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Servant of the Renaissance

The Poetry and Prose of Nicolaus Olahus

Cristina Neagu

This book is the first full-length study of the poetry and prose of Nicolaus Olahus (1493-1568), a central figure of Northern humanism. He was also a much-admired diplomat and man of the church at the courts of Queen Mary of Hungary and King Ferdinand. Although Olahus’s life and work are relatively well documented, a significant part of his writings – including his poetry – has not been subject to any previous critical study. The texts Olahus composed suggest a special approach to language. He wrote as a rhetorician, not just in the sense that he composed in an elegant style, but also to persuade, delight, move and impel to action. This volume discusses a Transylvanian author whose biography, beliefs and work reveal important links with Erasmus and the humanism associated with the Collegium Trilingue in Louvain. It offers new insights into how Renaissance values were assimilated in Central Europe and combines an examination of the main features characterizing Olahus’s literary style with the presentation of an annotated text of his poetry. As a result, Olahus re-emerges as a major humanist and Counter-Reformation writer, alongside his better-known predecessor Janus Pannonius, and his renowned protégé Joannes Sambucus.
Contents: Humanism in 16th-century Hungary – Humanism in the 16th-century Low Countries – Nicolaus Olahus’s literary background – Rhetoric in the Renaissance – Literature as ars rhetorica – Olahus’s poetry: sources and generic repertoire – Olahus’s works in prose – The Carmina: description and history of the manuscripts and previous editions.