GEORGIA, the name formerly applied in a general manner to the region now called Russian Transcaucasia (see TRANSCAUCASIA), which forms the isthmus connecting Europe with Turkey-in-Asia, and iskunded by the Caucasian mountains on the and by the Armenian mountains on the south. The Persian name is Gurjestan; the Bus san, Grusia; and tire • native Iberia; the name of Georgia arose either from the numer ous kings called George that ruled over the country, or from the patron saint being St. George.
The early history of the Georgians, who trace their origin to Thargamos, a great grandson of Japhet, is wrapped in fable. Mtskliethos, who is said to have built Mtske tha, the ancient capital of the country, the ruins of which are still visible near Tiflis, plays a prominent part in it. They appear, however, in authentic history in the time of Alexander the Great, to whom they submitted. After the death of Alexander, in the year 324 "Lc., they were delivered from a foreign yoke by Pharnawas, and united in one kingdom. With Pharnawas begins the series of the Mephe or kings of Georgia, who, under a variety of dynasties, ruled the country almost without interruption for more than 2,000 years. By the end of the 4th c., Christianity had diffused itself throughout the country, and through it Georgia became connected with the Eastern empire, with which it joined in repelling the attacks of the Sassanides. After the empire of the Sassan ides had been destroyed the Arabs, the latter carried their conquests into Georgia,' which now became a province of the Arabian Califate. Toward the end of the Dili c., the decline of the Arabian Califate, the Georgians recovered their independence for a short period, but it was only to become tributary in the 10th c. to those dynasties which, in Persia, took the place of the Califs. Toward the end of the 10th c., they again achieved independence; and inaugurated the most brilliant era in Georgian his tory; for from this period to the 13th c., when they were conquered by the Mongols, Georgia was governed by a series of able sovereigns, who increased its extent, repulsed its enemies, and raised it to great prosperity. Toward the end of the 14th c., the coun try fell into the bands of Timour, who, however, was driven from it in the beginning of the following century by George VII. Alexander I., the successor of George VII., committed the fatal error of dividing the kingdom between his three sons. Each of these states was again divided, and at one time 26 different princes reigned in Georgia. The general history of Georgia now divides into two parts: that of the eastern states, Karthli and Kacheth; and that of the western states, including Imereth, Mingrelia. and Geria. ivrom the 16th to the 18th c., the eastern states had been heavily oppressed by Persia, and iu 1799 Gregory XI., after many attempts to establish their independence, resigned the states in favor of Paul, emperor of Russia, and in 1802, the emperor Alex ander proclaimed the territory a Russian province. Of the three states forming West ern Georgia, Curia fell into the hands of Russia in 1801, and formally surrendered itself to that empire by the treaty of 1810; Mingrelia was virtually added to Russia in 1803; and the state of Imereth toward the close of the 18t11 century. Thus Russia absorbed
the whole of Georgia, which is now included within tho two governments, Tiflis and Kutais, of the lieutenancy of the Caucasus. These governments are very fertile, abundantly productive of cereals, wine, honey, and silk, of cattle and horses, while the mountains teem with mineral wealth, as yet little utilized, The Georgians are one of that numerous group of nations or tribes that inhabit the Caucasus, to which Dr. Latham has given the name of Dioscu•ians tsee CAucAsus). They are celebrated for their beauty, and, under the Mohammedan rule, the white slaves of western Asia and of Egypt were mostly drawn from among them and the Cir cassians. Though endowed by nature with mental, no less than physical advantages, the long course of oppression to which they have been subjected has had its effect both upon their intelligence and their morality. Despite the long supremacy and cruel tyranny of their Mohammedan conquerors, they have, as a nation, remained faithful to the Christian religion, according to the doctrines of the Greek church. In Gtiria, how ever, nearly half the inhabitants have gone over to the religion of Islam. The condition of the people, although somewhat ameliorated under Russian rule, is, on the whole, deplorable.
The language of the Georgians is harsh, but regular and forcible. It has a peculiar structure, but is clearly of the agglutinative type. Along with the languages of one or two allied tribes, it constitutes a group to which the name Iberian-has been given, The Georgian literature, which is not altogether unimportant, begins with the introduc tion of Christianity into the country, and consists chiefly of ecclesiastical writings, translations of the Bible, the fathers, Plato, Aristotle, and their commentators. Profane literature flourished chiefly in the 17th c., and consists mainly of poetry and chronicles, particularly of an ecclesiastical character. A few heroic poems may be traced back to the time of queen Thamar (1184-1206). Scientific works are few in number, and with the exception of a few historical works, are of no importance. Recently, however, a greater zeal in the cultivation of the sciences has begun to show itself among the Georgians, and under the Russian government, the system of education and instruction has progressed considerably. On the other hand, it must be regarded as it circumstance unfavourable to the mental culture of the country, that, in 1807, the archives and scientific works of Georgia were conveyed to St. Petersburg. The chief authority on the language, literature, and history of Georgia is Brosset. Besides the translation of a Georgian chronicle, he published, among other works, the Elements de la League Ueorgienne (Paris, 1837); the Rapport sur sin Voyage AreUologique dens la Georgie et dens r Armenie execute en 1817-48 (Petersburg, 1850-51); L'Ifistoire de la Georgie, in Georgian and French; and Additions et Eclaireissements Histoire de la Georgie (Petersburg, 1851).