Renæssanceforum 8 • 2012

Andrew Laird
Patriotism and the rise of Latin in eighteenth-century New Spain: Disputes of the New World and the Jesuit construction of a Mexican legacy

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During the 1700s, Jesuit authors from New Spain sought to promote the richness of Mexico's nature and culture, in response to Enlightenment polemics about the degeneracy of human and natural life in the Americas. This paper will explain why they wrote in Latin in order to do so – even though creole writers of the later 1600s had followed European practice in adopting the vernacular as a literary and intellectual medium. Consideration of some works produced by these Mexican authors between 1750 and 1780 (including Alegre's Latin translation of Homer's Iliad, Abad's Dissertatio ludicro-seria, López's Aprilis Dialogus, Eguiara y Eguren's Bibliotheca Mexicana) indicates the principal reason: the creole Jesuits sought to construct a legacy for Mexico to match the monumental representation of Iberia's august Greco-Roman past and of the Spanish Golden Age in the Bibliotheca Hispana nova and the Bibliotheca Hispana vetus which the Sevillian scholar Nicolás Antonio had compiled in Latin in the mid-1600s.