European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages

European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages

Ernst Robert Curtius
Translated from the German by WILLARD R. TRASK
With a new introduction by COLIN BURROW
Copyright Date: 1983
Pages: 752
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  • Book Info
    European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages
    Book Description:

    Published just after the Second World War,European Literature and the Latin Middle Agesis a sweeping exploration of the remarkable continuity of European literature across time and place, from the classical era up to the early nineteenth century, and from the Italian peninsula to the British Isles. In what T. S. Eliot called a "magnificent" book, Ernst Robert Curtius establishes medieval Latin literature as the vital transition between the literature of antiquity and the vernacular literatures of later centuries. The result is nothing less than a masterful synthesis of European literature from Homer to Goethe.

    European Literature and the Latin Middle Agesis a monumental work of literary scholarship. In a new introduction, Colin Burrow provides critical insights into Curtius's life and ideas and highlights the distinctive importance of this wonderful book.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4615-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
    (pp. xi-xx)

    In my first year as an undergraduate one of my lungs collapsed. This limited my future career options. Becoming a trumpeter or a professional footballer was clearly no longer on the cards—not that I was much good at kicking a ball or blowing a trumpet anyway. It had the more immediate consequence that I had to spend a week in Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire, where they had recently performed the first successful heart-lung transplant. In order to avoid meeting the eye of surgical staff on the lookout for further opportunities for medical innovation, I decided to bury my head...

    (pp. xxi-xxi)
    W. R. T.
    (pp. xxii-xxii)
    (pp. xxiii-xxvii)

    For the English edition of this book a few words of explanation will perhaps be welcomed.

    My central field of study is the Romance languages and literatures. After the war of 1914–18 I saw it as my task to make modern France understood in Germany through studies of Rolland, Gide, Claudel, Péguy (Die literarischen Wegbereiter des neuen Frankreich[1919]); of Barrès (1922) and Balzac (1923); of Proust, Valéry, Larbaud (Französischer Geist im neuen Europa[1925]). This cycle was closed with a study of French culture (Einführung in die französische Kultur[1930]). By that time I had already begun studying...

    (pp. xxviii-2)
  8. 1 European Literature
    (pp. 3-16)

    Man’s knowledge of nature has made greater advances since the nineteenth century than in all preceding epochs. Indeed, compared with earlier advances, they may be called incommensurable. They have changed the forms of existence and they open new possibilities whose range cannot be estimated. Less well known, because less perceptible, are the advances in historical knowledge. These alter, not the forms of life, but the forms of thought of those who share in them. They lead to a widening and a clarification of consciousness. In time, the operation of this process can be of significance in the solution of humanity’s...

  9. 2 The Latin Middle Ages
    (pp. 17-35)

    As Dante, following in Virgil’s footsteps, begins his journey through Limbo, there looms out of the darkness a region of light, in which dwell the poets and philosophers of the antique world. Four noble shades advance to meet Virgil, with the greeting:

    Onorate l’altissimo poeta;.

    L’ombra sua torna, ch’ era dipartita.

    (All honor be unto the highest poet!

    His shade returns to us, that was departed.)

    Virgil explains the scene to his pupil:

    Mira colui con quella spada in mano,

    Che vien dinanzi ai tre sì come sire.

    Quelli è Omero poeta sovrano;

    L’altro è Orazio satiro che viene;


  10. 3 Literature and Education
    (pp. 36-61)

    Literature forms a part of “education.” Why and since when? Because the Greeks found their past, their essential nature, and their world of deities ideally reflected in a poet. They had no priestly books and no priestly caste. Homer, for them, was the “tradition.” From the sixth century onwards he was a schoolbook. Since that time literature has been a school subject, and the continuity of European literature is bound up with the schools. Education becomes the medium of the literary tradition: a fact which is characteristic of Europe, but which is not necessarily so in the nature of things....

  11. 4 Rhetoric
    (pp. 62-78)

    Rhetoric is the second of the seven liberal arts. It takes us deeper into the world of medieval culture than does grammar. To us, it has become unfamiliar. As an independent subject, it has long since vanished from the curriculum. Some scanty scraps of rhetoric were still offered to the nineteenth-century German grammar-school pupil when he was taught to turn out German themes. He was expected to draw up a preliminary “outline,” divided into introduction, main body, and conclusion. The introduction had to contain a generalization. One must on no account pass directly on to the theme, but must find...

  12. 5 Topics
    (pp. 79-105)

    Antique rhetoric is a forbidding subject. Where are there still readers who, like the young Goethe, would find “everything to do with poetry and rhetoric attractive and delightful”? Where a public to be fascinated byCuriosities of LiteratureandAmenities of Literature?¹ And if rhetoric itself impresses modern man as a grotesque bogey—how dare one try to interest him intopics, a subject which even the “literary specialist” hardly knows by name because he deliberately shuns the cellars—and foundations!—of European literature? Anxiously indeed must the author ask himself:

    Nunc quid ago et dubiam trepidus quo dirigo...

  13. 6 The Goddess Natura
    (pp. 106-127)

    Ovid begins his cosmogony with a description of chaos (Met., I, 5 ff.). Cold battles with hot, wet with dry, soft with hard, heavy with light. The conflict was composed by a god or milder Nature:

    Hanc deus et melior litem natura diremit.

    Ovid does not decide between Nature and the god: “whichever of the gods it was” (“quisquis fuit ille deorum”). Four centuries later Claudian takes up the theme again. The concept of the universe has changed. Not a god but Natura parted the ancient strife of the elements. For Claudian she is a powerful goddess. She appoints gods...

  14. 7 Metaphorics
    (pp. 128-144)

    We have oriented our investigation upon the didascalium of Greek rhetoric. From its systematic concepts we have derived historical categories. This book, then, can be called aNova Rhetorica. We had outlined the program of a historical topics; the method proved to be fruitful. But the antique treatment of the “figures” also appears capable of a renewal. The most important “figure” is the metaphor (Quintilian, VIII, 2, 6). Mϵταϕoρά.,translatio, means “transfer.” An old school example ispratum ridet, “the meadow laughs.” Human laughter is “transferred” to nature. Beside our historical topics, let us place a historical metaphorics.

    We begin...

  15. 8 Poetry and Rhetoric
    (pp. 145-166)

    Dante’s treatise on vernacular poetry bears the titleDe vulgari eloquentia. About 1300, then, it is still normal to conceive of poetry as a species of eloquence. There is no one generally available word for poetry. How is this to be understood historically?

    The “Literaturwissenschaft” of our day has as yet neglected to lay the foundation upon which alone it could raise a stable structure—a history of literary terminology. What do the English “poetry,” the German “Poesie” and “Dichtung” mean? The words give no indication of the essence of the thing, because they are late and derivative. In Homer...

  16. 9 Heroes and Rulers
    (pp. 167-182)

    Achilles, Siegfried, and Roland are presented to us in Greek, German, and French epic as “heroes.” The “hero” is one of humanity’s ideals, like the saint and the sage. To enumerate all these ideal types, to trace their descent, to determine their relative value, is a task for philosophy. Scheler, in his study of ethics, indicates five basic values, in descending order: the holy, the intellectual, the noble, the useful, the pleasant. To these there correspond five “personal value types” or “models for emulation”: the saint, the genius, the hero, the directing minds within a civilization, the hedonist or artist.¹...

  17. 10 The Ideal Landscape
    (pp. 183-202)

    The class ideals and human ideals of late Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance were given expression in the schemata of panegyrical topics. Rhetoric conveys the picture of the ideal man. But for millenniums it also determines the ideal landscape of poetry.

    Medieval descriptions of nature are not meant to represent reality. This is generally recognized in respect to Romanesque art, but not in respect to the literature of the same period. The fabulous animals of the cathedrals stem from Sassanian textiles. Whence stems the exotic fauna and flora of medieval poetry? The first requisite would be to catalogue...

  18. 11 Poetry and Philosophy
    (pp. 203-213)

    To the question as to the poet’s significance in the world, Goethe has Wilhelm Meister answer: “Innate within his inmost heart, the beautiful flower of wisdom grows, and if other men dream awake and are terrified out of their wits by monstrous imaginings, he lives the dream of life as one awake, and what befalls, no matter how strange, is to him at once past and future. And so the poet is at once teacher, soothsayer, friend of the gods and friend of men.” There are echoes of antique thought here. All Antiquity sees the poet as sage, teacher, educator....

  19. 12 Poetry and Theology
    (pp. 214-227)

    In his last years Dante entered into relations with the Bolognese poet and university professor Giovanni del Virgilio—so named because of his admiration for Virgil. An exchange of poetical epistles in the form of Latin eclogues between Dante and Giovanni has come down to us. After his great friend’s death Giovanni composed an epitaph in Latin. It begins:

    Theologus Dantes, nullius dogmatis expers

    Quod foveat claro philosophia sinu,

    Gloria Musarum, vulgo gratissimus auctor,

    Hic iacet, et fama pulsat utrumque polum:

    Qui loca defunctis, gladiisque regnumque gemellis

    Distribuit laicis rhetoricisque modis.

    Pascua Pieriis demum resonabat avenis..

    (The theologian Dante, stranger...

  20. 13 The Muses
    (pp. 228-246)

    The starting point of our inquiry was the historical fact that the Mediterranean-Nordic West was culturally one. Our goal was to demonstrate the same unity in its literature. We had, therefore, to make manifest certain continuities which had hitherto been overlooked. A technique of philological microscopy permitted us to find identical structural elements in texts of the most various origins—elements which we were justified in regarding as expressional constants of European literature. They indicated a general and generally disseminated theory and practice of literary expression. One of these common denominators was rhetoric. We found that poetry frequently entered into...

  21. 14 Classicism
    (pp. 247-272)

    Our discussion of the Muses may serve as an example of the tasks which lie before a science of European literature. What that discipline is, and what it is good for, Novalis has expressed in two sentences: “Philology in general is the science of literature,” and, “The art of letters, investigated by and in terms of the art of letters, yields the science of the art of letters (scientiam artis litterariae).” Perhaps such a point of view can also help us to understand the phenomenon which we call “Classicism.”

    Ever since music has been taught, there has been a science...

  22. 15 Mannerism
    (pp. 273-301)

    We feel the Classicism of Raphael and of Phidias as Nature raised to the Ideal. To be sure, every conceptual attempt to circumscribe the essence of great art is a makeshift. Yet the above formula would to some extent apply to what affects us as “classical” in Sophocles, Virgil, Racine, and Goethe. Classic art in this highest sense thrives only in brief periods of florescence. Even in Raphael’s late period art history finds the seed of what it calls “Mannerism” and interprets as a decadent form of Classicism. An artistic “manner,” which can find expression in the most various forms,...

  23. 16 The Book as Symbol
    (pp. 302-347)

    Progressing spirally, our course has led us to a height which permits a retrospect and a new prospect. From thence let us turn once again to metaphorics, and let us consider one of its most illuminating domains (though literary science has given it hardly any consideration): writing (the use of letters) and the book.

    The subject, so far as I am aware, has hitherto been touched upon by no one but Goethe. In his universal thinking, reflection upon literature occupies an important place. Sainte-Beuve could rightly call him “the greatest of all critics.” Goethe as critic—what a wonderful theme!...

  24. 17 Dante
    (pp. 348-379)

    We are accustomed to regarding Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe as the three peaks of modern poetry. But this evaluation first imposed itself only in the century after Goethe’s death. In Germany it has become canonical through Stefan George and his school. For England, T. S. Eliot sets forth: “We feel that if the classic is really a worthy ideal, it must be capable of exhibiting an amplitude, a catholicity ... which are fully present in the medieval mind of Dante. For in the Divine Comedy, if anywhere, we find the classic in a modern European language.” ¹ Goethe’s relation to...

  25. 18 Epilogue
    (pp. 380-402)

    We have an arduous journey behind us and now we may relax. Looking back, we can see the stages of our road. How have we proceeded? “The strict method,” says Novalis, “is merely for study, and should not be printed; one should write for the public only in a free, unconstrained style, and only have the strict demonstrations, the systematic working out, at hand. One must not write uncertainly, etc., fearfully, etc., or confusedly or roundabout the subject, but decisively, clearly, firmly, with apodictic, tacit hypothesis. A man who knows his own mind also makes a wholesome and decisive and...


      (pp. 405-406)

      Anyone who has visited Rome knows the antiqueHorsetamers(Dioscuri) on the Quirinal, which to this day bears the name Monte Cavallo after them. Adolph Goldschmidt reports what theMirabilia Romae, a twelfth-century guide to Rome, has to say about them: “The marble horses—hearken to why they are naked [i.e., unbridled], and the men too naked, and what they signify.—In the days of the Emperor Tiberius there came to Rome two young philosophers named Praxiteles and Fidias,¹ whom the Emperor, because he was well versed in such arts, gladly received into his palace. He asked them: Why come...

      (pp. 407-413)

      “Devotional formula” is a technical term of medieval diploma tics, the study of written instruments. Part of the “protocol” of an instrument is the statement of the drawer’s name and title (intitulatio). But this is “frequently connected with the devotional formula, which expresses the idea that the drawer owes his earthly mission to the grace. of God” (H. Bresslau,Handbuch der Urkundenlehre, I² [1912], 47). The “origin and history of the devotional formula” were investigated by Karl Schmitz in a work which appeared in 1913.¹ By devotional formula he understands those formulas “by which the drawer gives expression to his...

      (pp. 414-416)

      It is to the schools of late Antiquity and the Middle Ages that we owe the metaphorical use of grammatical and rhetorical terms. The symbiosis of the pursuits of grammar and poetry begins to define itself under Nero. From the Neronian period comes Lucilius’ epigram (AP, XI, 139) in which, for the first time, we find grammatical and rhetorical terms used figuratively—and in an obscene sense (casus, coniunctio, figurae, coniugatio). Such examples of school wit were also dear to the Latin Middle Ages. Paul Lehmann (Die Parodie im Mittelalter[1922], 75 ff. and 152 ff.) and Otto Schumann (Commentary...

      (pp. 417-435)

      In the Homeric epic the base and the heroic (Thersites and Achilles) stand side by side. Nestor is treated with delicate humor. Hephaestus’ surprising Ares and Aphrodite is a farce in which gods take part. The comic and the tragic enter the epic style. “It was tragedy which first attempted to carry out the idea of σπоυδαȋσν, of perfect and uninterrupted seriousness such as was consonant with the Apollonian religion, to the exclusion of the ‘petty’ (ϕαυλον), with complete consistency, and thus consciously turned away from βίoς and from primitive mixed forms” (Wilhelm Schmid,Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, I, 2...

      (pp. 436-445)

      Quintilian’s influence during the Middle Ages is far greater than the notices make it appear.¹ Inasmuch as theInstitutio oratoriais a draft for the education of an ideal man, it can be compared with Castiglione’sCortegiano(1528). The “harmonious rounding-out of the intellectual life” which Burckhardt found characteristic of the Renaissance ideal of theuomo universaleis also alive in Quintilian. The art of speaking is “the most precious gift of the gods,” and for that very reason it is the perfection of the human mind. “Ipsam igitur orandi maiestatem, qua nihil dii immortales melius homini dederunt et qua...

      (pp. 446-467)

      The vast realm of patristics has not yet been explored in respect to the problems posed by European literary history and literary theory. Here, naturally enough, textbooks of patrology leave us in the lurch. For they treat the material from the points of view of theology and ecclesiastical history. In this state of the matter, what follows can offer only indications and suggestions. It will be the task of an early Christian philology to rectify and complete them.

      We must ask: How did preoccupation with the Bible and the rise of Christian writing influence literary theory? Between the antique-pagan and...

      (pp. 468-473)

      Excursuses VII through XII are fragments toward a “History of the Theory of Poetry.” By “theory of poetry” I mean the concept of the nature and function of the poet and of poetry, in distinction from poetics, which has to do with the technique of poetical composition. This distinction between the concepts “theory of poetry” and “poetics” is a fruitful one for knowledge. Thatde factothe two have contacts and often pass into each other is no objection. The history of the theory of poetry coincides neither with the history of poetics nor with the history of literary criticism....

      (pp. 474-475)

      The theory of the poet’s divine frenzy ¹ is, of course, set forth in Plato’sPhaedrus(which the Middle Ages did not know), but in diluted form it was to be found throughout late Antiquity and it passed to the Middle Ages as a commonplace, like other elements of antique mythology. Horace (Carm., III, 4, 5) once regards himself as the victim of “amabilis insania,” on another occasion is carried away by Bacchus (Carm., III, 25). In theArs poetica(455) he had referred to the “vesanus poeta.” Ovid frequently testifies that the poet is inspired by the deity (Fasti,...

      (pp. 476-477)

      Homer’s heroes already know that poetry bestows eternal fame upon those whom it sings (Iliad, VI, 359). Poetry perpetuates. The poets like to impress this—Theognis (237 ff.) upon his Cyrnus, for example; Theocritus (XVI) upon Hiero; Propertius upon his Cynthia (III, 2, 17); likewise Horace (Carm., IV, 8, 28), though in his case it is upon no one in particular. Ovid too uses the same motif of enticement (Am., I, 10, 62). To be distinguished from this, is the assurance that the poet himself gains undying fame by his singing—the Horatian

      Exegi monumentum aere perennius.

      Ovid has devoted...

      (pp. 478-479)

      In ancient Greece poets and poetry were above all prized for their value as educators of the people. Even Plato, who thought quite otherwise, nevertheless reproduces the general view when he calls poets “fathers of wisdom and guides” (Lysis, 214 a). The Alexandrians, however, maintain an aesthetic-hedonistic view of poetry. Eratosthenes (275–195) set forth that the aim of every true poet is to entertain ¹ his readers, not to teach geography or history or anything else. In a far more cautious manner the question whether poetry should only teach (be useful) or should also give pleasure was discussed as...

      (pp. 480-484)

      One of the chief themes of this book is the position of poetry in the intellectual cosmos of the Middle Ages. We have investigated its relation to grammar, rhetoric, philosophy, and theology. With the scholastic disciplines (artes) of grammar and rhetoric poetry was connected by long usage. If it regarded itself as theology and philosophy, that was an imaginative playing with hoary traditions which the Platonism of the twelfth century revived. But it was just then that philosophy and theology began to be consolidated conceptually and established as branches of learning which shattered the system of theartes. Even the...

      (pp. 485-486)

      Hennig Brinkmann (Zu Wesen und Form mittelalterlicher Dichtung, 46 n. 1) pointed out in 1928 “that from the eleventh century onward an increasing selfassertion among writers is characteristic of the period.” The concept of poetry as a “perpetuation” already shows this. We may also draw conclusions from the suppression or statement of the author’s name (infra, Excursus XVII). But we have in addition express testimony to the medieval poet’s pride in his office and his art. Some examples may be cited. In the erotic idyl which is ascribed to a certain Wido of Ivrea and which is of the eleventh...

      (pp. 487-494)

      The Archpoet says of Pavia (Manitius, p. 42, st. 18):

      Digna foret laudibus et topographia,

      Nisi quod nunc utimur brevitatis via.

      What is behind this brevity-formula? This leads us back to the beginnings of Greek rhetoric. Isocrates demanded brevity for thenarratioin judicial oratory (M. Sheehan,De fide artis rhetoricae Isocrati tributae[Bonn, 1901], p. 37). It was counted among thevirtutes narrationis(άρϵταί της διηγήσϵως; to be distinguished from thevirtutes dicendi= άρϵταί της λϵξϵως) (J. Stroux,De Theophrasti virtutibus dicendi[1912], 43). Brevity in thenarratiowas recommended by theRhetorica ad Herennium(I, §15), which...

      (pp. 495-500)

      When Odysseus, after twenty years of separation, sees his old father again, he does not at once reveal himself but thinks it better to try him first by “sharp-cutting” words. He comes from “Sorrowfield” (Alybas), his name is “Strife” (Eperitos), and he is the son of “Hardlife Vexation” ¹ (Apheidas Polypemonides). The cowardly beggar Irus is threatened with being sent to the wicked king” Eχϵ τóν (Take him), who is wont to cut off strangers’ noses, ears, and other things. Odysseus himself is he with whom “Zeus is wroth” (ώδύσαο Zϵυ). Elsewhere Homer tells us that Odysseus had received his...

      (pp. 501-509)

      Concerning composition, rhetorical theory (Quintilian, III, 3, 9; VIIpraef., 4; VII, 1, 1 f.) had little to say, and that little was misunderstood (e.g.,Poetae, IV, 369, gloss on 229). Servius comments onAeneid, I, 8: “In tres partes dividunt poetae carmen suum: proponunt, invocant, narrant. Plerumque tamen duas res faciunt et ipsam propositionem miscent invocationi, quod in utroque opere Romerus fecit, namque hoc melius est. Lucanus tamen ipsum ordinem invertit; primo enim proposuit, inde narravit, postea invocavit . . .” Basically these instructions meant nothing more than that a poem must consist of introduction (invocatio and propositio) and...

      (pp. 510-514)

      Popular in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament is the “numerical apothegm,” ¹ which, for example, begins: “There are three things that are never satisfied, yea four things say not, It is enough” (Prov. 30: 15). This form of statement was elaborately developed in the East. E. W. Lane ² gives an Arabic description of feminine beauty, which is arranged in nine tetrads: “Four things in a woman should be black,—the hair of the head, the eyebrows, the eyelashes, and the dark part of the eyes: four white,—the complexion of the skin, the white of the eyes,...

      (pp. 515-518)

      Julius Schwietering began his study of “The Humility Formula in Middle High German Poets” (Die Demutsformel mittelhochcleutscher Dichter[1921]) with a section on “Veiled Expression of the Author’s Name.” Complete suppression of the author’s name, which frequently occurs, he refers to the precepts of Salvian, Sulpicius Severus, and others, who warn the writer against the sin ofvanitas terrestris. If the author nevertheless gives his name, he does so, as Schwietering shows, “to gain forgiveness for his sins through the intercession of his hearers and readers,” occasionally also because he at the same time gives the name of the person...

      (pp. 519-537)

      Under date of November 13, 1874, Wilhelm Scherer wrote (ZfdA, XVIII [1875], 461): “I would rather read amusing things than boring ones, and I assume the same taste in my readers. So when I have succeeded in relieving serious and weighty discussions by a little unsought merriment, I have always thought that I should not deny myself so innocent a means of enlivening argument.” Yet he was forced to learn that “the deplorable sensitivity of hurt self-love or the damnable desire to be right at all costs” took offence at his amusing polemics. But his final word is: “There are...

      (pp. 538-540)

      The metaphorical use ofsimiais frequent in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.¹

      1. John of Salisbury,Metalogicon(ed. Webb, 130, 11):Mathematicus ab antiquis dictus est simia naturalium philosophorum.

      2. Josephus-Iscanus,De bello Troiano, II, 546 ff.:

      . . .fallenda senectus,

      Non fingenda fuit: o si ad certamina formae

      Illa potens Beroe staret socianda Dionae,

      Incuteret celebrem simulatrix simia risum?

      3. Alanus ab Insulis,Sententiae(PL, CCX, 249 D) :Quid mundanae potestates, nisi potestatum histriones? Quid saeculares dignitates, nisi dignitatum larvae et simiae?

      4. Alanus (SP, II, 494):famae simulatio falsa simia laudis.

      5. John of Hanville (SP, I, 295):simia morum...

      (pp. 541-543)

      Vernacular literature begins in Spain considerably later than in France. The Latin culture of the twelfth century reaches there quite belatedly too. Hence Spanish literature, down to the end of the seventeenth century, preserves medieval characteristics which give it a physiognomy of its own. There are yet other symptoms of cultural “belatedness” in Spain. Are they perhaps to be understood in the light of Spain’s national and economic development? Is there “belatedness” here too? Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz answered this question affirmatively in theRevista de Occidente, II (December, 1923), 294 ff. I give a résumé of his interpretation. It is a...

      (pp. 544-546)

      In the Platonic mythopoeia of theTimaeus, God appears as demiurge, that is, as architect and maker of the cosmos. TheTimaeusis, as we know, the only work of Plato’s that the Middle Ages possessed. It exercised the strongest possible influence—by way of Cicero, of African Platonism, of Chalcidius, and of Boethius (Cons., III,Metrum9). Cicero translates the Greek δημιουργός by fabricator andaedificator(Ciceronis paradoxa. . . ed. Plasberg, 159 f.). Chalcidius usesopifex,genitor,fabricatorin the same sense (ed. Wrobel, p. 24). Forartifexin the sense “de deo sive natura fabricantibus” the...

      (pp. 547-558)

      In the year 1627 there appeared at Seville an anonymousPanegyrico por la poesia; a facsimile edition of 200 copies was published at Seville by E. Rasco in 1886. It seems hitherto to have aroused little interest. Menéndez y Pelayo mentions it in a note among seventeenth-century works of literary theory which deserved mention “but not analysis.” Though the unknown author, he says, propounds some absurd ideas, such as that the devil writes poetry, he is a well-read man.

      ThePanegyricois in the tradition of eulogies of arts and sciences. In Antiquity these commonly appeared as a topos in...

      (pp. 559-570)

      The anonymousPanegyricoof 1627 was an exhumation. It permitted the reconstruction of a theory of poetry which, to my knowledge, has hitherto remained unknown. In what follows, I present another exhumation. The text is not by an anonymous writer but by “none less” than Calderón. Calderón bibliographies list a “Tractate in Defence of the Nobility of Painting,” which was printed but once—1781—and then obscurely, and which has been disregarded. I published a new edition with translation and commentary in 1936 (RF, L, 89 ff.). For all further details, I refer the reader to that publication. Here I...

      (pp. 571-572)

      To his chief work Montesquieu prefixed the motto from Ovid:

      ... prolem sine matre creatam.

      He calls his work, then, a child brought forth without a mother. Ovid’s line complete (Met., II, 553) runs:

      Pallas Erichthonium, prolem sine matre creatam.

      The hero Erichthonius was supposed to have sprung from Hephaestos’ unassuaged love of Pallas. The god followed the fleeing goddess, but could not overtake her. His seed fell on the ground, which bore Erichthonius; but Pallas concealed him in a reed basket and brought him up. Ariosto alludes to the myth inOrlando Furioso, XXXVII, 2.7, In 1896 Camille Jullian...

      (pp. 573-584)

      Goethe’s observation on Diderot is well known: “Diderot is Diderot, a unique individual; whoever carps at him or his output is a Philistine, and they are legion” (to Zeiter, March 9, 1831). What is the basis of the fascination that Diderot’s writings exercise? He rises above his contemporaries not only in scope but also in vital tension and in polyphony of consciousness. I do not refer to the many-sidedness of his interests; I would indicate that, in Diderot, all particulars stand in direct relation to the universal. Or better: in the particular, and indeed in each separate particular, and in...

  27. APPENDIX: The Medieval Bases of Western Thought
    (pp. 587-598)
    (pp. 599-602)
  29. INDEX
    (pp. 603-662)