If we had to say what writing is, we would define it essentially as an act of courage. - Cynthia Ozick
In Russian encyclopedia the word "proverb" is determined as a genre of folk poetry. It is a short, logically completed aphorism or saying. Proverbs and saying of Russian nation we can determine as an admirable and wonderful in its vividness and expressiveness element of language.
Vladimir I. Dal called proverbs by "pick of people's mind" and M. Sholokhov named proverbs "winged wisdom" and "clot of intellect".
From the very childhood we use to hear proverbs and we use proverbs in our everyday talk. But what is the success of proverbs functioning, why proverbs can live many years? Let's try to answer this question.
First of all, proverbs decorate our language and make it more rich and emotional.
Second, proverbs in concentrate form express the centuries-old wisdom of nation, its watching of world, nature and interrelations between people.
It seem to us that ancestry talk with us, study us, give us their experience.
Third, the content of proverbs is very multifarious. These are maxims, advice, wishes, morality, opinions and philosophical summarizing
Some proverbs have so far the memory of historical events (e.g. "Uninvited guest is worse that Tatar" - the memory about Tatar yoke in Russia; "To fail like Swede of Poltava" - about battle of Russian army with Sweden troops near Poltava city, where Russians won a victory). The recent one example is the aphorism of defender of Moscow during Second World War "The Russia is big, but there is nowhere to retreat - Moscow is behind"
As one can see from above examples that proverbs are not a stark layer of Russian language, it is alive and mobile.
Proverbs may come from literature sources. You can recall aphorisms of I. Krylov, A. Griboedov, and A. Pushkin that became usual in our language.
From church literature we often use such expressions as "Wolf in ship's clothing", "Not be worth one's salt", "Who sows a wing, will cut a storm", etc.
The most part of proverbs is devoted to moral essence of human being: good and evil, true and lie, compassion and sympathy.
Many proverbs have the description of people's character, his merits and demerits. ("To harbor a drudge" - about craft).
Already in XVII Century some people tried to make a collection of proverbs, in XVIII Century V. Tatishchev, A. Bogdanov and M. Lomonosov published a first collection of proverbs. The most famous proverbs collector of XIX Century was a well-known scientist-philologist Vladimir I. Dal. His Collection "Proverbs of Russian people" was published in 1862 and it is actual till our days.