Reception of Classical Literary Genres in the 18th-century Latin Occasional Literature of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

  • Asta Vaškelienė Lietuvos istorijos institutas, Vilnius
Keywords: the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, genre, occasional literature (Latin), panegyrics, gratulation, epigram, ode, epithalamium, funerary writings


The circumstances that caused the development and functioning of Latin occasional literature in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were of dual character: the theoretical background for the rise and development of occasional literature was formed by the Jesuit humanistic teaching method based on the study and imitation of the literature of classical antiquity. Practical conditions for functioning of occasional literature were determined by its application: the literature of this type reflected political and public life of the country and the mentality of the educated elite. Occasional literature served the purpose of the author’s artistic self-expression and was a way of communicating with the public. Most active in the public life of 18th century Lithuania were Jesuits and Piarists, and their competitive interaction encouraged mutual innovations in education; the place and function of occasional literature in the curricula of the two congregations, however, did not essentially differ. The genre research of occasional literature has shown that Jesuits were the most productive monkhood of the time, and the most important part of its literature was constituted by panegyrics and other writings of the greeting character; whereas in response to the aesthetic requirements of the Age of Enlightenment, the Piarists prioritized the ode and the epigram as genres requiring more laconic ways of expression. From the point of view of genre development it is noteworthy that the main conventions of the genre still remained important in the Latin occasional literature of the 18th century, but it was no longer required from authors to comply precisely with the genre classification. The form was modified and the influence of a dedicatee’s social status was significant to the artistic expression of the work.


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