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Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition/Andreas Gryphius

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GRYPHIUS, Andreas (1616-1664), German poet, was born at Grossglogau, Silesia, on the llth of October, 1616. His youth fell in the period of the Thirty Years War, which began in 1618, when he was two years old. After spending five years at school in various towns, he returned to his native place in 1636, and became tutor in the family of Palsgrave George von Schonborn, who crowned him laureate and granted him a patent of nobility. In 163P he went to the university of Leyden, where he spent six years, at first as a student, afterwards as a tutor. Having travelled through France and Italy in association with a young Pomeranian, and lived a year in Strasburg, he went back to Silesia, and in 1650, at the age of thirty-four,, was made syndic of the principality of Glogau. This office, the duties of which he faithfully discharged, he held till his death in 1664. He was a man of deeply melancholy temperament, and his natural tendencies were fostered both by private misfortune and by the terrible public calamities of his age. Like most German writers in the first half of the 17th century, he was profoundly influenced by the critical doctrines of Opitz, on which account he is usually classed with the first Silesiau school, although by some of his characteristics he is more closely allied to the second Silesian school. His best works are his comedies, one of which, Peter Squenz, is based on the comic episode of A Midsummer Night s Dream. Die geliebte Dornrose (The Beloved Wildfose), which is written in a Silesian dialect, contains many touches of natural simplicity and grace, and still ranks high among the comparatively small number of genuine comedies of which German literature can boast. HorribUlscribrifax is a rather laboured attack on pedantry. Besides these three comedies, Gryphius wrote five tragedies. In all of them his tendency is to become wild and bombastic, but he had the merit of at least attempting to work out artistically conceived plans, and there are occasional flashes both of passion and of imagination. His models seem to have been Seneca, and the great Dutch poet Vondel. He had the courage, in Carolus Stuardus, to deal with events of his own day; his other tragedies are Leo Arminius, Katharina von Georgien, Cardenio imd Celinda, and Pampinianus. The lyrics of Gryphius give utterance to his despairing views of life, and are not without power; but it is as a dramatist that he is mainly important. No German dramatic writer before him had risen to so high a level, nor had he worthy successors until about the middle of the 18th century. A selection from his lyrics will be found in W. Miiller s Bibliothek der deutschen Dichter des I7 ten Jahrhnnderts (Bd. 2), and a selection from his dramatic writings in Tittmann s Deutsche Dichter des ten JaJirhunderts.

See Klc*pp, Andreas Gryphius als Dramatiker (1851); and Herr mann, Ucbcr Andreas Gryphius (1851).