An epic written in verse as a play, The Mountain Wreath is the top of the Serbian Romantic literature. The piece was written in 1846 in Cetinje, and was printed in 1847 in Vienna. Inspired by the popular language and the poetry of his teacher, Sima Milutinović Sarajlija, Njegoš’s Mountain Wreath is written in popular language in the decasyllabic verse. The theme of TheMountain Wreath is the beginning of the Serbian struggle for freedom against the Turks in Montenegro and the events in the early 18th century, known as the “the exterminations of the Turkish converts.” – the struggle of the Orthodox against the Islam converts, “Turkish convert” Montenegrins. Njegoš used those circumstances to spin a whole Montenegrin history, singing about the most important events from the past – from the times of the Nemanjićs to the 18th century,he depicted the Montenegrin everyday life, their festivities and social gatherings, the popular customs. The Mountain Wreath gives us even a bigger picture – the picture of Montenegro with three different civilisations mixing: the Serbian patriarchal and the heroic one, the Turkish, Islamic one, and the Venetian, Weste European one. The principal characters in The Mountain Wreath are Bishop Danilo, the Montegerin ruler; Abbot Stefan, a wise old man; and the popular heroes Vuk Mandušić and Vuk Mićunović. The “kolo” or the circle dance also has an important role – like a chorus voicing the Montenegrin people.
The Mountain Wreath features verses expressing popular wisdom, which are still a source of wise sayings, even for the present generations. Some of the most popular Mountain Wreathsayings:
“No one has yet drunk a cup of honey/without mixing it with a cup of gall.,”
“Hard walnut is a peculiar fruit/You’ll not break it, but it will break your teeth!”
“Who stands on a hill, even a small one/sees more than he who stands below the hill.”
Bishop Danilo Petrović, the firsr bishop of the Petrović clan, ruled in Montenegro from 1697 till 1735, at the time of conflicts between Austria, the Venetian Republic and Russia with Turkey. So Montenegro also joins in. As for the the exterminations of the Turkish converts, some historian challenge its validity in terms of historiography.