Meaningful Memories: A cultural memory perspective on humanist interaction with the past

Nordic Journal of Renaissance Studies 17 • 2020

Marianne Pade
Canon and Archive in Humanist Latin

Early Modern Latin, the variant of Latin in use between c. 1350 and 1700, has often been dismissed as a mechanical copy of its model, the Latin of ancient Rome. However, Early Modern Latin writers did not embrace the Latin of all periods of antiquity equally, even though many of them were familiar with other kinds of Latin than the ones they themselves favoured. I shall argue that, given the knowledge we see in many influential writers of this period of the diachronic variations of Latin, the relationship between the Latin actually used by individual writers and communities and the strata of Latin available to them may fruitfully be described in the terminology of A. Assmann as the relationship between linguistic canon and archive. I shall show this with examples from fifteenth-century Latin texts written in Italy. My point of departure will be Niccol˛ Perotti's work on the Latin language, the Cornu copiae (1470s).
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Johann Ramminger
Language and Cultural Memory in the Antiquitates of Annius of Viterbo

The Antiquitates of Annius of Viterbo (Rome, 1498) presents a counter-narrative to the dominant cultural discourse of contemporary humanism. Embedded in Annius's text is a linguistic system which emphasizes the connections between what he considers the earliest languages on Earth, such as Scythian, Egyptian, Hebrew/Aramaic, and Etruscan. From these, he formulates rules of language change which allow him to recognize the Etruscan substrate in historical and present-day toponyms and ethnonyms. Finally, basing himself on the (Biblical) name of the earliest city after the Flood, called "City four", Annius elaborates a theory of urban development based on a new terminology expressing the hierarchy of settlements in the early world and in Etruria.
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Maren Rohde PihlkjŠr
Changing Cultural Memory Through Translation: A new understanding of democracy

In 1452, Lorenzo Valla finished the first ever Latin translation of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, in which he introduced Thucydides' version of the political phenomenon of democracy to fifteenth-century readers. This article examines and discusses how Valla, by changing the sense of belonging on which the Greek original builds to one of othering, in his translation offered his audience a new understanding of democracy: one that differed both from the cultural memory of Thucydides' fourth-century BC audience and from that of Valla's own fifteenth-century AD readers.
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Anders Kirk Borggaard
Nouus Æneas Lutheranus: Canonical archives and the creation of meaning in Johannes Sascerides' Epicedium in obitum Christiani Tertij (1559)

Using an adapted version of Aleida Assmann's theory of cultural memory, this article explores how the humanist practice of imitating canonical literature contributes to the creation of meaning in Johannes Sascerides' Epicedium in obitum serenissimi et potentissimi Daniæ etc. Regis Christiani Tertij. It is argued that Sascerides uses a combination of Virgil's Aeneid and Biblical allusions to fashion a meaningful memory of King Christian III of Denmark-Norway in which the king is presented as a new Aeneas, his position resting on personal agency and Lutheran piety rather than the divine mandate that normally characterizes Virgil's canonical hero.
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Trine Arlund Hass
Remembering Caesar: Mnemonic Aspects of Intertextuality in Erasmus Lætus' portrayal of Julius Caesar in Romanorum Cæsares Italici

This study examines the biography of Julius Caesar presented by the Danish theologian and poet, Erasmus Michaëlis Lætus, in his biography of 1574 of thirty-six Roman emperors, written in elegiac couplets. In a prefatory text, Lætus writes of his intended readers that he expects sophisticated readers to have their memory of the work's classical sources refreshed, while younger, less experienced readers will have their curiosity piqued and their appetite for getting to know them stimulated. Thus Lætus himself embeds the reading process in a memory framework, which this study aims to explore, employing the cultural memory aspects of intertextuality presented by Renate Lachmann (2004; 2008). The article first explores and quantitatively compares the themes emphasized in Lætus' and Suetonius' respective biographies of Julius Caesar. Next, Lætus' use and management of the seemingly most frequently used hypotext, Lucan's De bello civile, in a significant passage of the biography is examined.
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Matthew Norris
In Search of the Three Crowns: Conserving, Restoring, and Reproducing Cultural Memory in Early Modern Sweden

Among the disputes concerning political, historical, and cultural priority that beleaguered Swedish-Danish relations during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the quarrel over the provenance of the heraldic emblem of the Three Crowns played a central role. In Sweden the dispute led directly to the formation of an expansive, state-managed heritage industry that remains largely intact today. This article discusses Swedish efforts to establish the antiquity and domestic origin of the emblem through the lens of early modern theories of memory and shows how these efforts were bound together with developing strategies for the conservation, restoration, and reproduction of historical monuments.
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