Neo-Latin Literature in Sweden
in the Period 1620-1720
Stylistics, Vocabulary & Characteristic Ideas

By Hans Helander
December 2004
Uppsala University Press
ISBN: 915546114X
628 pages, 6 " x 9 "
$87.50 Paper Original


Sweden played a role as an important power in Northern Europe from the reign of Gustavus Adolphus to the death of Charles XII, i.e. for almost exactly one century. This period coincides with the heyday of Swedish Latin culture. Latin reigned in all areas, in occasional poetry and orations, in historiography and propaganda and in all the sciences; and the ancient world afforded a frame of reference and served as a mirror for the epoch.

The present study tried to give a picture of Latin usage in Sweden during this period (the limits of which are here for practical purposes set to 1620 and 1720). The material is throughout discussed in a broad perspective, by means of constant comparisons with Latin authors from other countries. The focus is on expressions of the ethos of the period and the peculiarities of the vocabulary and also on the deliberate use (and misuse) of ancient history, typology and myths, by which the authors constantly sought to illustrate the antagonisms, vicissitudes and drama of their own time.

The analysis demonstrates how Neo-Latin texts were generated by the needs and demands of the society in which they were written, and how they mirror and express the basic convictions of their various times. Up to the 18th century leaned men in Western Europe preferred Latin to their own mother tongue as a means for international communication. Latin thus became the vehicle of the leading ideas, the debates and the rapidly growing knowledge in all fields that transformed Early Modern Europe. It is consequently often in the Latin literature of the period that we find the really interesting and revealing testimonies about the views and mentality of the age.

Language Studies
Studia Latina Upsaliensia, No. 29

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