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Michał Czerenkiewicz
University of Warsaw

The aim of this paper is the analysis of the laudation dedicated to the archbishop Tadeusz Gocłowski, the former ordinary of the diocese of Gdańsk. The speech was delivered in Sopot on 4th October 2009 by Alexander Hall when rev. Tadeusz Gocłowski was awarded honorary citizenship of the city of Sopot. This kind of address is a continuation of the past panegyric laudatory production, mostly colligated with Baroque. The City Council of Sopot decided to confer this honorable title in recognition of bishop’s merits during the Autumn of Nations in 1989. However, in the speech the speakers are townsmen of Sopot, praising the man who helped them in the past. Rev. Gocłowski is depicted as a statesman of great merits and a strong proponent of human rights and conciliation.

In the speech Pro Marcello (VIII 26) Cicero considers the foundation of glory (gloria) the significant service for the family, nation and the whole human kind and the glory for a good opinion (fama) of a person which did those services. Spreading the stories of existing or creating somebody’s glory is one of the features of panegirysm. The glory, which remarks Arpinata, has real foundation in the prominent services to the other people or the common goods. In this context the laudatory text is a sign of gratitude, a thing most desirable if one assumes that the showed merita were moral as them.

The gratitude understood as such becomes some of an obligation, officium, which concretization is a paper of laudatory character. It connects with the memory (memoria) about the services which were done and together with the sometimes showed independently, hope for having them in the future. The ethic aspect of the memory is pointed out by Seneca the Philosopher, who

Sees in remembering the others’ acts of kindness a significant contribution in repaying them, what is an obligation of everybody who was given something, although the giver don’t see the need of repaying the debt (in a material sense) (Wesołowska 1998:25).

In case of the works of panegyric character often this very person who did the significant deeds and was high in the social hierarchy, was expressing (directly or indirectly) the need of laudating his own services with a work of literature. One can remind her of Marcus Wipsanius Agrippa who asked Horace for a poem laudating his actions on the war. The poet refused politely this answer in one of his Carmen (Carmina I 6).

The beginnings of panegirysm understood as the type of expression of laudatory character are connected with Isocrates, who in 380 BC has delivered a speech entitled Panegyrikos logos. With this term the classics described the speech of laudatory character(Nixon, Rodgers 1995: 1). Among the Grecian terms describing the works of literature which main feature was praise, there were also an epainos and enkomion, the terms used sometimes as counterparts, although subdued to the theoretical reflection and differed by this fact. The differencing elements were the length of the statement and care for ornamenting the laudation (Awianowicz 2004: 186). Aristotle in his Poetic connected creation of a laudation or a reprimand with the character of the author and in Rhetoric he emphasized the relation of the praise with existing or awaited valued features (Obremski 2003: 25-26).

In Rome the theoretical basis for understanding panegirysm as an example of genus demnostrativum was established by Quintilian. In ancient literature the work of laudation was a poem or a prose Braund 1998:53-58), different were also its names in the Roman world. To the most met we can categorize: panegyricus, laudatio, laus. Cicero has also used the term panegyricus, remarking the fourth speech of Isocrates (Garrison 1975: 8). However the model of Latin panegyrism is the laudatory speach prepared by Plinius the Younger for the Cesar Triaianus, the ancient panegyric did not have be written in prosa oratione as a traditionally understood speech. It could look like a sylvan poem or versed epic (to remember the works of Statius on Domitian’s and later poems by Claudianus).

In our times the term of panegyric is common Deception means a work of literature of laudatory character, written in servile manner and, as such, often depreciated. Different connotations have a laudation which is not connected with servilism at all. When defining a panegyric both Wilhelm Bruchnalski (Bruchnalski 1918: 198), and Hanna Dziechcińska (Dziechcińska 1990: 544) point out the fact that this form of expression includes many genres.

The special place has here the so-called occasional poems, like the written on the occasion of birth genethliaka, on the wedding epitalamia, congratulatory poems on the occasion of the doctor promotion, the praise of the bishop on the occasion of his Ingres or the sermons on the occasion of the burial. One should point out however that the panegyrism sis not have to be connected with a specific occasion of a family, social or professional (as we would say today) life, so putting the sign of equality between the works of panegyric character and the occasional poems is very risky. Dziechcińska writes about the constitutional role of “position of panegirysm” in the works described as panegyric.

Uniwersalny słownik języka polskiego (2006: 29) gives two meanings of the term: „overdone praising of somebody or something, having a character of flattery” or “set of features characteristic for panegirysm”. The main goal of panegirysm as a characteristic of chosen manifestation of culture is the valorization of specific person, group, idea, phenomenon sometimes together with its apology. And though many tries to renounce from panegirysm – what is really a topos used in this type of literature – there are only few of them who succeed in not having any contact with this type of literature. The peculiar, often declarative aversion to panegirysm seems to have its roots often in not proper understanding of the essence of the phenomenon, which is the panegirysm and in accentuating the aberration which can be the panegyric exaggeration in social life. The contemporary panegiryc works should be treats as the texts of culture of specific social function. One should also remember that panegirysm understood as a function of texts of different genres and a panegyric understood as a specifies genre itself can be an expression of the connection between the writer and the praised person and have nothing to for with negative features which were emphasized in the XVIII and XIX century by the critics of this type of literature..

In common reception it’s a tradition to connect panegirysm with the baroque epoch. Some describe this epoch as “panegyric”. Although this equation of the subject of research with only one of its features was already corrected by the history of literature, still in social receive it seems to be some negative correlation between the manifestation of panegirysm understood as far echo of „deranged” baroque and positive attitude to the author who used in his text this very function. The automatically connotation of baroque and panegirysm is not totally wrong, if, doing a big simplification, and endangering themselves with the risk of a serious error, for the main feature of this function one acknowledges the exaggeration, which by the Grecians was named pompe.

This very “pompousness” and connected with it the theatralisation of some of communicative situations is the example of baroque’isation of contemporary culture. The baroque panegirysm was often seen in visual arts, giving the literary culture import ant features of panegyric illustration and stemmata. On this account the baroque is close to this aspect of mass culture which put the pressure on the Visual form of media, postponing the longer forms of property built statements. In this context the focal point in nowadays panegirysm present in mass culture is moved from the verbal sphere to the direction of non-verbal, above all image depictions. In the panegirysm present in so-called elite culture there is still the majority of verbal statement which is strengthened with non-verbal measures of persuasion. Such an element can be also a place of delivering the laudation: the persuasion in exclusive spa can be stronger that the same words spoken in provincional tavern with the disco musk playing in the background.

As a peculiar feature of panegirysm one should consider the advertisement. It’s present in the media of social communication and as its main goal it sees, besides the information, the persuasion by the recommendation of the product, sometimes in the same time with depreciation of other products of similar character. This feature differs the advertisement form traditional panegirysm where the speaker concentrates his attention in discovering or creating the positive features of praised person, thing, phenomenon, idea. By omitting in this place the analysis of risk of dehumanizing the advertisement which can happen in case of an “advertised” human as a market product, one should direct his attention to used in the advertisement the indicators of panegirysm, like amplification and hyperbole (Kudlińska 2006). Not like the ancient theory of laudatory work, the advert does not accentuate ethical features of the promoted object, what was postulated by Aristotle. It doesn’t mean that every work of laudatory character had at their basis real moral values of praised people. The goal of an advert is showing the positive merits of the “product” which very often are not based anywhere in the ethical zone.

Next to the presence of panegirysm in visual arts there are also older literary genders, where panegirysm is a dominating function: laudation on the occasion of granting honoris causa PhD or the other academic occasion or the laudatory sermon devoted to the person who passed away (today officially not approved by the Church). The panegyric function can be also present in texts of informative character, like a foreword to a publication, invitation to a wedding or a press obituary. The manifest of panegirysm is also extended polite phrases and titles of monarchs and clergy of different religions. The special premise for continuing the traditions of old genres in social sphere became the official celebrations, including the ceremony of granting the freedom of a city.

4 of October 2009 the honorary citizenship was received by retired archbishop of Gdańsk, Tadeusz Gocłowski. During the ceremony, which was held in Dom Zdrojowy in Sopot the laudatio was delivered by Aleksander Hall. The honored bishop is one of the most known Catholic hierarchs in Poland. After 1989 the archbishop for a several times emphasized the necessity of the clergy not to engage in the political quarrels in any of the sides, at the same time he commented on many important social cases.

Especially as a man of conciliation, the spokesman of the understanding and reconciliation he was presented in the laudation delivered on the ceremonial session of the Council of the city of Sopot. According to the classical theory and practice of creating the laudatory works the speaker could choose the aretal, mixed or chronological order in presenting the motivation which decided on the granting the honorary citizenship of Sopot. In the speech delivered by Aleksander Hall we have the chronological order and the hierarch was showed mostly by his actions. The praise of the archbishop was concentrated around the newest history of Poland and the priesthood actions of the hierarch was showed, above all, as deeds for the anti-communist opposition. This feature of the laudation for the archbishop differs it from the traditional paper praising a person of the clergy, whom his moral merits and Christian values are mentioned. In Latin laudation from 1617 for Marcin Szyszkowski, the bishop of Cracow, Szymon Starowolski, beside his social engagement have mentioned his non-duplicitous piety (pietatem sine fuco), exceptional modesty, prudence and justice – just to list a few of the merits contributed to the praised hierarch (Starowolski 1617). Fabian Birkowski in burial sermon of Piotr Skarga called the preacher a „fire”, making an allusion to the name of the founder of the Jesuits and emphasizing the zealousness of the priest in fulfilling his obligations (Birkowski wyd. 1856).

Existing in the laudation for archbishop Gocłowski common subject, described as “the inhabitants of Sopot” – can be heard in first words of the speech: “We, the inhabitants of Sopot, […]”(.Interpunction preserved as in the text of laudation quoted on the webpage of the Council of City of Sopot.). The choice of such a strategy makes the credibility of the praises more probable and at the same time they are neutralizing the possible suspect on political connotation which could start to exist in case of emphasizing the role of Council of the City of Sopot in granting the title of the honorary citizen. This collegial body is not mentioned in the laudation at all and thanks to that the initiative of granting the citizenship starts to have the features of spontaneous initiative of the inhabitants of the town. The solemn style of the first sentence recalls the beginning of the constitution of the United States with the famous expression – quoted again by the later Polish president in American Congress in 1989 – “We, the People”. In this context the laudation speaking inhabitants of Sopot are almost the “fathers-founders” of Polish independence. In this way the hierarch is shown also, whose actions are described as agreeable with “the best traditions of Polish church”, as “in the best traditions of our Church the service for God and the Country is the same”. In this sentence the author points out the next factor of the identity of the common subject. To the national and regional identification now the denomination is added, which similar to the former indicators is a common feature of the speaking in laudation inhabitants of the town and the priest. According to the statements of the speaker „Bishop Tadeusz Gocłowski is one of the Architects of the regained in 1980 independence”.

After a general display of the influence of “the inhabitants of Pomerania, especially Trójmiasto” and the praised hierarch in rebirthing of Solidarność the speaker moves to the presentation of the life of the archbishop. In this place the narratio starts. The inversion used in the statement closing the sentence „He was born in 1931 in Piski on Mazowsze in a patriotic family” he amplifies the background of the priest. The classical topos of the noble kin is realized also by the remarks of upbringing in a family home, which together with personal experienced of the childhood and the adolescent observation in the future archbishop have “waken up […] the belief that Poland is a subdued country, and the communism – a wrong ideology.

The emphasis on the young age, when the honorary citizen of Sopot was sure of the wrongs of communistic ideology is also a praising. According to the common knowledge the age of adolescence is not prone to rational analysis of a situation but the future priest could do it and made the good choice. Tadeusz Gocłowski as a young priest had “a fundamental moral attitude in contacts with the representatives of power” which was repercussed hen he was trying to get a passport. As a place of education the speaker told the middle school of the missionaries in Cracow, circle, where he inscribed later, Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski and the Roman Angelicum.

The panegiryst did not emphasize the special education of the honorary citizen, stopping at the information on having a PhD on canonic law at the University of St. Thomas. This “prodigality” in the praise was a good strategy. It saved the speaker from the potential accusation of the flattery in place of a laudation and the fragment didn’t seem to be grandiloquent. The place of emotional arguments was taken by reference to facts. On their foundation the listener can by himself deduce the results on not only moral predisposition of the bishop, but also his strictly scientific competences. After showing the way of the later archbishop as triple dean of the seminar and gaining a position of a metropolite, there is a statement: “The proper man found himself in a proper place”. His patriotism is pointed out by a sentence “He was a man deeply concernened with our Motherland”, describing also his attitude from the ’50 of the XX century.

The next stage of his life was his government in Gdańsk archdiocese. In this part of the narratio for the next time there is an emphasis on the connection of the honorary citizen with the inhabitants of inhabitants of Sopot, speaking in the laudation, equated with the believers of Church. The main service of the priest was the supporting of the democratic opposition: „ […] he led our Church to a way of testimony the truth”. The paraphrase of the Evangelical quotation (see J 18,37: „to testimony the truth”) should emphasize the fulfillment of his priest vocation. The speaker points out also that his activity was not limited to the believers. His active help for the opposition was described as a metaphor of the door of bishop residence which remained opened. His opinion, that the relegalisation of Solidarność is a necessary step of the normalization of the situation in Poland was showed as far-sighted when compared to the attitudes of other bishops.

The breaking point in the rebirth of free trading unions the speaker connects with the visit of the Holy Father in 1987 in Poland, and especially in Trójmiasto. Looking at it from logical point of view, in this part of the speech he used a big quantifier: “Every man who was at the Mass […]” The generalization was connected with anaphora in the beginning of individual phrases: … “will not forget these moments […]”, „ Will not forget the Pope’s words […]”. The emphasis of the role of the Gdańsk bishop in organization of this visit should strengthen the rhetorical argumentation. The association of the priest with the person of Jan Paweł II who was saying about “the meaning of Solidarność” is an argument of authority, which should confirm the rightness of actions of the hierarch in the ’80 of XX century.

The visit of Holy Father was shown as a breaking point for the development of events near the Baltic Sea. The description of the event – the Pope’s pilgrimage – was correlated on the elocutional level with the use of ecphrasis of the events of 10 May 1988. Before the eyes of the listener the speaker paints the group of shipyard workers who “with opposite feelings” were going after the strike ended as a fiasco to the church of St. Bridget. The visual associations are strengthened with the reference to the sense of sound thanks to the bells which were ringing when the people approached the building. The initial ambivalent feelings were changing into the belief that „they did not lose”.

In the church the priest gave a sermon where he “approved of their attitudes and emphasized the rightness of the cause”. These are the words of the hierarch which, as one can deduce from the description of the event, made the shipyard workers leaving the church real heroes. He speaker omitted the participation of father Henryk Jankowski, what is understandable because of the later visible difference in opinions between two priests.

For the artistic and dynamizing the narration also belongs the following sentence: „The name of Solidarność was still growing”. And then the speaker emphasizes the special role of the bishop of Gdańsk in the deliberations of the Round Table. By avoiding future accusation, he adds „ One can argue on the subject of specific evaluation of the Round Table” and emphasized that thanks to the agreement signed there the Solidarność was legalized again and the voting session in June 1989 could be organized. Right after the fall of the people the meaning of the Bishop was not less, because among the old oppositionists “he was an undoubted authority”. Towards the growing tensions in the post –Solidarity camp the Bishop stated to work as a mediator. Such a task was also taken by him in 2005. The failure of the negotiation was described by the speaker as a result of not listening to the archbishop advice. He regrets that the negotiations were broken. Describing the premises given by the hierarch as „wise” he points out the false (in his evaluation) way of behaving of the sides leading the conversation. One of the rhetorical tasks of the speaker, movere, is realized in this spot by the use of “alas” and additionally strengthened by the contrasted statements: “In the free Poland” – “in these hard times”.

The next fragment of the laudation is of informative character. The speaker reminds about the granting to Tadeusz Gocłowski with the position of archbishop and lists his liturgical services fulfilled in the Church. The archbishop is presented here as a man of fundamental moral rules and far from giving rash judges. He is compared with the negative hero, the ex-metropolite of Warsaw, Stanisław Wielgus who didn’t participate in the Ingres of newly nominated ordinary of the archdiocese. The diversion to two faces of Polish Catholicism is shown also in the praise of critical attitude of the bishop to the political broadcasts of Radio Maryja. As a corroboration of this argument the speaker points out a fact that the archbishop Gocłowski is a member of a little group of “the leading representatives of the Polish Episcopate” which cuts off from the political broadcasts of this little station in Toruń. One should mention however that if the negative attitude of archbishop Gocłowski to the issue of gaining the Warsaw’s archdiocese by archbishop Wielgus and not partaking in the Ingres of this priest was met with positive affirmation in some of Church circles, within the believers and the common priests and alumni the argument referred by the speaker of distancing the archbishop from the political broadcasts of Toruń’s station in the same clergy environments could be understood as an anti-strephone (Szymański: 2002).

The speaker did not made a mistake, however, when he was using this argument, because his speech was directed to the honored archbishop and to the City Hall, and the people were representing similar opinions as the honorary citizen. The emphasis of the rather rare attitude of the retired metropolite against the background of the episcopate is a parallel to the abovementioned phenomenon from the ’80 of the XX century, when “not all of the bishops” believed in the rebirth of the Solidarność.

The authority of the archbishop Gocłowski is strengthened by the speaker with the remarks of his engagement in organizing the Mass celebrated by the Holy Father in 1999, in Sopot. In the laudation for the next time the honorary citizen is listed with the biggest contemporary moral authority of Christendom.

The next reminder of the Pope’s visits near the Baltic Sea is the peroration of the laudation, which ends with the following words:

The honorary citizenship of Sopot could not be granted to a more honorable person: a great Polish man, man of our region and of Solidarność, the chaplain and the citizen of Poland: his Excellence the archbishop of Gdańsk Tadeusz Gocłowski.

The whole sentence is opened with help of argumentum ad vanitatem, important in panegiryc work.. On the syntax level we deal with parallel antonomasia, which are explained in the last phrase of the sentence. In the set of rows connected without conjunctions being the description of the priest there is inscribed the ad minore ad maius gradation of nominal attributes in the range of nominal groups: Pomerania-Solidarność-Poland.

The analysis of the style of the laudation for the archbishop Gocłowski, one should mention that it is the middle style, lacking the gushiness typical for many old panegyrics. In the speech one can differ some elements of the high style – for example in the end and low – in the fragments where the primary function is the informative one. In the circumstances, when the speech is delivered, the moderate use of rhetorical figures and tropes makes the laudation more credible. It is also more fitted to the character of the common subject – the inhabitants of Sopot. In the analyzed speech there is no sign of topos of affected modesty, characteristic for old laudatory works (Curtius 2009: 90-92; Dąbrowski 1965: 105-106). In the contrary, the common subject is aware of his role in the newest history of Poland. The fragmentary of non-existent self-depreciation of the panegyrist writer is one of its more characteristic features. The comparisons to outstanding people from the past or the mythology are also practically non-existent.

The hyperbole existing in every laudatory work is not so frequent in the laudation for Tadeusz Gocłowski in comparison to older panegirycs. The more frequent use of exaggeration results in the ornamentary zone with language more close to the natural one. The construction of the subject as a community and showing the engagement of the bishop in the burdens of the country closes the laudation to classical panegirycs delivered in the name of the inhabitants for the cesarean visit, adventus. The writer representing the inhabitants of a given region displayed the actual problems of the region to the Cesar. To this genre one can inscribe the anonymous laudatory speech for Constantine from the collection of

Panegyrici Latini, delivered by the rhetorician from Autun in 311 AD (Nixon, Rodgers 1995: 255-256). Its author in the beginning of his speech was presenting himself as a representative of the common gratitude for the Cesar. The motive of common consensus (consensus omnium) was often used in laudations delivered for the Cesar of his aid of high rank (Aune 2006: 114-115).

In the creation of the laudation for the archbishop Gocłowski one can observe a specific form of macerate. Its existence was the breaking point for the existence of panegirysm in the old Polish culture (Bieńkowski 1980: 185), it was also an impulse to dealing with this genre in other times. Although saying about the laudatory speech for the archbishop – the honorary citizen of Sopot, its communicative situation of its creation and delivery, one cannot say about the moving of models of literary mecenate to contemporary times, but we can say about a characteristic patronage. How one can deduce from the content of the laudation, the common subject was helped many times by the praised hierarch and nowadays it also has his moral support.

In this light the gratitude resulting from the kindness given in the past and the services of the priest, read by the authors of the laudation (merita i beneficia are sometimes synonyms in Latin) can be read as the main reason of granting the archbishop the honorable tile and writing the analyzed laudation.



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FAR 2011 No. 2 (25) April-June

Rhetoric and cultural transformations


Uniwersytet Warszawski
Katedra Italianistyki
ul. Oboźna 8
00-332 Warszawa