Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Christian Latin Literature

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Latin Literature, Classical.—Early Centuries—. The Latin language was not at first the literary and official organ of the Christian Church in the West. The Gospel was announced by preachers whose language was Greek, and these continued to use Greek, if not in their discourses, at least in their most important acts. Irenaeus, at Lyons, preached in Latin, or perhaps in the Celtic vernacular, but he refuted heresies in Greek. The Letter of the Church of Lyons concerning its martyrs is written in Greek; so at Rome, a century earlier, is that of Clement to the Corinthians. In both cases the language of those to whom the letters were addressed may have been designedly chosen; nevertheless, a document that may be called a domestic product of the Roman Church, the "Shepherd" of Hermas, was written in Greek. At Rome in the middle of the second century, Justin, a Palestinian philosopher, opened his school, and suffered martyrdom; Tatian wrote his "Apologia" in Greek at Rome in the third century; Hippolytus compiled his numerous works in Greek. And Greek is not only the language of books, but also of the Roman Christian inscriptions, the greater number of which, down to the third century were written in Greek. The most ancient Latin document emanating from the Roman Church is the correspondence of its clergy with Carthage during the vacancy of the Apostolic See following on the death of Pope Fabian (20 January, 250). One of the letters is the work of Novatian, the first Christian writer to use the Latin language at Rome. But even at this epoch, Greek is still the official language: the original epitaphs of the popes are still composed in Greek. We have those of Anterus, of Fabian, of Lucius, of Gaius, and the series brings us down to 296. That of Cornelius, which is in Latin, seems to be later than the third century. In Africa Latin was always the literary language of Christianity, although Punic was still used for preaching in the time of St. Augustine, and some even preached in the Berber language. These latter, however, had no literature; cultivated persons, as well as the cosmopolitan population of the seaports used Greek. The oldest Christian document of Africa, the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs, was translated into Greek, as were some of the works of Tertullian, perhaps by the author himself, and certainly with the object of securing for them a wider diffusion. The Acts of Sts. Perpetua and Felicitas, originally written in Latin, were translated into Greek. In Spain all the known documents are written in Latin, but they appear very late. The Acts of St. Fructuosus, a martyr under Valerian, are attributed by some critics to the third century. The first Latin Christian document to which a quite certain date can be assigned is a collection of the canons of the Council of Elvira, about 300.

Side by side with literary works, the Church produced writings necessary to her life. In this category must be placed the most ancient Christian documents written in Latin, the translations of the Bible made either in Africa or in Italy. Beginning with the second century, Latin translations of technical works written in Greek became numerous treatises on medicine, botany, mathematics, etc. These translations served a practical purpose, and were made by professionals; consequently they had no literary merit and aimed at an almost servile exactitude resulting in the retention of many peculiarities of the original. Hellenisms, a very questionable feature in the literary works of preceding centuries, were frequent in these translations. The early Latin versions of the Bible had the characteristics common to all texts of this group; Hellenisms abounded in them and even Semitisms filtered in through the Greek. In the fourth century, when St. Jerome made his new Latin version of the Scriptures, the partisans of the older versions to justify their opposition praised loudly the harsh fidelity of these inelegant translations (Augustine, "De doct. christ.", II, xv, in P. L., XXXIV 46). These versions no doubt exercised great influence upon the imagination and the style of Christian writers, but it was an influence rather of invention and inspiration than of expression. The incorrectness and barbarism of the Fathers have been much exaggerated: profounder knowledge of the Latin language and its history has shown that they used the language of their time, and that in this respect there is no difference worth mentioning between them and their pagan contemporaries. No doubt some of them were men of defective education, writers of incorrect prose and popular verse, but there have been such in every age; the author of the "Bellum Hispaniae", the historian Justinus, Vitruvius, are profane authors who cared little for purity or elegance of style. Tertullian, the Christian author most frequently accused of barbarism, for his time, is by no means incorrect. He possesses strong creative power, and his freedom is mostly in the matter of vocabulary; he either invents new words or uses old ones in very novel ways. His style is bold; his imagination and his passion light it up with figures at times incoherent and in bad taste; but his syntax contains, it may be said almost no innovations. He multiplies constructions as yet rare and adds new constructions, but he always respects the genius of the language. His work contains no Semitisms, and the Hellenisms which his critics have pointed out in it are neither frequent nor without warrant in the usage of his day. This, of course, does not apply to his express or implicit citations from the Bible. At the other extreme, chronologically, of Latin Christian literary development, a pope like Gelasius gives evidence of considerable classical culture; his language is novel chiefly in its choice of words, but many of these neoterisms were in his time no longer new and had their origin in the technical usage of the Church and the Roman law.

In the historical development of Christian Latin literature three periods may be distinguished:


  • that of the Apologists, lasting until the fourth century,
  • that of the Fathers of the Church (the fourth century); and
  • the Gallo-Roman period.

The first period is characterized by its dominant tone of apology, or defence of the Christian religion. In fact, most of the earliest Christian writers wrote apologies, e.g. Minucius Felix, Tertullian, Arnobius, Lactantius. In face of paganism and the Roman State they plead the cause of Christianity, and they do it each according to his character, and each with his own line of arguments.


  • Minucius Felix represents, in a way, the transition from the traditional philosopher of the cultured classes to the popular preaching of Christianity and in this approaches closely to some of the Greek apologists converts from philosophy to Christianity, e.g. Justin, seeking at the same time to harmonize their inherited mental culture with their faith. Even the dialogue form they use is meant to retain the reader in that philosophic world with which Plato and Cicero had familiarized him.
  • Tertullian, perhaps identical with the jurisconsult mentioned in the "Digest" of Justinian lifts out boldest arguments of a legal order and examines the juridical bases of the persecution.
  • Arnobius, rhetorician and philosopher, is first and foremost a product of the school; he exhibits the resources of amplification and displays the erudition of a scholiast.
  • Lactantius is a philosopher, only more profoundly penetrated by Christianity than were the earlier apologists. He is also very particular about the maintenance of social order, good government, and the State. His writings are well adapted to a society that has recently been shaken by a long period of anarchy and is in process of reconstruction.

In this way the early Christian Latin literature presents all the varieties of apology. There are here mentioned only those apologies which formally present themselves as such, to them should be added some of St. Cyprian's works — the treatise on idols, and "Ad Donatum", the letter to Demetrianus, works which attack special weaknesses of polytheism, the vices of pagan society, or discuss the calamities of Rome. These writers do not confine their activity to controversy with the pagans. The extent and variety of the works of Tertullian and St. Cyprian are well known. At Rome, Novatian touches, in his treatises, on questions which more particularly interest the faithful, their religious life or their beliefs. Victorinus of Pettau, in the mountains of Styria, introduced biblical exegesis into Latin literature, and began that series of commentaries on the Apocalypse which so influenced the imagination, and echoed so powerfully among the artists and writers, of the Middle Ages. The same visions were embodied in the verses of Commodianus, the first Christian poet, but in a second work he took his place among the apologists and combatted paganism. In their other works St. Cyprian and Tertullian kept always in view the apologetic interest; indeed, this is the most noteworthy trait of the early Christian Latin literature. We may call attention here to another characteristic: many Latin writers of this time, Minucius Felix, Tertullian, Cyprian, Arnobius, perhaps Commodianus, were Africans, for which peculiarity two causes may be assigned. On the one hand, Gaul and Italy had long employed the Greek Language, while Spain was backward, and Christianity developed there but feebly at this period. On the other hand, Africa had become a centre of profane literature; Apuleius, the greatest profane writer of the age, was an African; Carthage possessed a celebrated school which is called in one inscription by the same name, studium, which was afterwards applied to the medieval universities. There is no doubt the second was the more potent cause.

The second period of Christian literature covers broadly speaking, the fourth century — i.e. from the Edict of Milan (313) to the death of St. Jerome (420). It was then that the great writers of the Church flourished, those known permanently as "the Fathers", both West and East. Though the term patristic belongs to the whole period here under consideration, as contrasted with the term scholastic applied to the Middle Ages, it may nevertheless be restricted to the period we are now describing. Literary productiveness was no longer the almost exclusive privilege of one country; it was spread throughout all the Roman West. Notwithstanding this diffusion, all the Latin writers are closely related; there are no national schools, the writers and their works are all caught up in the general current of church history. There is truly a Christian West, all parts of which possess nearly the same importance, and are closely united in spite of differences of climate and temperament. And this West is beginning to stand off from the Greek East, which tends to follow its own particular path. The causes of Western cohesion were various but it was principally rooted in community of interests and the similarity of questions arising immediately after the peace of the Church. At the beginning of the fourth century Christological problems agitated the Church. The West came to the aid of the orthodox communities of the East, but knew little of Arianism until the Teutonic invasions. When the conflict concerning the use of the basilicas at Milan arose, the Arians do not appear as the people of Milan: they are Goths (Ambrose Ep. xii. 12, in P. L., XVI., 997). In the fourth century the great personages of the West are champions of the faith of Nicaea: Hilary of Poitiers, Lucifer of Cagliari, Phoebadius of Agen, Ambrose, Augustine. Nevertheless the West has errors of its own:


  • Novatianism, a legacy from the preceding age;
  • Donatism in Africa;
  • Manichaeism, which came from the East, but developed chiefly in Africa and Gaul;
  • Priscillianism. akin to Manichaeism, and the firstfruits of Spanish mysticism.

Manichaeism has a complex character, and, in truth, appears to be a distinct religion. All other errors of the West have a bearing on discipline or morals, on practical life and do not arise from intellectual speculation. Even in the Manichaean controversy moral questions occupy a large place. Moreover, the characteristic and most important heresy of the Latin countries bears upon a problem of Christian psychology and life the reconciliation of human liberty with the action of Divine grace. This problem, raised by Pelagius, was solved by Augustine. Another characteristic of this period is the universality of the gifts and the activity displayed by its greatest writers: Ambrose, Jerome, and Augustine are in turn moralists, historians, and orators; Ambrose and Augustine are poets; Augustine is the universal genius, not only of his own time but of the Latin Church — one of the greatest men of antiquity, to whom Harnack, without exaggeration, has found none comparable in ancient history except Plato. In him Christianity reached one of the highest peaks of human thought. This second period may be again subdivided into three generations.


  • First, the reign of Constantine after the peace of the Church (313-37), when Juvencus composed the Gospel History (Historia Evangelica) in verse; from the preceding period he had inherited the influence of Hosius of Cordova.
  • Second, the time between the death of Constantine and the accession of Theodosius (337-79). In this generation apologetic assumes an aggressive tone with Firmicus Maternus and appeals to the secular arm against paganism; Christianity, by many held responsible for the gathering misfortunes of the empire, is defended by Augustine in "The City of God"; Ambrose and Prudentius protest against the retention of paganism in official ceremonies; great bishops like Hilary of Poitiers, Zeno of Verona, Optatus of Mileve, Lucifer of Cagliari, Eusebius of Vercelli, take part in the controversies of the day; Marius Victorinus combines the erudition of a philologian with the subtlety of a theologian.
  • The third generation was that of St. Jerome, under Theodosius and his son (380-420), a generation rich in intellect — Ambrose, Prudentius, Sulpicius Severus, Rufinus, Jerome, Paulinus of Nola, Augustine, the secondary poets Proba, Damasus, Cyprian; the Spanish theologians Pacianus and Gregory of Elvira; Philastrius of Brescia and Phoebadius of Agen. The long-lived Augustine overlapped this period, at the same time by the sheer force of genius he is both the last great thinker of antiquity in the West and the great thinker of the Middle Ages.

Early Christian literature in the West may be regarded as ending with the accession of Theodoric (408). Thenceforth until the Carlovingian renascence there arises in the various barbarian kingdoms a literature which has for its chief object the education of the new-comers and the transmission of some of the ancient culture into their new civilization. This brings us to the last of our three periods? which may conveniently be called the Gallo-Roman, and comprises about two generations, from 420 to 493. It is dominated by one school, that of Lérins, but already the splintering of the old social and political unity is at hand in the new barbarian nationalities rooted on provincial soil. In Augustine's old age, and after his death, a few disciples and partisans of his teachings remain: Orosius, a Spaniard; Prosper of Aquitaine, a Gallo-Roman; Marius Mercator, an African. Later Victor Vitensis tells the story of the Vandal persecution, in him Roman Africa, overrun by barbarians furnishes almost the only writer of the second half of the century. To the list of African authors must be added the names of two bishops of Mauretania mentioned by Gennadius—Victor and Voconius. In Gaul a pleiad of writers and theologians develops at Lérins or within the radius of that monastery's influence — Cassian, Honoratus, Eucherius of Lyons, Vincent of Lérins, Hilary of Arles, Valerian of Cemelium, Salvianus, Faustus of Riez, Gennadius. Here we might mention Arnobius the Younger, and the author of the "Praedestinatus". No literary movement in the West, before Charlemagne, was so important or so prolonged. Gaul was then truly the scene of manifold intellectual activity; in addition to the writers of Lérins. that country reckons one polygrapher, Sidonius Apollinaris, one philosopher, Claudian Mamertus, several poets, Claudius Marius Victor, Prosper, Orientius. Paulinus of Pella, Paulinus of Périgueux, perhaps also Caelius Sedulius. Against this array Italy can offer only two preachers, St. Peter Chrysologus and Maximus of Turin, and one great pope, Leo I, still greater by his deeds than by his writings, whose name recalls a new influence of the Church of Rome on the intellectual movement of the time, but a juridical rather than a literary influence. Early in the fifth century Innocent I appears to have been occupied with a first compilation of the canon law. He and his successors intervene in ecclesiastical affairs with letters, some of which have the size and scope of veritable treatises. Spain is still poorer than Italy, even counting Orosius (already mentioned among the disciples of Augustine) and the chronicler Hydatius. The island peoples, which in the preceding period had produced the heresiarch Pelagius, deserve mention at this date also for the works attributed to St. Patrick.

A first general characteristic of Christian literature, common to both East and West, is the space it devotes to bibliographical questions, and the importance they assume. This fact is explained by the very origins of Christianity: it is a religion not of one book but of a collection of books, the date, source, authenticity, and canonicity of which are matters which it is important to determine. In Eusebius's "History of the Church" it is obvious with what care he pursues the inquiry as to the books of Scripture cited and recognized by his Christian predecessors. In this way there grows up a habit of classifying documents and references, and of describing in prefaces the nature of the several books. The Bible is not the only object of these minute studies; every important and complex work attracts the attention of editors. Let it suffice to recall the formation of the collection of St. Cyprian's letters and treatises, a more or less official catalogue of which, the "Cheltenham Catalogue ", was drawn up in 359, after a lengthy elaboration, the successive stages of which are still traceable in several manuscripts. Questions of authenticity play a large part in the dissensions of St. Jerome and Rufinus. Apocryphal writings, fabricated in the interest of heresy, engendered controversies between the Church and the heretical sects. Another illustration of the same literary interest is to be found in the inquiry, instituted at the end of the fourth century as to the Canons of Sardica, called Canons of Nicaea. The "Retractationes" of St. Augustine is a work unique in the history of ancient bibliography, not to speak of its psychological interest, a peculiar quality of all Christian literature in the West.

In part, therefore, Christian Latin literature naturally assumes a character of immediate utility. Catalogues are drawn up, lists of bishops, lists of martyrs (Depositiones episcoporum et martyrum), catalogues of cemeteries, later on church inventories, "Provinciales", or lists of dioceses according to countries. Besides these archive documents, in which we recognise an imitation of Roman bureaucratic customs, certain literary genres bear the same stamp. The accounts of pilgrimages have as much of the guide-book as of the narrative in them. History had already been reduced to a number of stereotyped scenes by the profane masters, and had been incorporated, at Alexandria, in that elementary literature which condensed all knowledge into a minimum of dry formula. The "Chronicle" of St. Jerome, really only a continuation of that of Eusebius, is in turn continued by a series of special writers, and even a Sulpicius Severus betrays the influence of the new form of chronicle. While in these departments of literature the West but imitates the East, it follows at the same time its own practical tendencies. Indeed, the Latin writers make no pretence to originality, they take their materials from their Eastern brethren. Five of them, Hilary, Jerome Ruffinus, Cassian and Marius Mercator, have been described as hellenizing Westerns. St. Ambrose is generally considered an authentic representative of the Latin mind, and this is true of the bent of his genius and of his exercise of authority as the head of a Church; but no one, perhaps, translated more frequently from the Greek writers, or did it with more spirit or more care. It is an acknowledged fact that his exegesis is taken from St. Basil's "Hexaemeron" and from a series of treatises on Genesis by Philo. The same holds good in respect to his dogmatic or mystical treatises: the "De mysteriis", written in his last years, before 397, is largely taken from Cyril of Jerusalem and a treatise of Didymus of Alexandria published a little before 381, while the "De Spiritu Sancto", written before Easter, 381, is a compilation from Athanasius, Basil, Didymus, and Epiphanius, from a recension of the "Catechesis" of Cyril made after 360, and from some theological discourses which had been delivered by Gregory of Nazianzus less than a twelvemonth previously (380). St. Augustine is less erudite; his learning, if not his philosophy, is more Latin than Greek. But it is the strength of his genius which makes him the most original of the Latin Fathers.

One influence, however, no Christian writer in the West escaped, that of the literary school and the literary tradition From the beginning similarities of style with Fronto and Apuleius appear numerous and distinctly perceptible in Minucius Felix, Tertullian and Zeno of Verona; owing, perhaps, to the fact that all writers, sacred and profane, adopted then the same fashions, particularly imitation of the old Latin writers. To its traditional character also, early Christian Latin literature owes two characteristics more peculiarly its own: it is oratorical, and it is moral. From remote antiquity there had existed a moral literature, more exactly a preaching, which brought certain truths within the reach of the masses, and by the character of its audience was compelled to employ certain modes of expression. On this common ground the Cynic and the Stoic philosophies had met since the third century before Christ. From the still extant remains of Teles and Bion of Borysthenes we can form some idea of this style of preaching. From this source the satire of Horace borrows some of its themes. This Cynico-Stoic morality finds expression also in the Greek of Musonius, Epictetus, and some of Plutarch's treatises, likewise in the Latin of Seneca's letters and opuscula. Its decidedly oratorical character it owes to the fact that with the beginning of the Christian era rhetoric became the sole form of literary culture and of teaching. This tradition was perpetuated by the Fathers. It furnished them the forms most needed for their work of instruction: the letter, developed into a brief treati se or reasoned exposition of opinion in the correspondence of Seneca with Lucilius; the treatise in the shape of a discourse or as Seneca again calls it a dialogus; lastly, the sermon itself, in all its varieties of conference, funeral oration, and homily. Indeed, homily (homilia) is a technical term of the Cynic and Stoic moralists. And the aforesaid literary tradition not only dominates the method of exposition, but also furnished some of the themes developed, commonplaces of popular morality modified and adapted, but still recognizable. Without repudiating this indebtedness of Christian literature to pagan literary form, one cannot help seeing in it a double character, oratorical and moral, the peculiar stamp of Roman genius. This explains the constant tone of exhortation which makes most works of ecclesiastical writers so monotonous and tiresome. Exegesis borrows from Greek and Jewish literature the system of allegory, but it lends to these parables a moralizing and edifying turn. Hagiography finds its models in biographies like those of Plutarch, but always accentuates their panegyrical and moral tone. Some compensation is to be found in the autobiographical writings, the personal letters, memoirs, and confessions. In the "Confessions" of St. Augustine we have a work the value of which is unique in the literature of all time.

Although its oratorical methods are chosen with an eye to the character of its public, there is nothing popular in the form of Christian Latin literature, nothing even corresponding to the freedom of the primitive translations of the Bible. In prose, the work of Lucifer of Cagliari stands almost alone, and reveals the aforesaid rhetorical influence almost as much as it does the writer's incorrectness. The Christian poets might have wandered somewhat more freely from the beaten path; nevertheless, they were content to imitate classical poetry in an age when prosody owing to the changes in pronunciation, had ceased to be a living thing. Juvencus was more typical than Prudentius. The verses of the Christian poets are as artificial as those of good scholars in our own time. Commodianus, out of sheer ignorance, supplies the defects of prosody with the tonic accent. Indeed, a new type of rhythm, based on accent, was about to develop from the new pronunciation; St. Augustine gives an example of it in his "psalmus abecedarius." It may therefore be said that from the point of view of literary history the work of the Latin Christian writers is little more than a survival and a prolongation of the early profane literature of Rome. It counts among its celebrities some gifted writers and one of the noblest geniuses that humanity has produced, St. Augustine.

Paul Lejay.


II. Sixth To Twentieth Century.—During the Middle Ages the so-called church Latin was to a great extent the language of poetry, and it was only on the advent of the Renaissance that classical Latin revived and flourished in the writings of the neo-Latinists as it does even today though to a more modest extent. To present to the reader an account of Latin poetry in a manner at once methodical and clear is not an easy task; a strict adherence to chronology interferes with clearness of treatment, and an arrangement according to the different kinds of poetry would demand a repeated handling of some of the poets. However, the latter method is preferable because it enables us to trace the historical development of this literature.


A. The Latin Drama

Both in its inception and its subsequent development Latin dramatic poetry displays a peculiar character. "In no domain of literature", says W. Creizenach in the opening sentence of his well-known work on the history of the drama "do the Middle Ages show so complete a suspension of the tradition of classical antiquity as in the drama." Terence was indeed read and taught in the schools of the Middle Ages, but the true dramatic art of the Roman poet was misunderstood. Nowhere do we find evidence that any of his comedies were placed on the stage in schools or elsewhere; for this an adequate conception of classical stagecraft was wanting. The very knowledge of the metres of Terence was lost in the Middle Ages, and, just as the difference between comedy and tragedy was misunderstood, so also the difference between these and other kinds of poetical composition was no longer understood. It is thus clear why we can speak of imitations of the Roman metre only in rare and completely isolated cases, for example, in the case of the nun Hroswitha of Gandersheim in the tenth century. But even she shared the mistaken views of her age concerning the comedies of Terence, having no idea that these works were written for the stage nor indeed any conception of the dramatic art. Her imitations therefore can be regarded only as literary dramas on spiritual subjects, which exercised no influence whatever on the subsequent development of the drama. Two centuries later we find an example of how Plautus fared at the hands of his poetical imitators. The fact that, like Seneca, Plautus is scarcely ever mentioned among the school-texts of the Middle Ages makes it easier to understand how at the close of the twelfth century Vitalis of Blois came to recast the "Amphitruo" and the "Querulus", a later sequel to the "Aulularia", into satirical epic poems.

That the drama might therefore never have developed in the Middle Ages were it not for the effective stimulus supplied by the ecclesiastical liturgy is quite conceivable. Liturgy began by assuming more solemn forms and finally gave rise to the religious drama which was at first naturally composed in the liturgical Latin language, but subsequently degenerated into a mixture of Latin and the vernacular until it finally assumed an entirely vernacular form. The origin of the drama may be traced to the so-called Easter celebrations which came into life when the strictly ecclesiastical liturgy as developed into a dramatic scene by the introduction of hymns and sequences in a dialogue form. A further step in the development was reached when narration in John, xx, 4 sqq., was translated into action and the Apostles Peter and John were represented as hastening to the tomb of the risen Saviour. This form appears in a Paschal celebration at St. Lambrecht and another at Augsburg, both dating back to the twelfth century. This expansion of the Easter celebration by the introduction of scenes participated in by the Apostles spread from Germany over Holland and Italy, but seems to have found a less sympathetic reception in France. The third and final step in the development of the Easter celebrations was the inclusion of the apparition of the risen Christ. Among others a Nuremberg antiphonary of the thirteenth century contains all three scenes, joined together so as to give unity of action, thus possessing the character of a little drama. Of such Paschal celebrations, which still formed a part of the ecclesiastical liturgy, 224 have been already discovered: 159 in Germany, 52 in France, and the remainder in Italy, Spain, and Holland. The taste for dramatic representations, awakened in the people by the Easter celebrations, was fostered by the clergy, and by bringing out the human side of such characters as Pilate, Judas, the Jews, and the soldiers, a true drama was gradually created.

That the Easter plays were originally composed in Latin is proved by numerous still existing examples, such as those of "Benediktbeuren", "Klosterneuburg ", and the "Mystery of Tours"; gradually, however, passages in the vernacular were introduced, and finally this alone was made use of. Passion-plays were first produced in connection with the Easter plays but soon developed into independent dramas, generally in the mother-tongue. As late as 1537 the passion-play "Christus Xylonicus" was written in Latin by Barthélemy de Loches of Orléans. As the Easter plays developed from the Easter celebrations, so Christmas plays developed from the ecclesiastical celebrations at Christmas. In these the preparatory season of Advent also was symbolized in the predictions of the Prophets. Similarly the plays of the Three Kings originated in connection with the Feast of the Epiphany; there the person of Herod and the Massacre of the Innocents are the materials for a very effective drama. It was but natural that all the plays dealing with the Christmas season should be brought together into a connected whole or cycle, beginning with the play of the Shepherds, continuing in that of the Three Kings, and ending with the Massacre of the Innocents. That this combination of plays actually existed we have abundant manuscript evidence, particularly famous is the Freising cycle.

The transition to the so-called eschatological plays — the climax of the history of the Redemption — was easy. Two such plays enjoy a special celebrity, "The Wise and Foolish Virgins", which appeared in France in the twelfth century, and "The Appearance and Disappearance of Antichrist, written by a German poet about 1160. The latter, which is also entitled "The Roman Emperor of the German Nation and Antichrist", has also been regarded as an Easter play, because the arrival of Antichrist was expected at Easter. The second title agrees better with the contents of the play. The poet, who must have been a learned scholar, drew his inspiration from the politico-religious constitution of the Roman Empire as it existed in the golden period of Frederick Barbarossa, and from the Crusades. This ambitious play with its minute directions for representation is divided into two main actions — the realization of a Christian world empire under the German nation, and the doings of Antichrist and his final overthrow by the Kingdom of Christ. The unity and conception of the two parts is indicated by the fact that the nations appearing in the first part suggest to the spectator what will be their attitude toward Antichrist. The drama was intended to convey the impression that the German people alone could fulfil the world-wide office of the Roman Empire and that the Church needed such a protector.

The extension of the ecclesiastical plays by the introduction of purely worldly elements led gradually to the disappearance of spiritual influence, the decay of which may also be gathered from the gradual adoption of the vernacular for these plays. While the first bloom of the neo-Latin drama is thus attributable to the influence of the Church, its second era of prosperity was purely secular in character and began with the labours of the so-called Humanists in Italy, who called into life the literary drama. Numerous as they were, we do not meet with a single genuine dramatist among them; still many sporadic attempts at play-writing were made by them. The pagan classics were naturally adopted as model — Seneca for tragedy as is shown b the plays of Mussato, Loschi, or Dati, and especially the "Progne" of Corraro. On the other hand Plautus and Terence found more numerous imitators, whose works did not degenerate into ribaldry, as is seen from the attempts of Poggio, Beccadelli, Bruni, Fidelfo, etc. These humanistic attempts attained a measure of success in the school drama. A beginning was made with the production of the ancient dramas in the original text; such productions were introduced into the curriculum of the Liège school of the Hieronomites and they are occasionally mentioned at Vienna, Rostock, and Louvain. A permanent school-stage was erected in Strasburg by the Protestant rector John Stunn, who wished that "all the comedies of Plautus and Terence should be produced if possible, within half a year."

The second step in the development was the imitation of the classical drama, which may be traced to Wimpfeling's "Stylpho"; produced for the first time at Heidelberg in 1470, this play was still produced in 1505, a proof of its great popularity. A glorification and defence of classical studies was found in the comedy of "Codrus" by Kerkmeister, master of the Münster grammar school. The contrast between humanistic studies and medieval methods, which does not come into prominence in Wimpfeling's "Stylpho", forms here the main theme. Into the same category falls a comedy by Bebel, demonstrating the superiority of humanistic culture over medieval learning. Into these plays important current events are introduced, such as the war of Charles VII against Naples, the Turkish peril, the political situation after the Battle of Guinegate (1513), etc. The best-known of these dialogue writers were Jacob Locher, Johann von Kitzcher, and Hetwann Schottenius Hessus.

Another hybrid class of drama was the allegorical festival plays, which were fitted out as show-pieces after the fashion of the Italian mask comedies. A brilliant example of this class is the "Ludus Diana" in which Conrad Celtes (1501) panagyrizes the pre-eminence of the emperor in the chase. Similar to that of the festival plays was the development of the so-called moralities in the Netherlands schools of rhetoric. These represented the strife between the good and the bad principles (virtus et voluptas) for the soul of man, e. g., Locher's Spectaculum de judicio Paridis" or the well-known dramatized version of the "Choice of Hercules . Side by side with these semi-dramatic plays proceeded the attempts to follow more closely the ancient dramatic form in the school drama with its varied contents. Reuchlin with his three-act comedy, which treats as subject the wonderful skull of Sergius may be regarded as the real founder of the school drama. With "Henno, his second and still more famous drama, the humanistic comedy became naturalized in Germany. The great master of this art is unquestionably George Macropedius (i. e., Langhveldt) with his three farces "Aluta (1535), Andriska" ( 1537), and "Bassarus" (1540). A further development led to the religious school drama, which generally drew its subject-matter from Holy Writ. To further his own objects Luther had counselled the dramatization of Biblical subjects, and tales from the Bible were thus by free treatment of the incidents made to mirror the conditions of the time while containing occasional satirical sallies. Among the numerous writers of this class must be mentioned before all as the pioneer, the Netherlander Wilhelm Graphäus (Willem van de Voltldergroft), who became a Protestant: his much-discussed Acolastus" (the story of the prodigal son), which follows the Protestant tendency of representing the uselessness of good works and justification by faith alone, was reprinted at least forty-seven times in various countries between 1529 and 1585, frequently translated, and produced everywhere.

This species of drama was cultivated by the Catholics also, who introduced greater variety of subject matter by including lives of the saints. Thus Cornelius Crocus wrote a "St. Joseph in Egypt", Petrus Papeus "[Good?] Samaritan", and George Holonius several martyr-plays. The founder of the school drama in Germany was Sixt Birk (Xistus Betulius): his "Susanna", "Judith", and "Eva" have primarily an educative aim, but are coupled with Protestant tendencies. His example was followed by a fair number of imitators: by George Buchanan (1582), a Scotchman, wrote Jephthe" and "Baptistes" and the bellicose Naogeorgus treats with still more bitterness the differences between Catholics and Protestants in his "Hamanus", "Jeremias", and "Judas Iscariot". Among the polemical dramatists on the Catholic side Cornelius Laurimanus and Andreas Fabricius must be mentioned.

Although the number of the Biblical school dramas was not small, it was far surpassed by the number of the moralities. As has been said, these originated in the Netherlands and it was the Maastricht priest Christian Ischyrius (Sterck), who freely adapted the famous English morality "Everyman". This is the dramatized and widely circulated Ars moriendi and represents the importance of a good preparation for death. The same subject in a somewhat more detailed form is treated by Macropedius in his "Hecastus" (1538). The conclusion of the drama is an exposition of justification by faith in the merits of Christ. This inclination of the Catholic poet towards Luther's teaching found great applause among Protestants, and fostered the development of polemico-satirical sectarian plays, as Naogeorgus's "Mercator" (1539) shows. The Catholic standpoint also found its exposition in the moralities, for example in the Miles Christianus" of Laurimanus (1575), the "Euripus" of the Minorite Levin Brecht, the Pornius" of Hannardus Gamerius the "Evangelicus fluctuans" (1569) of Andreas Fabricius, who had composed his "Religio patiens" three years earlier in the service of the Counter-Reformation. Still more bitter now grew the polemics in the dramas, which borrowed their material from contemporary history. The most notorious of this class is the "Pamachius" of the pope hater Thomas Naogeorgus, who found many imitators.

Towards the end of the sixteenth century materials derived from ancient popular legends and history first came into greater vogue, and gradually led to the Latin historical drama, of which we find numerous examples at the famous representations given at the Strasburg academy under its founder Sturm. This example found ready imitation, especially wherever the influence of the English comedy-writers had made itself felt. In this way Latin drama enjoyed a period of prosperity everywhere until the seventeenth century. The best known dramatic poet of the latter half of the sixteenth century was the unfortunate Nicodemus Frischlin. Examples of every kind of school drama may be found among his works: "Dido" (1581), "Venus" (1584), and "Helvetiogermani" (1588), owe their subjects to the ancient classical period; "Rebecca" (1576), "Susanna (1577), his incomplete Christianized drama of "Ruth", after the manner of Terence, the "Marriage of Cana", and a Prologue to Joseph" treat Biblical topics; German legend is represented by Hildegardis" the wife of Charlemagne, whose fate is copied from that of St. Geneviève; of a polemico-satirical nature are Priscianus vapulans (1578), a mockery of medieval Latin, and Phasma (1580), in which the sectarian spirit of the age is scourged. A play of an entirely original character is his Julius redivivus": Cicero and Caesar ascend from the lower world to Germany, and express their wonder at German discoveries (gunpowder, printing). All these attempts at a Latin school drama, in so far as they served educational purposes, were most zealously welcomed in the schools of the regular orders (especially those of the Jesuits), and cultivated with great success. Thus the purely external side of the dramatic art developed from the crudest of beginnings to the brilliant settings of the so-called ludi caesarii. With the suppression of the Society of Jesus the school drama came to a rapid end, and no serious attempt has been since made to revive it and restore it to its former position. However from time to time new plays have been produced both in Europe and America, and the "St. John Damascene", written by Father Harzheim of the Society of Jesus is worthy to take its place among the best productions of the Jesuit dramatists.


B. Latin Lyrical Poetry

This division of Latin poetry falls naturally into two classes: secular and religious. The former includes the poems of itinerant scholars and the Humanists, the latter hymnody. The development of vagrant scholars (clerici vagi) is connected with the foundation of the universities, as students wandered about to visit these newly founded institutions of learning. From the middle of the twelfth century imperial privileges protected these traveling scholars. The majority intended to devote themselves to theology, but comparatively few reached orders. The remainder found their callings as amanuenses or tutors in noble families, or degenerated into loose-living goliards or into wandering scholars who became a veritable plague during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. as they wandered, begging, from place to place, demanded hospitality in monasteries and castles and like the wandering minstrels paid with their songs, jugglery, buffoonery, and tales. Proud of their scholarly attainments, they used Latin in their poetical compositions. and thus arose a special literature, the goliardic poetry. Of this two great collections are still extant, the "Benediktbeuren" collection and the so-called Harleian manuscript (no. 978) at Cambridge. The arrangement of "Carmina burana", as the first publisher, Schmeller, named them, was upon a uniform plan, according to which they were divided into serious comic, and dramatic pieces. Songs celebrate the spring and the winter, in which sentiments of love also find expression, follow one another in great variety. Together with these are pious hymns of enthusiasm for the Crusades or of praise for the Blessed Virgin. We also find the most riotous drinking-songs, often of a loose, erotic nature, nor are diatribes of a satirical nature wanting: these soured and dissolute, though educated, tramps delighted especially in lampoons against the pope, bishops. and nobles, inveighing with bitter sarcasm against the avarice, ambition and incontinence of the clergy. In this Professor Schönbach sees the influence of the Catharists.

Concerning the composers of this extensive literature nothing can be stated with certainty. The poems were in a certain sense regarded as folk-songs, that is as common property and international in the full sense of the word. Some representative poets are indeed mentioned, e.g., Golias, Primas, Archipoeta, but these are merely assumed names. Particularly famous among the poems is the "Confessio Goliae" which was referred to the Archipoeta, and may be regarded as the prototype of the goliardic songs: strophes 12-17 (Meum est propositam in taberna mori) are even today sung as a drinking-song in German student circles. The identity of the Archipoeta has been the subject of much investigation, but so far without success. Paris was an important centre of these itinerant poets, particularly in the time of Abelard (1079-1142), and it was probably thence that they derived the name of goliards, Abelard having been called Golias by St. Bernard. From Paris their poetry passed to England and Germany, but in Italy it found little favour. At a later period, when the goliardic songs had become known everywhere, the origin of their title appears to have grown obscure, and thus emerged a Bishop Golias — a name referred to the Latin gula — to whom a parody on the Apocalypse and biting satires on the pope were ascribed. There even appeared poets as filius or puer or discipulus de familia Goliae, and frequent mention is made of a goliardic order with the titles of abbot, prior, etc. Apart from their satirical attitude towards ecclesiastical life, the goliards showed their free and at times heretical views in their parodies of religious hymns, their irreverence in adapting ecclesiastical melodies to secular texts. and their use of metaphors and expressions from church hymns in their loose verses.

In outward form the poetry of the goliards resembled the ecclesiastical sequences, rhyme being combined with an easily sung rhythm and the verses being joined into strophes. Singularly rapid in its development, its decay was no less sudden. The cause of its decline is traceable partly to the conditions of the time and partly to the character of the goliardic poets. In a burlesque edict of 1265 the goliards were compared to bats — neither quadrupeds nor birds. This was indeed a not inapt comparison, for their unfortunate begging rendered them odious to clergy and laity alike. Forgetting their higher educational parts, they found it necessary to ally themselves more and more closely with the strolling players and thus became subject to the ecclesiastical censures repeatedly decreed by synods and councils against these wandering musicians. Thus, regarded virtually as outlaws, they are heard of no more in France after the thirteenth century, although then are referred to in the synods of Germany until the following century. Together with the poets gradually disappeared their songs, and only a few are preserved in the Kommersbücher of the student world. Yet the influence of their poetry on the secular German lyric, and perhaps also on the outer form of religious poetry, was both stimulating and permanent. In this fact lies their principal literary importance and they are valuable as illustrations of the literary culture of the time.

Quite distinct in subject and form is the lyric poetry of the humanistic period, the era of the revival of classical learning. The work of a few scattered poets, it could not attain the popularity won by the goliardic poetry, even had its form not been exclusively imitation of ancient classical versification. From the beginning of the sixteenth century the Catholic humanist, Vida, had been engaged among other works on the composition of odes, elegies, and hymns: he belonged to the poetae urbani of the Medici period of Leo X, many of whom wrote lyrical, in addition to their epical, pieces. Johannes Dantiscus, who died in 1548 as Bishop of Ermland, composed thirty religious hymns after the fashion of the older ones in the Breviary, without any trace of classical imitation. Even the renowned Nicolaus Copernicus composed seven odes embodying the beautiful Christian truths associated with Advent and Christmas. Among the Humanists of France, John Salmon (Salmonius Macrinus) was named the French Horace, and among the numerous other names those of Erixius with his "Carmina" (1519) and Théodore de Bèze with his "Poemata" (1548) deserve special mention. In Belgium and the Netherlands Johannes Secundus (Jan Nicolai Everaerts, d. 1536) was conspicuous as a classical poet. From Holland Latin poetry found an entrance also into the Northern Empire under the patronage of Queen Christina, while even Iceland had its representative in the Protestant Bishop Sveinsson (1605-74), who among other works published a rich collection of poems to the Blessed Virgin in the most varied ancient classical metres.

As in the domain of drama, so also in that of lyrical poetry, Humanism showed itself most fruitful in Germany, particularly in connection with the dissemination of the new doctrine of Luther. "Thus among the neo-Latinist poets we meet a large number of preachers, school-rectors, university and grammar school professors who translated the Psalms into Horatian metres, converted ecclesiastical and edifying songs of every type into the most divine ancient strophes, and finally, an immeasurable number of occasional poems, celebrated in verse princes and potentates, religious and secular festivals, the consecration of churches, christenings, marriage, interments, installations, occasions of public rejoicing and calamity" (Baumgartner). The Jesuits were as distinguished for their fruitful activity in the field of lyrical poetry as in the school drama. With Sarbiewski (q. v.), the Polish Horace, were associated by Urban VIII for the revision of the old hymn in the Breviary Famian Strada, Tarquinius Galuzzi, Hieronymus Petrucci and Cardinal Robert Bellarmine. In addition to Balde (q. v.) there were among the German Jesuit poets a notable number of lyricists. Of the many names we may mention Jacob Masen, Nicola Avancini, Adam Widl, and John Bissel, who must be numbered among the best-known imitators of Horace. In the Netherlands, France, Italy, England, Portugal and Spain, their number was not smaller, nor their achievements of less value. For example the Dutch Hosschius (de Hossche, 1596-1669) excels both Balde and Sarbiewski in purity of language and smoothness of verse. Simon Rettenbacher (163-1706), the Benedictine imitator of Balde, whose lyrics show a true poetic gift, also deserves a place among the neo-Latinist writers of odes. The nineteenth century added but one name to the list of Latin lyricists, that of Leo XIII, whose poems evince an intimate knowledge of ancient classical literature. The other trend of neo-Latinist lyric poetry embraces religious hymnody. "The whole career of ecclesiastical and devotional hymnody from its cradle to the present day may be divided into three natural periods, of which the first is the most important, the second the longest and the third the most insignificant." Such is the division of Latin ecclesiastical hymnody (q. v.) given by the greatest authority, the late Father Guido Dreves formerly a member of the Society of Jesus.


C. The neo-Latin Epic

The epic forms, as is natural, the largest part of our inheritance of Christian Latin poetry. As a lucid treatment according to any regular division of the subject-matter is difficult, we shall content ourselves with a chronological sketch of it. The foundation of the Benedictine Order was in every respect an event of prime importance. The Benedictines advanced the interests of culture, not only to supply the needs of life, but also to embellish it. Thus among the earliest companions of St. Benedict we already find a poet, Marcus of Monte Cassino, who in his distich sang the praises of the deceased founder of his order. During the sixth century, while the foundations of a rich literature were being thus laid the culture formerly so flourishing in Northern Africa had almost died out. The imperial governor, Flavius Cresconius Corippus, and Bishop Verecundus were still regarded as poets of some merit: but the former lacked poetic inspiration, the latter, poetic form. Among the Visigoths in Spain, however, we find true poets, e. g., St. Eugenius II with his version of the Hexaemeron. In Gaul in the sixth century flourished the most celebrated poet of his age, Venantius Fortunatus. Most original is his "Epithalamium" on the marriage of Sigebert I of Austrasia to the Visigothic princess Brunehaut, Christian thought being clothed in ancient mythological forms. About 250 more or less extensive poems of Venantius are extant, including a "Life of St. Martin" in more than two thousand hexameter verses. Most of his composition are occasional poems. In addition to his well-known hymns "Vexilla regis" and "Pange lingua", his elegies treating of the tragical fate of the family of Radegundis found the greatest appreciation. About the same period there sprang up in the British Isles a rich harvest of Latin culture One of the most eminent poets is St. Aldhelm, a scion of the royal house of Wessex: his great work "De laudibus virginum", containing 3000 verses, attained a wide renown which it long enjoyed. The Venerable Bede also cultivated Latin poetry, writing a eulogy of St. Cuthbert in 976 hexameters.

Ireland transmitted the true Faith, together with higher culture, to Germany. The earliest pioneers were Saints Columbanus and Gall: the former is credited with some poems, the latter founded Saint-Gall. The real apostle of Germany, St. Boniface, left behind some hundreds of didactic verses. The seeds sown by this saint flourished and spread under the energetic Charlemagne, who succeeded without neglecting his extensive affairs of state, in making his Court a Round Table of Science and Art, at which Latin was the colloquial speech. The soul of this learned circle was Alcuin, who showed his knowledge of classical antiquity in two great epic poems, the "Life of St. Willibrord" and the history of his native York. In command of language and skill of versification as well as in the number of poems transmitted to posterity, Theodulf the Goth surpassed all members of the Round Table. Movements similar to that at Charlemagne's Court are observed in the contemporary monastic schools of Fulda, Reichenau, and Saint-Gall. It will suffice to mention a few of the chief names from the multitude of poets. Walafrid Strabo's "De visionibus Wettini", containing about 1000 hexameters, is justly regarded as the precursor of Dante's "Divine Comedy". His verses on the equestrian statue of Theodoric, "Versus de imagine tetrici", are of literary importance, because he represents the king as a tyrant hating God and man. Highly interesting also for the art of gardening is his great poem Hortulus", in which he describes the monastery garden with its various herbs, etc. Contemporary with Walafrid and characterized by the same spirit were the poets Ernoldas, Nigellus, Ermenrich, Sedulius Scottus, etc. As a "real gem from the treasury of old manuscripts" F. Rückert describes the elegy on Hathumod, the first Abbess of Gandersheim written by the Benedictine Father Agius. From the same monk of Corwey we have the poem "On the translation of St. Liborius" and a poetical biography of Charlemagne. A peculiar work was written by Albert Odo of Cluny under the title "Occupatio": it is an epico-didactic poem against pride and debauchery, which he demonstrates to be the chief vices in the history of the world.

The golden age of Saint-Gall begins with the end of the ninth century, after which opens the epoch of the four famous Notkers and the five not less renowned Ekkehards. The first Ekkehard is the author of the well-known "Waltharius" which Ekkehard IV revised. About the time when the "Waltharius" was revised, there appeared another epic poem "Ruodlieb" — a romance in Latin hexameters by an unknown author, describing the adventurous fate of the hero — which is unfortunately only partly extant. The name of the poet who in 1175 composed in Latin hexameters the first "animal" epic, "Ecbasis cuius dam captivi per tropologiam", is also unknown. The frame-work of the poem is the story of a monk mho runs away from the monastery but is brought back again under the form of a calf. The "Fable of the Bees" forms the "animal" epic in which the enmity of the wolf and fox is the central point. In the twelfth century this "animal" epic received an extension probably from Magister Nivardus of Flanders under the title "Ysengrimus" or "Renardus vulpes": from the poem thus extended an extract was made later and this is the last product of the animal" epic in the thirteenth century. Like Charlemagne Otto the Great (936-73) sought to make his Court the centre of science, art, and literature. The most brilliant representative of this period is the nun Hroswitha, pupil of the emperor's niece Gerberga. It was in the epic that she achieved her first poetic successes: these were her well-known "Legends", which were followed by two long epic poems in praise of the imperial house (see HROSWITHA) .

The chroniclers and historians of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries but seldom use verse in their narratives, their stories being intended above all else for strictly historical purposes. Histories in verse however, were not wanting. Thus Flodoard records in legendary fashion almost the whole ecclesiastical history of the first ten centuries. Walter of Speyer wrote during the same period the first Legend of St. Christopher", and an unknown poet composed "The Epic of the Saxon War" (of Henry IV). Other poets wrote on the Crusades, Walter of Châtillon even ventured on an "Alexandreis", while Hildebert produced a " Historia Mahumetis" in verse.

The Humanists of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries are characterized by a closer approach to ancient classical form. Marbod (d. 1123) was a scholarly poet, and left behind a considerable number of legends and didactic aphorisms. His younger contemporary Hildebert of Tours also wrote a fair number of religious poems: more important are the two "Roman Elegies", in which he treats of the remains of ancient Rome and the sufferings of the papal capital under Paschal II. Most artistic in its conception and execution, is his fragment "Liber mathematicus", in which the tragical complications caused by the superstitious fear arising from an unfavourable horoscope are depicted. That the medieval Scholastics could combine theological knowledge with humanistic culture may be seen from the works of the two scholars John of Salisbury and Alanus de Insulis. That the influence of this humanistic culture was unfortunately not always for good, the notorious prurient narratives of Matthew of Vendôme prove. In the days of the goliards there were also poets who depicted in verse contemporary events. Thus the achievements of Barbarossa were sung by no less than three poets.

Humanism attained its full bloom in the era of the Renaissance, which began in Italy. Dante gives strong evidence of this movement, as does even more strongly Francesco Petrarch, whose epic "Africa" enjoyed wide renown. Giovanni Boccaccio, a contemporary of the preceding, belongs rather to Italian literature, although he also cultivated Latin poetry. The humanistic movement found favourable reception and encouragement everywhere. In Florence there sprang up about the Augustinian monk, Luigi Marsigli (d. 1394), a kind of literary academy for the cultivation of ancient literature while in the following century the city of the Medici developed into the literary centre of all Italy. Most representatives of the new movement preserved their close connection with the Church, although a few isolated forerunners of the great revolt of the sixteenth century already made their appearance. The seeds of this religious revolution were sown by the lampoons and libidinous poems of such men as Poggio Bracciolini, Antonio Beccadelli and Lorenzo Valla. Maffeo Vegio on the other hand followed the purely humanistic direction of the true Renaissance; he added a thirteenth book to Virgil's "Aeneid", making the poem conclude with the death of Aeneas. He also composed poetic versions of the "Death of Astyanax" and " The Golden Fleece", and still later composed a "Life of St. Anthony . An epic eulogizing the elder Hunyadi was begun by the Hungarian Janus Pannonius, but unfortunately left unfinished. A legendary poem of an entirely original character is the "Josephina", written in twelve cantos by John Gerson, the learned chancellor of the University of Paris. It reminds us of a similar poem by Hroswitha, though the apocryphal narratives taken from the so-called Gospel of St. James are marked by greater depth. Humanism was planted in Germany by Petrarch during his residence there as ambassador to Charles IV, with whom he corresponded after his departure. The interest in humanistic studies was also spread by Aeneas Silvius at the Council of Basle.

As in Italy, the movement rapidly developed everywhere, evincing at first a religious tendency but afterwards becoming hostile to the Church. In the century preceding the "Reformation", indeed, the foremost representatives of Humanism remained true to the ancient Faith. Conrad Celtes, although his four Books of "Amores" are a reflection of his dissolute life sang later of Catholic truths and the lives of the saints. Similarly Willibald Pirkheimer (d. 1528) among many others, notwithstanding his satire "Eccius desolatus", remained faithful to the Church. On the other hand Esoban Hessus, Crotus Rubeanus, and above all Ulrich von Hutten espoused the cause of the new doctrine in their highly satirical writings. A somewhat protean character was displayed by Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam, whose early works include hymns to Christ and the Virgin Mary. "Laus stultitia", a satire on all the estates after the fashion of Brant's "Narrenschiff", was written in seven day to cheer his sick friend, Thomas More. In England especially at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the humanistic movement developed along the same lines as in Germany. The first direction was given to the movement mainly by Thomas More, whose "Utopia" (1515) is world renowned. In Italy the Renaissance movement continued into the sixteenth century. Sadolet's poem on "The Laocoon Group" is known throughout the literary world, while his epic on the heroic death of Caius Curtius is equally finished. Not less famous is Vida s "Christiad ": he also wrote didactic poems on "Silk-worms" and "Chess". Among the more important works of this period must also be included Jacopo Sannazaro with his classically finished epic "De partu Virginis", at which he laboured for twenty years. His Naenia" on the death of Christ also merits every praise. The example of Vida and Sannazaro spurred numerous other poets to undertake extensive epical works, of which none attained the excellence of their models.

In other countries also the new literary movement continued, although it produced richer fruit in the field of dramatic and lyric poetry than in epic poetry. The singular attempt of Laurenz Rhodomannus to compose a "Legend of Luther" in opposition to the Catholic legend deserves mention on account of its peculiarity. Among the works of the dramatists we also meet with more or less ambitious attempts at epic verse. This is especially true of the dramatists of the Society of Jesus. J. Masen's "Sarcotis", for example enjoys a certain fame as the proto-type of Milton's "Paradise Lost" and Vondel's "Lucifer". Biedermann and Avancini also composed small epic narratives. Balde produced many epical works, his "Batrachomyomachia" is an allegorical treatment of the Thirty Years' War, and his "Obsequies of Tilly bring to light many interesting particulars concerning the great general. He also celebrated in verse the heroic death of Dampierre and Bouquois. Not least among his works is his "Urania Victrix". But, instead of accumulating further names, let us bring forward just a few of the more important poems: the "Puer Jesus" of Tommaso Ceva must be placed in the front rank of idyllic compositions; the "Life of Mary" (2086 distichs) of the Brazilian missionary, Venerable Joseph de Anchieta, is a model for similar works. During the nineteenth century the Latin epic more or less centred around the endowment of the rich native of Amsterdam, Jacob Henry Hoeufft, who founded a competitive prize for Latin poetry. Peter Esseiva, a Swiss, is the best-known prize winner: he celebrated in beautiful classical verse and brilliant Latin such modern inventions as the railroad, etc., and also treated strictly religious and light topics (e. g., in "The Flood", "The Grievances of an Old Maid") . Leo XIII was the last writer who wrote short epical poems in addition to his odes. Baumgartner, the author of "Weltliteratur", assigns to Latin Christian poetry the well-merited praise: "It still contains creative suggestions and offers the noblest of intellectual enjoyment."

N. Scheid.