Von Anders Sunesen zu Henry Dethick: Kontinuitäten des Mittellateinischen in der frühen Neuzeit

At the beginning of the 18th century the Helmstedt scholar Polycarp Leyser published his ‘History of Medieval Latin Poetry’, to which he added a treatise to defend the medieval Latin against the charge of the so called ‘barbarism’. The young professor’s ‘History’ received more than evil reviews. The medieval Latin poetry, as Leyser’s opponents claimed, was burdened with neologisms, typology, and scholastic speculation. Nevertheless, the paper offers two examples, taken from the highly controversial genre of biblical poetry, to demonstrate that although contemned by the majority of humanists, medieval Latin could be accepted by 17th and 18th century poets without further obstacles. First is a poem on the creation, the ‘Hexaemeron’ written by Anders Sunesen, archbishop of Lund in Denmark (1201–1224); although condemned as ‘barbaric’, the poem was not only praised by contemporary scholars as masterpiece, but could even serve as an authority for Swedish biblical poetry of the 18th century. Even more striking is the example of ‘Feriae sacrae’ by the English-Latin poet Henry Dethick (1577), a highly speculative piece of biblical poetry, which was in fact complete plagiarism of the ‘Hypognosticon’, a poem written by Laurence of Durham in the 12th century. Comparing the original version with its early modern ‘adaptation’, it can be demonstrated, that the main part of the text could be accepted even in the 17th century as ‘modern’ and ambitious. Only a few pieces of the work Henry had to exclude, because there were not coherent any longer to the dogmatics of the Elizabethan age.

Roling B. Von Anders Sunesen zu Henry Dethick Kontinuitäten des Mittellateinischen in der frühen Neuzeit