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.
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Martin Opitz’s Didactic Poem Vesuvius (1633) (Martin Opitz’ Lehrgedicht Vesuvius (1633))
The Poetological Principles of the Early-Modern Bible Epic in Historical Contrast (Poetologische Prinzipien des frühneuzeitlichen Bibelepos im historischen Kontrast)
Complete with a Corollary to Ernst Robert Curtius (Samt einem Corollarium zu Ernst Robert Curtius)
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).
Dimensions of the Animal Epic in the Long 17th Century (Dimensionalisierung des Tierepos im langen 17. Jahrhundert)
Johann Christoph Gottsched glorifies the benefits of printing for the acquisition, conservation, and distribution of knowledge. Praising the Low German Reynke de vos he expects furthermore the inspiration from the art of printing for the emergence of a contemporary German epic. This article compares different versions of Reineke-stories relating to their variable peritextual presentation. This includes titles, covers, and other paratextual dimensions of the works. But as a product of collective retelling, the fox epic joins completely different literary genres.
Johann Christoph Gottsched preist die Leistungen des Buchdrucks bei der Aneignung, Bewahrung und Verbreitung von Wissen. Ausgehend von einem Lob des niederdeutschen Reynke de vos hofft er darüber hinaus, die Druckkunst werde zur Inspirationsquelle für ein zeitgenössisches ‘Heldengedicht’ in deutscher Sprache. Im vorliegenden Beitrag wird der Vergleich verschiedener Reineke-Fassungen nicht auf die bloße Vershandlung reduziert. Im Zentrum steht die Inszenierung durch textgeschichtlich variable Titelbilder, -formulierungen sowie weitere peritextuelle Werkdimensionen. Als Produkt eines gemeinsamen Wiedererzählens von Verfassern und Überlieferungsbeteiligten gerät die Fuchsgeschichte jedoch in ganz andere Gattungskontexte.
Contrasts and Ambivalences in Friedrich Wilhelm Zachariä’s Mock-Heroic Epic ‘Der Renommiste’ [The Braggart] (Gegensätze und Ambivalenzen in Friedrich Wilhelm Zachariäs komischem Heldenepos Der Renommiste)
The decades between 1730 and 1770 witnessed the publication of a large number of mock-heroic epic poems, in many cases inspired by Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock (1712–1717). One of the most successful products of this trend was Friedrich Wilhelm Zachariä’s Der Renommiste (1744). The article attempts to show that Zachariä’s poem, in addition to using the constitutive contrasts of mock-heroic for comic effects, also displays a critical attitude towards traditional ideals of heroism.
The ‘Heroic Death’ (1622) of Magnus of Württemberg in Bernhard Dieterlins Magneis (1623) (Der ‘Heldentod’ (1622) des Magnus von Württemberg in Bernhard Dieterlins Magneis (1623))
This article contains a historical and theoretical categorization of Bernhard Dieterlin’s heroic epic ‘Magneis’ (1623) as well as a translation, analysis, and interpretation of certain selected passages. ‘Magneis’ panegyrically sings of Magnus von Württemberg’s death in the battle of Wimpfen. This example is used to illustrate how 17th century epic poems make use of the genre’s ancient models and how contemporary history is interpreted literarily by embedding it in a manifold generic context rich in tradition.
Victorious Virgin: Early Modern Mary Epics between Theological-Didactical and Epic Poetry (Virgo Victrix: Frühneuzeitliche Marienepik zwischen theologischem Lehrgedicht und Epos)
On the Three Books of Mary by Julius Caesar Delphinus († 1564) (Die Mariados libri tres des Julius Caesar Delphinus († 1564))
This paper deals with a neglected subgenre of biblical poetry, namely with epic poems on the life of the Blessed Virgin. After an introduction into the poetic treatment of Mary in early modern latin poetry in general, one single epic poem is discussed in detail, the Mariados libri tres of the Italian-German scholar Giulio Cesare Delfini. As it will be demonstrated, Delfini’s poem included long explanations of medico-theological problems, like the digestion of the Divine Virgin or her intellectual skills, which the poet treated in addition in separate glosses. As result the poem presents itself as hybrid between didactic and epic poetry. In addition the study contains as an Appendix a list of (approximately) all accessible Latin poems, written between 1550 and 1650, on the incarnation and birth of Christ.
Thomas Murner’s translation of Virgil’s Aeneid (Strasbourg: Johann Grüninger 1515) was the first into German and remained the only one until a further translation by Johannes Spreng, the Meistersinger from Augsburg, was published posthumously in 1610. The use of rhyming couplets as the epic metre for the German Aeneid until the early 17th century was not only due to the reprints of Murner’s editio princeps, but also to Spreng’s work, the last edition of which was published in 1629. It was only about 40 years later that this formal pattern was superseded by the alexandrine, better suited to the stylistic requirements of baroque poetics.