath the walls of the monastery, on whicha miraculous image of Christ standing was

    painted, sprang a saintly water whichalongside the surrounding sands, healed thesick people. In the Arbore cycle, as well as inPrhui, Christ is represented standing,among bishops, but the panel-wall behinddisappeared; in the foreground there is thespring, but while at Prhui as in Therapont,the image preserved the raised font and theseated patients, even if less numerous, Arboreintroduced a detail unknown to the Byzantineversion: the ill people buried up to theirshoulders/neck in the miracle-working sands.

    The detail is not to be found in the Russianreports, but in certain later, 17thcentury onesof the Western pilgrims, narrating healingsworked on the day of the Transfiguration,secretly watched by the sultan himself. In 16thcentury Moldavia, the miracle could beknown either through written sources, lostafter, or even through the living experience,since it survived over centuries thedisappearance, under the Ottoman rule, of theChrist Philanthropos church.

    The fourth register of the Akathiston at

    Arbore opens with stanza 19/ eikos10, Thouart, O virgin Theotokos, a wall to virgins, and

    to all who hasten unto thee, which remained,

    as stanza 15 did, undisplaced; the inscription

    followed the same principle of the subject

    description, in terms different from those of

    the eikos: bogo{rodic s k()l{gric,Theotokos with the nuns.

    Replacing stanza 20/kontakion 11, Allpraise falleth short, O holy king, when it

    stretcheth toward the bounds of thy bountiful

    compassion, there has been illustrated stanza

    21, We behold the holy Virgin as a lamp

    containing the Light, appearing unto those in

    darkness, having kindled the immaterial

    Light; the inscription is hard to decipher:bogorodica... Theotokos.

    In the place of stanza 21, We behold theholy Virgin as a lamp containing the Light, ithas been represented stanza 23,Since thou arta living temple, O Theotokos, we all praise

    thee, singing to thy birth-giving, identifiedafter the Uspensky prototype and theTherapont version, from which the imperialcouple vanished7; the inscription reads:

    vid(e)n...prhpodo{nanaebogorod(e)ce na

    c (sic!) The Visionof our HolyTheotokos (probablyon the church) (fig. 9).

    As a substitute for stanza 22/ kontakion12, When the Remitter of the debts of allmankind wished to bestow his grace of the

    remission of the old debts, it has beenintroduced stanza 17, Behold, the eloquentwith wide speech have become in thycomprehension like fish without voice, inwhich the Virgin and Child float, in animbus suspended over the philosophers, aversion probably inspired by the 14th

    century manuscript variants of theAkathiston the Tomi and the SerbianPsalters slightly modified at Moldovia,Baia and Prhui; the inscription is again

    surprising: vse (t) nebo prhista s

    ml(a{)dce i (sd{e) na prhsto{l,TheMost Pure and the Child appeared from

    heaven and seated on the throne.Stanza 23/ eikos 12, Since thou art a

    living temple, O Theotokos, we all praise

    thee, singing to thy birth-giving, wasreplaced by stanza 18, When the Adorner of

    all wished to save the world, the secondversion, Anapeson (fig. 10), with thePassion instruments, a liturgicallysupported association8, known to the 14thcentury Byzantine monuments and later, inMoldavia (Blineti); the relation between

    Anapeson and stanza 18 including thepersonification of the Cosmos wascurrent in 16th century Wallachia, at thehospice church of Cozia, at Snagov orTismana, without reference to the Passion;the Arbore illustration where the spear,

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    the sponge and the nails are kept by theangel in the bowl with the gall and thevinegar having no written mention, is

    significantly set under the foundation stoneinscription.

    The following scene renders, instead ofstanza 24/ kondakion 13, O all-praised, O

    Mother that gave birth to the Word, moreholy than all the saints, a different one,number 14,Having beheld a strange Birth,let us be estranged from the world,following the Uspensky, Therapont, Probotaor Prhui version; the inscription simply

    announces: vi(s)e bogorodica c{miTheotokos has shown herself to the fathers.

    The fifth tier introduces the supplementaryillustrations: for stanza 25 it brings backstanza 16, The angelic nature was wholly

    surprised, the second variant, with theangels glorifying the cross flanked by thePassion instruments, on the altar table,known at Probota and Prhui; theinscription, with uncertain deciphering in

    the second part, reads: prhsolo k(r){ sisl(a{) aggl({)o The throne of the Cross andthe glory of the angels (fig. 11).

    The last, 26th scene, illustrates the final

    stanza 24, O all-praised, O Mother thatgave birth to the Word: a ceremony of theicon as in the Byzantine cycles, recuperatesthe Therapont version, contaminated, in itsturn, by the prooimion To the invincible

    general of the Uspensky recension fromwhich it takes the imperial family and the

    bishops, while maintaining, from thesource-illustration of stanza 24, the icon

    bearer. The Moldavian version, to be met atBaia, Prhui and Arbore shows a

    preference for stanza 23 of the icon, withthe emperor and the empress standing

    aside; the inscription includes a mysteriousreference: iko{no prhs{ ubraja u{dovori The icon of the most pure facewonder-worker (fig. 12).

    *

    Resuming, the cycle unfolds orderly inthe first part, up to its end when,substituting the Return of the Magi in

    Babylon, it illustrates the Circumcision,probably intending to add to thesignificance proper to the subject Christs

    humility in submitting to the law ideasdistinct from the context9.

    The complication intervenes in the

    second part of the hymn, with almost all thescenes in a different order than the textitself and with two supplementary images doubling the illustrations to stanzas 16,Theangelic nature was wholly surprised and18,When the Adorner of all wished to savethe world, and furthermore, with intermittent,not de rigueur inscriptions, the manifestsimplicity of which contrast with thesophisticated morphology/syntax of the cycle.

    After dismembering the last 14 scenessuite and identifying the compositions

    according to the versions, it resulted: in thethird tier, the sequence of strophes 16, 13,15, 18, 22, 20 for the scenes 13-18 and inthe fourth, the sequence of strophes 19, 21,23, 17, 18 (the double one), 14, for thescenes 19-24; in the fifth tier, stanzas 16(the double one) and 24.

    The setting of the known images in adifferent way, as if they would lay over othertexts than those for which they wereconceived, was likely meant to displacecertain mental habitudes as it happened in

    other iconographic contexts of the samemonument in order to release new senses.

    In this abstract part of the hymn it is to benoticed, generically, a different arrangementof illustrations, in keeping to the mainsubject, an apparently rational principle notto be expected after the surprises encounteredso far: the third tier concentrates theiconography of Christ, while the next one,that of the Virgin (fig. 13) with a slightcontrapuntal variation, the Virgin in the

    Deesisand Emanuel inAnapeson.

    But inside every level, the association ofsubjects unveil other meanings: the

    Intercession (Molenie) the fixed point ofthis section of the illustrated poem and,visually, the centre of the cycle has, on oneside, Emanuel and the Cross, then the newcreation and on the other, the Passion, theResurrection and the Healing/Mercy; the

    presence of the Theotokos is conceived, inthe register beneath, in most cases as avision/appearance as it results from theinscriptions (stanzas 23, 17 and 14).

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    Hard points define further the uncommondiscourse: these are the doubles indicativefor the Passion.

    Beyond the Anapeson suggestion in theCircumcision, Emanuel directed towardsthe Crucifixion indicated by the Cross,the lance and the sponge under the nimbus

    borne by angels initialize, in a place ofutmost visibility, the dogmatic address ofthe Akathiston, pointing out, throughdisplacement, the new creation: angelicand pierced by sorrow. A return to theiconography of pain is made by the imageof the angels worshipping the Cross on thealtar table, in the beginning of the

    supplementary tier, but also by theAnapeson with the instruments of thePassion, in a place-focus of significance:under the foundation inscription, above theentrance to the church.

    Associated to the calling upon Jesusname, involved in the sense of theCircumcision, of the Prayer/Deisis as well

    as in the Virgins visions, the concentrationon the Passionwould reconstitute a form ofhesychasm deepened in the human sorrow,

    not indifferent to the tragedy of thefounder. It would be as an echo filtered bythe grace of the Intercession, to the historyof betrayal and pain sublimation, underlyingthe Forerunner cycle in the narthex. Theway of constituting the Akathistos discourse

    by dismembering and reorganising thepoem structure reminds the new syntaxachieved by cutting up the homily of theBaptist Beheading, a conception attributedto the inventive bishop Macarius10.

    The atypical use of images in both

    instances and the convergent secondary sensewould endorse the extension on the Arbore

    Akathiston, of the figurative initiativeof this

    practised scholar, whose technique of

    composition is revealedby his Chronicle,

    through the similar treatment of sources (as is

    the case with the Manasses Chronicle)11.

    1C. COSTEA, Sub semnul Miresei nenuntite.

    Despre reprezentarea Imnului Acatist n Moldovasecolului XVI, in Ars Transsilvaniae XIX (2009),

    p. 99-108; certain conclusions regarding the cycle atArbore have been resumed in the present NOTES.

    2 It is a result partially indebted to the contribution

    of our colleague Constantin Ciobanu, who previouslyexplored the illustration of the 15thstanza of the hymn.

    3

    E. B. GROMOVA,Problem Ikonografii AkafistaBogomateri v iskusstve Vizantii i Drevnei Rusi XIVveka, abstract of the Ph.D. thesis, Moscow, 1990(considers the painter to be a Greek; the dissertationhas been published: Istorija Russkoj IkonografiiAkafista. Ikona Pochvala Bogomateri s Akafistomiz Uspenskogo Sobora Moskovskogo Kremlja,Moskva 2005); E. S. SMIRNOVA, Smotrja naobraz drevnih jivopisev. Tema pocitanija ikon viskusstve Srednevekovoi Rusi, Moskva 2007, 295-306. The icon, large in dimensions (198/153 cm) wascirculated in Russia around 1500 as its versions ofthe scenes could be retrieved, almost unmodified, inthe Akathistos cycle of the Therapont church. Theillustrations of the second part of the hymn in theicon are accompanied by inscriptions guiding to theiridentification.

    4 In a first instance the image has been identified

    and published (see n. 1) as the Presentation to theTemple,following the increased analogy in structureof the two subjects; later on, the inscription read , theidentification changed. Strange to the Akathistos cycle,the Circumcision is quite uncommon in theiconography of Byzantine source, illustrating mostly

    the Menologion (January the 1st), as in the codex ofBasil II [Il Menologio di Basilio II (Cod. VaticanoGreco 1613), Torino 1907, I, p. 78-79, II, p. 287] or in

    the 16th century Moldavian frescoes (in theSynaxarion): Probota, Moldovia, Neam (where therestored frescoes in the nave, the chronology ofwhich is still under scrutiny, could be later than thoseat Arbore), Sucevia; in the same milieuthe theme isnot unknown to the wood carving, being included inthe decoration of a processional cross dated 1561:Arta n Moldova de la tefan cel Mare la Movileti(Muzeul Naional de Art al Romniei, Catalog deexpoziie), Bucharest, 1999, cat. 46 (M.I. SABADOS),194-195.

    5The Circumcision announcing the sacrifice, as

    it seems to be indicated in the Arbore murals, couldhave been inspired by certain homilies or othercommentaries.

    6

    Though hardly visible due to the dust andsmoke sediments, the cycle at Prhaui seems toreveal an increased degree of fidelity to the Uspenskytype; in illustrating this stanza, the lectern in the iconand the tree have been compulsed.

    7

    The cycle at Prhui retained the imperial pair.8

    A reading from Gen. 49: 1-2, 8-12 is introducedduring the Vespers of thePalm Sunday, as mentionedin the Triodion.

    9 Part of them would refer to the giving of the

    name (Luke 2: 21) the glorious calling of Lordsname (as it appears in the chants of the feast:Menaion for the month of January, written in 1504for the monastery of Dobrov, now in the Library of

    otes

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    the Romanian Academy, ms. sl. BAR 538, 9v) and tothe significance of the eighth day which bears thefashion of the world to come (idem4v) as well as tothe spiritual circumcision not made with hands

    (idem 201r); they outline an interest in the centralpoints of the hesychasmus: the concentration incalling upon Chriss name, in acquiring innerquietness and experiencing eternity while living.

    Iconographically supported by the suggestion inthe position of the Child, the literary background ofthe image could involve a reverse-meaning, referringto certain painful contemporary historical facts:readings from the Proverbs 10, 31-11, 7, provided forthe feast of the Circumcision seem suited to commentthe tragic event of the founders beheading, innocentin the descendants view at the orders of the princewhom he raised through the plot of the councillors:The mouth of the righteous bringeth forth wisdom,but the perverse tongue shall be cut off A false

    balance is an abomination to Jehovah, but a justweight is his delight.. Riches profit not in the day ofwrath, but righteousness delivereth from death Therighteousness of the perfect shall direct his way, butthe wicked shall fall by his own wickedness ( idem2v-3r); it is a remote type of allusion, having feeble

    traces in the image, as compared to the unmaskingin St. John the Baptist cycle decorating the narthex.

    There are, in the Romanian collections of OldSlavonic manscripts, copies of a homily Word to the

    eighth day Circumcision of our Lord, God and Saviour,Jesus Christ, which includes, in short, the praise forBasil the Great, attributed in ms. sl BAR 152 (15thcentury, Neam monastery), 56-58, to St Gregory ofNyssa (P.P. PANAITESCU, Manuscrisele slave dinBiblioteca Academiei RPR, I, Bucureti, 1959, 202) or,some other parts, to Amphilochius bishop of Iconium(BHG 5/261; I.R. MIRCEA,Rpertoire des manuscritsslaves en Roumanie. Auteurs byzantins et slaves, Sofia,2005, cat. 307).

    10C. COSTEA, The Sources of the Medieval

    Painter. The Cycle of Saint John the Baptist at

    Arbore, in RRHA XLIII (2006), 3-9.11

    I. BOGDAN, Cronici i texte literare vechi.

    Cronica lui Macarie, in Scrieri alese, Bucharest,

    1968, 320-335;Thus he read and read several timesthe chronicle of Manasses, noted all the passages he

    liked and, when composing his chronicle, especiallywhen writing the part regarding Rares he

    endeavoured to find, for each situation of his hero,the corresponding expression in Manasses: 327.

    1 C. COSTEA, Sub semnul Miresei nenuntite. Despre reprezentarea Imnului Acatist n Moldova

    secolului XVI, in Ars Transsilvaniae XIX (2009), p. 99-108; certain conclusions regarding the cycle atArbore have been resumed in the present NOTES.

    2It is a result partially indebted to the contribution of our colleague Constantin Ciobanu, who

    previously explored the illustration of the 15thstanza of the Hymn.

    3E. B. GROMOVA, Problem Ikonografii Akafista Bogomateri v iskusstve Vizantii i Drevnei Rusi

    XIV veka, abstract of the Ph.D. thesis, Moscow, 1990 (considers the painter to be a Greek; thedissertation has been published:Istorija Russkoj Ikonografii Akafista. Ikona Pochvala Bogomateri sAkafistom iz Uspenskogo Sobora Moskovskogo Kremlja, Moskva 2005); E. S. SMIRNOVA,Smotrja na obraz drevnih jivopisev. Tema pocitanija ikon v iskusstve Srednevekovoi Rusi, Moskva2007, 295-306. The icon, large in dimensions (198/153 cm) was circulated in Russia around 1500 asits versions of the scenes could be retrieved, almost unmodified, in the Akathistos cycle of the

    Therapont church. The illustrations of second part of the Hymn in the icon are accompanied byinscriptions guiding to their identification.

    4In a first instance the image has been identified and published (see n. 1) as thePresentation to theTemple,following the increased analogy in structure of the two subjects; later on, the inscription read, the identification changed.

    5 Strange to the Akathistos cycle, the Circumcision is quite uncommon in the iconography ofByzantine source, illustrating mostly the Menologion (January the 1st), as in the codex of Basil II [Il

    Menologio di Basilio II (Cod. Vaticano Greco 1613), Torino 1907, I, p. 78-79, II, p. 287] or in the16th century Moldavian frescoes (inthe Synaxarion): Probota, Moldovia, Neam (the restored frescoes in the nave, the chronology ofwhich is still under scrutiny, could be later than those at Arbore), Sucevia; in the same milieu the

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    Fig. 1 - Arbore, South faade.

    Fig. 2 The Uspensky icon.

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    Fig. 3 Arbore, The Nativity.

    Fig. 4 Arbore, The Circumcision.

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    Fig. 5 The angelic nature was wholly surprised.

    Fig. 6 Arbore, When the Creator appeared he revealed us as a new creation.

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    Fig. 7-8 Arbore and the Uspensky icon (detail)

    All praise falleth short.

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    Fig. 9 Since thou art a living temple.

    Fig. 10 Arbore, When the Adorner of all wished to save the world, the second version:Anapeson.

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    Fig. 11 Arbore, The angelic nature was wholly surprised, the second version.

    Fig. 12 Arbore, O all-praised, O Mother that gave birth to the Word.

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    Fig. 13 Arbore, 2nd-5thtiers of the Akathistos cycle.