I just finished reading an article entitled "Олигархократия" (https://vz.ru/opinions/2014/5/27/688692.html) The author quips that governments are formed quite simply: «кто палку взял – тот и капрал» или, по выражению автора XVII в. Ивана Тимофеева, «не сущий царь, а чрез подобство наскакающий на царство». I understand the meaning of the second quote primarily from the quote preceding it; however, I am unable to find a translation of the word подобство.

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On page 442 of the Complete dictionary of Church Slavonic by Gregory Dyachenko or HERE it's read подобство

In the monograph of K. Reznikov "Myths and facts of Russian history" the phrase is given in the following context:

Главный идеолог тех времен, Тимофеев, различает царей «истиньишихъ и природныхъ» и царей по внешнему подобию — «чрезъ подобство наскакающихъ на царство».

In the introduction to a modern publication of Ivan Timofeev's work the phrase is quoted in the following context:

Тимофеев считает истинными царями Грозного и Федора Ивановича — царей наследственных и венчанных на царство, и Михаила Федоровича Романова — царя, избранного всей землей. Иное дело, по Тимофееву, Борис Годунов, самозванец. Шуйский — "не истинные" цари. Они получили престол не по наследству и не по избранию всей земли, а по своей воле. Это — люди, "через подобство наскакающие на царство".

So the phrase may be understood in such a way that a person (the impostor/usurper) isn't a genuine king (anointed/chosen) and only due to semblance (to one) seizes kingdom/throne.

I personally would only be able to infer this meaning, it's not immediately apparent to me.

In the actual body of Ivan Timofeev's work translated into modern Russian this phrase seems to have been rendered as

а о других и о тех, которые без благословения и незаконно наскакивали на царство, ясно, что для них будет отдельный от благих суд.

In the light of this rendering which uses the word незаконно, i might venture to speculate that the word подобство may in fact mean a crime or an immoral act, because in Ukrainian there's a word нэподобство meaning indecency, disgrace, reproachable behavior. Sure enough it has a negating prefix, but it may have lacked it originally, is spelled erroneously in the Timofeev's manuscript, or the two words are synonyms.

This explanation, counterintuitive though it is considering the word's root having nothing to do with impropriety, seems possible due to the presence of the preposition через which means through, because of, owing to. To usurp a throne owing to semblance [to a king] sounds odder than owing to a crime, which is how it usually historically occurred and continues to occur nowadays.

(BTW the linked article is terrible if i may add)


Подобство is an old Russian word originating from the 11-13th centuries meaning подобие, сходство (similarity, likeness, resemblance). Сущий means настоящий (real, genuine). He is not a real ruler but only looks like one.

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