International Journal of the Classical Tradition

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 38–53 | Cite as

Arms and the theologian: Martin Luther’sAdversus Armatum Virum Cochlaeum

  • Carl P. E. Springer


This paper examines the influence of Virgil on Martin Luther, paying special attention to a short verse composition of Luther’s in Latin,Adversus Armatum Virum Cochlaeum, based on the first lines of theAeneid. The study suggests that an adequate understanding of Luther’s relationship to and use of Virgil needs to take into full account the fact that the Reformer not only knew Virgil’s works and quoted from him frequently, but also himself composed verses based on Virgil’s.


Classical Tradition Poetic Work Latin Verse Latin Teacher Latin Poet 
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  1. 1.
    The literature on this question is too voluminous to summarize in a footnote. There follow just a few, select, references that have proven helpful, directly and indirectly, for this study. For the earlier period, one may still consult with considerable profit Domenico Comparetti,Virgilio nel medio evo (Livorno, 1872), translated by E.F.M. Benecke into English in 1895 asVergil in the Middle Ages and now with an introduction by Jan Ziolkowski (Princeton, 1999). See also Craig Kallendorf (ed.),Vergil=The Classical Heritage 2 (New York and London, 1993) and Fabio Stok, “Virgil between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance”, in this journal (IJCT) 1.2 (1994), pp. 15–22. Theodore Ziolkowski,Virgil and the Moderns (Princeton, 1993), is particularly good at tracing the influence of Virgil on twentieth-century European literature (cf. the review article “Virgil Between the Wars” by Ward W. Briggs, Jr., in this journal,IJCT 6 [1999/2000], pp. 88–94). John Shields,The American Aeneas: Classical Origins of the American Self (Knoxville, 2001) shows the influence of Virgil on such important American thinkers as Cotton Mather, George Washington, and Nathaniel Hawthorne and argues that the myth of Aeneas, the fugitive from an older culture who traveled west across the sea with his fellow exiles to find a new home, played as important a role in the early American imagination as that of the biblical story of Adam in the Garden of Eden, who has been featured much more prominently in American studies up until now as an icon of the nascent American self.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Sabine MacCormack,The Shadows of Poetry: Vergil in the Mind of Augustine (Berkeley, 1998).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For a recent study of Virgil’s use by early Christian writers, see Stefan Freund,Vergil im frühen Christentum. Untersuchungen zu den Vergilzitaten bei Tertullian, Minucius Felix, Novatian, Cyprian, und Arnobius = Studien zur Geschichte und Kultur des Altertums, N. F., 1. Reihe, Bd. 16 (Paderborn, Munich, Vienna, and Zurich, 2000), (with the review article by Eberhard Heck, “Vergil—Dichter auch der christlichen Römer”, in this journal, IJCT 9 [2002/03], pp. 423–429). It was not at all uncommon for early Christians to regard the poet who penned the remarkable lines in which he predicted the coming of an amazing child from the heavens (iam nova progenies caelo demittitur alto, Ecl. 4.7) who would rule the pacified world with his father’s virtues (pacatumque reget patriis virtutibus orbem, Ecl. 4.17) as something of a prophet. Constantine’sOratio and coetum sanctorum, a Good Friday sermon ascribed to the emperor by Eusebius, takes the fourth eclogue as unequivocal proof that the pagan poet had prophesied Christ’s coming (Eusebius Werke 1=Die Griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten drei Jahrhunderte 7 [Leipzig, 1902], pp. 181–7). Augustine’s attitude toward Virgil was somewhat more nuanced, but on more than one occasion he does seem to regard the fourth Eclogue as a reference to Christ (see in particular his observations in his unfinished commentary on Romans [Patrologia Latina 35, 2089]). Jerome, on the other hand, was quite skeptical of the claims of the Christless Maro (“Maro sine Christo”) to prophetic status (Ep. 53.7), but the views of the solitary of Bethlehem proved to be in a distinct minority in the centuries that followed. Dante’s Statius credits his conversion to Christianity (“Per te poeta fui, per te cristiano”) to the influence of the author of the messianic eclogue (Purg. 22.64–73) and the Cumaean Sibyl referred to in the fourth line of the fourth eclogue eventually took her place in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in the uncontested company of the Old Testament prophets. For a comprehensive overview of Christian appropriation of the fourth eclogue, see Stephen Benko, “Virgil’s Fourth Eclogue in Christian Interpretation,”Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen Welt (ANRW) II 31, 1, ed. W. Haase (Berlin and New York, 1980), pp. 646–705.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See Augustine,Conf. 1.13 (“et plorare Didonem mortuam”). On Heinrich Bullinger’s knowledge of Virgil, see Oswald Gottlob Schmidt,Luthers Bekanntschaft mit den alten Classikern (Leipzig, 1883), p. 26. T.S. Eliot’s “What is a Classic?” was first presented as the Presidential Address to the Virgilian Society, published by Faber and Faber in 1945, and is most easily accesible now in his collection of essays,On Poetry and Poets (New York, 1961), pp. 52–74. For Eliot’s high estimation of Virgil, as well as a discussion of Virgil’s surpisingly limited influence on Eliot’s poetry, see Ziolkowski,op. cit (above, n. 1), (Princeton, 1999), pp. 119–29.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    The Latin text is from the standard edition of Luther’s works in German and Latin commonly referred to as theWeimarer Ausgabe (abbreviated hereafter asWA)Tischreden (abbreviated hereafter asTR) 1, 44 (Weimar, 1912). (Here and elswhere in this paper it should be undersotood that all translations unless otherwise indicated are my own.) For a good overview of Luther’s knowledge of the ancient poets (and historians), see Reinhard Schwarz, “Beobachtungen zu Luthers Bekanntschaft mit antiken Dichtern und Geschtsschreibern,”Lutherjahrbuch 54 (1987), pp. 7–22. On Luther taking Virgil and Plautus with him into the monastery, see Helmar Junghans,Der junge Luther und die Humanisten=Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte 8 (Weimar, 1984), pp. 87–9 and Ute Mennecke-Haustein, “Gelehrsamkeit und Theologie—Die Bedeutung derstudia humanitatis für die Schriftauslegung beim jungen Luther,” in Walther Ludwig (ed.),Die Musen im Reformationszeitalter=Schriften der Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt 1 (Leipzig, 2001), p. 152.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Schmidt,op cit (above, n. 4),Luthers Bekanntschaft mit den alten Classikern (Leipzig, 1883), p. 27.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Luther’s enormously popular efforts at writing German hymns have been the subject of extensive scholarly study. See, for instance, the discussion in L. Schmidt, “‘Und wenn die Welt voll Teufel wär.’ Zu Martin Luthers ‘Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,’” in Volker Meid (ed.),Gedichte und Interpretationen, Bd. 1,Renaissance und Barock (Stuttgart, 1982), p. 55.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    WA 19, 50 (Weimar, 1897).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    WA 15, 52 (Weimar, 1899).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    WA TR 5, 317–8 (Weimar, 1919). The translation is from H.G. Haile,Luther: An Experiment in Biography (New York, 1980), p. 356.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    For a full treatment of the subject, see Heinrich Böhmer,Luthers Romfahrt (Leipzig, 1914).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    John Todd,Luther: A Life (New York, 1982), p. 21.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    On Luther’s understanding and use of Epicurus, see Gottfried Maron,Martin Luther und Epikur: Ein Beitrag zum Verständnis des alten Luther=Berichte aus den Sitzungen der Joachim Jungius-Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften E.V., Hamburg 6 (1988), Heft 1, especially pp. 61–6. Howard Jones,The Epicurean Tradition (London and New York, 1989), pp. 162–5, includes a brief discussion of Epicurus’ standing among the northerm Humanists and Reformers. The text of the poem is taken from Udo Frings,Martinus Lutherus-Poeta Latinus-Orientierung: Schriftenreihe zur Lehrefortbildung 10 (Aachen, 1983), p. 28, and can also be found inWA TR 5, pp. 385–9 (Weimar, 1919). One interesting, and possibly humorous, aspect of this poem is the recurrent use of the motif of the pig. Luther was familiar with the expression, used by Horace (Ep. 1.4.16), about being “a pig from Epicurus’ sty,” and in fact tarred Erasmus with that very brush inDe servo arbitrio (see Erika Rummel,The Confessionalization of Humanism in Reformation Germany [Oxford, 2000], p. 59). Here we might note with Frings its possible appearance already in the first line (suis might be ambiguous) as well as the second, where it is used to describe the followers of Epicurus’ philosophy. Again, in the middle of the poem, reference is made to living like a pig, followed, in the next line, by an allusion to dying like a pig. And pigs appear again in the conclusion of the poem, in the underworld (evidently a conflation in Luther’s mind of the isles of the blessed and the Christian hell or purgatory) where we find them being cooked and roasted. It is hard not to find this picture of an Epicurean “Schweinebraten” either hideously grotesque or absurdly funny. Luther’s colleague, Philip Melanchthon, also wrote a Latin poem against chance, the “god” of the Epicureans (Corpus Reformatorum 10, 650). For a German translation with brief comments, see Reinhold F. Glei, “Sed pudenter et raro? Lateinische Dichtungen Melanchthons” in Ludwig (ed.),op cit. (above, n. 5), “Die Musen im Reformationszeitalter=Schriften der Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt 1 (Lepzig, 2001) 196–7.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    For a good analysis of the early Humanist responses to Homer, see Robin Sowerby, “Early Humanist Failure with Homer,”IJCT 4 (1997–8), pp. 37–63 and 165–94. Although Homer did not have nearly as profound an, influence on Luther as Virgil, he was clearly a favorite of Melanchthon’s who lectured on Homer at the University of Wittenberg (see his “Preface to Homer” inCorpus Reformatorum 11, 397–413) and the “Lutheran” poet, Helius Eobanus Hessus (1488–1540), who translated theIliad into Latin hexameters (published in Basel in the year of the translator’s death).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    For text and discussion, see Frings,op. cit. (above, n. 13),Martinus Lutherus-Poeta Latinus=Orientierung: Schriftenreihe zur Lehrerfortbildung 10 (Aachen, 1983), pp 25–27. The text is also to be found inWA TR 5, p. 359 (Weimar, 1919):Vitam quae faciunt beatiorem, O carissime christiane, sunt haec. Aeternum dominum Deum timere, Mandatique sui vias amare. Sit victus manuum labore partus, Sic vivis bene, sic eris beatus. Uxor prole tuam domum beabit, Laetis ut generosa vitis uvis. Ad mensam tibi filii sedebunt, Ut pinguis tenerae novella olivae. Sic fidus benedicitur maritus In casto domini timore vivens. Donet te beneditione semper Ex Zion dominus Jerusalemque. Florentem factiat bonis vigere, Ut natos videas et inde natos. Et pacem super Israel per aevum! Hic dicat pius omnis amen. amen. [Those things which make for a happy life, O most dear Christian, are the following: to fear the eternal Lord God and to love the ways of his command. Let your food be won by the labor of your hands. Thus you will live well; thus you will be happy. Your wife will bless your house with children, like an abundant vine with frutful grapes. Your sons will sit at your table like the fat shoot of the tender olive. Thus the faithful husband is blessed who lives in the chaste fear of the Lord. From Zion may the Lord always give you his blessing and from Jerusalem. May he make you thrive as you flower with good things, so that you may see your sons and their sons. And may peace be on Israel forever! Let every righteous man say Amento this. Amen.]Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    See Schwarz,op. cit. (above, n. 5) “, pp. 12–13. The text of the poem is fromWA TR, 4, 89–90. (Weimar, 1916). On Simon Leminius, see Walther Ludwig., “Musenkult und Gottesdienst—Evangelischer Humanismus der Reformationszeit,” in Ludwig (ed.),op. cit. (above, n. 5) (Princeton, 1999) pp. 33–35 and 39.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    See e.g., Roland Bainton,Here I Stand (New York and Nashville, 1951), pp. 22–7. For the definitive study of the young Luther’s encounter with humanism, including a detailed account of his schooling at Magdeburg, Eisenach, and Erfurt, see Junghans,op. cit (above, n. 5)Der junge Luther und die Humanisten = Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte, 8 (Weimar, 1984) pp. 63–239.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    For a linguistic analysis of the Latin in Luther’s letters, table talk, and sermons see Bengt Löfstedt, “Notizen eines Latinisten zu Luthers Briefen und Tischreden,”Vetenskapssocieteten i Lund: Årsbok, 1983, pp. 19–40 and “ Notizen eines Latinisten zu Luthers Prediten,”Vetenskapssocieteten i Lund: Årsbok, 1985, pp. 24–42. For a comprehensive overview of Luther’s repution during his life and in the, years following his death, see Robert Kolb,Martin Luther as Prophet, Teacher, Hero: Images of the Reformer, 1520–1620 (Grand Rapids, 1999).Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    The single most useful volume on Luther’s Latin poetry is that of Udo Frings (see above, n. 13). (My thanks to Dr. Hermann Wiegand for his assistance in procuring, me a copy of this monograph that has proven so invaluable for this study.) I have also found O. Albrecht’s discussion of Luther’s Latin verse inWA 35, p. 596 ff. (Weimar, 1923), particularly helpful. Less critical, but useful, too, is Georg Schleusner,D. Martin Luthers Dichtungen in Gebundener Rede mit den nötigen Anmerkungen, (Wittenberg, 1892). I was unable to see two eighteenth-century discussions of the poems:Martini Lutheri Poemata dispersa (Magdeburg, 1729) and M. F. Andreas Hallbauer,Lutherus Politioris Literaturae Cultor et Aestimator (Dissertation; University of Jena, 1717).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    For one of the last and most ambitious of these Latin verse compositions, see my article, “Martin Luther, the Oreads of Wittenberg, andSola Gratia,” Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Abulensis= Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 207 (Tempe, 2000), pp. 611–618.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Birgit Stolt,Martin, Luthers Rhetorik des Herzens (Tübingen, 2000), maintains that the creator of the GermanSchriftsprache “war nicht so ‘deutsch,’ vie ihn das 19. und die erste Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts sehen wollte” (p. 27), Crucial in this regard are theTischreden, which suggest that Luther used a “Mischsprache” by preference in his conversation, switching easily from one language to another. Unfortunately, thanks in large part to Aurifaber’s popular (and monolingual) edition of another. Unfortunately, thanks in large part to Aurifaber’s popular (and monolingual) edition of 1566, the effect of Luther’s two-edged linguistic sword has often gone unnoticed. Aurifaber’s exclusively German Luther is: “frömmelnd, betulich, geschwätzig” while Stolt’s bilingual corrective is “weit straffer, herber, handfester, gelehrter” (p. 22). It is not always easy to discern the rationale for Luther’s preference for Latin over German, or vice-versa, although one would guess that some subjects did lend themselves better to one language than the other: “Auf deutsch konnte Luther aber auch besser schimpfen” (p. 12). Stolt argues, too, that we need to reconsider not only Luther’s vocabulary but also his syntax, style, and thought in terms of his training in Latin rhetoric. All too often Lutehr has been viewed as a man of the people whose language is artless and without form, lacking artistry and complex structure, but, as Stolt observes: “Die Münhhe, die es ihn kostete, so zu schreiben, dass ihn der ‘gemeine Mann’ verstand, kann man nicht hoch genug einschätzen” (p. 29). Luther’s deperecating self-evaluations in this regard are too often taken at face value, as for instance, his famous summary: “Res et verba Philippus, verba sine re Erasmus, res sine verbis Lutherus, nec res nec verba Carolostadius.” [Philip has content and eloquence; Erasmus has eloquence without content; Luther has content without eloquence; Carlstadt has neither content nor eloquence.]WA TR 3, p. 460; Weimer, 1914). As Stolt correctly suggests, while appearing to praise Melanchthon most highly, Luther shrewdly reserves for himself the most important element in traditional rhetorical theory, as it is expressed, for example, in Cato the Elder’s gnomic utterance: “rem tene, verba sequentur” [hold on to the substance of your speech and the words will follow]. (The above is extracted in large part from my review of Stolt’s book inJournal of English and German Philology 101 [2002] pp. 105–107.)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Will Durant,The Reformation: A History of European Civilization from Wyclif to Calvin: 1300–1564 = The Story of Civilization, Part VI (New York, 1957), p. 325. On Erasmus’ views of Luther and his relationship to the humanist movement, see Erika Rummel’s article “Humanism and the Reformation: Was the Conflict Between Erasmus and Luther Paradigmatic?” inNorthrn Humanism in European Context, 1469–1625, ed. F. Akkerman, A.J. Vanderjagt, and A.H. van der Laan, Bill’s Studies in Intellectual History 94 (Leiden, 1999), pp. 186 ff.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    P.S. Allen,Opus epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterodami, vol. 7 (Oxford, 1928),epp. 1977, p. 366 and 1973, p. 360. See also Rummel, prev. note, p. 195, whose translation of the second passage I have used here.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Typically, these poems are considered by most Luther scholars who are even familiar with them as of only marginal interest. See, e.g., the comments of Johannes Schilling, “Latinistische Hilfsmittel zum Lutherstudium,”Lutherjahrbuch 55 (1988), p. 87: “Nur am Rande sei erwähnt, dass es auch lateinische Dichtungen von Luther gibt. Sie sind nach Umfang und Bedeutung bescheiden.”Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    For background, see Adolf Herte,Die Lutherkommentare des Johannes Cochlaeus (Münster, 1935) and Remigius Bäumer, OSB,Johannes Cochlaeus (1479–1552):Leben und, Werk im Dienst der katholischen Reform = Katholisches Leben und Kirchenreform im Zeitalter der Glaubensspaltung 40 (Münster, 1980), especially pp. 22–26. Joachim Camerarius’Poematia duo bucolica of 1540 contains a bitter invective against Cochlaeus. See Lothar Mundt, “Die sizilischen Musen in Wittenberg.—Zur religiösen Funktionalisierung, der neulateinischen Bukolik im deutschen Protestantismus des 16. Jahrhunderts,” in Ludwig (ed.),op. cit. above, n. 5), (Princeton 1999), p. 273.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Auf dem Reichstage zu Worms hatte Cochläus die Verhandlungen Luthers mit dem Erzbischof von Trier durch häufiges Dreinreden stümisch und unfruchtbar gemacht, der Absicht, Nachmittags die Unterredung fortzusetzen, widerstanden, dafür aber Abends Luther in der Herberge aufgesucht und ihm zugemuthet, das freie Geleit aufzukündigen, und mit ihm eine öffentliche Disputation zu veranstalten...” (WA 11, p. 292 [Weimar, 1900]).Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Martin Brecht,Luther als Schrifsteller: Zeugnisse seines dichterischen Gestaltens (Stuttgart, 1990), pp. 53–4.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    The text of Vergil’sAeneid 1.1–7 follows, for the purposes of comparison:Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris Italiam, fato profugus, Laviniaque venit Litora, multa ille et terris iactatus et alto Vi superum, saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram,Multa quoque et bello passus dum conderet urbem, Inferretque deos Latio, genus unde Latinum, Albanique patres, atque altae moenia Romae. [Arms and the man I sing, the first who came,/ Compelled by fate, an exile out of Troy,/ To Italy and the Lavinian coast,/ Much buffeted on land and on the deep/ By violence of the gods, through that long rage,/ That lasting hate of Juno’s. And he suffered/ Much, also, in war, till he should build his town/ And bring his gods to Latium, whence, in time,/ The Latin race, the Alban fathers, rose/ And the great walls of everlasting Rome.] The translation is that of Rolfe Humphries,The Aeneid of Virgil (New York and London, 1987). The text of Luther’s poem can be found inWA 11, 295 (Weimar, 1900). The text of Cochlaeus’ response below is that provided by Frings,op. cit. (above, n. 13),Martinus Lutherus-Poeta Latinus=Orientierung: Schriftenreihe zur Lehrerfortbildung 10 (Aachen, 1983), p. 18.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    The expression “armed man” in the title may have been influenced by the popular song known asl’homme armé probably referring to a crusade against the Turks. Josquin Des Prés wrote several masses using the melody. We know that Luther valued Josquin’s music and often sang his compositions around the table. See Paul Nettle,Luther and Music (Philadelphia, 1948), pp. 1–104. For another example of the appropriation of Virgil’s “arma” in Reformation poetry, consider the following distich written by Adam Siber, a student of Melanchthon (as printed in Georg Fabricius’ famous anthology of Christian poetry published in Basel in 1562):Abiice non numeros magni nec verba Maronis, sed res, proque armis sacra Deumque cane! [Do not reject the measures or words of great Maro, only his content, and sing of sacred deeds and God instead of arms.] For the reference, see Ludwig (ed.)op. cit. (above, n. 5),Die Musen im Reformationszeitalter=Schriften der Stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt 1 (Leipzig, 2001), p. 38, n. 109.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    On “spinnen” and its etymology, seeGrimms Wörterbuch, 10, 1, 2515–2530. It is possible that the reference to spinning may also allude to the thread that plays a role in the mythical account of Cocalus, the king who hid Daedalus after he escaped from Crete and was tricked by Minos into revealing the clever artisan’s whereabouts. Minos asked Cocalus whether there was anyone who could manage to put a thread through a convoluted shell. Cocalus consulted in private with Daedalus who smeared both ends of the shell with honey and then tied a thread to the leg of an ant who entered the shell at one end and then, attracted by the smell of honey at the other end, made its way through the labyrinthine passageways of the shell to come out the other end.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Frings,op. cit. (above, n. 13),Martinus Lutherus-Poeta Latinus=Orienterung: Schriftenreihe zur Lehrerfortbildung 10 (Aachen, 1983), p. 21, note 9.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Brecht,op. cit. (above, n. 27),Luther als Schrifsteller: Zeugnisse seines dichterischen Gestaltens (Stuttgart, 1990), pp. 53–4, suggests that Luther’s reference to the harm that Cochlaeus might bring, to studies at Wittenberg is designed to appeal to his humanist readers: “Einem humanistischen Publikum, dem die klassische Vorlage natürlich bekannt war, wird der ehemalige Hamanist Cochläus nicht nur als krank vor Hass und damit unzurechnungsfähig präsentiert, sondern als Feind der Wissenschaft und ihres Hortes Wittenberg, der damit den bisherigen Irrtümern und dem umstrittenen Papst wieder Vorschub leiste. Das Gedicht enthält somit eine gezielte Botschaft des Reformators an die Hamanisten.”Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    For Cochlaeus’ own (relatively immodest) self-assessment of his poetic abilities, see Frings,op. cit. (above, n. 13),Martinus Lutherus-Poeta Latinus=Orientierung: Schriftenreihe zur Lehrerfortbildung 10 (Aachen, 1983), p. 21, note 8: “Ecce Nesene, non solus Minotaurus versifex est, sed et ego puer olim versus cudere didici, tanto nimirum sanctius, quanto praeceptoribus meis meliorem, quam ille, gratiam refero”. [Behold, Nesenus, the Minotaur is not the only poet, but I, too once learned to hammer out verses, as much more blamelessly as I offer my teachers better thanks than he does his.]Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    The hooded minotaur is probably a reference to the “Freiberger Mönchskalb”, a calf with a genetic abnormality that made it appear as though it was wearing a monk’s cape (see Frings,op. cit. [above, n. 13],Martinus Lutherus-Poeta Latinus=Orientierung: Schriftenreihe zur Lehrerfortbildung 10 (Aachen, 1983), p. 22, n. 19).Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Cochlaeus’ description of Wittenberg and its inhabitants in a letter addressed to his friend Dieteberg (1524) is well known. Heinrich Böhmer,Der junge Luther (Leipzig, 1939; 3rd ed.), p. 49, quotes from the letter and analyzes it as follows: “‘Du sähest ohne Zweifel nichts anderes da, denn lutherische, das ist kotige Häuser, unreine Gassen, alle Wege, Stege und Strassen voll Kots, ein barbarisch Volk, das nur Bierhandel treibt, und dreihellerische Kaufmannschaft. Ihr Markt ist ohne Volk, ihre Stadt ohne Bürger kleinbürgerliche Kleidung, grosser Mangel und Armut bei allen Einwohnern’—so äussert sich 1524 der leidenschaftliche Lutherfeind Cochlaues, der das ‘stinkende Loch, die barbarische Unwertstadt, das ketzerische neue Rom’ am liebsten ebenso, radikal vom Erdboden vertilgt hätte wie den ‘ehrlosen, gottesschänderischen, ketzerischen Buben’ Luther”.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    WATR 4, p. 595 (Weimar, 1916). Luther is probably referring here to the famous “Ciceronian” debate between those who were strict imitators of Cicero and those who preferred a more relaxed approach to Latin eloquence, best represented by Erasmus’Dialogus Ciceronianus (1528). On an earlier phase of the controversy see Peter Mack,Renaissance Argument: Valla and Agricola in the Traditions of Rhetoric and Dialectic=Brill Studies in Intellectual History 43 (Leiden, 1993) and the entry by M. van der Poel inEncyclopedia of the Renaissance 1 (1999), pp. 18–20.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    WA 35, p. 596 (Weimar, 1923).Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    See Karl Hartfelder,Melanchthon als Praeceptor Germaniae=Monumenta Germaniae Paedagogica 7 (Berlin, 1889), p. 316, n. 5.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Lewis W. Spitz, in his article “Luther’s View of History: A Theological Use of the Past” (1989), reprinted as Ch. VI in Spitz,The Reformation: Education and History, Variorum Collected Series CS555 (Aldershot and Brookfield, 1997), p. 140, follows Melanchthon in making this very point. “Four months after Luther’s death Melanchthon wrote in his Vita that Luther read many ancient Latin authors, Cicero, Virgil, Livy, and others. He read them, said Melanchthon, not as youth who make excerpts, but for teaching and images of human life, and with his firm and true memory he retained them and kept them before his eyes. He seems to imply that Luther did his basic reading of the classics in school and as an arts student.” Spitz points out that Aristotle, Cicero, and Virgil are the most frequently cited classical authors in Luther’s writings. He counts 61 references to Aristotle in theTischreden, 59 to Cicero, and 50 to Virgil.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    For a recent study of the reforms that took place in German universities between 1520 and 1560 and Melanchthon’s role in the same, see Matthias Asche, “Frequenziebrüche und Reformen—Die deutschen Universitäten in den 1520er bis 1560er Jahren zwischen Reformation und humanistischem Neuanfang” in Ludwig (ed.),op. cit. (above, n. 5),Die Musen im Reformationszeitalter=Schriften der stiftung Luthergedenkstätten in Sachsen-Anhalt 1 (Leipzig, 2001), pp. 53–96, esp. pp. 72–9. It is certainly clear from the speeches written by Philip Melanchthon to be delivered by himself or other faculty at the University of Wittenberg that the curriculum at the school at which Luther taught had a deep and serious humanistic foundation. For a collection of these texts, now usefully translated for the English reader, see Philip Melanchton,Orations on Philosophy and Education, ed. Sachiko Kusuwaka; transl. Christine F. Salazar (Cambridge, 1999). (See my review of the volume inSeventeenth Century News 58 [2000], 307–9). Most of the volume’s pages are devoted to the arts course at the University, which includes Melanchthon’s orations on the traditional subjects of the “trivium” and “quadrivium,” prefaces to editions of such classical authors as Homer and Cicero, as well as his discussion and praise of the more advanced subjects of medicine, law, and theology. Virgil is not mentioned as often as some of the other ancient authors, but he comes in for special praise in his oration in praise of eloquence in which Melanchthon says: “Foelcissime cum Homero certavit ex Latinis Vergilius, planeque par, nisi fallor, utriusque laus, sive dictionem spectes, sive sententiarum gravitatem, debetur.” [Among the Romans, Virgil competed most successfully with Homer, and clearly, unless I am mistaken, equal praise is due to both, whether you look at the diction or at the weightiness of the sentences.] (Corpus Reformatorum 11, 58; Salazar’s transl., p. 69) A comparison of Melanchthon’s and Luther’s attitudes towards Virgil lies outside the scope of this study, but would likely be a fruitful line of inquiry. Glei,op. cit. “Sed pundenter et raro? Lateinische Dichtungen Melanchthons” in Ludwig (ed). p. 201, discovers in Melanchthon “eine geradezu ostentative Missachtung Vergils” and suggests that he shared Aristotle’s belief that writing epics after Homer was not really possible and may also have found it more difficult to allegorize the gods of theAeneid or to consider them “als blosse Fiktionen” than the deities of Homer.Google Scholar

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© Springer 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl P. E. Springer
    • 1
  1. 1.Office of the Dean, Peck HallSouthern Illinois University-EdwardsvilleEdwardsville

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