Neo-Latin Literature 3

The rest of Europe

Not at the same time, but depending on ecclesiastical, political and cultural relationships, Italian humanism penetrated Europe, first in Hungary, where King Matthias I Corvinus (1458–90) founded the Bibliotheca Corviniana for his rich collection of ancient works in Buda and was in contact gathered around 1472 humanists with Ficino’s “Platonic Academy”, among others. the Italians A. Bonfini and Galeotto Marzio (* around 1427, † around 1494), who described the first history of Hungary (1496) and the deeds of the king (around 1484), and the epigram writer Janus Pannonius. Philippus Callimachus (* 1437, † 1496) from Italy and Celtis introduced the new studies at the University of Krakow and influenced, among other things, N. Copernicus, who presented his heliocentric system for the first time in 1514 in the memorandum “De hypothesibus motuum coelestium”. J. Dantyszek, Andrei Krzycki (* 1482, † 1537) and K. Janicki, later also the founder of the Polish national poetry J. Kochanowski and M. Sarbiewski, who as a Jesuit brought Catholic ideology into Horazi forms, wrote poetry at the Polish royal court.

In France, humanism, although noticeable early on in the poetry of the Chancellor of the Paris University, J. de Gerson, only gained acceptance when its rector R. Gaguin brought Italian and Greek scholars to Paris. His circle included: G. Pico della Mirandola, the young Erasmus of Rotterdam and J. Faber, editor of theological works of the Middle Ages (e.g. first complete edition of Nikolaus von Kues, 1514), translator of the Bible into French and critic of the Church as well as the famous Graecist G. Budaeus, who encouraged King Francis I to found the “Collège de France” (1530). Whose court poet Jean Salmon Macrin (* 1490, † 1557) was celebrated as the »French Horace«. The philologist J. C. Scaliger from Italy and his student M.-A. de Muret, the latter introduced the classic heroic tragedy in Europe with his »Julius Caesar« (1550) and contributed to the success of French poetry with the Latin commentary on P. de Ronsard’s love sonnets (1552). The Dutchman Johannes Dousa (* 1545, † 1609), member of the Paris Pléiade circle, was the first rector of the University of Leiden (1575) to found a school of poetry there, at which famous philologists such as J. J. Scaliger and his pupils D. Heinsius also founded and H. Grotius, the creator of international law (“Mare liberum”, German “Freedom of the Seas”, 1609). For more articles about Italy and Europe, please follow Cheeroutdoor.

In England, by the end of the 15th century, the University of Oxford had the richest collection of classical texts outside of Italy thanks to the collecting zeal of English nobles and Italian teachers. The theologian and founder of the first “Public School” J. Colet, who was influenced by Ficino, taught here and studied the statesman T. More, who was powerful in Greek and legally educated, both humanists of high standing, befriended each other and with Erasmus of Rotterdam, who dedicated works to them and More’s state-theoretical »Utopia« and his epigrams 1516-18 published. The philosopher and politician F. Bacon also designed an ideal state (»Nova Atlantis«)as well as in the “Novum Organum” a new methodology of scientific knowledge based on empiricism. The Scots G. Buchanan are considered the greatest Latin poets of the Elizabethan period, because of his sharp satires in the spirit of Protestantism v. a. known in France, and John Barclay (* 1582, † 1621), whose political-satirical novel »Argenis« (partly in translation) was read across Europe, as well as the Welsh moralist J. Owen with his brilliant epigrams. In the 17th century poetry became increasingly bilingual, and Latin was only used in early works (e.g. J. Milton’s Elegies, 1629) or in didactic poems (e.g. A. Cowley’s botany).

The neo-Latin literature of Denmark and Sweden was v. a. stimulated from Germany; outstanding authors are the historian O. Magnus, the poets Erasmus Laetus (* 1526, † 1582, pupil of Melanchthon; bucolic and historical works) and J. W. Lauremberg (satires) and the astronomer T. Brahe (didactic poem “Urania”). In Spain and Portugal, the main impulses came from Italian humanists such as P. M. d’Anghiera, who as chaplain Isabellas I wrote the history of the discovery of the New World. The most important Spanish humanist, J. L. Vives, announced inter alia. through his extensive education (“De disciplinis”, 1531) from Bruges, the educational program of his friend Erasmus von Rotterdam up to the ban (1537) by Emperor Charles V, in Portugal the poet and historian Antonio de worked at the new universities of Lisbon and Coimbra Resende (* 1500, † 1573) in the sense of the new ideals. The Dutchman Johannes Secundus should be mentioned as an important lyric poet from the circle around Charles V.

In the 17th century, poetry in the national language took precedence over poetry in Neo-Latin throughout Europe. Late works of neo-Latin fiction are the satirical travel novel through the earth’s interior (“Nicolai Klimii iter subterraneum”, 1741) by the Danish historian L. von Holberg and the didactic poem on equality between people (“Carmen de aequalitate hominum”, 1808) by the Dutch Hieronymus van Bosch (* 1740, † 1811). Latin remained the language of science until the end of the 18th century, for example with the French R. Descartes, the English I. Newton, the Italian G. Vico, the Dutch B. de Spinoza, the Swede C. von Linné and the Germans G. W. Leibniz and C. F. Gauß.

The turn to Greek antiquity at the end of the 18th century meant that interest in all of Latin literature decreased. It was not until J. Burckhardt’s work “Culture of the Italian Renaissance” (1859) that the study of neo-Latin literature began again, but it took another century before the first chair was established (1966 at the University of Leuven). Today poetry is also in Latin, not least through translations of popular children’s books and comic series, the neo-Latin literature received impulses (there are neo-Latin versions of “Max and Moritz”, “Struwwelpeter” and “Asterix”).

Wilhelm Busch’s “Max and Moritz” in a new Latin translation Hide table

From Wilhelm Busch’s verse “Max und Moritz” (1865) in a modern Latin translation

Fourth trick (excerpt)

Est necesse pueris

Studeant mox litteris.

Neque solum elementa

Didicisse sit contenta

Aetas prima puerilis

Aut imprimis iuvenilis,

Nec honores assequendi

Spes nec opes pariendi

Est, ni vacas litteris,

Quibus haec consequeris.

Ut doctrina augeatur,

Lampulum, qui nominatur,

Optime curare dives

Quivis novit neque cives

Nesciebant pauperes.

Neo-Latin Literature 3