Renæssanceforum 11 • 2016

Trine Arlund Hass
Questioning Virgil: poetic ambition and religious reform in Erasmus Lætus and Baptista Mantuanus

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The main focus of this paper is the Neo-Latin work Bucolica (Wittenberg 1560) by the Danish humanist poet Erasmus Lætus, and in particular the introduction to his third eclogue. Laetus's Bucolica is permeated by a striving both after a loftier genre and for career advancement on behalf of the poet. However, at the beginning of the third eclogue the reader is presented with a metadiscursive passage in which a first-person narrator (Lætus?) hails and celebrates the validity of bucolic poetry and challenges the imperative to strive after nobler genres. Comparing Lætus's work with Baptista Mantuanus's Adolescentia (1498), which also renders an inversion of similar ambitions as a metadiscourse, the paper examines the questioning of poetic ambition in Lætus's work and attempts to reconcile it with the seemingly contradictory ambition for epic that is also expressed.