Vivat Germania latina, Vivat Latinitas teutonica!

Minna Skafte Jensen

16th century nationalism: the case of Erasmus Lætus

It has become a widespread view that nationalism is a relatively young phenomenon, invented by the Romantic movement in the 19th century. However, this is not supported by Latin sources from the 16th century. In the following I shall argue that at that time nationalism was, on the contrary, more or less all-pervasive and an important driving force in much intellectual activity. I am speaking on the basis of Danish Latin poetry, but I do not think that Danes of the period were different from others in this respect. At least, for poets living in areas that were felt to be peripheral as compared to cultural centres elsewhere, the wish to demonstrate that you represented an old and venerable culture seems to have been a common social pattern; I can point, for instance, to Conrad Celtis, who (more than half a century earlier than the poets I am concerned with here) argued in a similar way from his viewpoint north of the Alps towards south, demonstrating the importance and elevated civilization of the Germans as compared to the Italians. I also refer to what Svavar Svavarson writes in this same volume about Icelandic affairs, which in these matters run parallel to those here described for Denmark.

By '' nationalism' I mean the opinion that different nations have different group identities, and that belonging to a nation involves certain rights and duties. By 'nation' I mean a group to which an individual belongs either by birth or choice, and whose members consider themselves to share important elements of culture, history and/or language.

One of the influential modern discussions, Benedict Anderson's brilliant Imagined Communities, is of special interest in this connection, because he considers the loss of Latin as a common European language to be one of the major causes of the upsurge of nationalism. [1] But the retreat of Latin was slower than what he claims, and especially, in the areas and the period treated here, the international language had an important function, precisely as a vehicle for nationalist ideas.

Melanchthon's advice

Neo-Latin (as a conscious choice in opposition to mediaeval forms of Latinity) was introduced in Denmark towards the middle of the 16th century, and its first advocates were typically Melanchthon's students. [2] During the years after the Lutheran reform in Denmark in 1536, Wittenberg was the preferred university for ambitious young Danes to visit, and many of them received financial support from royal funds. To judge from the volumes of poetry they published in that town, the great præceptor Germaniæ received them in a very personal and friendly way. When in 1560 Erasmus Lætus published his first major work, a collection of pastorals, Melanchthon showed him the special kindness of writing a preface for his book, addressing himself to the king of Denmark, Frederik II. Towards the end of this preface, Melanchthon comments upon the situation in Denmark:

Gaudeo verò doctrinis et Musis, quæ alibi horribili sæuicia dilacerantur, tamen in Dania et hospicia et Halcyonia mediocria restare. Nec facilè Regnum ullum hoc tempore maiore frequentia eruditorum antecellit. [3]

I am delighted that learning and the Muses, who elsewhere are torn to pieces in shocking cruelty, at least still find both hospitality and halcyon calm in Denmark. And there is no kingdom these days which could easily surpass it with a greater number of well-educated men.

The metaphor of inviting the Muses is in the 16th century a regular expression for the introduction of the new type of Latin poetry, which imitated classical Roman models in language and form, and the "halcyon calm" refers to an ancient idea, that the sea remained tranquil during the period when the halcyon was breeding, so as not to disturb its nest floating on the surface.

Melanchthon proceeds to mention a couple of his best Danish students as examples of this extraordinary cultural richness, and ends with a flattering explanation of these happy circumstances:

Hanc ad rem dulcissima pax, et tua munificentia dignissima bono Rege plurimum conducit. Sæpe enim narrat nobis Erasmus noster tuam erga se, erga Iacobum Bordingum et multos alios eruditissimos et integerrimos uiros regiam beneficentiam: eamque ob causam decreuit omne studium et omnes ingenij vires ad ornandas Ecclesias, et retinendum pium consensum conferre, memor seuerissimi mandati: Diligite ueritatem et pacem. [4]

This situation has a good deal of its reason in sweet peace and your generosity, worthy of a good king. For my friend Erasmus is often telling me of your royal kindness to himself, to Iacobus Bordingus and many other learned and virtuous men, and for that reason he has decided to contribute with all his studies and all his mental energy to the interests of the church and the maintenance of pious unanimity, in respect for the serious command: Love truth and peace.

Here Melanchthon reverts to the terminology of ancient amicitia: the king shows beneficentia to young scholars, and they on their part are expected to be grateful and repay his gifts by placing their learning at the disposal of the church. Thus, the passage is not only highly flattering to the Danish king, but also to the learned men he patronizes, treating them almost as his equals, and from the context it appears that one of the ways in which the scholars can perform their duty is to compose suitable Latin poetry.

Melanchthon's portrait of Denmark presents a peaceful and highly cultured place, in which king and subjects live in harmony and observance of their duties towards church and community, and which is accordingly successful in its competition with other states. Presented with all his overwhelming authority, this picture was easy to accept for his young Danish adherents, and it keeps recurring in Danish Latin poetry of the following decades. After their professional training abroad they returned home eager to serve their compatriots in school, church and university. They felt they had an important task, to bring culture and true Latinity to their home country; at the same time, they were eager to inform the world of the old and important culture of Denmark. Little is said in these texts about religious topics; the dominant themes are Latin learning and the glories of the nation.

Competition or aggression?

The kind of nationalism encountered in these texts is of two sorts, depending on the kind of opponents the authors had in mind. I call them competitive and aggressive respectively. Both kinds found their natural expression in the international language, Latin. Lætus and his colleagues hoped to be read abroad as well as at home, and both when they were treating national themes and when they were engaged in other matters, there was always an implicit message: We Danes belong to a well-established culture and are perfectly able to voice our opinions in all the most modern literary forms.

Competitive nationalism was engaged in measuring everything Danish against ancient Rome or contemporary models abroad. Its discourse was one of civilization vs. barbarism. Barbaries, barbaria and similar terms are common; their counterpart is not derivatives of cives, but phrases such as litteræ bonæ or artes bonæ. Competitive nationalism is the underlying foundation of the many poems celebrating friendship and learning with its typical literary forms, such as personal letters, propemptica or occasional poetry, and it is the explicit theme of laudationes, praise poetry describing localities or extolling great families and individuals. It also fostered an interest in the Danish language and its oral poetry. The nobility of both sexes collected ballads, and when the professional historian Andreas Velleius (Anders Sørensen Vedel, 1542-1616) published a printed volume of such texts in 1591, [5] he expressly mentioned in his preface that he considered these poems as important for Danish history as the chansons de geste for the French, and that one day when the study of the Danish language began, the ballads would be a main source for the poetic idiom.

The other sort of nationalism was aggressive and directed against the nation's enemies, in Denmark the Swedes. During the 16th century, the relations between the two states were more or less strained, and there was even a war fought in 1563-70. The main Latin forms of aggressive nationalism were poems celebrating Danish history, geography and the royal family, but it also expressed itself in other genres. Thus a contemporary of Lætus, Johannes Georgius Sadolinus (1528-1600), composed a paraphrase of David's Psalm 20, describing the pious king supported by God, who allows him to crush his enemies. [6] Denmark and Frederik II are not mentioned in Sadolinus' poem, but nevertheless the poet succeeds in making the reader understand that his version of the psalm is all about the Danish king, and that the impious enemies who are being burnt in the oven and scattered like husks for the wind are the Swedes.

Erasmus Lætus

Both kinds of nationalism are richly represented in Lætus' works. The main events of his life were as follows: He was born in Jutland in 1526, matriculated at Copenhagen University in 1542, studied in Rostock in 1548, was appointed professor pædagogicus at Copenhagen University in 1554, studied in Wittenberg in 1559-60, where he took his doctor's degree of theology in 1559, became professor of theology at Copenhagen University in 1560, rector of the University in 1561, and was ennobled in 1569. In 1572-4 he travelled to Basel, Frankfurt am Main, Padua and Venice. In the meantime his colleagues at the University criticized him for dereliction of duties, and he was dismissed from his chair in 1574, but remained in favour with the king. He died in Copenhagen in 1582. [7]

In his choice of literary forms it is evident that he imitated Virgil: He began with Bucolica (Wittenberg 1560), the volume of pastorals already mentioned. Next came a didactic poem in four books, De re nautica (Basel 1573), and he also composed an epic, Margaretica (Frankfurt am Main 1573). To these he added quite a few other lengthy poems: Colloquia moralia (Basel 1573), Res Danicæ (Frankfurt a.M. 1574), De republica Noribergensium (Frankfurt a.M. 1574), Romanorum Cæsares Italici (Frankfurt a.M. 1574), and a prose description of how the Crown Prince, later king Christian IV, began his life, De nato baptizatoque primo Friderici II. filio Christiano (Manuscript, 1577). His high level of ambition is obvious, not only from the sheer amount of poetry he composed and his choice of Virgil as his model, but also from the dedicatees to whom he presented his poems. They are all among the most powerful rulers of the time. Bucolica and Res Danicæ are dedicated to the Danish king, De re nautica to the senate of Venice, Colloquia moralia to Duke Charles of Lorraine, Margaretica to Queen Elizabeth of England, De republica Noribergensium to the town council of Nuremberg, and Romanorum Cæsares Italici to the Holy Roman Emperor, Maximilian II.

His epic Margaretica may serve as an example of what I call the aggressive nationalism. It takes its theme from a war between Sweden and Denmark in the 14th century and dwells on a battle in which the Danish Queen Margrethe defeated the Swedish King Albert. [8] What I call aggressive nationalism demonstrates itself in the characteristics of the acting participants: the Danes may commit tragical errors, but are invariably pious and of impeccable morals, whereas the Swedes are unprincipled and given to excessive drinking. (It should be mentioned, perhaps, that during this same period the Swedes developed their so-called Gothic theory, culminating a century later with the famous Uppsala-professor Olof Rudbeck.)

Colloquia Moralia

In the following, however, I shall offer an example of Lætus' competitive use of Latin poetry. It is the very last poem in the collection titled Colloquia Moralia. [9] The work consists of four books, each containing seven poems. They are highly stylized dialogues, all of them with just two speakers and no narrator. The speeches are long, and there is no rapid and dramatic exchange of remarks. The speakers are trees, plants, animals, stones or other natural phenomena, and in his preface the poet draws a parallel to the genre of fables. But the work is actually very far from that form, since the popular and often humoristic touch typical of the fable is missing, and there is no narrator to sum up each story in a final moral, explaining what is to be learnt from it. Also, the hexameter verse gives to the poems a somewhat loftier style than what is normal for a fable. In a way, the poems come closer to the pastoral as it was cultivated in Latin poetry of the times, with its philosophical shepherds discussing elevated matters in their humble natural surroundings. Anyway, I know of no model for this form, and it may well be an original creation devised by Lætus himself.

The poem discussed here might be said to concern regionalism rather than nationalism, since it is all about Jutland, not the whole kingdom. But there is nothing to indicate that Lætus by celebrating Jutland wishes to proffer a view of Europe as consisting of regions, not states; instead, his choice of this region is obviously connected with the fact that he was born there. In this period the word patria simply meant the place you came from, whether it was a village, a region, or a state. With his poem on Jutland, in Latin called Cimbria, Lætus is celebrating his patria in the sense of region and birthplace, just as he has other poems praise his patria in the sense of native country.

Two rivers are speaking, the Tiber (Tybris) and the Danish Gudenå (Gudius), the largest of the small Danish rivers, which runs through the middle of Jutland and flows into Kattegat near the town of Randers in eastern Jutland. The whole dialogue consists of three speeches, the Tiber begins, Gudenåen has a long utterance, forming the central and main part of the dialogue, and the Tiber has the final speech.

With his very first verses, 1-8, Tybris establishes a clear-cut parallel between himself and Gudius: When originally Jupiter gave them each their places, he arranged them opposite each other, Tybris in Latium, Gudius in Cimbria. So in this way a symmetrical axis through Europe is implied, with the Italian peninsula towards south and the Jutland peninsula towards north, each characterized by an important river, Italy by Tybris running west, Jutland by Gudius running east. This way of thinking builds on the way Europe looks in a map, and of course Lætus belongs to the time when maps were becoming widespread. The parallelism between the two peninsulas is underlined by the pronouns: meme in v. 1, tete in 3, me in 5 and te in 6.

Tybris proceeds to describe his homely Italy, and does it by personifying the peninsula: Jupiter extended her into the Mediterranean sea between the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian, and from this location she can contemplate Sicily, Corsica, Sardinia, Venice, Trieste, Durrës, Greece, and the circle is completed by Calabria. Not only is Italy personified, so are the south winds in v. 13, the west winds in 16, the island of Corsica in 16, the eastern winds and the Adriatic in 19-20, and in 23 the sun is apostrophized. This conveys an impression of a dynamic geography, in which the various localities are not just there, but all have parts to play. In 29, however, we are reminded that Tybris is describing all this to Gudius, by the pronoun tibi and the first person verbs; here Tybris is putting a rhetorical question to Gudius. Afterwards the dynamic nature again takes over until the Bruttian province closes the bay, looking towards Calabria and the Tyrrhenian sea. Completing a ring composition, Tybris ends his speech with a new emphasis on the oppositional placement of the two and exhorts Gudius to describe his homely region to him. The two of them may for once leave their origins and meet for a talk in the ocean - after all, they are both gods and may be allowed a little chat (vv. 50-51):

...what is there to forbid us to join Nereus' famous realm and exchange words beneath silent waves?

In his lengthy reply, Gudius speaks in the same style as Tybris, now addressing his interlocutor, now presenting the various localities of Jutland as dynamic, interacting players in a grandiose natural drama. With the idea of equality between the two of them as his point of departure, he laments his role: if he had had the same good fortune as Tybris, to run through lands where famous deeds were done and celebrated by famous poets, he might have been considered just as important. He sums up his fate in vv. 82 ff.: he is being looked down upon, and even though he runs through lots of fields, nobody is applauding, and his banks are merely silent attendants when he enters the sea. He compares himself with Arno and Mincio, but alas, there is no Virgil to sing of him. He mentions other famous localities in Italy, and then makes a long leap to the rivers in the vicinity of Homer's Troy: they owe their preeminence not to reality, but to poetry. How can it be that nobody is celebrating Gudius? Are they all lazy, the men whom he has nourished? Or is there a lack of stimulus? Are the poets missing because there are no awards for their achievements?

He describes the wonders of Jutland beginning with the rivers (123-59); then come the lakes (160-225) and the towns (226-98), and finally a brief list of islands lying along the eastern coast of Jutland (299-304). His conclusion returns to the comparison with Tybris.

The narrative has important shifts in tempo; some of the sights are briefly mentioned, others are dwelled upon. The rivers are mainly just said to be big and important, but the description of Vejle River and its surroundings develops into a verbose praise of its beauty; it could, Gudius says, employing a traditional conceit, be a suitable dwelling place for Apollo and the Muses. Among the lakes, that of Koling is given the greatest attention. [10] We are told of its immense size and its rich surroundings with woods and fields; the earth is fertile and the farmers industrious. The lake abounds in fish and is a plentiful source of food. The climate is pleasant: the winds are mild and the air fresh and healthy. Birds, and especially the swan, Phoebus' favourite, like the region, and no place on earth would be more appropriate as a home for the Muses. The list of towns contains Århus, Horsens, Vejle, Kolding, Ribe, Viborg, Randers, Ålborg, Lemvig and Skagen, and the impression given is one of flowering urban cultures and harmonious relations between town and countryside. In his praise, Gudius underlines the industry of the population: in Århus and Ribe the fishermen are praised, Vejle and Kolding have learned men, and Kolding is also renowned for its blacksmiths and their manufacture of weapons. Finally, Randers, situated on the river's banks, is especially dear to Gudius; this town is said to possess the greatest potentialities without quite exploiting them as it should.

Gudius describes in special detail the part of Jutland that Lætus comes from. It occurs twice (169-215 and 264-85), and when mentioning Ingvorstrup Manor Gudius becomes very explicit: here a poet will be born under a happy omen, and Gudius asks Tybris to take special care of him. The passage about the omen is a wordplay: the poet to be born læto ... numine (v. 209) is of course Lætus himself.

In his answer, Tybris both moralizes and offers comfort: stop lamenting and accept your lot. Geography was not made once and for all, rivers have been known to change their courses, and Jupiter who gave Tybris his gifts may still have a great future in store for Gudius. The key passage is 329-51: Life is based only on genius. Arms, wars and brave deeds are of no value if the Muses are not there to celebrate them. Who would know of Hector and Achilles, had it not been for Homer? The world would lie in darkness if there had been no Muses to fight against barbarism. The only thing worth living for is the eternal praise virtue can win in poetry.

Throughout the poem maintains the fiction that the speakers are the two rivers. However, since the two of them are on the whole of the same opinion, there is little doubt that we are allowed to see them as spokesmen for the poet. He speaks of injustice, of inequality among the regions of Europe. It was not there from the start. Jupiter arranged geography in such a way that north and south had equal potentialities. And even the way the local populations have handled the chances nature gave them should have maintained this basic equality: in Jutland just as in Italy, fields are cultivated, fish caught and sold, and towns built. But so long as reality is not transformed into poetry, it is of little importance.

This conviction, which is explicit in Lætus' poem, is the implicit foundation for various of the kinds of Latin poetry that were composed in the period. Especially the laudationes urbium: when a city was praised in poetry it achieved a new and higher status than it had in itself. Books could be spread all over the world, and were they written in Latin they would be read in all times to come.

The special form chosen by Lætus voices this claim in a complex way: Gudius' lament that he and his compatriots are not the object of suitable poetry, is in itself part of a poem meant to celebrate them. Also, the prophetic passages, both Gudius speaking of the poet to be born at Ingvorstrup and Tybris in his more generalized prospect of better times to come for Jutland, are fulfilled by actually being formulated. The prophecy is its own realization.


The kind of nationalism we meet in Danish Latin poetry from the 16th century has, it seems to me, all its central elements in common with the nationalism of the Romantic movement. The sense of rights and duties involved, the interest in studying the nation's history and propagating its importance, and the concern with the vernacular as an object of both study and respectful care for its preservation are all shared. Also, just as in the 19th and 20th centuries, nationalism was both a great stimulus for an impressive cultural activity and a framework for prejudice and hostility towards other peoples. The movement was not as socially all-embracing as it became later, since the accessible media were less effective than those the great Romanticists had at their disposal. But we should not underestimate the effectiveness of the centralised church- and school-system, in which the Latin authors typically spent their adult lives. Latin education and oral transmission working together must have been a quite formidable means of indoctrination.

On a first consideration it may seem paradoxical that Latin was the privileged medium for such topics, but on further reflection it is not difficult to find reasons for this. Ambitious intellectuals all went abroad for the advanced part of their studies. In the international surroundings of foreign universities they became part of Res Publica Litterarum, were taught in Latin and used this language for all kinds of current communication. The very internationalism of their daily lives, I submit, made them consider their group identity as being Danes. [11]

Ingenio magnos uiuere.


T. DIuino primùm cum meme inscripsit honori,

Et Latijs iussit mea flumina Iuppiter aruis

Voluier: opposito tete mihi limite Gudi

Intulit, ac clara Cimbrorum sede locauit.

5 Me latus Italiæ rigidos quod spectat in Afros

Euomit Hesperijs exceptum fluctibus: at te

Chersonesus habet iam Cimbrica, cuius in ortum

Aduerso prorsus mihi tendis & æquora uultu.

Italiam medijs terrarum fluctibus orbi

10 Porrectam Notio, Adriacique uolumina ponti

Inter, & Oenotrias Tyrrheni gurgitis undas

Iuppiter extendit, geminisque obiecit arenis.

Hinc Austris spectat Siculas spirantibus urbes:

Messanæque latus rupesque situsque Pelori

15 Et Drepani frontes, & tergora celsa Pachyni.

Tum zephyri incumbunt, calidis ubi Corsica spumis

Eximia fundit generosum uite liquorem:

Et sua Sardois obiectat limina regnis.

Hinc uidet Eois agitari flatibus undas

20 Adriacosque sinus: Venetis ubi prima colonis

Mansio tuta fuit medio suspensa profundo:

Et maris urgentes inter firmata procellas,

Auspicijs Sol alte tuis: ubi dicitur acri

Gurgite in arua means tumidas Padus edere ripas

25 Et tua ueloci distringere flumina motu.

Hæc Venetùm sedes læto iam numine pridem

Cepta manet: genus unde uirûm, cui maxima uirtus

Consiliumque dedit seros florere per annos.

Nam tibi quid studium, quid claros gentis honores,

30 Quidúe pericla canam? dijs hæc authoribus una 30

Publica res durat: cuius nunc gloria coelos

Attigit, ac totum meritis se fudit in orbem.

Quæ bona, sacrarum constans sententia legum

Poenarumque metus & claris præmia factis,

35 Communisque boni studium & concordia, reddunt.

Mox in conspectum latos Aquileia tractus

Obijcit, Istriacis contermina collibus: inde

Tergestum & uarijs Epidamnus nota periclis.

Græcia succedit, qua fluctibus obuia durat

40 Ionicis: clauditque sinum, Calabresque feroces 40

Aspicit, ac supero miratur Brucia ponto.

Hæc circa Italiam uisuntur plurima. Sed te

Aduerso posuit fatum mihi limite: Sæuum

In Boream longos cum Cimbrica littora cursus

45 Tendant, & uasto properent se tingere ponto,

Tu tamen interea patrijs dilapsus ab aruis

Ingrederis tua regna salum: qua parte nitentes

In latus Eoum Sol explicat aureus ignes.

Nunc uerò primis disiuncti fontibus alto

50 Mergimur Oceano. quid enim uetat inclyta Nerei

Regna sequi, & tacitis nos cedere uerba sub undis?

Dij sumus, & magno geniti seruamur Olympo.

Tuque adeò quæ sit uestrarum gloria rerum,

Et quæ fata refer, tranquillo littora motu

55 Fluctibus absistunt, mollique feruntur arena.

Halcyones ueluti scopulis cum fortè marinis

Expediunt nidos, cessat furor æquoris, & se

Induit in placidos diuina potentia uultus.

G. Corniger Ausonidum rex & moderator aquarum

60 Tybri pater: magno cui militat ordine quicquid

Italicis leni tandem fluit agmine regnis:

Cui natura dedit uario circumdare flexu

Ingentes Latij muros, ingentia rura:

Celsaque dininæ penetrare palatia Romæ.

65 Sis foelix faustoque seces tua culta meatu:

Et uirides inter saliant tibi flumina ripas.

Te Tiberine Deum sequimur, te uocibus unum

Et tua regna colo. Dij saltem ac æqua dedissent

Numina me uestris ortum regionibus alto

70 Influere Oceano uitreisque illabier undis.

Eximium meritis iam pridem nomen haberem

Præcipuos inter fluuios interque beatas

Dictus aquas: coelo quæ nunc coniuncta, perenni

Flumina luxuriant pulcherrima nomina, laude.

75 Te tua fata beant monumentaque seria Vatum,

Maxima coelesti quibus est uis aucta fauore

Et dedit æterno Pallas florere triumpho.

Me miserum nasci quòd non mihi contigit illic,

Inclyta diuinis ubi præmia uatibus omnes

80 Ingenij numeros excultaque pectora cogunt

Munus Apollinea redimendum condere Lauro.

Nunc patrijs despectus agris, & plurima circum

Rura uolutatus nullo plaudente pererro:

Et tacitis prorsus dilabor in æquora ripis.

85 Quanquàm nec magnis concedam uiribus Arno,

Nec me ueloci superarit Myncius unda:

Myncius æterno cantatus uate Marone:

Ingenio cuius tam subdit Apollo Camoenas,

Quàm dederat nulli similes in pectora Musas.

90 Hic igitur supero sinuosum inglorius æuum

Et minimè noto dilabor in æquora cursu:

Quòd me Palladio subuectum nullus honore

Intulerit sacris monumenta per ardua Musis.

Quis Trebiam Lyrimque citum, fontemque Timaui,

95 Et parui Rubiconis aquas (cui plurima sacros

Relligio uultus & noxia littora tendit.)

Aut quis Benacum, Ticinum, Cannasque cruentas

Nesciat, hesperijs iam cognita nomina regnis?

Aspice Scamandri riuos, Simoentis & undas,

100 Mæandri flexus, uarijque ferocia Xanthi

Brachia, lenta uadis & sanguine tincta pelasgo:

Omnia tam toti quæ cognita flumina mundo

Eximijs certè populorum uocibus altè

Extulerint caput, & merita sub laude feruntur.

105 Ast inhonorato mihi gurgite uita per omnes

Hactenus excedit campos, spacijsque remotis

Inferor Oceano: neque me uel nomine quisquàm

Egregio uehit, aut nostros satis aspicit usus.

Siue ego tot frustra produxi stultus alumnos:

110 Seu caret ingenijs, quæ circum nata feraces

Turba colit ripas & acumine languet inani:

Insita seu nullos in pectora Gloria motus

Suscitat, ut claris aspirent ardua factis:

Præmia diuinis seu desint uatibus. Vt se

115 Militia nullus crudeli obiecerit ensi:

Cùm precio careat uitæ labor, & sua certæ

Præmia uirtuti cernat sperata negari.

Sic nisi Phoebeios accendat gloria uates,

Et precio crescat Musis honor, omnibus omne

120 Obsequium numeris, & fila canentia demunt.

Hæc meme ignotum ratio per multa relinquit

Secula: nec claris maiorum fascibus addor.

Vtque etiam pressat nostros obliuio cursus:

Sic nullo uolui reliquas dat honore sorores,

125 Elabique amnes: quorum uaga flumina longis

Mæandri poterint ceu flexibus æqua uideri.

Nam tibi de multis referam si paucula, uastus

Debuit an tali lituisse uolumine Skernus,

Hesperijs illapsus aquis pontoque furenti?

130 Voluitur egregio sinuosus gurgite Cloros

Oceano lymphas cumulans: ubi maximus Euro

Intonat assultus circumque ea littora regnat:

Quà ratibus tristes Lithokrogius obijcit undas,

Et procul in uastas procurrit durus arenas.

135 Nec minor incertos extendit Trudzius amnes:

Et latè campos circumque uagatus & arua,

Non exquisito se prodit nascier ortu:

Ignarosque loci fallit. Tum fluctibus Antza

Haud exploratis, nec origine cognitus omnes

140 Euariat flexus obscuraque littora pandit:

Et plures simulat sinuosis cursibus amnes.

Quidúe humiles Vetlæ ripas, quid flumina dicam,

Aërios inter labentia flumina montes?

Decliuem sortitus humum pulcherrimus undis.

145 Hinc atque hinc uiridi frondentes littore syluas

Aspicit, ac molli prætexit gramine ripas.

Hîc sacer Aonijs poterat locus esse Camoenis

Oreadumque Choro: Dryades habitare uenustas

Dixeris, aut dulci lætantes gurgite Nymphas.

150 Vsque adeò campis diuinum Phoebus odorem

Diuinasque auras & amoenum sparsit honorem.

Tum uerò si quis dulci prata obuia Vetlæ

Desuper aspiciat celsis è montibus, alti

Cernere se mensam Solis putet: una uetustis

155 Quæ res nota uiris, multorum maxima sæpè

Perculit ingenia, ac sabulum lustrare coegit.

Labitur haud magno subnixus Fuldula riuo,

Et spacijs errat multum distantibus: undis

Dum molitus iter pelago succedit Eoo.

160 Quis Ringum, Brauiumque lacus nescire feraces

Debeat? ingenti pandunt se ea littora fructu:

Et uario cautas illectant fænore gentes.

Sed quid ego hæc memori nequicquàm mente reuoluo?

Quidúe sequor tot sparsa solo, tot mersa profundo

165 Numina? non si me tot guttura docta bearent,

Quot circum faciles Euro uoluuntur arenæ:

Omnia Cimbriacæ comprendere flumina terræ,

Nec poteram ueris inscribere laudibus amnes.

Vnus ab ingenti circundatus aggere uastum

170 Explicat in præceps uterum Lacus: omnibus unus

Anteferendus aquis: uario quas Cimbrica tellus

Vbere læta fouet cursuque sub æquora mittit.

Eximias Lacus auctus opes Kolingicus: acri

Cui natura dedit tumidos distringere fluctus,

175 Et medias inter diffundere brachia cannas.

Hic geminum littus uicinaque prædia cingens,

Plurimus obliquo se gurgite promouet, altas

Interea spectat dum latior undique syluas:

Et iacit herbosos inter sua flumina colles.

180 Ad Boream Notiosque habitant ditissima regna

Innumeraque uirûm turba: quibus omnibus una

Cura manet, faciles aptare in aratra Iuuencos,

Et rigidam forti proscindere uomere terram.

Piscibus exundat lacus, & sua commoda miro

185 Explicat accessu: quæ cum sinit grata lucello

Haud tenui uigiles cumulantque beantque colonos.

Quidúe ego commemorem Lucios, Percasque rubentes:

Quid Prasinos Tincasque? genus tute omne natantum

Squammigerique gregis, quodcunque in flumina diues

190 Immisit natura, potes cepisse uideri

Retibus: ac gratos traxisse in fercula pisces.

Non hîc horribili sternit sata læta boatu

Aeolus effracto uentorum carcere: mollis

Incumbit, iustoque mouet spiramine lymphas,

195 Atque aperit placidis æquatos usibus utres.

Rara equidem uel sæua lues, uel noxia pestis

Hæc circum uitrei grassatur littora regni:

Tempora sed uicibus certis aptata, parumper

Euariant: solitosque ferunt in semina motus.

200 Hîc statio longè est niueo gratissima Cygno

Alitibusque pijs: meritum cui Phoebus honorem

Hunc dedit, ut grato uocis modulamine uincat:

Cimbriacisque ferat primus sacra nomina Musis.

Nullus in orbe locus Kolingica littora gratis

205 Vincit aquis: ubi Castalides uel figere cultas

Posse domos scires, uel non spreuisse putares.

Hîc succincta latus placido Fæuelia tractu

Inguorsdorppensis spectat noua culmina uillæ,

Quà læto surget mihi Vates numine: firmis,

210 Qui mea, qui patriæ placidissima regna Camoenis

Inferet, ac toti pandat mea nomina mundo.

Dij dent sarta meo sint semper ut omnia Vati:

Excellatque animis, & spe sua commoda firmet:

Sitque tibi sacer usque deo. tu Tybri feracis

215 Ingenij numeros, & pectora iusta corones.

Sed mea me retrahit miserum fortuna: uagorque

Longius, ac tenui propellor in æquora fructu,

Ignoto lateam cum nomine gentibus. Aut quis

Littoribus sparsas hinc atque hinc dixerit urbes,

220 Quà Chersonesus circumflua moenia ponto

Iungit, & impulsas uento remoratur arenas?

An quia tu Latijs pulcherrima moenia regnis

Diuidis, ac ualdè muratas aspicis urbes:

Iccircò credas omni mea prædia cultu

225 Destitui, aut prorsus mihi desolata uideri?

Multæ urbes, multæque arces atque oppida multa

Littus utrunque colunt: quorum mihi nomina fas sit

Dicere, & ingentes conferre in carmina muros.

Primus Arhusiacam mihi deferat angulus urbem,

230 Primæuæ Virtutis opus: Helnesia contra

Littora, squammigeros captura ubi sedula pisces

Colligit, ac leuibus defert quæsita carinis:

Immittitque foro, pretioque inscribit inani.

Hinc notijs plaudunt Horsnensia culmina uentis:

235Hinc Vetlæ campus Lupulis succinctus, & acres

In sua lucra uiros excultaque pectora gignit.

Aut quis Koldingum teneram non nouerit urbem?

Qua non ingenuis populorum moribus ulla

Vel florere magis, uel dicier oppida possunt.

240 Artibus excreuit magnis: cum magna polito

Artificum studijs cessit reuerentia ferro.

Hîc Vapennensi colitur dea Pallas in æde,

Aucta manus iaculis & terso cuspide dextras:

Qua spectante leues accedit splendor in enses,

245 Cultrorumque acies rutilum limatur ad ignem,

Nec tamen ista meo laus est æquanda poetæ:

Qui Koldingiaco placidissimus accolit amni:

Et sua rura meat, clarisque laboribus ardet:

Ingenio celer, ac patrio sermone disertus,

250 Adscriptusque dijs. cui, si quos Rythmus honores

Conciliet generi diuina in præmia nostro:

Prima Paludano ducantur præmia nostro.

Mox mihi Riparum succedat gloria. Ripas

Hunc dixere locum ueteres, ubi plurimus urbi

255 Posteà creuit honos, mansitque è nomine nomen:

Oceani ripis quòd structa tumentibus esset:

Et uicina salo funestos sæpè labores

Sentiat, ac refluo metuat sibi tristia ponto.

Tum mihi Viburgum meritis referatur honestis:

260 Quæ quamuis humili nunc urbs coniuncta Myricæ

Non ita splendorum numeros attingere possit:

Egregijs tamen aucta bonis, sua rura lacusque

Prædicat, ac media ceu gaudens sorte moratur.

Quis memoret quanto Randrusia diues honori

265 Aspirare potest, sua si bona norit: & omnes

Intendat neruos seque in sua commoda firmet?

Huic ego præcipuam, cum moenia rado, salutem

Attulerim: cursuque beem: ripisque secundis

Alludam, magnos dum nostra sub oppida fructus

270 Ingeram & æterno cumulem mea munera cursu.

Inde ego præcipitans lapsum feror, æquora donec

Et primas subeam motu propulsus arenas.

Interea dum me fluctus rapit, inde sinistram

Prospicit Ourgardum, campisque feracibus adstat

275 Vertice multiplici cultum: cui plena uenustos

Copia Lyckei & gratos adiecit honores,

Exuberans. hinc littoribus se maxima dextris

Tecta Stenhaltinos inter clarissima muros

Expediunt: ubi prisca bonis habitatio semper

280 Grata feraxque fuit: cum uel sua rura sagaci

Confirmant asserta manu: uel plurima genti

Officia intulerint, & amant uirtute probare

Biornones: ueteri sobolesque & certa parenti

Linea: cui lato Rugsonia fertilis aruo

285 Haud tenues soluit patrio pro more Medimnos.

Inde iter Alburgum, foelix ubi Lymicus altas

Spectat utrinque plagas, geminoque è littore regnat.

Vltima Cimbriacæ concedit portio terræ

In Boream: miseris ubi Scaga laborat arenis,

290 Et sibi squammigeros bimari legit æquore pisces.

Cui latus opposito Nortuegia limite rupes

Obijcit aërias: medijs ubi tractibus alto

Oceanus nostrum se gurgite fundit in orbem:

Cimbriacumque sinum conclusaque & æquora gignit.

295 At Chersonesi pars altera uergit in Austrum

Et notijs multum sua commoda flatibus auget,

Germanos imitata sonos, ubi plurima lætas

Pectoris humani solertia condidit urbes.

Multa autem toto circumiacet Insula ponto:

300 Quæ tenui plerunque freto diuulsa, tumentes

Oceani fluctus & acerbas sustinet iras.

Quis sale perfusam Lessum, quis Anhaldica nescit

Littora, quis magnis agitatam motibus Helmam

Aut teretes Alsæ non nouerit incola ripas?

305 Sed quorsum feror? hæc nostri uetus una doloris

Causa fuit, magnis plerunque hac rura tenebris

Mergier, at nullis celebrarier oppida Musis.

Te uerò semper foelicem Tybri putaui,

Cui fortuna fuit gratis succrescere ripis,

310 Et ueterum monumenta sequi: quibus omnis in unum

Incubuit natura bonum: clarescere factis

Fortibus, & meritis ea facta dicare Camoenis.

Nos aliæ uersant sortes. fluit altus in æquor

Gudius, & nullos è cursibus auget honores.

315 T. Desine tam tristi percellere pectora questu.

Et tua fata cape. non omnis in omnia semper

Alueus arua fluit. res est comperta uaganti

Cedere nonnunquam consueta uolumina riuo,

Mutarique situs, alioque sub æquora lapsu

320 Impelli fluuios leuibusque recondier undis.

Sic aliàs alius gignit fortuna. Vetustas

Extulit ingenio nostras gratissima ripas

Et florere sacris uoluit mea regna Camoenis:

Cum fatum caelo ductum foret: unus Olympo

325 Iuppiter hanc sortem diuisaque tempora uoluit.

Nunc fortassè tuos etiam noua sidera flexus

Ingenijs subdent: teque hæc iniuria tandem

Deseret, ac sero potes inclarescere scripto.

Viuitur ingenio tantum. non arma, nec enses,

330 Non latè fusis Victoria gentibus, auri

Massa, nec incerta memorandi laude triumphi

Imperijúe decus celsæúe palatia Romæ,

Vindicat interitu facti genus. Vnica castis

Res ea diuino cessit Iouis ore Camoenis.

335 Hectora quis sciret, qui non & sciret Homerum

Ingenio cuius non tantum uiuit Achilles,

Sed currus, sed equi, sed Pelias hasta secundo

Maiorum certè uincit sua tempora plausu.

Nemo equidem eximio uatum fraudatus honore

340 Ingenijque bonis, claræ est uirtutis adeptus

Præmia: quantumuis uel fortia facta, Deorum

Aemula perfecit, uel magnos uincere posset

Aut æquare uiros, fascesque inscribere facto.

Hàc iter æternis constrauit honoribus aula

345 Ista Deûm. coelum ingenio Solisque meatus

Supposuit Pallas, uera & dat laudat potiri

Et procul in seros mittit sua dona Nepotes.

Magna equidem sacros premeret caligo labores

Et tenebris mundus cæcaque fatisceret umbra:

350 Aurea Castalides si non & lumina Musæ

Barbariem oppugnent: aut si non coelica tantam

Ipsa quidem per se seruarent numina lucem.

Non hæc humanis consistit uiribus: acre

In Musas certamen alit stupidissimus orbis

355 Profligatque deas, mergitque ea culta tenebris:

Ni Deus & magni non uicta potentia coeli

Impediant tantos magna uirtute furores.

Vsque adeo minimum sapiunt mortalia. quà se

Exitio inuoluant, mirum est qua mente quibusque

360 Artibus excellunt. Ast quà uirtutibus instent,

Et sua diuinis adiungant commoda rebus:

Hîc equidem cæcis oculis, & pectore cæco

Omnia mensurant. nihil est suasisse benignè:

Desipiunt prorsus, nec se monitoribus addunt.

365 Iuppiter ipse igitur Musas sustentat: & illas

Vir bonus ingenuo statuit sibi more colendas:

Quòd sanè ingenijs submittant secula fasces,

Et uatum studijs applaudant sidera, nec te

Præteritum deinceps neglectaúe rura querare,

370 Ignotosque bonis te ferre sub æquora cursus.

Id saltem moneas, cum sis Deus: accola ripis

Vt sua diuinæ coniungat uota Mineruæ:

Et Vates colat, ac sacris ferat aurea Musis

Præmia: nec foedo laceret noua dona labello.

375 Optima res homini est aut nunquàm nascier: aut si

Nascier, hanc equidem florenti è carmine laudem

Ducere: ut è ueris postquam uirtutibus æuum

Auxerit, æternis sit pars & fama Camoenis.

[1] Benedict Anderson (1983) 1991: Imagined Communities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Revised Edition. London, New York: Verso, especially pp. 18-19 and 36.

[2] For Danish students abroad in this period, see Vello Helk 1987: Dansk-norske studierejser fra reformationen til enevælden 1536-1660. Med en matrikel over studerende i udlandet. Odense Universitetsforlag. (Odense University Studies in History and Social Sciences 101.)

[3] C. Erasmus Michaëlius Lætus 1560: Bucolica, Cum dedicatoria Philippi Melanthonis Præfatione. Wittenberg: Jürgen Rhaw, p.10, - This and the following Latin texts are copied without change from the editio princeps, except for abbreviations being expanded.

[4] Ibid. pp. 11-12.

[5] Anders Sørensen Vedel (ed.) 1591: It Hundrede uduaalde Danske Viser. Ribe: Liliebjerget. (Reprinted Copenhagen 1926-7.)

[6] Johannes Georgius Sadolinus 1569: De Regibus Daniæ Epigrammata. Ad calcem libri addita sunt Insignia Regum Daniæ. Copenhagen: Lorentz Benedicht, pp. 37v-38r.

[7] H. Ehrencron-Müller 1924-35: Forfatterlexikon omfattende Danmark, Norge og Island indtil 1814. I-XII. Copenhagen: Aschehoug, s.v. Rasmus Glad. - Karen Skovgaard-Petersen & Peter Zeeberg (edd. & trll.): Erasmus Lætus' Skrift om Christian IVs Fødsel og Dåb (1577). Copenhagen: Reitzel 1992, pp. 9-22.

[8] Karen Skovgaard-Petersen 1988: Erasmus Lætus' Margaretica. Klassisk epos og dansk propaganda. Kbh.: Museum Tusculanum. (Studier fra Sprog- og Oldtidsforskning 312.)

[9] The full poem is to be found at the end of the paper.

[10] This lake was drained in the 19th century and no longer exists.

[11] I am grateful to John D. Kendal for revising my English.

[12] C. Erasmus Michaelius Lætus 1573: Colloquiorum Moralium Libri IIII. Basileæ, ex officina Oporiniana, pp. 240-52.

Autor (author): Minna Skafte Jensen
Dokument erstellt (document created): 2002-08-13
Dokument geändert (last update): 2002-08-20
WWW-Redaktion (conversion into HTML): Manuela Kahle & Stephan Halder
Schlussredaktion (final editing): Heinrich C. Kuhn