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Klaus-Dieter Beims

Melchior Adam’s collection of biographies offers a unique insight into the intellectual history of the German-speaking cultural world from the late 15th century onwards. Using the Vita Helii Eobani Hessi as an example, this article examines the different sources available to Adam. Furthermore, the article analyses the selection and literary transformation of these sources in Adam’s biography. The image of Hessus in Adam’s main source already shows all the evidence of being just a construction; the essay examines if Adam is checking the construction in a critical manner or if he just accepts it. By comparing the sources that Adam used, the limits of the biography’s historical content are revealed.

“Zwei Mal in der Wochen Komödie”: Das erste deutsche Hoftheater in Heidelberg

Zur ortsfesten Subventionierung professioneller Schauspielkunst seit 1656

Bärbel Rudin

The first German court theater, founded in 1656 in Heidelberg, so far is inexistent in the view of scientific research. Only in the historiographic offside one can find a newspaper article from 1858 with now lost sources: contractual agreements between the elector palatine Karl Ludwig and a professional theater company regarding a half-yearly subsidized spoken theater for court audience and town citizens are document of a cultural policy pioneer achievement avoiding confessional conflicts. This visualizes the artistically groundbreaking careers of the entire personelle, of which the leading forces also strongly influenced following courtly institutions and carried esthetic standards of the residence culture into the commercial stage experience.

The carmen heroicum in Early Modernity (Das carmen heroicum in der frühen Neuzeit)

On the Genre History of Epic Verse Poetry in the German Cultural Sphere (Zur Gattungsgeschichte epischer Versdichtungen im deutschen Kulturraum)

Uwe Maximilian Korn, Dirk Werle and Katharina Worms

The special issue at hand provides a contribution to the historical exploration of early modern carmina heroica (epic poems) in the German area of the early modern period, especially of the ‘long’ 17th century. To this purpose, perspectives of Latin and German Studies, of researchers with expertise in medieval and modern literary history, are brought together. This introductory article puts the following theses up for discussion: 1) The view that epic poems of the early modern period are a genre with little relevance for the history of literature is wrong and has to be corrected. 2) Accordingly, the view has to be corrected that the history of narrative in the modern era leads teleologically to the modern novel. 3) For the exploration of the history of carmina heroica, the traditions of didactic poems and heroic poems have to be taken into consideration together. 4) Epic poems of the ‘long’ 17th century have a particular tendency to generic hybridization. 5) The genre history of carmina heroica can be reconstructed appropriately only by taking into account the vernacular as well as the Latin tradition.

The Commemoration of the Dead and Epic Composition (Totengedenken und epische Gestaltung)

Johann T’Serclaes of Tilly in Neolatin Jesuit Poetry (Johann T’Serclaes von Tilly in jesuitischen neulateinischen Dichtungen)

Hermann Wiegand

This paper discusses the image and reception of the Thirty Years Warʼs Catholic military leader Johann T’Serclaes von Tilly in Jesuit Neo-Latin epical poetry of the 17th century, starting with Magni Tillij Parentalia written by Jacobus Balde, a prosimetrical work that came into being immediatly after the ‘heroʼs’ death but was posthumously published in 1678, using epical patterns such as picture descriptions or similia not only in metrical parts of the work, but also in prose fiction. The text shows Tilly as a pillar of the Holy Roman Empire and Catholic faith as well. Affiliated are shorter reflections of further Jesuit Neo-Latin poems such as Bellicum Tillij (1634) by Jacobus Bidermann, Johannes Bisseliusʼ Icaria (1637), and Jacobus Damianus’ Bellum Germanicum (1648).

Florian Schaffenrath

During the 16th century, Neo-Latin epic poets in Germany strove for protection and patronage by means of their work, just as their precursors in the Italian Quattrocento. An example par excellence of such a poet – who, however, eventually failed – was Johann Engerd (born in 1547), professor for poetics at the university of Ingolstadt. In the following paper, the author presents Engerd’s biography and gives a general overview of his literary production. In a second step, the author discusses in more detail his epic poems which celebrate particular powerful families whose protection Engerd was seeking: the Montfort, the Fugger, and the Madruzzo families. The special focus in our discussion rests on the literary technique and the self-fashioning of the author in his works.

Alexander Winkler

This paper discusses a little known short and unfinished epic poem on the Fourth Siege of Leipzig in 1637 by the Baroque philologist and poet Caspar von Barth (1587–1658). The poem, the autograph of which is preserved at the Ratsschulbibliothek in Zwickau, is shown to be based on a contemporary newspaper account of this event. Whilst it is suggested that the poem’s shortcomings result first and foremost from the poet’s sticking too closely to the historical source, the main part of the discussion explores the various functions and purposes the poem could have been intended to serve.

Ovid and Homer in ‘German Rhymes’ (Ovid und Homer in ‘teutschen Reymen’)

On the Significance of Humanist Translations of the Ancients for the Verse Epic of Early Modernity (Zur Bedeutung humanistischer Antikenübersetzungen für die Versepik der Frühen Neuzeit)

Regina Toepfer

This contribution examines the relationship between vernacular translations of the sixteenth century and the history of the epic poetry genre in the seventeenth. To this end, it systematically analyses the Early Modern High German translations of Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey and identifies the various reasons why translators decided in favour of prose or verse. Of all the protagonists of the German reception of antiquity – including such figures as Jörg Wickram, Simon Schaidenreisser, and Johannes Baptista Rexius – it is the Meistersinger Johannes Spreng of Augsburg who most consistently chose rhyme for his translations of the classical epics into German.

Poetic Physics (Poetische Naturwissenschaft)

Martin Opitz’s Didactic Poem Vesuvius (1633) (Martin Opitz’ Lehrgedicht Vesuvius (1633))

Jörg Robert

This article deals with Martin Opitz’s didactic poem Vesuvius (1633) and tries to elucidate its fundamental poetical and epistemological issues. In his Buch von der Deutschen Poeterey (1624), Opitz establishes a set of rules for the genre of carmen heroicum that comprises both didactic poetry and narrative epics. Especially didactic resp. scientific poetry plays a decisive role in Opitz’s overall concept of poetry as it denies being fiction (‘Erdichtung’) and claims strict factuality. Thus it is not surprising that Vesuvius becomes the opening piece of the posthumous collection of Opitz’s Teutsche Poemata (1644). Vesuvius reveals itself not only as an imitation / translation of De Aetna (a didactic poem included in the Appendix Vergiliana), but also as an attempt to connect literary tradition, natural philosophy and religious knowledge: The purely scientific parts of the poem (on earthquakes and volcanism) are functioning to reveal the natural order of creation (the aspect of theodicy avant la lettre). The Vesuv-catastrophe is interpreted as God’s clear hint for mankind towards the ending of moral deprivation and civil war. The poet’s role as poeta vates resp. poeta theologus is thus to be the mediator / translator / interpreter between god and mankind, a mediation which actually takes the form of philological interpretation and commentary. The text of the 1633 print reflects this constellation by interweaving text and paratext (commentary) to a unique ensemble. With its particular textual arrangement and discoursive complexity, Vesuvius is symptomatic for premodern negotiations between natural sciences, religious knowledge, and literature.

Kai Bremer

The investigation of the biblical epic is usually focused on the literary reception of the ancient epic. This is expedient. Nevertheless, in this paper additional perspectives on the biblical epic are discussed. It takes into account the early-modern, literary-theoretical reception of the Bible and it compares the reception of the Bible in epic with that in early modern tragedy. In conclusion, it critically discusses the considerations on the biblical epic in Ernst Robert Curtius’ Europäische Literatur und lateinisches Mittelalter (first 1948).