Helleno-Nordica

The Joint Faculties of Humanities and Theology | Lund University

The project and subprojects

Humanist Greek was used in many of the genres for which Neo-Latin was the first choice of language. However, despite its importance for the common cultural history of the Baltic Sea region, this Humanist Greek literature remains largely unnoticed today, unlike early modern Neo-Latin texts. By studying texts previously disregarded in modern research, Helleno-Nordica aims to promote a better understanding of the cultural and intellectual exchange in the Baltic Sea region in the early modern period and highlight the role played by the ancient Greek cultural heritage for consolidating this part of Europe.

By assembling a transnational and representative body of Humanist Greek source materials and other sources we will explore the sociocultural practices reflected in this text production and study the following questions: Why did learned men around the Baltic Sea write prose and verse in an archaizing variant of Greek? Prestige, ambition, and show of skills are obvious answers, but is there more to it? What were the motives and incentives for writing in Humanist Greek? Who were these scholars? Whom did they write for? What topics did they write about and which models did they follow? Where and why were their works published and read? What were the patterns of influence of the centres of Greek scholarship? Were there local differences across the region? How did the production of Humanist Greek text develop over time? How do even short fragments of Greek illustrate the dynamics of literary and rhetorical repertoire in a largely Latin context?

In four complementary individual projects we approach the common source material from different angles and with various specialized focal points. We intend to study the Humanist Greek text production in its social, educational, literary and ideological contexts.

The aim to understand the uses of the ancient Greek past and language underlying the textual production, including its impact on scholarly Neo-Latin literature. Eminent scholars and promoters of Greek learning, like Laurentius Norrmannus and Johannes Gezelius the Elder, will be the subject of study, but so will ordinary students, their studies, and the role of Greek in their aspirations towards a better social standing. Through its comprehensive approach Helleno-Nordica is able not only to monitor what happened in the major centres of learning, but it also takes into account the periphery, studying the (cross)influences of centres of humanist learning in these emerging new centres of culture.