From the Notebooks
The examples of Russia's tendency to absorb other cultures are numerous. The earliest years of Russian history show an influence from Finnish races, steppe peoples, the Greeks, Persia, and the Vikings. After Prince Vladimir's baptism in 988, Russia became heavily influenced by Byzantium. In the fifteenth century, the hesychasm from Mt. Athos impressed itself deeply into the Russian soul. The resulting religious movement single-handedly peopled Russia's great northern forests as villages formed around holy men who continually pushed northward to escape civilization. Hesychasm also gave rise to the institution of the Starets and Dostoyevsky's Fr. Zossima. The later centuries of Russian history show repeated inroads from the West: Peter Mogila's Academy of Kiev, Peter the Great's forced westernization, Catherine the Great's Russian Voltairism, and eventually the German Karl Marx's influence through Lenin.