Renæssanceforum 5 • 2008

Gottskálk Jensson
The Latin of the North. Arngrímur Jónsson's Crymogæa (1609) and the Discovery of Icelandic as a Classical Language

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Icelandic purism was first articulated in Crymogæa (Hamburg 1609), the earliest modern history of Iceland. The author, Arngrímur Jónsson, argues in Latin that Icelandic is the ancient tongue of Northern-Europe, only Icelanders use it unspoiled and thus it behooves them to preserve it. By redefining the vernacular, and advocating that its pristine state be maintained by reading MSS "full of ancient puritas and elegantia", he can be seen to transfer onto it principles from the humanist reform of Latin, locally represented e.g. by a textbook in Latin elegantia, associated with his headmastership of the cathedral school at Hólar.