Host and Guest

Vazha-Pshavela (1861–1915), translated by Jgerenaia, Lela G. (contact-email)

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Host and Guest is an epic poem by the Georgian poet, writer and philosopher Vazha-Pshavela. The poem was first published in 1893 in Tbilisi, and it is considered to be the “masterpiece of the Georgian literature”.

Though the host, Joqola, is Muslim, and his guest, Zviadauri, is Christian, the poem refers only tangentially to their differing religious and cultural traditions. The story focuses on their intertwining fates – and the great dignity with which they face their inevitable ends.

The two men form a stoic friendship after a chance meeting in a forest while hunting deer. Their bond, symbolized by a ritualistic dance, unravels when Joqola defies a cultural taboo by hosting Zviadauri. His village, incited by elder Musa, demands the guest’s expulsion. Upholding a local hospitality mandate, Joqola refuses, igniting a catastrophic sequence of events.

Author Details

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Jgerenaia, Lela G.

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