“ Die Karolinger"). Look at those brilliant scholars of the imperial court at Aachen, representatives of Italy, France, Ireland, England, etc.; or at those devoted missionaries, coming over from Ireland and England to convert their “ brethren” or cousins on the continent; or at the different types of monks, from the humblest gardener to the famous scholastic; or at the high Church dignitaries, some of them the most cunning diplomats, others war lords or epicureans—what a strange collection of specimens on the threshold of the Middle Ages! The more we study them in detail, the more unintelligible their complicated natures become to us. Many of them seem composed of a double personality: outwardly, a picture of piety, religious zeal, sincerity; inwardly, almost its reverse in cruelty, licentiousness, dishonesty. This double personality in the individual is, of course, partly the reflection of the many-sidedness of the contemporaneous civilization, in particular, the effect of the planting of the Roman-Christian tree in the Teuton heathen soil.

There still remains much to do for unprejudiced historians in the exploration of these mysterious times and in the correct characterization of these double-natured men, to be attempted successfully only after the breaking down of all the barriers of tradition by which even our modern science is often surrounded and hindered. Under this blight of traditional conceptions history and literature are still suffering almost as much as is theology. We certainly are, for example, in need of an impartial comparison of Karl the Great


Among the problems which confront the student of the Carolingian epoch and of the Heliand in particular the following might be mentioned:

1. The explanation of the so-called conversion of the Saxons, who, after the most cruel subjugation by the first emperor, Karl the Great, became the most faithful adherents of the second emperor, Louis the Pious.

2. The explanation of the attitude of so many sincere and intelligent scholars of this period towards the abundance of most incredible miracles performed by the bones (often stolen or substituted) of saints.

3. The position and treatment of the Jews under the early Carolingians, as reflected in the “ Capitula de Judaeis,” in 789 and 814, and in the "Schutzbriefe” by Karl the Great and Louis the Pious followed by Bishop Agobard's pamphlets and letters to the emperor, “De insolentia Judaeorum” and “De Judaicis superstitionibus," and in the outspoken Antisemitism of the Heliand. A thorough investigation of the latter's attitude would doubtless shed new light on this problem and help toward the solution of related problems.

[ocr errors]

with his son Louis in which the genial father might have to yield more and more to his usually under-rated, even ridiculed son. In this direction, an unbiased and searching study not only of the official documents of state and church, as the “Capitularia,” the “ Vitaeof emperors and missionaries, and the commentaries, but also of private letters would prove of value. From these, and from the Latin literature of the Carolingian epoch in general, much information can still be gained for the understanding of this period with its perplexing problems. How striking is, for example, the correspondence between the unscrupulous emperor Lothar and Hrabanus Maurus, “ Magister Germaniae," the most influential ecclesiastic of his time, in the writers' exuberance of piety, Christian orthodoxy and humility! Out of their correspondence I select as typical the following passages in a letter of Lothar to Hrabanus.

In this letter the emperor asks the “venerable archbishop " to compose for him a lectionary for Lent, which he could use instead of “the whole abundance of commentaries in all his expeditions."

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal God, Lotharius, by divine ordinance and providence emperor Augustus, to Hrabanus, the venerable archbishop and orthodox magister, greetings.

Meanwhile we express unmeasured praise and thanks to the omnipotent God, who, among other gifts of liberality, deigned to bestow on us, just as on our predecessors, the light of his doctrines.

For while He granted to them a Hieronymus, Augustinus, Gregorius, Ambrosius and very many others, the same Creator joined to us Hrabanus Maurus, a man of the same merits and knowledge.

Therefore please, Saint Father, eminent teacher, accommodate benevolently your ears to the pleadings of me, asking you, and favor, as a tire less executor, our wish, take upon yourself the work, so that we may be able to obtain the fulfillment of our desire.

Nor should the laborious abundance of this work seem to you hard, since a sweet and lucid recompense remains; for as it is said truly, “they that turn many to righteousness shall be as the stars for ever and ever."

The following is the answer of Hrabanus, who had always stood by the imperial father against his sons, to Lothar, known as the most contemptible son of the pious Louis:

To the glorious and deserving Lord of the right faith and true religion

2 The complete text of the letter is found in Fr. Kunstmann's "Hrabanus Maurus," Mainz, 1841, p. 220.

and good studies, Emperor Hlutharius, rightly venerable to all Catholics, Hrabanus, the vilest servant of God's servants wishes daily in his prayer eternal salvation in Christ.

Your letter which you sent to me complaining (loudly) that you have not a fitting exposition of the divine “lectiones” and of the gospel chapters which are read through the whole year at the celebrations of the mass in the churches of God, advising my smallness to collect out of the works of the divers Fathers into one volume.

Command that it be read before you, and if you recognize anything in it, on account of the simplicity of my mind, not correctly brought forward or distorted by the fault of the writers, have that corrected by your learned “readers,” and so will a very worthy recompense for your good zeal and at the same time for our correction be given to you in heaven everlastingly by Christ, the Lord of all.

Light, way, life, salvation, Christ may give you forever. You, great honor of the fatherland, beloved Caesar, farewell.

And yet, Hrabanus, as Abbot of Fulda and Archbishop of Mainz, had intimate knowledge of the real character of this Lothar, who had, for decades previous to this correspondence, acted the part of a coward, and whose shameful treatment of his imperial father had been notorious.

Such was the character of the times in which the Heliand was composed, a period of the bitterest strife between the imperial father and his sons, and of the greatest crimes committed against the same emperor to whose initiative tradition ascribes the Heliand, the poetic life of Christ, the “Prince of Peace.”



After these introductory remarks about the “Umwelt” of the Heliand, that is the general character of the period in which the Heliand was written and about the difficulties for our understanding of the people prominent in the Carolingian state, there can not be much surprise at the fact that the study of the Heliand has, up to the present, not proved as satisfactory as the extent of the work over a century, and the number, zeal and ability of the scholars would have promised.

Since Schmeller and his basic first editions of the Heliand in the years 1830 and 1840, almost a century ago, and more so after the first and fundamental monograph by A. Windisch-1868-on “Der Heliand und seine Quellen," the philologists have done their part

[ocr errors]

in regard to this “gem of oldest Germanic literature ” year by year, namely:

1. Fundamentally by careful editions of the whole work, with annotations and glossaries: J. R. Koene (Münster 1855), Moritz Heyne (Paderborn 1866), Heinrich Rückert (Leipzig 1876), Eduard Sievers (Halle a/S 1878), Paul Piper (Stuttgart 1897), Otto Behagel (Halle a/S 1902 and 1910). From this latest edition, “ der Heliandausgabe dritte Auflage," the reliable work of an acknowledged authority, all quotations in the present paper will be made.

2. By a number of translations: C. L. Kannegiesser (Berlin 1847), C. W. M. Grein (Cassel 1854 and 1869), J. R. Köne (Münster 1855), G. Rapp (Stuttgart 1856), K. Simrock (3d edition Berlin 1882), Paul Hermann (Leipzig 1891 in Reclams Universalbibliothek, No. 3324-25). Besides these translations into modern German we find only one into French, by V. Mohler (Paris 1898), but none into English, although the language of the original poem is more akin to English than to modern German.

3. By numberless contributions to scientific journals,—the only American contribution I can trace being that by H. Collitz in the Publications of the Modern Language Association, Vol. 16, concerning one of the most perplexing problems, “ The Home of the Heliand."

But while the purely linguistic study has achieved remarkable results in many respects, the wider interpretative study has lagged behind as well in the amount of work as in the results obtained. It is a fact that in one hundred years of continuous labor not one commentary on the Heliand has been published, while on Otfrid's Krist there were edited within two years three complete commentaries: by I. Kelle (1881), 0. Erdmann (1882) and P. Piper (1878 and 1882). The amount of labor spent on the Krist by these three men is indicated by the fact that Kelle's two volumes contain about 1000 pages, Piper's first volume alone contains 1000 and the second 700 pages. This difference in treating these two almost contemporaneous Old German works of literature is the more astonishing as, by almost unanimous consent," the Heliand ranks in poetical value

*Cf. J. H. Kurtz, Kirchengeschichte, I, 2, p. 70, and Dr. Albert Hauck's splendid discourse on the Heliand and the Krist in his scholarly: Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands, Leipzig, 1912, vol. II, p. 797.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

at least as high as Otfrid's Evangelienbuch. And yet the newest and best edition of the Heliand und Genesis by Otto Behaghel, mentioned above, has an “Einleitung," with the subdivision “Manuscripts, Editions, Language, Literature of the Heliand," of only 13 pages; while the “ Einleitung” to Erdmann's Otfrids Evangelienbuch has 69; that to Kelle's commentary of the same name, 168; and, finally, that to Piper's, 295 pages. Similarly disproportionate are the “ glossaries”: the Heliand student is put off with 39 pages (in Behaghel's work), while the Otfrid reader is liberally treated with 654 pages by Piper, who even added a short sketch of Otfrid's Formenlehre” and edited in the same year (1884) a “Short Otfrid Vocabulary” of 64 pages. Furthermore, Erdmann not only gives in the footnotes of his Otfrids Evangelienbuch the complete text of the biblical passages underlying each of Otfrid's chapters and states whether the chapter has been treated also in the Helianda seemingly small but very helpful additionbut offers at the end 170 pages of “ Erläuterungen,” while in the Heliand und Genesis of Behaghel there is not one of these three valuable additions. It is apparent that here is a neglected spot in the field of Germanistics, which explains, at least partly, the indifference of our students in regard to the Heliand and also to Old Saxon in general. The average student of Germanistics feels no inclination to venture into the uncharted depths of the Heliand. Such a commentary, if it is to prove satisfactory in all the directions indicated above, can only be composed in Europe, where comparatively easy access to all the MSS. and other sources for the necessary investigations may be had. The ideal country would be that one which gave birth to the Heliand itself.

In consequence of this regrettable lack of a work covering the Heliand as a whole, in all its aspects, and giving a full interpretation of the entire poem, we are confronted by a meagreness of results in regard to almost all of the Heliand problems, which is strange and disappointing, in view of the many eminent scholars who have worked since Schmeller on those problems.

One can safely say that not one of the major problems connected with the Heliand has been solved or has even come nearer to its solution during the last hundred years. In spite of almost continuous and often lively discussion, the following four questions are still far from being settled among the Heliand scholars:

« VorigeDoorgaan »