Renæssanceforum 10 • 2016

Elena Dahlberg
National, religious and cultural identity in Latin poetry from the Great Northern War (1700-1721)

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This paper analyses the construction of national, religious and cultural identity in Latin poetry from the time of the Great Northern War (1700-1721). Neo-Latin poets from the remote regions of Scandinavia and Peter the Great's Russia considered poetry a powerful propaganda medium and composed verses in Latin to construct a number of identities. The two authors chosen for this analysis, Magnus Rönnow (1665?-1735), a Swedish poet, and Feofan Prokopovich (1681-1736), a Ukrainian poet in the service of the Russian court, imitated ancient poetry in a most creative way to serve both their own needs as individual writers and the ideologies of the fledgling nation-states of Sweden and Russia respectively. Four case studies will demonstrate how Latin verses promulgated nationalist propaganda, and how their authors at the same time manifested their own humanist training and claimed a place in the prestigious respublica litterarum. These texts also reveal the authors' transparent awareness that their decision to write in Latin was one of the best ways to demonstrate that their country was truly European, and thus belonging to the civilised world. Lastly, the paper discusses the apparent literary interaction between these poets.