It is assumed that Petar II Petrović took an addition Njegoš to his name from his uncle, Bishop Petar, who sometimes gave an addition Njegoš to his name after his clan and the home region. The name of a Montenegrin clan Njeguši probably comes from a personal name Njeguši of Njeguši (from njego – comfort, nursing).
There are few figures in history who have had such an impact on the culture of a nation as Petar II Petrović Njegoš (1813-1851), a Montenegrin ruler, a bishop and a writer, had on the Serbian people, particularly on those living in Montenegro.
God bestowed him with various talents, but even that seemed insufficient for all the tasks at hand.
He was born in Njeguši, as the second son to father Toma Markov Petrović, the youngest brother to Bishop Petar I, and to mother Ivana Proroković. He was christened Radivoje and later on the folk new him as Bishop Rade.
Bishop Petar I, his uncle, took him over to his place in 1825 to provide him with education and prepare him to be his heir. The uncle previously prepared Njegoš’s cousin, who was educated in Russia, but the latter preferred the army and an occupation of an officer. According to the tradition, however, a Montenegrin ruler was supposed to be a bishop as well, so young Njegoš was getting ready for that vocation. For a short time he went to school at the Savina Monastery in Boka Kotorska and then his uncle assigned him a tutor, Sima Milutinović Sarajlija. After his uncle’s death in 1830, Njegoš became a priest and a ruler of Montenegro. In 1833 he went to Petersburg where he was made a bishop.
The young bishop, who was, traditionally, a secular ruler of Montenegro, as well, was facing a task of introducing order among the clans often in dispute, who still lived by the laws of the blood feud. The Montenegrin Serbs were distinctly aware of their nationality and patriarchal moral, but also with a tendency to anarchy and excessive self-approbation.
Bishop Petar built schools and roads, constituted courts of law, gradually taking over the absolute power, then he introduced taxes necessary for normal functioning of the state. For his literary talents and good looks he was a noted guest at European courts, but it never made him vain. I am a ruler among rulers and a barbarian among barbarians, he wrote. And indeed, at home he faced discord, rebellions, problems with poverty and even famine in a large part of his people. The sources record that in 1847 there was a terrible drought and in order to buy grain in Trieste, Njegoš sold a medal he was awarded by the Austrian Chancellor. He contracted tuberculosis and on 10 October 1851 he died in Cetinje.
He did not live a long life, but did a lot for his people. We owe him mostly for his literary poetic work of universal value. Some dozen years after he had published his first poems of a young man in 1845, Njegoš completed a synthesis of his theological and artistic observations expressed in The Ray of Microcosm, a religious – philosophical epic about the Creation of the world. He dedicated the book to his erstwhile teacher, Sima Militinović. The Ray of Microcosm was printed in Belgrade in 1845. Already the following year, 1846, he completed his most significant work, The Mountain Wreath, an epic about a late 17th century military campaign against the Turks and their Montenegrin converts. This brilliant epic drama resembles the ancient Greek tragedies in many aspects. Written in the popular language, in verses of decasyllable metre, The Mountain Wreath is a literary treasure of wisdom. All the proud Serbs, particularly those of Montenegro, used to know large sections of it by heart. And by the moral standards set up in The Mountain Wreath, the events used to be assessed and important decisions made.
Other well known literary works by Njegoš are The Serbian Mirror and The False Tsar Scepan the Little.
Without effort no great song can be sung;
without effort no saber can be forged!
Bravery is the lord of all evil,
as well as the drink most sweet to the soul;
generations make themselves drunk with it.
Blessed is he whose name lives forever.
A good reason had he to be alive!
A lasting torch in the lasting darkness
neither burns out nor loses its bright light.
Taken from The Mountain Wreath