Middle Latin Literature 1

Middle Latin literature, the Latin literature of the European Middle Ages.

It can be because of the smooth transitions to the previous Latin literature of late antiquity and the subsequent humanism time only approximately 500-1500 narrow and brought as a result of the Christian throughout the West used the Latin book Language (Middle Latin language) far more works and shapes emerged as the Roman Antiquity.


The Christian society of the Middle Ages received its spiritual formation from the Latin Church, both in the Romanian countries, which were once influenced by the Romans, and in the areas of the Teutons and Western Slavs, which were gradually covered by the mission. In the monastery, cathedral and religious schools, and then also at the universities, this conveyed ancient and early Christian knowledge, oriental-Arabic and contemporary knowledge obtained through translation; it had the texts copied, encouraged the creation of libraries and had a monopoly on education.

Although late antique Latin was able to persist in the countries of Romania until the early Middle Ages, especially in cultural centers that had survived the turmoil of the migration period, it also became a foreign and literary language here at the latest around 800 when the Romansh vernacular became independent. The cultural techniques of reading and writing, the ability to write and all higher education were taught through the study of Latin texts. Under these conditions, Middle Latin literature developed as the first book literature in Europe to dominate the Middle Ages. Ancient Latin literature was taught in schools, pagan literature and the psalter for learning language and literary forms, and the writings of the Church Fathers for the exegesis of Christian doctrine.

The traditional genres of ancient poetry and prose were continued, but varied in form and content (vagant poetry, animal poetry, elegiac comedy). New genres were added: z. B. in the historiography Gesta, Weltchronik, polemodel, in the hagiography legend, miracle, vision, in the narrative literature example and facetie; in scientific literature Quaestio and Quodlibet; in religious poetry, hymn, sequence, trope, rhyming prayer, and finally the spiritual game (ludus), which developed from the liturgy of Easter, unaffected by antiquity. In addition to the quantifying verse of antiquity, there was the accenting verse (metric). Both verse forms were often endowed with rhymes, and the prose was also rhymed or rhythmized (in the ends of sentences). In such innovations as well as in the open-mindedness to receive foreign cultural assets and to thematize contemporary issues, the creativity and originality of the Middle Latin literature are evident, which thus had an exemplary effect on the vernacular literatures.

From the beginning to the end of the 9th century

At the beginning of Middle Latin literature there were scholars who were still deeply rooted in ancient education, as it lived on especially in Italy. Cassiodorus made a decisive contribution to the preservation of traditional culture by having ancient works transcribed and translated and by incorporating secular studies into his ideal of education. The main work of Boethius, called the “last Roman”, “De consolatione philosophiae”, still breathes the spirit of ancient philosophy. Although it lacks specifically Christian ideas, the scriptures had an extraordinary effect. The same applies to the rule of the order of Benedict of Nursia; Benedictine monasticism, which goes back to him and his “Regula”, was for centuries the most important institution of education in the West. The “Dialogi” of Pope Gregory I the Great tell incidents from Benedict’s life, which, like his exegetical “Moralia in Job”, were among the most widespread works of the Middle Ages. Gregor heralded a new era insofar as he rejected the traditional ancient curriculum. The traditional educational material is collected again in the “Etymologiae” Isidore of Seville, from this universal encyclopedia the entire Middle Ages drew its secular and spiritual knowledge. For more articles about Italy and Europe, please follow Businesscarriers.

In Ireland, with Christianization in the 5th century, the Latin language had for the first time gained a firm foothold in a country not ruled by Rome. There he wrote, often in bizarre Latin, hymns, hagiographic and grammatical works. Since the 6th century, the Irish have carried their educational tradition to the continent. Even in Carolingian times, the poet Sedulius Scottus and the philosophically educated Johannes Scotus Eriugena stood out.

In the 7th century, the cultural leadership passed to the Anglo-Saxons. The first notable figure was Aldhelm (of Malmesbury); He towered over Beda Venerabilis, the first polymath of the Middle Ages, who created a unique historical work on the early days of England with the »Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum«. On the continent, the Merovingian culture reached a high point in the poetry of Venantius Fortunatus before 600; the most important chronicle of the Merovingian Empire in terms of cultural history, the »Historia Francorum«, was created by Gregor von Tours.

In the period that followed, a new upswing only took place under Charlemagne. To support his far-reaching educational reform, he appointed the Anglo-Saxon Alcuin 781 to head his court school, who decisively influenced the intellectual life of the Carolingian era and thus the uniform cultural development in the Franconian Empire. At his side were among others. the historian Paulus Diaconus and Theodulf von Orléans, whose elegant poems paint a vivid picture of life at the imperial court. Einhard, the most important Frankish scholar at the court, wrote his “Vita Karoli Magni” based on Sueton’s imperial biographies, but with a medieval flavor.

Charles’s reform continued after his death (814) and produced great learned and poetic literature. Hrabanus Maurus stood out as a universal mediator of cultural traditions. The secular epic lived among other things. continued in the panegyric poems of Ermoldus Nigellus on Ludwig the Pious. Of particular importance is the “Waltharius epic”, which poetically shaped a heroic saga of the time of the Great Migration and perhaps originated in St. Gallen (Ekkehart I ?). The monk Walahfrid Strabo, known for a poetic vision of the afterlife and a didactic poem about medicinal plants in the Reichenau monastery gardendominated all genres and verse forms. As a lyricist in the 9th century, only Gottschalk the Saxon was on a par with him. A poetic innovation of the time was the sequence, with the completed execution of which Notker Balbulus exerted lasting influence, similar to Tutilo through the trope.

Middle Latin Literature 1