Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Alexander Hegius

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Humanist; b. probably in 1433, at Heeck (Westphalia); d. 7 December, 1498, at Deventer (Netherlands). Nothing is known of his earlier studies; but he must have been of quite mature age when ordained to the priesthood. He himself declares that he was a pupil of Rudolph Agricola, the most distinguished exponent of earlier German Humanism; there is no doubt that the latter, though eleven years his junior, exerted over him no small influence, so that he was compelled to admit: "When forty years of age I came to young Agricola, from whom I have learned all that I know, or that others think I know." He became in 1469 rector of the school at Wesel, and soon afterwards was made head of the monastic school at Emmerich. In 1474, he assumed direction of the school at Deventer, which even in those days had acquired renown. As a Humanist he was an enthusiastic admirer of the ancient classic period; he spoke and wrote a pure Ciceronian Latin. He was equally versed in Greek and sought to instil into his pupils a love for the tongue of Homer. But Hegius earned his claim to recognition chiefly in the domain of pedagogics. He simplified and improved the method of teaching and banished from the schools the ancient books which for centuries had been used therein. He instituted a course which centered about the classics and drew from them a new vitality. The school of Deventer made progress under his guidance; it was common for more than two thousand students to gather there, and these he inspired with zeal not only for their studies, but also for the high calling of an educator. It was his whole personality, his deeply religious mind, moral qualities, modesty and simplicity, the charm of his pure heart, added to his learning, that made such a deep impression. He was a real father to his pupils, particularly to the poor, to whom he gave what he received from the rich. Shortly before his death he distributed all he had among the poor of Deventer, who amid tears and lamentations followed the remains of their benefactor. Among his most distinguished pupils were Erasmus, Murmellius, Mutianus, and others. He did not acquire prominence as a writer. His small treatises, letters and poems were published by Jakob Fabri in 1503, at Deventer.

Reichling, Beitrüge zur Charakeristik der Humanisten Alexander Hegius, Joseph Hortenius, &c. In Picks, Monatschrift für rheinisch westfülische Geschichtsforschung., III, 283-303; Molhuysen-Tross, Alexander Hegius in Zeitschrift für vaterlündische Geschichte: XXI, 339-362; Geiger, Allegemeine Deutsch Biographie, XI, 283-285.

PATRICIUS SCHLAGER