KONSTANTIN MILADINOV was born in Struga in 1830, as the youngest 8th child in the family of the Struga potter Riste Miladin and his wife Sultana. Born after his father’s death, he was under the care of his eldest brother Dimitrija (b. 1810), who replaced his deceased father and provided him with primary education. He finished secondary school education in Ioannina, and graduated Greek philology at the Athenian University. Together with his middle brother Naum (the first Macedonian musicologist and melographer), they joined in the collection of Macedonian folk poems, and the three brothers become the founders and propagators of Macedonian national Rebirth since the middle of the 19th century.

In the autumn of 1856, Konstantin moved to Russia, and took with him the collected folk poems. After passing the entry exam, he enrolled as a part-time student in Slavic philology at the Moscow University. In parallel, he worked on preparing the folk poems for print and on finding a publisher that would finance the printing of the Anthology. Konstantin himself started writing and publishing poems, thus becoming the first Macedonian lyricist. The masterpiece of his work is the poem “Longing for the South”, published in the Belgrade newspaper “Dunavski lebed” (Danube swan) on the 7th of February, 1861.

He spent the winter of 1859-60 in the Ekaterinburg hospital as a patient with severe lung ailment and was forced to return to his homeland due to the harsh Russian winter; meanwhile, owing to Russia’s geostrategic interests, he was unable to find a publisher for the Anthology. In July of 1860, he leaves Moscow and meets the Croatian archbishop Strossmayer in Vienna, who promises funding for the Anthology. But, serving the interest of Austria-Hungary and the roman catholic church, Strossmayer demanded Konstantin to include Bulgarian poems and to rename it as “Bulgarian folk poems”. Konstantin agreed to this demand after purchasing 100 Bulgarian poems for 100 forints from the Bulgarian folklorist Vasil Cholakov in Zagreb.

On the 24th of June, the Anthology of folklore of the Miladinov brothers was printed in Zagreb, with only 76 poems being Bulgarian, out of the total 674 poems included. The Anthology also includes: customs, beliefs, legends, proverbs, riddles, personal folk names and a Macedonian-Croatian dictionary. Overwhelmed with joy to have fulfilled the lifelong dream of the brothers from Struga, Konstantin takes several copies of the book and leaves for home. On the way, he learns that his brother Dimitrija is imprisoned in the Constantinople dungeons, so he goes to him. Both brothers die in the dungeons in Constantinople, Konstantin on the 18th of January 1862, and Dimitrija 2-4 days later, under mysterious conditions.

Petar Avramoski