The Latin Manuscripts and Old Prints connected with Silesia nowadays preserved in the Archive of Jasna Góra Monastery
 /  Bez kategorii / The Latin Manuscripts and Old Prints connected with Silesia nowadays preserved in the Archive of Jasna Góra Monastery

The Latin Manuscripts and Old Prints connected with Silesia nowadays preserved in the Archive of Jasna Góra Monastery

Bez kategorii

The Latin Manuscripts and Old Prints connected with Silesia nowadays preserved in the Archive of Jasna Góra Monastery

Beata Gaj
University of Opole

Among Former Silesia’s Latin texts, rhetorical writings, both manuscripts and old prints, deserve special attention. In the Bright Mountain’s archive (The Archive of Jasna Góra Monastery), such a special place for Poles, we can find interesting collections which are often combined old prints and manuscripts. In this article a couple of them, associated with Silesia through author or recipient, was analyzed: they are mainly addressed to Silesian pilgrims arriving to Bright Mountain – place of worship. Collection with I-33 and BC nr 97 signature, signature II-71 as well as Silesian’s – Walenty of Warta Promptuaria is remarkable. Homilies are distinguished by missionary-apologetic character, which is usually accompanied by vivid prospects. Thought for visually and text availability for recipient thanks to the pictures reflect in images and schemes, appealing moreover to rhetorical questions. We should also draw attention to strict relation or interplay between manuscript and printed parts. The last ones mark shape of the creation, meanwhile manuscript parts fill them in.

Analyzing the relations between the manuscripts and the old prints dated on the 16th and 17th century, everyone can deduce that both of them are based on strictly defined rhetorical rules and principles as well as both are concentrated on the oratorical usefulness. However, it would be more interesting to precisely evaluate their interconnections as well as to study the particular worth of them for the human culture. On the grounds of Silesian neo-Latin studies we can delineate and enunciate some conclusions. For the needs of this short essay, I am going to present a couple of unknown collections – combined old prints and manuscripts. There are collections with I-33 and BC nr 97 signatures, also with signature II-71. How was it then, that the relationships between the manuscripts and the old prints in the 16th and 17th centuries were understood as something evident and necessary? What was it that mattered to the Silesian people to such an extent that was considered worth preserving in the universal code of Latin literary activity?

In developing these issues I would like to share some observations from my experience in Classical Philology and Polish Studies, working on a regular basis on Silesian New Latin texts. A Silesian perspective is likely to bring slightly different conclusions to the ones, which are visible in the editions of Polish-Latin authors because the New Latin literature in Silesia had a specific character of

a pan-language or even pan-culture uniting different nations. Education in many Silesian schools in these centuries was based on universal rhetoric-literary culture to such a point that sometimes the national languages were not allowed to use to Latin’s benefit. According to many scholars, the Silesian people, as citizens of the most highly economically and socially developed district of Poland, had already from the Middle Ages a huge civilization, mind and spiritual opportunities for the maintenance of the leading position of their region in this part of Europe, which also had an influence on the literature created there in Latin. Numerous “school” writings prove that the current themes widely discussed in Europe were also well-known in Silesia like the theme of the problem of ciceronianism. Meanwhile, the neo-Latin publications with reference to Silesia are still hardly fragmentary, despite the recent, undoubtedly valuable research on Silesian education, poetry, drama, emblematic or rhetoric. The basic obstacle is the fact that the New Latin texts are unavailable apart from special collections of the libraries. There are no translations basic for the Silesian culture or even the Latin editions of Joachim Cureus, Martin Hanke or many others. In the collection of Old-Polish epithalamia by Katarzyna Mroczek, hardly few wedding poems created in Silesia were included, and there are dozens of them. Similarly, it is the case of hundreds and thousands of Silesian Latin theatralia (an effect of the activity of the so called school theatres in almost every Silesian city). Among this forgotten Silesian inheritance written in Latin there are old prints and manuscripts currently kept in probably the most important for Poles sanctuary’s archive: Jasna Góra’s in Częstochowa city.

In connection to the recently more and more frequently confirmed by scholars necessity of looking at the printed collections of works from a perspective of their relation with handwritten tradition, it is worth to reflect also on the means of presenting a new quality of New Latin literature to a modern reader, in which the oral, handwritten and printed traditions overlap. It seems interesting especially as a phenomenon, in which authentic orations are passed to rhetoric textbooks. The sermons were losing then their “natural voice”, but still could contain information, e.g. about the situation of creating or delivering the oration. Opposite situations were also quite common: using oratorical collections in order to write sermons in a particular situation. An instance of the latter with reference to Silesia can be the handwritten sermons originated in the Convent of Wieluń, nowadays preserved in the Archive of Jasna Góra Monastery, and especially the sermon De laudibus matrimonii, which is a praise of marriage. The editor of this text could not have end the preparation only on the traditional examinatio, recensio, and emendatio, as he needed to take into consideration the wider historical and religious context. The monastery of the Pauline Fathers, raised in 1383 beyond the town Wieluń limits, was funded by the Silesian prince Władysław Opolczyk, who was then the sovereign of the Wieluń territory. The surrounding areas of Wieluń were the frontier land between Silesia, Little Poland and Greater Poland, and during the period of reformation constituted the “bulwark of Catholicism”. There in 1416 a provincial synod of the clergy under the leadership of the archbishop Mikołaj Trąba took place, which was directed against the Hussites, and eight years later Jagiełło issued the Edict of Wieluń, which was supposed to stop the propagation of Jan Hus’s ideology. Thus, the place and context of the creation of the work is significant during the text translation, since the sermon promoting the indissolubility of woman and man’s bond (unum caro in duo dividi non potest) was a kind of a diatribe, or even polemics with the infidels’ beliefs. The discussed printing block of I-33 catalogue number from the Archive of Jasna Góra Monastery is first and foremost remarkable because of the use of printed oratorical patterns. That is, on the first pages it reveals the names of foreign preachers, whose works were an inspiration for preparation of the sermon-diatribe (these are, among other, Hannibal Roselli Calabri, Guillelmo Pepin,

Thomas Stapletonus Anglus, Guillelmo Oonselius, and John Osorius). The printing block contains also other manuscripts, or even prints devoted to ways of creating orations and delivering speeches (among others Ratio et Modus componendae orationis). The criterion of components selection of this handwritten-printed compendium constitutes the key to the texts evaluation and their preparation for publication. The manuscripts and prints, especially with reference to rhetoric theory and practice, are two different pictures, but only the presence of both allows perceiving the features of each of them – therefore it is about one picture.

Actually, they are manuscripts from 1674-1682 years, which appeal to the real image of the picture. It’s a collection of sermons given in Moravia and in Opawa on the occasion of consecutive Sundays and feasts. Directly after homily’s text In festo sancti Josephi there was put a picture-scheme created for St. Joseph’s patron saint, which surely was supposed to help the preacher in material selection and hierarchy of its coverage. Rhetorical questions of circumstances, showing us the truth, had a didactic destination for the future preachers but they also could have been a help for experienced speakers. Overall they were presenting full of sense, plain and regular space’s image for every reader, they were supposed to insure against popular in XVI age appearance of “splitting reality”.

Picture reproduced from the manuscript.

The other sermons in the collection, except for rhetorical features, have rather predominant apologetic – missionary character. Ascertainment that a lot of Christians mistrust God (plurimi Christiani non credunt Deo) became an Eastern sermon’s starting point. People should disown their opinions, what’s advised by St. Paul and trust the words concluded in the Bible. However, many rhetorical ways was also used here in order to convince the listeners about the truth placed in the sermon. One of them is a rhetorical approbation of pain, which is showed not only as a something inevitable but also as a necessary and indispensable thing for the Christians desiring reaching the heaven. Author (or only orator) of this sermon can be identified as the only one in this collection. It was a P. Kmitt, who delivered this homily in 1674.

In turn, the oldest manuscript „Silesian” sermons kept in Jasna Góra’s archives are connected with the person of Walenty from Warta – Silesian, who was the sixth prior of Jasna Góra and was in government for two terms, about what informs us the late annotation made on the manuscript by another preacher. They were given to the pilgrims arriving to Jasna Góra in 1589 year, among other things, from Silesia (the oldest organized pilgrim arrived there from Silesian Gliwice). Sermons titled Promptuaria pauperis concionatoris in laudem et gloriam omnipotentis Dei pro utilitate peregrinorum in Clarum Montem frater Valentinus Wartensis, were written in easy language with spare imagery and not really well-developed sentences. There’s definitely visible their oratorical destination to indirect enunciation. Effect of paraphrase overuse, that is to say elaborate metaphor, more frequent age later, doesn’t appear here. On the other hand, the preacher is using frequent repetitions, rhetorical questions, apostrophes and exclamation sentences, thanks to which the aggregate picks up the features of very emotional declamation. It looks, in any case, like a feature of many contemporary manuscript declamations, matching printed schemes of orations to the circumstances, which rich in sophisticated periphrasis, compose some kind of template, individual use pattern.

The prints and manuscripts in Latin, written in Old Silesia especially in the 16th and 17th century are more numerous than the prints in modern language or hellenica. However, they frequently have references to texts of different language, which became a dominating tendency in the 18th century. The rhetoric varietas in the Silesian New Latin texts seems to be especially accentuated: joining fragments of the same text in different languages, mixing genres (e.g. including fragments of a funeral oration in a speech about a new wedding), setting together prints and manuscripts, constant emphasizing the diversity, these are probably the most significant features of those texts. Also the solely Latin texts stay in a certain correlation in the Renaissance first and foremost with rhetorical theory and practice, and then with another things like missionary or apologetic tradition in the national languages. The manuscripts and the prints still create the same picture; though diverse and multicolored such as diverse and variegated is the Latin Silesia’s literature and trials of its present-day interpretation.


FAR 2011 No. 4 (27) October-December

Rhetoric between Middle Ages and Renaissance. A summary of previous issues


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