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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Janus Secundus


ooeOievAL & KeMAissAMce


TexTS & sTuDies


Volume 143


Renaissance Masters 2

Richard J. Schoeck General Editor




Janus Secundus


by

David Price


Tempe, Arizona 1996


® Copyright 1996 Arizona Board of Regents for Arizona State University

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Price, David, 1957-

Janus Secundus / by David Price.

p. cm. — (Renaissance Masters ; v. 2) (Medieval & Renaissance texts & studies ; v. 143)

Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0-86698-180-2

1. Janus, Secundus, 1511-1536 — Criticism and interpretation. 2. Love poetry, Latin (Medieval and modern)— Netherlands— History and criticism. 3. Renaissance— Netherlands. 4. Humanists— Netherlands. I. Title. PA8580.Z5P75 1995

871'.04-dc20 95-2655

CIP


This book was edited and produced

by MRTS at SUNY Binghamton.

This book is made to last.

It is set in Garamond Antiqua typeface,

smyth-sewn, and printed on acid-free paper

to library specifications.


Printed in the United States of America



Fig. 1. Jan Gossaert van Mabuse's portrait of an unknown subject, probably the poet Janus Secundus. The cartouche reads "tu michi causa doloris." Reproduced courtesy of Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Kassel.


To George Schoolfield


Contents


Acknowledgments


ix


Chapter One



An Introduction


1


Chapter Two



The Life and Writings of Janus Secundus


12


Chapter Three



Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology


30


Chapter Four



The Basia: Poetry and the Art of the Kiss


55


Chapter Five



The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License


74


Chapter Six



Politics and the Poet of Love


92


Chapter Seven



A Concluding Note


111


Select Bibliography


114


List of Illustrations

Fig. 1: Jan Gossaert van Mabuse's portrait

of Janus Secundus (?) frontispiece

Fig. 2: Copy of Jan van Scorel's portrait of

Janus Secundus 10

Fig. 3: Page from the Bodleian MS. Rawl, G. 154 11

Fig. 4: Janus Secundus's medallions of Charles V

(recto and verso) and Andrea Alciati (recto

and verso) 29

Fig. 5: Janus Secundus's medallion of Julia (recto) 54


Acknowledgments


Xvenaissance poetry in vernacular languages still holds great interest for scholars and general readers, as it always will. Latin Renaissance poetry, the subject of this book, no longer attracts a general readership for the simple reason that nowadays Latin poses a difficult impediment to most readers, even to many of the best educated. Latin poetry, now, almost always requires some form of mediation.

No one, however, seriously questions the historical importance or the intrinsic value of much Latin poetry. And it would be an error to assume the posture, as frequently happens in studies of Latin Ren- aissance poetry, that this research presents a neglected author to a forgetful world. Janus Secundus has never been entirely forgotten. His historical importance, especially his impact on Ronsard and the Pleiade as well as on German and English poetry of the seventeenth century, has always been acknowledged. My goal, rather, is to pre- sent new perspectives on his poetry and to do so in the context of a brijef but comprehensive study, encompassing both Secundus's entire oeuvre and the important insights of earlier critics. And, if my opti- mism may be excused, this book is intended for the specialist and also for those generally interested in Renaissance poetry and the his- tory of the classical tradition. In order to make my discussions as well as the poetry itself more accessible, I have provided relatively lit- eral translations of all the Latin.

Anyone who pursues interests in Renaissance Latin poetry and who finds collegial and material support, as I have been most fortu- nate to do, ought to be deeply grateful. And I am. My greatest debt remains to George Schoolfield. It is not just that he has shared his erudition and many insights with me and, for that matter, all his stu- dents and colleagues. He has also done so in stimulating and uniquely entertaining ways. As far as the present study is concerned, I should add that his book on Secundus, which quite accidentally was among


X Acknowledgments

the first books on Renaissance poetry I read in graduate school, has served as a basis for my elaborations.

I am also grateful to Valerie Hotchkiss and Hubert Heinen for reading and discussing a draft of this book with me. Each of them corrected several blunders and pointed out infelicities. More impor- tantly, conversations with them about poetry have kept me going, as it were, over the past few years and have certainly influenced my outlook.

This book would not exist were it not for the interest of Richard Schoeck and Mario DiCesare, two scholars who, in addition to pur- suing their own research, have expended considerable energy for many years to support the work of others. I am grateful to Professor Schoeck for encouraging this work and to Professor DiCesare for accepting it for publication at MRTS. I also wish to acknowledge the helpful remarks of two anonymous readers as well as the patient and expert assistance of the staff at MRTS, especially Valerie Adamcyk, Assistant Editor, and Lori Vandermark, Production Manager.

Research, especially study at distant libraries, was made consider- ably easier with the support of the German Academic Exchange Ser- vice during the summer of 1991. I also worked on this as well as a broader study of Renaissance poetry with the assistance of a Beinecke Fellowship in May 1993, The staff at the Beinecke Library was enor- mously pleasant and helpful. I am also grateful to Fred Robinson for his kind attention during my stay at Yale and in particular for his cri- tique of several essays I had written.

Portions of chapter four appeared as "The Poetics of License in Janus Secundus's Basia," in Sixteenth Century Journal 23 (1992): 289- 301; I am grateful for permission to use that material here.


1


An Introduction


Parva seges satis est, satis est requiescere lecto si licet et solito membra levare toro. Tibullus 1.1

[The harvest of a small field is enough; it is enough if I may sleep on my bed and rest my limbs on my familiar mattress.]

J anus Secundus (1511-1536) has long been recognized as one of the most significant and enduring poets of the Renaissance. Though also a master of the ode and epigram as well as a prolific writer of funeral poetry and poetic epistles, he has come down to us as the outstanding Latin love poet of the northern Renaissance.

Some have claimed, with predictable hyperbole, that he surpassed those ancient poets, such as Catullus, Tibullus, Propertius, and Ovid, whom he imitated.^ However that may be, there is no doubt that he is one of the few Renaissance Latin poets whose works can be appre- ciated on equal footing with his Roman forebears.^ While his reputa- tion has never rivalled that of his models, Secundus's poetry has sel- dom wanted for receptive readers. His renown grew during his brief lifetime — he lived but twenty-four years — became immense during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and has continued, as indicated by a steady stream of editions, translations, imitations, and studies, until this very day. Most conspicuous among his readers have been other poets: Ronsard, Labe, Opitz, Fleming, Huygens, Milton, and


' Janus Dousa, for example, made the obvious pun, saying that he was sec- ond to no ancient writers: "ceterum nuUi antiquorum meo iudicio secundus." Quoted from Secundus, Opera omnia, ed. Burmannus and Bosscha, 1:1%9. Here- after cited as BB.

^ This has been the opinion of virtually all who have read Secundus. See BB, 1: XXXV (for the opinion of Burmann) and BB, 2:289 (for Scriverius's tribute).


2 An Introduction

Goethe — to name but a few examples from several national litera- tures — number among his admirers.^ They and others have acknowl- edged their debt to him either directly in encomiastic verses, or indi- rectly in poetic imitations. No less a literary authority than Johann Gottfried Herder claimed, humorously but tellingly, that Goethe was but "the third Johann" of amatory poetry, the first having been John the Evangelist (John 15:12: "That you love one another as I have loved you") and the second having been, of course, Janus Secundus.^ Secundus left behind a remarkably diverse oeuvre. After the poet's death, Theodore de Beze (1519-1605), who would make his mark as successor to Calvin at Geneva, was one of the first to admire his versatility:

Excelsum seu condit Epos, magnique Maronis

Luminibus officere studet: Sive leves Elegos alternaque carmina, raptus

Nasonis impetu, canit: Sive lyram variis sic aptat cantibus, ut se

Victum erubescat Pindarus: Sive iocos, blandosque sales Epigrammate miscet,

Clara invidente Bilbili: Unus quatuor haec sic praestitit ille Secundus,

Secundus ut sit nemini.^

[Whether he composes lofty epic, desiring to lessen the bril- liance of great Vergil, or, carried off by the force of Ovid, he sings light elegies and songs in distich, or whether he tunes the lyre so well for diverse odes that Pindar is ashamed to have been bested, or mixes jests and charming witticism epigrammati- cally— while Martial envies their fame— that Secundus, though one poet, so excelled in these four genres as to be second to no one.]


^ A list of his imitators would be lengthy. For discussions of Secundus's in- fluence, see the following: Van Tieghem, La litterature latine de la Renaissance, 74-78; Crane, Johannes Secundus, 42-79; Secundus, Basia, ed. Ellinger, x-xlv; and Endres, Joannes Secundus, 31-35.

^ See Crane, Johannes Secundus, 76-77.

^ Quoted from BB, 2:284.


An Introduction 3

Secundus might have disagreed with Beze's praise of epic since, de- spite late plans for the Bellum Tunetanum, he was opposed to writing epic. (Beze, obviously thinking metrically, must be referring to Se- cundus's poems in hexameter, such as his Vergilian eclogue^ and some of the poetic epistles.) The emphasis on the small forms — elegy, ode, and epigram — indicates the preference of Secundus's voice for the short poem, but also its rich variety and the astonishing mastery of complex Roman metrics. In a portrait by Jan van Scorel (which survives only in copies), a slender volume lies before Secundus on which is written that his life's work comprises but ten books.^ (See fig. 2.) These books, which were assembled by Secundus's brothers, still constitute the core of his oeuvre: three books of elegies; one book of Basia (Kisses); one book of epigrams;^ one book of odes; two books of poetic letters; one book of funeral poetry; and one book of Syl- vae (i.e., miscellaneous poetry in different meters). In addition to a few poetic fragments and a few prose letters, there are two prose itineraries^ That, along with twelve sculpted medallions, is what survives from the hand of Janus Secundus.

Secundus's aesthetic evokes an Alexandrian ideal of poetry. Valoriza- tion of the small lyric and elegiac forms over the epic recalls the Calli- machean "Big book, big evil," though any Alexandrian orientation was certainly derived indirectly through Catullus and the Roman eroticists. In particular, Secundus's works embody the Catullan ideal of nugatory poetics, as expressed by Catullus in Carmina 1 where he calls his poetry "nugae" (trifles). Indeed, it is not at all accidental that one of Secundus's dedicatory poems is based on Catullus 1:


' For an edition and English translation of Secundus's eclogue {Sylvae 5), see Martyn, "Joannes Secundus: Orpheus and Eurydice."

^ The copy obviously dates from after the 1541 edition of Secundus's works. The original, done during Secundus's lifetime, could not have depicted a book with the title of "Carmin. lo. Secund. lib. X."

' There are, actually, two books of epigrams in the edition of 1541, though the second book is so slight and of such marginal importance — it consists of but seventeen translations of epigrams from the Greek Anthology — that it may not have been counted as a separate book of poetry. These poems are introduced (without the designation "liber") with the modest phrase "Epigrammata quaedam e Graeco versa" (fol. K5'). The edition of 1541 is cited according to Opera: nunc primum in lucem edita (1541; repr. Nieuwkoop: de Graaf, 1969).

^ Dekker, /(an«5 Secundus, 49, has argued convincingly that the second of the Itineraries, printed by Daniel Heinsius (1618) and Burmann-Bosscha as Secun- dus's work, was almost certainly written by Hadrianus Marius.


4 An Introduction

Cui mitto calidos novos amores, Nee satis lepidos, nee expolitos? Nimirum tibi: namque tu putabis Meas esse aliquid, Rumolde, nugas, Adsuetus genium probare nostrum, lam tum, quum imperio tuo sonabam Parvus carmina renuente lingua. Ergo habe tibi quidquid hoc amorum est: Et quidquid venit a meis Camenis, Totum crede tui laboris esse.

{Epigrams 1.49.1-10)

[To whom do I send my new, hot loves, though they are nei- ther charming nor polished enough? To you, of course. For you, Rumoldus, used to consider my trifles to be something and you used to endorse my talent— even when, under your tutelage, I, as a boy, used to sound out songs with an uncooperative tongue. Therefore, accept whatever these love poems have and know that whatever comes from my muses is entirely your work.]

The nugatory aesthetic deprecates its subject matter, with con- scious irony, as being trivial, but trivial in the specific sense that it has little consequence for public affairs. For example, several of Se- cundus's poems reject the epic {Elegies 1.1; Epigrams 1.58; and Poetic Epistles 2.6), recalling the ancient genre of the recusatio (refusal).^ When Secundus expresses aversion for the august style of epic, he also refuses to write of the world of politics and great men. This pos- ture, which I will discuss below in more detail, not only eschews the idea of poetry operating in service to God or state (or rulers), but also defends poetic liberty from the encroachment of those forces. The small world of the poet, his loves, friends and experiences are proper literary subjects that stand, implicitly, in a binary opposition to the "big world" of public affairs, social morality, Christianity, etc. Furthermore, where this aesthetic disappoints political expectations or is at variance with a socioliterary code, the poet can take recourse to the ancient poets, such as Catullus, Ovid, or Martial, for legitima- cy, if not respectability.


' See Endres and Gold, "Joannes Secundus and his Roman Models," 282-86, for a discussion of Elegies 1.1.


An Introduction 5

Secundus does not, however, consistently take this posture, since he, as we will see, was willing to compose political and even panegy- ric poetry. Nonetheless, his political poetry is also in the condensed small forms, and he tends to describe political figures in a light tone, occasionally with hints of irony. The love poet writing elegies and odes on political topics, of course, has classical antecedents. One thinks of Catullus's lampoons of Caesar, Tibullus's service to Mes- sala, not to mention Ovid's (necessary) bows to Augustus or the pa- tronage enjoyed — and laudatory poems delivered — by Horace and Propertius.

A northern humanist and, moreover, a humanist poet of a later generation, Secundus did not create a new poetics through unmediat- ed study of ancient poets. Of course, direct access to ancient poetry nurtured his writing— he certainly committed large amounts of Rom- an poetry to memory. Nonetheless, the inspiration and in large part the authority for writing erotic poetry comes from Italian humanists, even though, clearly, they were not studied or emulated with the same intensity accorded the ancient poets.

As is the case with the German love poet Conrad Celtis (1459- 1508), northern humanists often betray an inferiority complex vis-a- vis the Italian poets. Secundus, however, speaks with an unusually confident voice, as best indicated perhaps by the infrequency in his oeuvre of gratuitously displaying recondite knowledge of classical culture— a trait that often spoils humanist poetry. His eye, though, was trained on the Italians. In an elegy to Erasmus {Elegies 3.5), for example, he felt obliged to praise the Netherlands as a seat of high culture and to eulogize his country as the equal of Italy— it had, after all, produced the unequaled Erasmus:

. . . Felix quae talem terra tulisti!

Tu mihi vel magno non minor es Latio.

(lines 23-24)

[Netherlands, you are blessed to have born such a man. You are, I think, equal even to great Latium.]

Secundus himself left a record of the Italian poets who were high- est on his reading list. In a literary elegy to the now obscure Italian poet Girolamo Montio {Elegies 3.7), he narrates a dream in which the goddess Elegy appeared to him in the costume of Latium to describe the Italian humanists who, along with the ancient poets, created her


6 An Introduction

form.^ Secundus mentions Tito Vespasiano Strozzi (1424-1505),^ his son Ercole (ca. 1473-1508), Pietro Bembo (1470-1547), Marco Girola- mo Vida (ca. 1485-1566) and, then, the four Italian poets he admired most: Giovanni Pontano (1426-1503), Jacopo Sannazaro (1456- 1530),^ Michele Marullo (ca. 1453-1500), and Andrea Alciati (1492- 1550). For Secundus, Alciati was, more than anything else, the model of the poet-lawyer, though his interest in the epigram and the eroti- cism of the Greek Anthology left their mark, too. There are several reminiscences of Sannazaro and Pontano, perhaps the greatest Latin love poets from Italy, in Secundus's poetry. Pontano 's elegance and humor in the epigram and elegy and the distinctive lightness and in- ventiveness of his epicedia make him perhaps the poet from Italy most like Secundus."* Nonetheless, MaruUo's sharp wit and passion, not to mention his brashness, made a deep impression. Secundus composed two epigrams that record his initial reading of Marullo and immediately acknowledge an indebtedness. In Epigrams 1.32, he re- turns a volume of Marullo to its owner, he says, without loss of a single verse, though an enormous treasury of poetry has been extract- ed. In Epigrams 1.33, he connects Marullo's aesthetic to that of an- cient elegists, apostrophizing him as the reincarnation of Tibullus. Marullo was something of a controversial writer, as his poetry, espe- cially his hymns, seemed to many to be offensively pagan; Christian- ity was certainly not a prominent force in his works, nor was it to play a significant role for Secundus. In the Dialogus Ciceronianus, for example, Erasmus wishes that Marullo had had "minus . . . paganita- tis"^ (less paganism). It is also, perhaps, a tribute to Marullo that Secundus named the lover of the Basia Neaera, as that was the name of Marullo's beloved. Above all, the appreciation of Marullo's nuga- tory poetics suggests a quality found in Secundus: "[Ljepidos cum gravitate iocos" (witty and charming poems which have dignity; Epi- grams 1.33.2), though said of Marullo's poetry, describes the Secun-


' With the personification of "Elegy," Secundus recalls Ovid, Amores 3.1.

^ Strozzi was well-known as an imitator of Tibullus and as the author of six books of Erotica.

' Sannazaro's Latin name, which Secundus naturally uses, was Actius Syn- cerus.

  • Guepin, De Kunst van Janus Secundus, prints several poems by Pontano

related to the Basia.

  • Erasmus, Dialogus Ciceronianus, ed. Mesnard, in Opera omnia, 1.2:666.


An Introduction 7

dian art of combining levity and irony with expressions of serious- ness and torment.

Scholarship on Secundus has, in the main, addressed biographical and philological issues— and the achievements in these areas have been significant.^ Recently, Alfred Dekker, whose book is the most extensive biography and, moreover, lays a new foundation for philo- logical investigation, stated not only that much more philological study is needed, but also that the time is unripe for interpretative studies. This opinion has some validity but is, overall, untenable. In the aftermath of the discovery of the Bodleian manuscript, which Se- cundus's brothers Hadrianus Marius and Nicolaus Grudius prepared for the printer of the first collected edition (which appeared in 154f ), a new critical edition is absolutely necessary; yet one cannot con- strain scholars and readers from study of such an important poet for an indefinite period. The manuscript proves that the brothers altered poems for their edition, though restorations of what was probably Secundus's text really do not produce a substantially new poet, dif- ferent from the one we have come to know through the editions of the brothers, Scriverius, or Burmann and Bosscha. As a new critical edition is not likely to appear for several years, I have quoted Secun- dus from the Burmann-Bosscha edition and checked those citations against a microfilm copy of the Bodleian manuscript for significant variation, each instance of which has been noted. ^ (See fig. 3.)

In addition to biographical and textual issues, scholarship has ex- plored the poet's relationship to his sources. Though accorded much effort, identification of antecedents still warrants more attention, as many reminiscences of classical and Renaissance authors have not been noted by Burmann-Bosscha and others. On a more theoretical level, scholars have analyzed Secundus's approach to imitation, a per- ennial issue in the study of Renaissance poets.

Though influence is undeniably a crucial topic, most scholars have been preoccupied with the interplay of convention and individ- uality, or, as Spitzer put it, "how to give the flavor of new personal


' Dekker's biographical sketch, Janus Secundus, 19-96, is authoritative.

^ The most thorough description of the Bodleian manuscript is Tuynman, "De Handschriften en overige bronnen vor de teksten van Secundus."

^ For the several poems published during Secundus's lifetime, I was able to consult Dekker's thorough textual descriptions.


8 An Introduction

emotions to the traditional Latin vocabulary."' This question informs Nichols's well-founded view of Secundus as a poet who combined "experience and literary tradition ... to form a seamless garment."^ Obviously, there is no theoretical flaw in approaching Renaissance poetry from the perspective of influence. In practice, however, this approach has fostered a tendency to exclude other kinds of analysis, especially the question of how political concepts of literature could inform Renaissance lyric.

George Schoolfield's is the most comprehensive study of the po- etry. In particular, he, too, appreciates the affinities and discontinui- ties between Secundus and his models, and he identifies, for the first time, the distinctive element of Secundus's erotic poetry, namely, its vivid and explicit representations of desire: "The intense perceptions and representation of physical love by Janus have kept the Basia alive, and not, when all is said and done, his ingenuity, elegance, or even coinage of phrases, however important these qualities may have been for his literary survival."^ J. P. Guepin has continued the bio- graphical-philological tradition of Secundian scholarship, offering, above all, a diverse commentary on the Basia and a few other poems. His principal achievement is the presentation of the Italian Renaissance eroticists who, as had already been known, inspired Secundus.'*

The two traditional approaches to Secundus— philological-bio- graphical study and analysis of influence— though sound, require an enlargement or extension of purview. Above all, the biographical paradigm needs inversion: instead of using the poems as a source for constructing a Secundus biography, it is necessary to define how the self-stylizing autobiography implicit in his works, whether reliable or wholly fictionalized, functions as a central trope of amatory poetry. Autobiography informs the valorization of the poet's singular experi-


^ Spitzer, "The Problem of Latin Renaissance Poetry," 942-43.

^ Nichols, "The Renewal of Latin Poetry," 95.

^ Schoolfield, Janus Secundus, 116.

^ Guepin affixes, I feel, too much significance to Neoplatonism in his ap- proach to the Basia. One cannot document any interest on the part of Secundus in Neoplatonism; rather, he has merely imitated a few poems from antiquity and the Renaissance which express Neoplatonic views. Indeed, one of the important accomplishments of Secundus is that he kept a non-philosophical (and non-allegorical) form of erotic poetry alive, which had a significant impact in the seventeenth century.


An Introduction 9

ences over social or political matters, and, by extension, the experi- ence of art over the poetic recording of, say, political history. Those poems which reflect on art suggest an ideal of life as being constitut- ed by experience as opposed to life defined by deeds or accomplish- ments. His imitative aesthetic accommodates experience — the alleged absence of which is a common red herring in scholarship on north- ern humanist poetry — by valorizing the experience of the imagina- tion, or the specific experience of art, over other kinds of experience.

Moreover, imitation of the ancients is not just a stylistic device, but also a means of validating a concept of poetic freedom from po- litical and moralistic constraints. Secundus seeks to offend audiences, sometimes by exemplifying a radical (obscene) level of poetic license, but he consistently grounds his transgressiveness in the imitation of Roman authors, creating, in a sense, the paradox of a conventional- transgressive poet. Instead of being a genuine record of actual "Erleb- nis,"^ love can be seen more appropriately, I shall argue, as a cipher for poetry, and the self-reflective apologies for his metier as an eroti- cist are, to a degree, general defenses of the ideal of poetic freedom. Similar to the thematic contrast between the larger world of society and politics and the subjective (constricted or insignificant) experi- ence of the poet, is the rhetorical opposition Secundus sometimes cre- ates between the audience and the poetic I, as most notably in the Basia (see chapter four) and in the Epigrams (see chapter five).

Transgression of sexual-social decorum, as in the naming, so to speak, of the lower body,^ and resistance to ideologies of literature, as in the refusal to write commissioned political poetry, are impor- tant but not constant features of Secundus's poetry. His amatory aes- thetic may resist a politically or moralistically defined concept of poetry, but he also composed explicitly political and encomiastic poetry (which will be discussed in chapter six). Furthermore, the brashness of his obscenity often is juxtaposed to the elegance of his high style. Indeed, the high and the low, the sublime and the pedes- trian, are frequently coterminous in his poetry. I should also mention


' This is the approach of Ellinger, Geschichte der neulateinischen Literatur, 3/1: 28-75; see especially 74.

For a useful discussion of the complexity of transgression, especially as it occurs in carnivalesque inversions, see Stallybrass and White, TTje Politics and Poetics of Transgression, especially 1-26.


10


An Introduction


that, in his defenses of the nugatory poetics and, more importantly, the low style, Secundus assumes a posture of being progressive. Nonetheless, his transgressive modus scrihendi is also, perhaps uncon- sciously, complicit on occasions in misogynist ideology (as will be discussed in chapter four), which, though hardly unexpected in a Renaissance poet, qualifies the salutariness he attributes to license.


loHANNES. ^^^^


Skcvndv5,


^^E^rl









■■11^



Fig. 2. Copy of Jan van Scorel's portrait of Janus Secundus Reproduced courtesy of Haags Gemeentemuseum


An Introduction 11


/


lOA-MStS JtCVNVj }(A<^tfHSTS

tfa /w//, /»/;i; 4^/ f/ ^iWffi^ arnX/^"^ mrf. ff (J fttfruifL- j^c^ -ye^rrnft ^-TVtn. /^iurf^r).

^ Ibid., fol. 26, "effingere" replaces the crossed out "sculpere," a change ne- cessitated by the alteration to line 3.


Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology 37

Qui valeam; at dominae spernere iussa nefas. Non ego te, mea lux, faciam de marmore duro;^

Ilia decet rigidum materies animum. Quin et caela tuos formabunt aurea vultus;

Non facit ad molles ferrea lima genas. lam iam fama meis maior venit artibus; ipsam

Sculpere mi videor coelicolam Venerem. Sed dum te video, et propius tua lumina specto,

Aemula Phoebeis lumina luminibus, Ferre negant oculi iaculantem spicula vultum,

Coelaque nota negat languida ferre manus. Deficit et torpet, nee iam sibi conscius artis

Ullius est animus, nee memor ipse sui. Ah! nulli fas est mortali effingere Divas.

Mens cadit: obstupeo, heu! et mihi surripior!

{Elegies 1.6)

[If I now had the fingers of Praxiteles and Mentor as well as the hands of Lysippus and Phidias! For golden Julia wishes to be sculpted by my chisel— it's not enough for her to have her name in my book. But, I confess, I am not the one who can capture that heavenly beauty. But it is sacrilege to refuse the mistress's orders.

My dear, I shouldn't fashion you of hard marble as that medium suits an unyielding spirit. Rather, golden chisels will shape your features; the iron file doesn't work for soft cheeks. Now! Now a greater fame is entering my veins; I seem to be sculpting heavenly Venus herself.

But when I see you and look at your eyes more closely, eyes that rival Apolline lights, my eyes cannot endure your visage casting darts, and my hand, now languid, cannot hold the familiar chisels. My spirit contracts and is paralyzed, unaware of any art, forgetful of itself. Oh, it is sacrilege for a mortal to de- pict the gods. My mind is collapsing, I'm silent, alas, I am being stolen away from myself.]


' Ibid., fol. 26, line 7 is a correction for the original, crossed out phrase 'Non ego te duro, mea Lux, e marmore fingam."


38 Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology

With typically self-conscious preciosity, Secundus delicately asserts that for a moment— for a single line {Elegies 1.6.11: "fama maior")— his art can achieve a fame greater than that of antiquity. The amatory- poetic paradox, though, is light-hearted: Julia transports his art beyond that of the Greeks, but her beauty overwhelms him, stymieing his art. Though without a quote, the poem suggest Catullus's famous translation of Sappho (Catullus 51: "Ille me par esse deo videtur"). Catullus's "fas" ("Hie, si fas est, superare divos") may inform Secun- dus's use of "nefas" and "fas," though a link between Catullus 51 and Elegies 1.6 is established mainly by the general image of incapaci- tation. Secundus, however, suggests an even more profound loss of self and connects it, most subtly, to a disorientation from ancient art. Elegies 1.5 similarly suggests an amatory transcendence of ancient models as Julia has the potential for surpassing the women of ancient elegy: "Exsuperas Latias et tamen ore nurus" (Yet you surpass the Roman women with your beauty; Elegies 1.5.30).

The idea of amatory competition ("aemulatio") with ancient cul- ture also informs Elegies 1.9, a letter written from Brussels to his friend Petrus Clericus, who had stayed behind in Mechlin. According to the poem, Brussels is the recreation of antiquity: it is the site of imperial dignity^; it supports a crowd of great poets; its sculpture is so magnificent that it induces the poet to experience visions of men dressed in togas. In fact, Brussels rivals the culture of both Greece and Rome: "Scilicet argutis urbs haec me ponit Athenis; / Scilicet hie media sistor in Ausonia" (Indeed, this city transports me to tuneful Athens; indeed, I am planted in the midst of Ausonia; lines 13-14). However, the poem turns, once again antithetically, in lines 15-16: "Mille vel hie oculos possunt retinere, vel aures / Nulla tenent aures, nulla tenent oculos" [Here, a thousand things are able to hold either my eyes or my ears— none of them holds my ears, none of them holds my eyes]. The volta moves away from classical Brussels to con- templation of the love recently lost in Mechlin. The structural an- tithesis between Brussels and Mechlin locates the poet, somewhat disoriented, between antiquity and his love. Naturally, this acknowl- edges his debt to antiquity, but he is compelled to turn away from the ancient world as he is drawn to his own love or love poetry. And yet, in his distress, he wishes that Venus, as a cipher for ancient love


' In Elegies 1.9.3, Charles V is simply called "Augustus."


Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology 39

poetry, might save Julia for him, knowing, however, the hopelessness of his appeal to antiquity.^

Secundus introduces the Julia Monobiblos with a kind of recusation a "refusal" to write epic, and a declaration of allegiance to the "trivial" art of the love elegy.

Pierides alius dira inter^ Bella cruentet,

Vulneraque ingeminet saeva, necesque virum,^ Cuius bis fuso madefiant sanguine versus:

Hei mihi, plus satis est quem cecidisse semel. Nos Puerum sancta volucrem cum Matre canamus,

Spargentem tenera tela proterva manu. Sic ego: sic fanti radiantibus adstitit alis.

Cum face, cum cornu, cum iaculisque Puer. Pallor? an ardentes acuebat cote sagittas?

Anxius in vultu iam mihi pallor erat. Parce tuum, dixi, ferro terrere poetam,

Castra parat dudum qui tua sponte sequi, Imperiumque potens, et regna patentia late.

Quae te spumigena cum genitrice colunt: Carmine vocali patrias resonare per urbes

Aggreditur: tuus est; laedere parce tuum. Ille nihil motus, lunato fervidus arcu,

Accipe quae, dixit, multa diuque canas: Et non ignotae celebra nunc robora dextrae;

Formaque quid valeat disce decentis herae. Vix ea personuit, sonuit simul arcus, et una

Cum iaculo in venas sensimus isse Deum.

[Let another bloody the Muses in harsh wars and reiterate the sav- age wounds and slaughter of men. Let his poetry drip with blood twice shed. Alas, for me it is more than enough to have died once. Let me sing of the boy flying with his holy mother, scattering wicked missiles with his gentle hand.


^ Secundus ends Elegies 1.9 in lines 45-52 with aprosdochesis (i.e., an unex- pected conclusion): he now longs to return to Mechlin because another woman ("Domitilla") will have sex with him there.

^ MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 1, "dira inter" is a correction of the crossed out "inter fera."

^ Ibid., fol. 1, "virum" is a correction for a crossed out, illegible word; it appears to be a form of "vir."


40 Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology

Thus I spoke. And as I spoke thus, the boy stood before me with his flashing wings — with a torch, bow, and arrows. What's that.-* Am I mistaken, or was he sharpening some fiery arrows on a whetstone?^ In my distress, my face blenched. I said: "Don't threaten your poet with iron. Just now he is preparing to enter your army voluntarily and to make his native cities re- sound in tuneful poetry with praise of your mighty empire and the immense realms that worship you and your mother, born from the sea-spray. He is yours. Don't harm your poet."

Not at all moved, eagerly bending his curved bow, he said: "Receive many things which you can sing of for a long time. Celebrate the powers of my right arm, now that you have expe- rienced them. Learn how powerful a charming mistress's beauty can be." Scarcely had he rung his message when the bow rang out and, at once, I felt, with the arrow, that a god had entered my veins.]

Elegies 1.1, the proemium to Secundus's first book of mature poetry, introduces a theme that will recur throughout his oeuvre: valorization of the apolitical erotic poem over the political epic. As shown by the vivid image of the page being bloodied by martial epic, the poem also introduces the concept that literature is a form of experience. (Indeed, according to the poem, an epic spills blood a second time.) In the elevation of the amatory poetics to the status of epic, Secundus, obviously operating in the Ovidian realm of "militat omnis amans" (every lover goes to war [or: does battle]), describes love with militaristic metaphors. This characteristic, which occurs often in his poetry,^ always suggests a stylistic shift to the mock-he- roic, though with varying degrees of humor or irony. The faux-hero- ic voice, which is also used in ancient elegy, both elevates, by way of gesture, the "trivial" genre and parodies— and hence lowers— the seri- ous style and matter of epic. That love is war can deepen the image of the lover suffering, deprived and wounded, but it also, more im- portantly, articulates opposition to a concept of politically meaning- ful poetry. In Elegies 1.2, which elaborates on the apolitical program of 1.1, Secundus even receives an explicit caveat from Cupid: (Nil tibi


^ This is an echo of Horace, Odes 2.8.15-16.

^ It reappears in the Julia Monobihlos, for example, in the final elegy (1.11).


Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology 41

sit) "cantare tui victricia Caesaris arma" (You are not to sing of the victorious arms of your Caesar; Elegies 1.2.91). Study of the "empire . . . and kingdom"^ of Cupid {Elegies 1.1.12ff.) is, then, an alternative to the miHtary might of Caesar.

Naturally, there is considerable irony in Cupid's "defeat" of the poet in Elegies 1.1 as he defends his aesthetic. The entire poem, though, focuses on poetic aesthetic. On a mundane level, the first line obviously evokes Tibullus 1.1.1 ("Divitias alius fulvo sibi conge- rat auro" [let someone else pile up riches in golden heaps]), but changes Tibullus's concern for an ethic of life into a poetological statement ("let someone else bloody the Muses") .^ The finale, more- over, speaks to the issue of writing inspired poetry— the god's injec- tion into Secundus's veins recalls the idea of the much quoted lines from Ovid's Fasti that inspiration is the presence of the divine ("Est deus in nobis" [There is a god in us; Fasti 6.5]). The metadiscourse on poetics is most articulate when Cupid threatens the poet. When Se- cundus hears love speak, he actually hears the words of Ovid:

"Accipe quae," dixit, "multa diuque canas"

["Receive many things," he said, "which you can sing of for a long time."]

is taken directly from:

"Quod," que, "canas, vates, accipe," dixit, "opus."

[And he (i.e., Cupid) said, "Poet, receive a work of which you can sing."]

The words of love— amatory poetry— are the words of Ovid. But, most importantly, Secundus construes the concept of imitation as one aspect of his reading of love poetry as experience. As this and other poems illustrate, reading literature becomes an experience of love. Thus, according to Secundus, the source of eros can be a conflu- ence of experience and literary tradition, just as writing love poetry becomes an amatory act.


' Derived from Ovid, Amoves 1.13.

^ See also Tibullus's anti-war poem (1.10). While Tibullus writes against war itself, Secundus writes against poems about war.


42 Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology

The analogy of love to political poetry is not limited to Elegies 1.1 and 1.2, Several subsequent poems appropriate the language of gov- ernment, law, and war. In Elegies 1.7, for instance, it is the "lady" ("domina") who "rules" the poet. In 1.7.31, he claims, as she is about to leave him to marry, that "you could have ruled me with regal words and possessed a sublime kingdom in my verse. "^ In Ele- gies 1.3, we find the first sustained formulation of the idea that beau- ty is power (though there are hints of that already in Elegies 1.1),^ which was to become a leitmotif of the nugatory poetics and find its classic formulation in the famous line from Basia 8, "O vis superba formae" (Oh proud power of beauty). Moreover, in Elegies 1.3, the be- loved is a "victrix" who has conquered the poet; she legislates laws ("leges"); has the trappings of political authority ("sceptra"); and above all possesses empire ("imperium").

Ilia mihi leges victrix praescribat, et in me Regia formosis sceptra gerat manibus.

{Elegies 1.3.23-24)

[Let her, the conqueror, dictate laws for me and let her hold royal scepters in her beautiful hands with power over me.]

A corollary to the appropriation of political language is inversion of the values of political life: poverty is superior to wealth; defeat preferable to victory; personal more important than public world; and the slight lyric better than the exalted epic. Art becomes the force that can achieve the inversion of the political-personal hierar- chy. A recurring message is the exaltation of the low. When love is favorable, "humble cottages surpass haughty mansions" ([sub amore secundo . . .] "Et vincunt humiles tecta superba casae"^). The defla- tion of the political sphere is consequently the pointe of Secundus's hopeful Elegies 1.4:

At vos, purpurei reges, ignoscite victi, Risus erunt vestrae tunc mihi divitiae.

(lines 25-26)


' See Elegies 1.7.31-34 (quoted below in note 38).

^ See Elegies 1.3.9: "Formae . . . potentis" and the subsequent repetitions of "formosa."

^ One thinks, here, of Corydon's plea to Alexis in Vergil, Eclogues l.ld.


Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology 43

[As for you, kings in purple, be indulgent when you have been conquered. Then I shall laugh at your wealth.]

Scorning wealth may sound like an echo of Tibullus, but Secundus also uses the topos to rebuff the world of politics. A similar binary opposition informs Secundus's dream-poem where he asserts that others may dream of wealth, but he shall dream of her (see Elegies 1,10, quoted below).

There are also indications that "lawlessness" is an ideal. In Elegies 1.7, a rival appears for Julia's affection, who, unlike Secundus, prom- ises marriage— with its laws and strictures. Secundus henceforth uses the motif of the Golden Age not so much as an emblem of pacifism or anti-materialism, but as a Utopian concept of love without law. Thus, in addition to the successful rival. Hymen becomes, as the god of marriage, an object of Secundus's invective in three separate poems {Elegies 1.7, 1.8, and 1.11). A passage in Elegies 1.7 emphasizes the lib- erty of the paradise lost and the cruelty of the age that followed.

Quam bene priscorum currebat vita parentum,

Ingenuae Veneris libera sacra colens! Nondum coniugii nomen servile patebat,

Nee fuerat Divis adnumeratus Hymen. Passim communes exercebantur amores

Omnibus, et proprii nescius orbis erat. Ense maritali nemo confossus adulter

Purpureo Stygias sanguine tinxit aquas. Anxia non tenuit custodis cura puellam,

Nulla erat invisis clausa domus foribus; Nee sacer agricolis stabat lapis arbiter agro,

Trabsque procellosum nulla secabat iter. At postquam domibusque fores, foribusque subivit

Clavis, et aequoreas navita sprevit aquas, Non dubitans animam tenui concredere ligno,

Externas fragili puppe secutus opes,' Discretique novo iacuerunt limite campi,

Indixit leges et sibi quisque novas; Scilicet ex illo sensit fera iura, iacetque


' MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 18, "opes" is a correction for the crossed out 'aquas."


44 Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology

Clausa pedem dura compede serva Venus. Mortales, sceleri leges praescribite^ vestro, Innocuam vinclis nee cohibete Deam.

{Elegies 1.7.65-86)

[How good the life of our forebears was when they worshipped the free rites of free-born Love. Not yet was the slavish name of marriage known, nor was Hymen counted among the gods. All over, everyone enjoyed communal loves; the world was igno- rant of individual love. No adulterer, gouged by a husband's sword, stained the Styx's waters with bright blood. The girl didn't worry about gatekeepers. The house wasn't locked with hated bolts. Nor did a sacred stone stand on the field as a mark- er to the farmers. No ship cut a stormy journey on the sea.

But after houses got doors and doors got locks and the sailor scoffed at the ocean's waters, unconcerned about entrusting his life to the slight bark, pursuing foreign wealth in a fragile ship and the fields lay marked out by new boundaries, then each area legislated new laws for itself.

Indeed, from that time on, enslaved love felt savage laws and she lies enchained, her foot in hard shackles. Humankind, pre- scribe laws for your own wickedness, do not confine an inno- cent goddess with chains.]

The Golden Age eschews marriage but also expresses a more general concept of lawlessness. The intensity of this poem's rhetoric not only defines the restrictions and confinements of law, but also makes the constriction sound (or feel) so tight as to be about to snap. Restric- tion has an overtly violent quality here and, above all, the general sense that government and law put the human spirit of love in shackles. The Utopia of the Golden Age dissociates love from law, al- legorically endorsing, in turn, a concept of poetics unconstrained by convention. The Secundian ideal would exclude the public realm from taking possession of his poetry since poetry must remain un- bound by strictures of law or custom.^


' Ibid., fol. 18, "leges praescribite" is a correction for the crossed out "poenam decernite."

^ See also Secundus, Odes 5, which develops the theme of marriage as slavery in a similar fashion.


Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology 45

Marriage and poetry are also connected in Elegies 1,8, where Apol- lo, god of poetry, answers Secundus's prayer for bad weather on Julia's wedding day. Critics have fittingly dubbed 1.8 an anti-epithala- mium. He continues to appropriate political language to describe marriage (in line 7 Julia is said to be entering into pacts ["foedera"] with a foreigner) and the institution of marriage remains a form of slavery:

Ergo dies venit, qua se formosa mariti Dedit in aeternum lulia servitium.

{Elegies 1.8.1-2)

[Thus the day has come on which beautiful Julia has given herself to the eternal slavery of a husband.]

Interestingly, Secundus is also famous as the author of another epi- thalamium, printed by the brothers as Sylvae S} This epithalamium, however, is ultimately unlike any wedding poem from the Renais- sance as it does not celebrate the social function of matrimony— in- deed, there is not even the slightest clue as to whom it may have been written for. Rather, it extols the pleasures of love and sex, free from societal (or poetic) constraints. In fact, Secundus uses the epi- thalamium as a device for celebrating his nugatory poetics. Thus the moment of the wedding is described with language used to character- ize his amatory aesthetic:

Hora suavicula et voluptuosa, Hora blanditiis, lepore, risu, Hora deliciis, iocis, susurris, Hora suaviolis, ...

{Sylvae 8.1-4)

[The hour sweet and sexy, the hour for love talk, charm, jest, the hour for delights, play, and whispers, the hour for little kisses . . .]


' As a favorite poem in Secundus's oeuvre, the epithalamium is widely avail- able. Maurice Rat translated it into French (Secundus, Les baisers, 36-45) and Nichols included it in his brief selection of Secundus's works {An Anthology of Neo-Latin Poetry, 514-23). The love poet Johann Christian Giinther also translat- ed it into German in the early eighteenth century, an effort Schoolfield, Janus Secundus, 134, called a "fiasco."


46 Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology

It is also reminiscent of the elegies that, in the epithalamium, Secundus uses military language, though only after stripping it of political mean- ing; moreover, he uses poetic license to portray sexual intercourse vividly, perhaps so vividly as to offend moralistic literary sensibilities:

Tunc arma expedienda, tunc ad arma Et Venus vocat, et vocat Cupido: Tunc in vulnera grata proruendum. Hue illuc agilis feratur hasta, Quam crebro furibunda verset ictu Non Martis soror, sed amica Martis Semper laeta novo cruore Cypris. Nee quies lateri laborioso Detur, mobilibus nee uUa coxis: Donee deficiente voce anhela, Donee deficientibus medullis, Membris languidulis, madens uterque Sudabit varii liquoris undas. O noctem nimis, o nimis beatam!

{Sylvae 8.122-35)

[Then arms must be readied. Then Venus calls you to arms and Cupid calls, too. Then rush forward to receive the pleasing wounds. Here and there may the fast spear be thrust; not the raging sister of Mars, let the lover of Mars, Venus, who always enjoys the fresh blood, drive it with repeated thrusts. Nor should the laboring thighs rest, not the moving hips, until with failing, heaving panting, and with failing hearts and languid limbs, each of you, wet, will exude streams of different fluid, — oh much too, oh much too happy night!]

The closing poem of the Julia Monobiblos also attributes a Utopian lawlessness to the Golden Age and places social stricture in a binary op- position to poetry. But, here, Secundus expresses his poetic ideal in a characteristically sensual image of "nude" poetry, as he challenges his rival to leave Julia untouched, but, instead, to "look to" the muses:

Nonne fuit satius cantus haurire sororum, Cernere vel, sacrae qua fluit humor aquae,

Veste Deas posita teretes abscondere suras, Quam miseram turpi dedere servitio.^

{Elegies 1.11.27-30)


Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology 47

[Would it not have been more satisfying to drink in the songs of the Muses or even to watch them, where the wetness of the sacred water flows, dip their well-rounded calves, after having removed their clothing, rather than to have thrust the pitiful woman into wicked slavery?]

In addition to sensualizing the idea of freedom, this passage proposes, to the rival, that love must inspire poetry rather than desire for possession of the beloved.

The Julia Monobiblos reflects as consistently on the poetics of love as on love itself. One could assume that Secundus's self-consciousness was especially strong here, as it was his first book of poetry. In the closing poem, for example, he claims that Cupid's laws and customs— in opposition to ordinary political laws or social customs — permitted the writing of such poetry. Elegies 1.11, moreover, consecrates the collection to the gods of love, claiming poetic success despite the demise of the affair:

Interea hos Elegos, primi monumenta caloris,

Accipite, et risum iungite cum gemitu, Dicentes: nostri pars hie quoque parva triumphi est;

Semper amet, dulci semper amore fruens.'

{Elegies 1.11.57-60)

[(Passage is addressed to Cupid and Venus) . . . Meanwhile re- ceive these elegies, the monuments of my first passion and join a laugh to a sigh, saying: "Herein lies, too, a small part of our triumph — may he always love, always enjoying sweet love."]

As soon as trouble arises in the "affair" (or in the amatory cy- cle)— first announced in Elegies 1.7— Secundus reflects on the idea that love is poetry. The opening lines of the poetic announcement that a rival is coming to marry Julia refers, almost nostalgically, to the poetic mission received in Elegies 1.1:

Insidiose Puer, maternis saevior undis, Hacne tuus vates fraude petendus eram?


  • MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 30, line 60 is a correction for the crossed out phrase

"MoUia cum Domina tempore lucis habet." "Habet" was crossed out and replaced with "agat," which was also crossed out when the line was rewritten.


48 Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology

Tu mihi^ iussisti, numeris levioribus irem,

Assumsi faciles ad tua iussa modos, Materiesque mihi curvato venit ab arcu

Longa, sub undenos digna venire pedes. Vix opus incepi; dominam, Puer improbe, tollis,

Ducis et externas in mea regna manus.

(Elegies 1.7.1-8)

[Treacherous boy, rougher than the waters of your mother, did you have to defraud me, your poet.-* You ordered me to provide lighter verse; I took up the facile meter, as you commanded. Your bow brought a lengthy theme, worthy of being put in distich. Scarcely had I begun the work— evil Boy, you are taking away my mistress and leading foreign bands against my realm.]

Secundus has gone to war, as it were, marching to the eleven-feet pattern of elegiac distich. Obviously in a "literary campaign," the losses have accrued to him not only as a lover but also as a poet. In line 24, we hear that the "delights of the poets" ("Vatum deliciis") have been violated. Moreover, Julia could have ruled not merely him, but him as a poet (see lines 31-34).^ If the laws of marriage had not interceded, he would have become a great poet:

Et poterant aliquid nostrae praestare Camenae, Fata nisi obstarent, et male faustus^ Hymen.

(lines 49-50)

[And my Muses could have become preeminent, were not fate and the ill-omened Hymen against it.]

Ironically, though, after a long tribute to poets, especially amatory poets of antiquity (lines 51-58), Secundus does claim a place for his verses in an eternal life of literature, despite the demise of his love:


^ BB, 1:43 has "quia." The reading of "mihi" in MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 15, seems better.

^ Elegies 1.7.31-34: "Ah, poteras, lux, ah, poteras ius dicere nobis, / Oreque formoso regia verba loqui, / Inque meo versu sublimia regna tenere, / Prima fidis nostrae gloria, serus honor." (Oh my light, you could have, oh, you could have dictated law to me, spoken royal words from your beautiful mouth, ruled over a sublime kingdom in my verse; you were the first glory of my lyre and its last honor.)

' MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 16, "male faustus" is a correction for the crossed out "violentus."


Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology 49

Nostra quoque, adveniens si non his inseret aetas.

(Quod sperare pudor sit mihi, sitque nefas) Non tamen obscura damnabit nomina nocte.

(lines 59-61)

[Even if the future will not insert my name among these (i.e., those of ancient poets)— for which it would be shameful and sacrilegious for me to hope — nonetheless it will not damn my name to dark night.]

Literary life, at least, holds the promise of free-born Venus, as op- posed to death and the silencing of poetry caused by the restrictive Hymen.

Elegies 1.10, a Somnium or "dream-poem," illustrates that Secun- dus's posture as a lover is never distinct from that as poet. In fact, his concept of "literary experience," in the context of his nugatory aesthetics, ultimately allows no sharp differentiation between the litterateur and lover. Obsession with the equation of love with poetry informs virtually the entirety of Elegies 1.10. For example, he trans- forms the much-used topos of the poet-lover's power (usually articu- lated as a menacing power) to define (and, hence, to praise or cen- sure) the mistress into the more distinctive (and self-ironic) conceit that success with the woman is a poetic accomplishment.

Ite procul moestum, lacrimae, genus, ite querelae,

Et comes aligeri cura vigil Pueri. Cinge triumphantes victrici fronde capillos

Laurea, Phoebeae^ grata corona comae! Misit in amplexus illam Venus aurea nostros,

Prima mihi quae fax, quae mihi serus amor. Non fora, non portus, non iam populosa theatra,

Templaque sunt nostris conscia blanditiis. Mater abest, digitis legem quae ponat et ori,

Et cogat tremulo murmure pauca loqui, Osculaque aridulis non continuanda labellis

Carpere, quae iuret barbara, quisquis amat; Et celare faces, et amici obtexere nomen,

Multaque quae solers fingere discit Amor.


' Ibid., fol. 24, "Laurea, Phoebeae" is a correction for the crossed out "Laurus Apollineae."


50 Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology

Sola iacet mecum semoto lulia lecto,

Sola tamen solos non sink esse Venus, Et Puer unanimes comitatus in omnia vitas,

Certus et exanimes, certus et ossa sequi. Forte vident et nos, qui spectant omnia, Divi,

Deliciis nostris invidiosa cohors. Di, precor, o nostris ne lusibus invideatis;

Non ego nunc vestris lusibus invideo. lulia, te teneo; teneant sua gaudia Divi;

Te teneo, mea lux; lux mea, te teneo. lulia, te teneo! Superi, teneatis Olympum.

Quid loquor? an vere, lulia, te teneo? Dormio ne? an vigilo? vera haec an somnia sunt haec?

Somnia seu, seu sunt vera,^ fruamur age! Somnia si sunt haec, durent haec somnia longum.

Nee vigilem faciat me, precor, ulla dies. Et quicumque meo pones vestigia tecto,

Parce pedum strepitu, comprime vocis iter. Sic tibi non umquam rumpant insomnia galli.

Tardaque productae tempora noctis eant; Plurima cum rubris tibi gemma legetur ab undis,

Pactolique domus tota liquore fluet.

{Elegies 1.10)

[Oh mournful genre, tears, go far away!^ Depart, complaints and restless trouble, the companion of the winged boy. Oh laurel crown, pleasing to the Apolline hair, wreathe the trium- phant locks with your victorious fronds. Golden Venus has sent her to my embraces, yes, she who was my first flame and who will be my last love.^ The forums, harbors, busy theaters and temples do not witness our pleasure. The mother is gone— who imposes law with gestures and word and who compels us to speak but a little with trembling whisper and to snatch kisses


  • Ibid., fol. 26, has only the reading "Somnia seu sunt, seu vera" for the

beginning of line 28.

^ The Latin in this line has a strong echo of Pseudo-Tibullus 3.6.7: "Ite procul durum curae genus, ite labores." This poem is by a certain "Lygdamus" whose six elegies (Tibullus 3.1-6) celebrate a woman named Neaera.

' There is an echo in this line of Propertius 1.12.20: "Cynthia prima fuit, Cynthia finis erit."


Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology 51

that must be short and with dry Ups— kisses which every lover would decry as barbaric— and to hide the flames of love and to conceal the name of the lover (which crafty Amor teaches us to do in many ways).

Alone, Julia lies with me on a secluded bed, alone! Yet Venus alone doesn't allow us to be alone, and the boy is a com- panion in everything to lovers of one mind, certain to follow them as they die, certain to follow their bones. And maybe the gods, who see everything, also see us. Perhaps the group envies our delights. Gods, I pray, please don't envy our games— I don't envy yours. Julia, I hold you; may the gods hold their delights. My light, I hold you— I hold you, my light— Julia, I hold you! Gods, may you hold Olympus. What am I saying — do I truly hold you, Julia? Or am I dreaming? Or am I awake? Are these images real or are they dreams? Whether dreams or reality, come, let us enjoy them. If they are dreams, let the dreams last a long time. I pray, let the day not wake me.

If one of you comes to my door, don't walk loudly! And don't speak. Thus may the roosters never burst your dreams and may the time of the drawn-out night pass slowly, while many a jewel is gathered for you from the Red Sea and your whole house is awash in Pactolean water.^]

Each image and formulation, it seems, has a double valence of poetry and love. Some connections are rather obvious, such as the simultaneity of a dream of fulfillment with Julia and the attainment of the Apolline laurels, not to mention the address to the "mournful genre," a reference to the elegy and his unhappy love. The position of the mother, furthermore, defines the strictures of law and society, though there is also a hint that the erotic poet may be flouting a socio-poetic law. Indeed, that "dry kisses" ("Basia") are barbaric is a double entendre for kiss-poetry being unhumanistic. ("Unhumanistic" would be a primary sense of "barbarus" in the sixteenth century.) Similarly, the gods' envy of "deliciae" and "lusus" could be literary as these are terms which also mean "erotic poems," in which case Secundus is, perhaps, expressing fear that his poetry will be rejected.


  • The Pactolus is a river in Lydia which was supposed to carry large quan-

tities of gold. Secundus is thinking of Horace, Epodes 15.20 (a line addressed to Neaera) as well as Propertius 1.14.11.


52 Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology

The lover's desire for privacy also has meaning in Secundus's poetological metadiscourse. He emphasizes the lovers as being sepa- rated from the world ("semoto ... lecto"— on a removed bed). At this point in the poem, poetry is raised above the kinds of public discourse subjected to social taboos or political or religious expecta- tions: this poetry is not known to the courts, the churches, or even the theaters (lines 7-8). And those laws which can be applied to define poetry only make it barbarous. The need to disguise love poetry has vanished in the dream as its only audience is Venus and Cupid or love itself. As we shall see, a similar desire for separation from a literary standard informs Secundus's Basia and Epigrams.

This desire for separation from criticism also has parallels in other poems from the Julia Monobiblos. We can read Elegies 1.7.85-86, the address to humankind to free Venus from the shackles of law, as an allegory of poetological liberty. Similarly, in the final poem, Secun- dus does not want his love to become the gossip of the town (see Elegies 1.11.45). In Elegies 1.5, he defines the only acceptable kind of judge as someone (here young men are the judges) who will experi- ence love in the context of reading his poetry and will, therefore, admire the heat of his passion and slight words:

At vos, qui, iuvenes, suspiria nostra notatis,

Et fractos oculos et sine mente gradum, Ebria ridentes nullo cum pondere verba,

Et si quis subito venit in ora color, Postmodo dicetis: non infeliciter arsit;

Praemia quum nostri nota laboris erunt.

[Elegies 1.5.93-98)

[But, young men, as you take note of my sighing, my broken eyes, my mindless gait, laughing at the drunken words without meaning, if suddenly some color flashes on your face, you shall say afterwards, when you are familiar with the rewards of my labor: "He did not burn infelicitously."^]


' Schoolfield, Janus Secundus, 81, says that "non infeliciter arsit" is "an in- tentional ambiguity, suggesting both 'He burned, but not in a worthless cause' and 'He did not burn in vain.' " I would add that Secundus is also making a pun on the literary sense of "infeliciter," that he did not burn in an infelicitous style.


Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology 53

Somnium itself is a double entendre meaning both the erotic dream and the erotic dream-poem. Thus the reaHzation of the somnium becomes a literary achievement (or experience). The dream's status as both authentic experience and literature derives, it would seem, from Secundus's correlation of poetry and experience. As both are conflat- ed, any question as to whether Secundus is more concerned with love than with love poetry is not only superficial but also invalid. In fact, the complexity of a reality derived from experience and imagination is poignantly conveyed in the implicit comparison of dreams: one man dreams of love, the other of fantastic wealth. Secundus's elegiac Somnium not only signifies the primacy of the subjective I, but also obviates the need to debate the status of the actual — love and love poetry are authentic experiences of Secundus's persona.

The Elegies taken as a whole and the Julia Monobihlos in particular evince many moments of poetological reflection. They thematize the discontinuity between the sincerity of the importuning lover and the disingenuity arising from the conventionality of the Renaissance elegy. Imitatio can be freely acknowledged, and also made the object of playfulness and irony. Moreover, the authenticity of experience is located in literature as well as life. In fact, one wonders if the distinc- tive vividness of Secundus's erotic poetry may not derive from a goal of forming or evoking an experience in the reader. The idea that love poetry stands apart from the larger world of politics, law, and war has several consequences. It inverts the values of society and fills the lan- guage of politics (and especially war) with new (often parodistic) meaning. As we shall see later in more detail, it also removes the poet, at least ideally, from the laws and conventions of a fixed socio- poetic standard.


54


Writing Love: The Amatory Elegy as Poetology



Fig. 5. Secundus's Medallion of Julia (recto)

Lead; 44 mm

Reproduced courtesy of Koninklijke Bibliotheek Albert I


4


The Basia;

Poetry and the Art of the Kiss


Quaeris, quot mihi basiationes tuae, Lesbia, sint satis superque. Catullus, 7.1-2.

[You ask, Lesbia, how many of your kisses are enough and more than enough for me,]

Tarn diversa uno sic coiere choro. Joseph Scaliger on the Basia

[Thus such diverse poems have come together in a single cho- rus.]

1 he Basia made Secundus's reputation in the Renaissance and also account, more than any other work, for his literary endurance in modern times. Some experts may have read and preferred the Julia elegies, but the Basia have always attracted the most interest, and almost certainly always will. During the Renaissance, an age when amatory poetry enjoyed perhaps its most intense vogue, authors imi- tated Secundus's Basia with an avidness exceeded, it seems, only by their enthusiasm for Petrarch, The influence of the Basia was so im- mense and pervasive that in some cases the philologist must concede that what appears to be an imitation of Secundus is, in fact, an imita- tion of an imitation.^ Several of the greatest writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries studied and admired the Basia. The impact was probably greatest in France and the Netherlands. Joachim du


^ The most thorough study of the impact of the Basia, though it, too, is in- complete, is Ellinger's introduction to his edition of the Basia. See Secundus, Basia, ed. Ellinger, x-xlv. Ellinger also considered the specific question of Secun- dus's impact on Goethe's Romische Elegien in "Goethe und Johannes Secundus."


56 The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss

Bellay's Amores has been called a "descendant of the Basia "^ Pierre de Ronsard, the initiator of the Pleiade (the most important poetic movement in Renaissance France), cited above all the Basia in his hyperbolic eulogy of Secundus^ and also translated or imitated at least ten of the Basia. Among other French poets to imitate the Basia are Labe, Bonefons, Belleau, and Baif; in his Essays, Michel Mon- taigne counted them among his favorite books.^ Similarly, Dutch imitators include those who wrote in Latin and the vernacular: Dousa, Lernutius, Westerbaen, Le Bleus, de Brune, and Huygens were keenly interested in Secundus and the Basia. There were also significant imitators among the Italians (especially Marino), the Eng- lish (Sidney, Spenser, Milton, etc.), and the Germans (Weckherlin, Opitz, Fleming, Hofmannswaldau, and Giinther). By the eighteenth century, Secundus's influence had become sporadic. Still, Goethe studied the Basia in the 1770s and wrote on 2 November 1776 his much cited poem "An den Geist des Johannes Secundus," with its memorable address "Lieber, heiliger, grosser Kiisser." Also in the 1770s, none other than Mirabeau turned to Secundus during a time of duress. While imprisoned in Vincennes (1778-1780), he translated Tibullus and the Basia for his beloved Sophie (first published in 1796). His prose rendering has been praised for its vigor and passion, though it largely fails to convey Secundus's self-ironies."*

In the seventeenth century, the eminent legal scholar and litter- ateur Hugo Grotius said that, with the Basia, Secundus was the "in- ventor of a new kind of writing."^ On the one hand, Grotius is right that Secundus invented a new kind of amatory cycle. There had never been anything quite like the Basia and they certainly spawned many imitators. Yet Secundus unquestionably drew his inspiration from earlier writers. Of the ancients, Catullus has pride of place as his famous poems 5 ("Vivamus mea Lesbia, atque amemus") and 7 ("Quaeris, quot mihi basiationes" . . .) are the Basia's most obvious forebears. Secundus took motifs from both of them and even refers


  • 'Endxes, Joannes Secundus, 31.

^ See Ronsard, Oeuvres completes, ed. Laumonier, 2:422 and the epigraph to chapter two.

^ Basia, ed. Ellinger, xxii.

^ Ibid., xxxiii.

^ Quoted by BB, l:xxxviii.


The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss 57

to Catullus and Lesbia in Basia 16. Though not mentioned by earlier scholars, Secundus also used CatuUus's homosexual kiss poems, poems 48 and 99 (both addressed to Juventus). In addition to several purloined motifs, CatuUus's metrics, as well as his intensity, succinct- ness, and caustic wit find parallels in the Basia. Several kiss poems in the Greek Anthology also made contributions. (Secundus had known the Greek Anthology certainly since 1533 and perhaps since his school- days in The Hague.) In particular, he used motifs found in Meleager, Paul the Silentiary, Pseudo-Plato, and an anonymous poem (5.305). In general, though, the Augustan poets continued to inform his style; like the Elegies and Odes, the Basia have reminiscences of Horace, Tibullus, Propertius, Ovid, and even Vergil.^

Secundus always looked to Italian humanists for models.^ He knew Philip Beroaldus the Elder's "Panthia's Kiss" ("Osculum Panthiae"), a long tribute to his beloved, in particular to the admira- ble kisses she bestows. Though Beroaldus's Latin is so simple as to suggest a school exercise, he burdened his light subject with a weighty omatus of classical tags. For the most part, the sheer volume of comparisons to classical figures is irritating, and, occasionally, the added distraction of an exceedingly obscure reference arises. One can- not help thinking that Secundus learned from this experience to avoid the tedium which accrues to an accumulatio, as it were, of classical parallels. At any rate, Secundus keeps his mythological decoration within bounds and, when he does compose a mythologi- cal poem, he enlivens it by creating a narrative. In the three mytho- logical vignettes {Basia 1, 15, and 18), he focuses on compressed, entertaining narration; he never parades recondite details from classi- cal culture in purely ekphrastic passages. Despite these differences, though, it is generally agreed that Secundus's most quoted line, "O vis superba formae" (Oh proud power of beauty), is derived from


' See Ellinger, Geschichte der neulateinischen Literatur, 3:66-67. Naturally, scholars have noted Secundus's dependence on ancient writers (especially Catul- lus, Propertius, Tibullus, Ovid, Vergil, and, as I would stress. Martial), but they are unanimous in their praise of Secundus's ability nonetheless to develop a unique style. Ellinger, for example, vouched rather flamboyantly for his unique- ness: "nichts ist ausserlich angeeignet, alles aus dem unmittelbarem Leben und der gliihenden Seele des Dichters wiedergegeben worden" (p. 50).

^ Joos, "Eenige grieksch-latijnsche en italiaanisch-renaissance invloeden op de Basia, argues, on the basis of material derived from Burmann-Bosscha and Ellinger, that these antecedents lessen the value of Secundus's poetry.


58 The Basia.* Poetry and the Art of the Kiss

Beroaldus's "Tantum forma valet" (Such is beauty's sway; line 33).* Ellinger proposed that Secundus not only was familiar with Petrus Crinitus's kiss poem, "Ad Neaeram," but also named the be- loved of the Basia Neaera as a bow to that work.^ "Ad Neaeram" uses the motif of the soul being exchanged through a kiss (Crinitus's soul prefers to reside in Neaera's body); the kiss of the beloved can breathe the spirit back into the poet. Secundus unquestionably uses that motif in Basia 13, though there are no verbal reminiscences of "Ad Neaeram" in it. It is, of course, possible, perhaps even likely, that the similarity between the two poems is due to a common ancestry in epigram 5.78 of the Greek Anthology and the ancient imi- tation of it quoted by Aulus Gellius.^ There is every reason to be- lieve that the name Neaera is instead a tribute to Michele MaruUo,^ whose beloved is so-named, and to Horace, who rails against a hard hearted Neaera in Epodes 15. If Secundus knew Crinitus's poem, he would have admired its playfulness, but there is no indication that he found it worthy of imitation.

On the other hand, Secundus must have read Sannazaro's "Ad Ninam," a minor masterpiece of amatory poetry.^ For one thing, Se- cundus seems to have imitated Sannazaro's description of kisses ("Nee quas dent bene filiae parenti / Nee quas dent bene fratribus sorores"^ [Not those which daughters appropriately would give a parent, nor those which sisters appropriately would give their broth- ers]) in an account of unsatisfactory kisses that Neaera once gave: "utrumque (i.e., basium) nee longum nee udum, / Qualia teligero Diana / Det castra fratri, qualia dat patri / Experta nullos nata


  • Schoolfield, Janus Secundus, 103, aptly characterizes the genius of Secun-

dus's imitation of Beroaldus: "The notion may belong to Beroaldus, but the inimitable style — the outcry, the ambiguities of 'vis' and 'superba', the climax of 'forma' — is the work of Secundus." Ellinger prints Beroaldus's poem in Basia, \7-lQ.

^ Basia, ed. Ellinger, vi.

^ Both poems are printed in ibid., 20-21. See Greek Anthology 5.78 (an epi- gram by Plato), ed. and trans. Paton: "My soul was on my lips as I was kissing Agathon. Poor soul! She came hoping to cross over to him."

■* Secundus also imitated Marullo's Epigrams 1.3 ("De Neaera") in Basia 15. See Marullus, Carmina, ed. Perosa, 4.

  • The poem is also available m An Anthology of Neo-Latin Poetry, ed. and

trans. Nichols, 310-13.

^ Basia, ed. Ellinger, 22 (lines 3-4).


The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss 59

Cupidines" (Each kiss was neither long nor moist: they were the kind chaste Diana would give her armed brother, or the kind a girl, without experience of love, would give her father; Basia 9.11-14), Sannazaro's physical description of the kiss— its length, the biting and sucking of the tongue— and the listing of essences inferior to those of her kiss are recalled in Secundus's poems. Like Secundus, Sannazaro explicitly makes the kiss a pars pro toto for sexual intercourse as he expresses the desire that the kiss might lead to the fondling of Nina's breasts, though he decorously breaks off the description of sexual desire by listing a series of women to whom he would prefer her. Se- cundus, one can confidently assume, admired Sannazaro's poetic con- trol as well as his humorous (purposefully self-ironic) lasciviousness, though Secundus, still, must be credited with a much more complex elaboration of a nugatory poetics in his Basia}

The Basia are a cycle of nineteen poems that celebrate the poet's love for a Spanish woman named Neaera, presumed by scholars to have been a prostitute.^ The poems are uniform in subject matter as all concern either kissing, or Neaera, or both; stylistic similarities in- clude brevity, use of epigrammatic pointe, as well as the occurrence in each poem of an apostrophe. The variations on this limited theme — ranging from the mythological origin of the kiss, to pleas for kisses, to a rebuke for biting kisses, to an address to bees collecting honey from Neaera's lips — illustrate Secundus's ingenuity as well as elegant phraseology.^ Another kind of variation resides in the psy- chology of Secundus's persona, whose moods shift from pusillani- mous, to self-deprecating, to zealous and angry. The art of variation depends not only on the juxtaposition of different types of poems (such as narrative and lyrical, or those with heavy or light cadences), but also on antithesis within the poems. The quintessential Basium has a strong volta that marks a contradiction in sentiment or style. Basia 14, for example, moves from the reproachful "Dura / Duro marmore durior Neaera" (hard Neaera, harder than hard marble; lines 2-3) to the wheedling "Mollis / Molli mollior anseris medulla"


^ Perella, The Kiss Sacred and Profane, 192-93, draws attention to two poems by Giovanni Pontano which Secundus may have known.

^ See Ellinger, Geschichte der neulateinischen Literatur, 3:44.

' Secundus's ingenuity has been the principal object of admiration among critics ever since the sixteenth century; see Schoolfield, Janus Secundus, 101.


60 The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss

(soft Neaera, softer than the soft goose down; Hnes 12-13).^ An addi- tional merit of the cycle, perhaps one that is not immediately appar- ent to the modern reader, is Secundus's metrical virtuosity. Using eight different meters or strophic forms,^ he shows deep sensitivity to the verve of ancient metrics, as can be seen in his light ana- creontics {Basia 7), caustic hendecasyllabics (for example, Basia 12 and 14), and importuning or lugubrious pentameters (for example, Basia 6, 13, and 17). He even uses the pythiambic for his first mention of Neaera [Basia 2) to indicate one of his classical sources for her, Horace's pythiambic Epodes \5? The astonishing element in this lit- erary sophistication is not only that it belongs to a very young poet — Secundus was in his early twenties when he composed the Basia — but also that, as critics invariably note, he wears his learning lightly. Indeed, unlike the poetry of his humanist contemporaries, Se- cundus's Basia are, in translation at least, accessible to those without a classical education.

The Basia have always been understood as a cycle in which, though the poems can certainly be read in isolation, the whole is greater than the sum of individual parts. It is important to realize, however, that, unlike the Julia elegies, the cycle does not have a linear structure that narrates the story of an affair from beginning to conclusion. There is also no strict symmetry in the arrangement of the poems. Instead, there are some general patterns of arrangement that complement the overall structural principle of variation.

Basia 1, consciously designed as a proemium, narrates a story of the origin of the kiss."^ It tells how, after Venus's removal of Asca-


^ While the translations throughout are my own, I should note that many translations of the Basia are available; see, for example, the following: An Anthology of Neo-Latin Poetry, ed. and trans. Nichols, 486-515; Les baisers et I'epithalame suivis des odes et des elegies, ed. and trans. Rat; Kiisse, trans. Wiesner; and The Love Poems of Johannes Secundus, ed. and trans. Wright.

^ See discussion by Guepin, De Kunst van Janus Secundus, 359-76. He lists only seven meters, but is aware that Basia 8 and 18 are slightly different. {Basia 8 is iambic dimeter catalectic and Basia 18 is iambic trimeter catalectic.)

^ Schroeter, Beitrdge zur Geschichte der neulateinischen Poesie, 200, observed the important link between Basia 2 and Epodes 15.

  • Incidentally, Guepin, De Kunst van Janus Secundus, 499, places Basia 1

before the trip to Spain. He claims that an epigram by J. C. Scaliger, which was published in 1533, mocks the mythological vignette of Basia 1. (See Guepin, 146-47, for the epigram.) The suggestion is interesting, but it is not by any means certain that Scaliger mocks Secundus's poem.


The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss 61

nius (Aeneas's son) to Mount Cythera (a setting derived from Aeneid 1.680ff.), she was tormented as she wanted to kiss her grandson, but dared not disturb him in his sleep. In her frustration, she bestowed thousands of kisses on icy rosebuds, which then, sown throughout the earth, brought kisses to humankind.

Cum Venus Ascanium super aha Cythera tuHsset

Sopitum teneris imposuit vioHs, Albarum nimbos circumfuditque rosarum,

Et totum Hquido sparsit odore locum. Mox veteres animo revocavit Adonidos ignes,

Notus et irrepsit ima per ossa calor. O quoties voluit circumdare colla nepotis!

O quoties dixit: Talis Adonis erat! Sed placidam pueri metuens turbare quietem

Fixit vicinis basia mille rosis. Ecce calent illae, cupidaeque per ora Diones

Aura susurranti flamine lenta subit. Quotque rosas tetigit tot basia nata repente

Gaudia reddebant multiplicata Deae. At Cytherea natans niveis per nubila cygnis'

Ingentis terrae coepit obire globum. Triptolemique modo fecundis oscula glebis

Sparsit, et ignotos ter dedit ore sonos. Inde seges felix nata est mortalibus aegris,

Inde medela meis unica nata malis. Salvete aeternum nostrae moderamina flammae,

Humida de gelidis basia nata rosis. En ego sum, vestri quo vate canentur honores,

Nota Medusaei dum iuga montis erunt, Et memor Aeneadum stirpisque disertus amatae,

Mollia Romulidum verba loquetur Amor.

[When Venus had carried Ascanius to the heights of lofty Cythera, she laid him, asleep, on soft violets and poured around clouds of white roses and moistened the entire area with flowing perfume. Soon she recalled the old flames of Adonis, and the fa-


' MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 149, "cygnis" is a correction for the crossed out 'pennis."


62 The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss

miliar warmth penetrated deep through her bones. Oh, how many times did she desire to caress the neck of her grandson? How many times did she say, "so was Adonis"? But, fearing to disrupt the boy's sleep, she kissed nearby roses a thousand times. Look, they grow warm and, with whispering flame, a gentle breeze goes through the mouth of desirous Venus. As many roses as she touched, so many kisses, suddenly born, brought multiplied pleasures to the goddess. But, the Cytherean, flying through the clouds on snowy swans, began to circle the globe of the vast earth. In Triptolemus's manner, she sowed kisses on the fertile fields and thrice made an unaccustomed sound. From that was born a happy harvest for suffering humans. From that was born the only cure for my malady. Greetings always, as- suager of my flame, moist kisses born of icy roses! I am he, the poet by whom your honors will be celebrated in song, as long as the ridges of Mt. Medusa shall be renowned, and as long as Amor, mindful of Aeneas's progeny and full of the eloquence of his beloved people, shall speak the gentle words of Romulus's descendants.]

Though obviously a proemium (and one reminiscent of an Alexan- drian etiological poem), Basia 1 also functions by virtue of its my- thologizing as a counterweight to the mythological poems grouped toward the end of the cycle {Basia 15 and 18). As is evident in the Vergilian omatus and especially in the poetic ideal of the finale (note the emphasis placed on "disertus" [eloquent] and the Latin language), Secundus legitimates his poetry— despite the objections raised in sub- sequent Basia— zs a humanist undertaking. The levity and inventive- ness are certainly prefigurations of what is to come, but the poem's very lightness indicates the critical edge that characterizes the poet's persona in the Basia. Indeed, Basia 1 unmistakably mocks the high- flying style of epic. Secundus was a master of the grandiloquent moment, which he ironizes as a way of elevating his decidedly unheroic, non-epic style. The introductory tone of the faux-grandilo- quent assumes particular importance, we shall see, as it prefigures his defense of the cultivation of the lesser art of amatory poetry. The connection to the heroic Aeneid reaches its highest pitch when he solemnly apostrophizes the kisses and vows to sing of their honors. Whoever reads the final four lines aloud will notice the onomatopoe- ic evocation of "soft words" ("mollia . . . verba"), especially in the


The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss 63

liquids and nasals of the final line and the measured smoothness created, in part, by the absence of elision. The patronymic "Romuli- dum" indicates the heroic as does the appellation "Aeneas's prog- eny," with the result that the elegant formulation conveys an idea of past grandeur— the greatness that was Rome— and one that endures. But, ironically, that greatness is of the slightest and most tenuous build— as Secundus will later invocate, "I sing of kisses unarmed." He sings of erotic love, not of the arms and the man.

The proemium, thus, introduces complex tones of levity and irony as well as themes of apology and, not least, humanism, all of which recur in the cycle. The rest of the cycle may be grouped into three parts where different tonal qualities predominate. Like Basia 1, Basia 2-8 generally sound light tones, sometimes exceedingly so. The last two of that group {Basia 7 and 8), as glyconics and iambic di- meter catalectic, respectively, move at an almost frenzied speed, reaching a poetic climax in the last line of Basia 8 with "O vis superba formae." This high point of ambiguous emotion follows hard on a preliminary climax in 5.21: "Tu, tu sola mihi es, Neaera, maior" (You, you, Neaera, alone are greater to me).

The following set of poems, which holds the center of the cycle, entails considerably more graphic descriptions of sexual desire; its tone is correspondingly harsher. Basia 5, as a prefiguration of the center, is a sustained description of erotic kissing, whereas Basia 9, 10, 11, 12, and 14 either adopt or defend explicitly sexual poetics, oc- casionally with purposefully obscene overtones.^ Here, the poet names the penis in both humorous and threatening formulations; he also addresses both his readers and his beloved in frank, if not coarse, terms. The final group of poems {Basia 15-19) is a recovery from the epigrammatic tone of the center. Basia 15 and 18 are light mythologi- cal narratives, Basia 16 a Horatian "carpe diem," Basia 17 an elegant "Dawn Song," though one with arresting hints of deep torment. The final poem is the most extreme example of Secundus's nugatory poetics. Critics have tended to dismiss it as silly, suggesting the poet has gotten tired.^ I find it likely, and highly significant, that the


' Please note that these groupings are not exact. Basia 5 would seem to pre- figure the center; Basia 13, though its images of exhaustion and death are meta- phors for sex, does not have the rough qualities of the other poems in the center.

^ Basia 19 was not included in the first publication of the cycle in 1539. Nat-


64 The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss

poem is an ironically self-mocking version of the slight poem cast in "mollia verba"; it comes very close to being a self-parody. It is an ad- dress to bees, urging them to move on from the usual run of elegant spices to something genuinely exquisite, namely, Neaera's lips. Espe- cially if read from the perspective of the licentious poems of the cen- ter (and if we accept that its artificiality may be purposefully ex- aggerated), then it is possible to understand Basia 19 as a parody of the harmless amatory poem. Secundus even signals, though lightly, that the cycle is over when he concedes that he has perhaps been somewhat too "garrulous" {Basia 19.18: "garrulus").

Although Secundus insists that he writes for young men and women about to enjoy the pleasures of love, the Basia can be seen as a kind of poet's poetry, in part because they speak to literary issues such as decorum, style, and artistic freedom. Because kisses and kiss- ing are on occasion synonymous with poems and writing poetry, one is justified in understanding "basia," on a metaphorical level, as a cipher for poetry. The title Basia is, of course, a double entendre^ meaning both "kisses" and "kiss-poems." Secundus exploits this double sense in several poems. In Basia 8, for example, the tongue is described as the organ of both kissing and poeticizing. In vivid lan- guage, Secundus asserts that, though wounded in the dangerous activ- ity of "kissing," his tongue will never stop creating "basia" for Neaera. In a programmatic poem {Basia 10), he describes an aesthetic of kissing with language clearly intended to define the style of his lit- erary Basia:

Diversis varium ludat uterque modis. At quern deficiet varianda figura priorem.

Legem submissis audiat hanc oculis: Ut, quot utrinque prius data sint, tot basia solus

Dulcia victori det, totidemque modis.

(lines 18-22)

[Each one should play with variation, using different styles. Whoever, as the first, cannot vary the form, should hear this rule with downcast eyes: as many kisses as were given before on


urally, it is impossible to know what changes or deletions Secundus might have made, had he lived to see the Basia through press. See Schoolfield, Janus Secun- dus, 1 16, on the supposed weaknesses of the poem.


The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss 65

both sides, so many sweet kisses must he alone give the winner, and in as many different styles.]

Such a strong verbal association between kisses and poems about kisses should make us suspect that the Basia concern more than just the longings of a poet in love.

In two central poems {Basia 11 and 12), Secundus defends his Basia against criticism. Though the erotic element of kissing is the literal subject of Basia 11, the literary sense of poetry is strongly implied.

Basia lauta nimis quidam me iungere dicunt,

Qualia rugosi non didicere patres. Ergo, ego cum cupidis stringo tua colla lacertis,

Lux mea, basiolis immoriorque tuis, Anxius exquiram quid de me quisque loquatur.^

Ipse quis, aut ubi sim, vix meminisse vacat.^ Audiit et risit formosa Neaera, meumque

Hinc collum nivea cinxit et inde manu; Basiolumque dedit, quo non lascivius umquam

Inseruit Marti Cypria blanda suo; Et, quid, ait, metuis turbae decreta severae.^

Causa meo tantum competit ista foro.

[Some say I give kisses that are too refined, not the kind that our wrinkled fathers learned. Therefore, when I embrace your neck with desirous arms, my light, and when I die for your lit- tle kisses, should I anxiously ask what someone might say about me? Scarcely can I still remember who or where I am. Beautiful Neaera heard and laughed; here and there she embraced my neck with her snowy hand and she bestowed a little kiss, no less sexy than any that sweet Venus fixed on her Mars. And she said: "Why do you fear the decision of the moralistic crowd? Only my court has competence in that case."]

According to him, his critics fault the "basia" as being "too re- fined" (line 1) and "unlike those our wrinkled fathers learned" (line 2). The point is, of course, that, while refinement and artistry remain a part of his aesthetic, Secundus emphatically rejects the need for con-


' MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 162, "vix meminisse vacat" is an emendation of the crossed out "non meminisse libet."


66 The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss

formity to a style. The sense of the "rugosi patres" (wrinkled fathers) further implies that a concept of literary didacticism or moralizing is being rejected. The poem, in fact, uses the topos of the confused lover not only to express the depth of the lover's infatuation but also to reveal the poet's disorientation from any socioliterary standard (see especially line 6). The poem concludes, presumably in the poet's imagination, with Neaera's assertion that only her judgment of "kisses" matters (lines 11-12). The metaphor of Neaera's forum or court ("meo foro") is a device that excludes any larger, perhaps offi- cial, public from determining poetry's style or judging its value. Se- cundus achieves, at least ideally, artistic license by inscribing the standard for its criticism into the poetry itself. For example, Neaera is able to judge his poetry with explicit commentary, as is the case here, or, as elsewhere, in the form of a gesture. She is, moreover, not his only judge.

Secundus can be much franker in laying a claim to artistic free- dom. In Basia 12, he imitates the hendecasyllabic invective of Catullus and Martial to discredit, if not offend, his detractors:

Quid vultus removetis hinc pudicos, Matronaeque puellulaeque castae? Non hie furta Deum iocosa canto Monstrosasve libidinum figuras; Nulla hie carmina mentulata, nulla. Quae non discipulos ad integellos Hirsutus legat in schola magister. Inermes cano basiationes, Castus Aonii chori sacerdos. Sed vultus adhibent modo hue protervos Matronaeque puellulaeque cunctae, Ignari quia forte mentulatum Verbum diximus, evolante voce. Ite hinc, ite procul, molesta turba, Matronaeque puellulaeque turpes. Quanto castior est Neaera nostra, Quae certe sine mentula libellum Mavult, quam sine mentula poetam.

[Why do you turn away your modest faces, chaste women and little girls? I do not sing herein of the naughty trysts of the


The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss 67

gods, or horrifying examples of lusts — no poems with penises here; nothing that a shaggy teacher couldn't read in school to his wholesome schoolboys. I, as a chaste priest of the Aonian chorus, sing of kisses unarmed. But now all the women and little girls are turning their impudent faces toward me because, in my hasty talk, I've accidentally said the word penis. Away, far away, you molesting crowd, you women and little girls! How much more chaste is my Neaera, who certainly prefers a book without a penis to a poet without one.]

The poem divides neatly into two equal parts: the facetious address to "chaste" woman and girls (lines 1-9); and a sharp rebuke of their lewdness (lines 10-18). The first line is parodied at the volta: the faces of modesty ("vultus . . . pudicos") become those of shamelessness ("vultus . . . protervos"). His protestations of innocence are mocking- ly lighthearted and also engage a disarmingly direct crudity. Secun- dus's humorous flippancy becomes transparent in the mock heroic formulation of his undertaking: "I sing of kisses unarmed" (line 8). Using the device of the preteritio, he lists the offensive elements he claims to forgo in his poetry. The purpose of the list, which refers with increasing vividness to sex, is to offend his audience in the act of protesting that his poetry is inoffensive; to paraphrase Secundus, his poetry contains no intrigues of gods, no monstrous figures of lust, and no poems with penises (lines 3-5). The subsequent assertion that the business of "mentulatum" (a crude term for "having a penis") just slipped out would, in any event, be specious and, in light of the poem's virtually mathematical organization, is all the more comical. Even the sharp invective combines the caustic with the humorous. Beginning with the abrupt correction of the epithet "castae," he in- veighs against the women who, he alleges, are keenly interested in his racy language. The transparent misrepresentation of the reason for the women's interest alleviates to a degree the sharpness of his re- proach. Nonetheless, the ensuing invective, stylistically reminiscent of Catullus and Martial, brands the women a "molesta turba" (mo- lesting crowd; line 14). The coup de grace is a piece of twisted logic: Neaera is "purer" than the ladies because they are obsessed with poems with penises while she prefers a poet with one. In this case, the invective and obscenity both defend and demonstrate his freedom from a moralistic concept of poetry. Nonetheless, humor undercuts the crudity in two ways. His poem is an ironic protestation of inno-


68 The Basia." Poetry and the Art of the Kiss

cence that admits and proves guilt. And the unconcerned repetition of "mentula" and "mentulatum" gives the poem a tone of harmless- ness. After all, he sings but of "inermis basiationes" (unarmed kisses; line 8).

Moreover, Basia 12 depends heavily on Martial, 3.68, which (to- gether with 3.69) deals with the literary use of obscenity. Epigram 3.68, addressed to Martial's "matrona" {Basia 12 is similarly ad- dressed to "matronae"), apologizes for the obscenity that will follow in the concluding poems of Book Three. Martial initially warns her that he will henceforth name the symbol of Priapus (i.e., the erect phallus) in unambiguous terms. In the denouement (which obviously inspired Secundus's portrayal of the "matronaeque puellulaeque" in Basia 12), Martial asserts that now the "matrona" will actually read his remaining poems with greater interest.^

While Secundus, as is apparent in the Basia (and two complemen- tary epigrams^, uses irony, obscenity and invective in order to resist the potential impingements of a moralistic literary code, it is also im- portant not to overlook his use of violence as a transgressive device. In fact, several poems describe the erotic as a longing for violence. Basia 8, one of the best known in the cycle because of its "O vis superba formae," recounts Neaera's ferocity, in particular her canni- balistic abuse of the poet's tongue. More common, however, are the poet's threats of violence. In Basia 7, he speaks, using Ovidian mili- tary metaphor, of conquering his love in "an unrelenting assault" ("ferrem continuo impetu"; line 10). Elsewhere he vows to kiss


^ See Martial 3.68.7-12:

Schemate nee dubio, sed aperte nominat illam,

Quam recipit sexto mense superba Venus, Custodem medio statuit quam vilicus horto,

Opposita special quam proba virgo manu. Si bene te novi, longum iam lassa libellvmi

Ponebas, lotum nunc sludiosa leges.

[Without recourse to an ambiguous trope, (Terpsicore) now openly names thai which haughty Venus receives in ihe sixth month and that which an overseer sets up as a guard in the middle of the garden (i.e., statue of Priapus), which an honest maiden looks at with her hands blocking it. Unless I'm wrong about you, you have been putting my long book aside in your boredom, but now, eagerly, you're reading all of it.] ^ See Epigrams 1.24 and 1.58 as well as the discussion of them in chapter five.


The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss 69

Neaera so roughly that her body will be covered with bruises {Basia 10.5-9). This image is even more brutal because in Basia 10, as else- where, we must understand kissing as a synecdoche for sexual inter- course.

Basia 14, a sophisticated, though provocatively ambiguous, poem, is a frank admission by Secundus that he is not so much interested in kissing as in having sex. Ever seeking to violate a code of decorum, he expresses this desire in a crude, albeit characteristically vivid image:

Quid profers mihi flammeum labellum? Non te, non volo basiare, dura, Duro marmore durior, Neaera. Tanti istas ego ut osculationes Imbelles faciam, superba, vestras, Ut, nervo toties rigens supino, Pertundam tunicas meas, tuasque, Et, desiderio furens inani, Tabescam miser, aestuante vena.^ Quo fugis.-* remane, nee hos ocellos, Nee nega mihi flammeum labellum: Te iam, te volo basiare, mollis, molli mollior anseris medulla.

[Why do you offer me your flame-red little lips? I do not wish to kiss you, hard Neaera, harder than hard marble. So that I would render those unwarlike kisses of yours, arrogant woman, of such value that so many times stiff, with my penis erect, I would pierce my tunic and yours and raging with mindless desire I, an unfortunate, would shrivel with my penis seething.^ Where are you fleeing? Stay! Don't deny me those little eyes, those flame-red lips! You, now, you I desire to kiss, soft girl, softer than the soft goose down.^]

The description of the erect penis attempting to penetrate clothing (lines 6-7), as Bosscha and Burmann noted, is taken from Catullus


It would be possible, I should point out, to construe "mollis" as nomina- tive (and therefore a reference to the poet) instead of vocative (making it, as I render it, a reference to Neaera).


70 The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss

32.' Secundus, however, imitates Catullus neither to conform to a convention of ancient eroticism nor to excuse his crudity on the grounds, say, that he has merely imitated an ancient poet. We can be confident that the image is meant to be repellent because Secundus describes Neaera's reaction to it: she flees. Her rejection of the poet's crudity is yet another instance of an audience being shocked by his poetry. The denouement in this case is a brilliant rebuff to such an audience. Although his poem's vulgarity has already transgressed the literary code, Secundus feigns conformity to convention in his finale by retracting his demand for sex instead of mere kisses. The retrac- tion in lines 11-13, a parody of lines 1-3, would seem to embody the consummate expression of gentle, harmless eroticism. By now, how- ever, it is clear what "te volo basiare" (line 12) means. Secundus, of course, does not really accede to his audience's expectations for less crude poetry. He ironizes the audience's expectation by parodying a gentler form of eroticism. Read from this perspective, the conclusion is a parodistic euphemism that mocks the audience's (i.e., Neaera's) reaction to his graphic description of sexual lust.

Basia 9 also invokes the image of Neaera in flight, though here the reason for her escape is much more disturbing.^ Despite the final assertion that the poem is about a harmless punishment of kisses, Basia 9 suggests rape. In it, Secundus narrates a desire that, though pathological, has classical antecedents. Paul the Silentiary, whose epi- grams Secundus had studied, describes his rape of Menecratis.^ Above all, however, Secundus imitates the occasionally violent style of Ovid.'* Ovid, for example, speaks of beating Corinna, his mistress, in several poems (Amoves 1.7 and 2.5, for example) and, moreover, de- scribes a scene in which he forces himself on her, after having ripped off her clothing {Amores 1.5). In the poet's recounting, Corinna resists his intrusion, but does so disingenuously and badly. According to Ovid, she really wants to lose the struggle:


' See BB, 1:277.

^ A third depiction of Neaera in flight is Basia 3, though the image is not well developed.

^ See Greek Anthology 5.275.

Ovid is, of course, known for the militaristic metaphors in his erotic poems, one his most famous lines being the already quoted "Militat omnis amans" {Amores 1.9.1).


The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss 71

Pugnabat tunica sed tamen ilia tegi. Quae cum ita pugnaret, tamquam quae vincere nollet, Victa est non aegre proditione sua.

{Amores 1.5.14-16)

[But she fought to put her clothes back on. Yet she fought as one who did not want to win. She was conquered, quite nicely, by her own betrayal.]

Secundus's story runs as follows: Neaera cheats him of some kisses; he chases and eventually overpowers her; he then forces kisses on her. Rape does not literally occur, but the account of the imag- ined chase includes violent constrainment of Neaera:

Et te remotis in penetralibus, Et te latebris abdito in intimis:^ Sequar latebras usque in imas, In penetrale sequar repostum: Praedamque victor fervidus in meam Utrimque heriles iniiciens manus, Raptabo, ut imbellem columbam Unguibus accipiter recurvis. Tu deprecantes victa dabis manus, Haerensque totis pendula brachiis, Placare me septem iocosis Basiolis cupies inepta. Errabis.

(Basia 9.17-29)

[Hide in the farthest chamber and in the most remote hiding- place, I will follow you all the way into the deepest hiding place; I will follow into the most remote chamber, and, as a burning victor over my quarry, I will drag you off, laying both mastering hands on you, just as the hawk carries off the unwar- like dove in its crooked talons. Conquered, you will give me your imploring hands, and clinging, as you hang on, with both arms, you will try to placate me — oh you fool— with seven play- ful kisses. You will fail!]


' MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 160, "abdito in intimis" is an emendation of the crossed out "abde sub intimis."


72 The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss

Rape is suggested in the passage's language: the flight and pursuit sug- gest intercourse ("in penetrale . . . repostum"); the attacker empha- sizes his lust and violence ("fervidus victor" . . . "heriles iniciens manus"); and Neaera is described as a defenseless victim ("praedam" , . . "victa"). It is also possible to associate the simile of the hawk catching the innocent dove in its hooked talons, by itself a stark image of brutality, with rape. Though other sources cannot be ruled out,^ the simile is probably taken from Ovid's account of Arethusa's flight from Alpheus, when he attempted to rape her:

Sic ego currebam, sic me ferus ille premebat, Ut fugere accipitrem penna trepidante columbae, Ut solet accipiter trepidas urgere columbas.^

[Metamorphoses 5.604-6)

[Thus I was fleeing and thus that beast was in hot pursuit; I, just as doves, on quivering wing, are wont to flee the hawk; and he, just as the hawk chases the quivering doves.]

Furthermore, the verb "raptare," while it has the primary sense of "to seize and carry off," also means "to seize in order to rape."^ Even the conclusion, despite its pose of innocuity, remains disturb- ing: Neaera will have to give the poet seven times the number of un- returned kisses, and, furthermore, she will be happy in the future to endure such punishment as he metes out."* Thus, for several reasons, not the least of which is that "basium" also signifies sexual inter- course, the conclusion retains a dark irony.

This poem, in effect, can be read as a metaphor of transgressive poetics. Secundus orders Neaera to flee from him, just as he seeks to put off his audience. His threat of sexual violation corresponds to his


^ Secundus probably also knew Pontano's "Ad Stellam" {Eridanus 1.9), which also portrays a violent encounter between lovers, though one whose vio- lence is both more reciprocal and, perhaps, more sensual than Secundus's. Guepin prints the poem in De Kunst van Janus Secundus, 156-59.

^ Horace also used this simile to describe Caesar's pursuit of Cleopatra in Odes 1.37.17-18. The phrase "imbelles columbae" is taken from Horace, Odes 4.4.31-32: "neque imbellem feroces / progenerant aquilae columbae."

^ See the Oxford Latin Dictionary, 1574, under "rapto."

'* Basia 9.34-36: "lurabis omnes per Veneres tuas / Te saepius poenas easdem / Crimine velle pari subire" (You will swear by all your Venuses that you often wish to endure the same pimishment for the same crime).


The Basia; Poetry and the Art of the Kiss 73

threatened violation of the sensibiHties of a prudish audience. The denouement represents, of course, the Secundian posture that his poetry is, in actuaHty, harmless. The violence in both language and sexual desire may result, as a consequence of the layers of irony, in a successful demonstration of poetic license, but, as a result of flout- ing a moralistic or decorous literary code, it also inscribes — perhaps carelessly or unwittingly — a misogynist ideology into his poetry.

In the Basia, Secundus's transgressive poetics has several important elements and consequences. He frequently inserts an audience into his poems in order to create tension between his licensed style and a moralistic system of literary decorum. In fact, the audience exists in such varied forms as the "matronaeque puellulaeque" {Basia 12), an indefinite "quidam" {Basia 11), and Neaera herself (especially Basia 11 and 14). Moreover, he does not pretend to break the literary con- ventions of ancient eroticism, but rather a socioliterary code he postulates for his own time. His principal devices of transgression are obscenity, invective, and, above all, vivid portrayals of sexual desire. Secundus not only seeks to shock, he also increases the violent ele- ment in his eroticism to the point of threatening to rape Neaera. He offends in order to validate his poetics, but in the process of op- posing an ideological concept of poetry he articulates a licensed code that includes portraying or threatening violence against women. Of course, this is not to say that his self-irony and levity cannot also work to qualify his transgressive gestures. However, despite Secun- dus's ironic levity, it is important not to overlook the implications of Basia 9, both as an illustration of literary transgression and the limit- lessness of his license.

Consequently, the Basia illustrate that a principal element of Se- cundus's poetics is the tension between his conformity to literary convention and his contravention of decorum. His poems embody a basic contradictoriness: they are derivative yet deeply original; they are charming and importuning but also offensive and repelling; their language is, at different times, both elegantly refined and brashly ob- scene. Over all, the Basia negotiate conformity to, and defiance of, as- sumed literary codes.


5


The Epigrams:

Love, Art, and License


Adeste, hendecasyllabi, quot estis Omnesque undique, quotquot estis omnes. Catullus 42.1-2

[Come here, you epigrams, all of you from everywhere, the entire number of you.]

Haec urant pueros, haec urant scripta puellas. Propertius 3.9.45

[May these poems set boys and girls on fire.]

Oecundus's brothers collected and organized the extant epigrams in two books. With a few restorations by the later editor Petrus Scriverius, the first book now consists of seventy-six original composi- tions, while the second book comprises a collection of seventeen Latin renderings of epigrams from the Greek Anthology} As one would expect, the original epigrams of Book One exhibit stylistic and thematic diversity. The ancient models are Catullus, Martial, the Greek Anthology, and Ausonius; of the moderns, Marullo exerted the greatest influence. Subjects range from imitations of Catullan spar- row-poems,^ tributes to love and lovers,^ encomiastic tributes to Charles V,'^ and panegyrics on writers such as Marullo and Alciati,^


^ Nicolaus Grudius and Hadrianus Marius did not include what are now, fol- lowing Burmann and Bosscha's numeration, 1.25, 1.26, and 1.58 in their edition of 1541; these poems were, however, printed in Petrus Scriverius's edition of 1631.

^ Epigrams 1.7 and 1.8.

^ Epigrams 1.3, 1.4, 1.16, 1.20, 1.52, 1.53, 1.55, 1.56, and 1.57.

^ Epigrams 1.17 and 1.20.

  • Epigrams 1.32 and 1.33 are tributes to Marullo; 1.23 and 1.59 are accolades

of Alciati.


The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License 75

to lampoons on undesirable women, ^ unusual sexual behavior,^ and prostitutes ill-disposed to the poet.^ The tone, thus, shifts frequently between encomiastic and invective. Of all of Secundus's poetic books, the Epigrams offer the most sustained commentary on art,^ and, like the Basia, they exemplify and espouse a concept of literature unfettered by moralistic poetics. To a degree, the defense of license engages the classical tradition, especially in the form of imitation of polemically self-apologetic works by Catullus and Martial. But all is not imitation, for in many poems Secundus reflects deeply and inde- pendently on the nature of poetry and its relationship to socio-polit- ical expectations.

In his elegies, odes, and especially in the Basia, Secundus's style is often epigrammatic. Some of the Basia, though obviously not those written in lyric meters, could have been included in the collection of epigrams. Several of them use an antithetical structure, are written in epigrammatic meters (especially the hendecasyllabics and the elegiac couplets), and reach an epigrammatic pomte. Basia 3, in fact, embod- ies the CatuUan style of an erotic epigram:

Da mihi suaviolum, dicebam, blanda puella:

Libasti labris mox mea labra tuis. Inde, velut presso qui territus angue resultat,

Ora repente meo vellis ab ore procul. Non hoc suaviolum dare, lux mea, sed dare tantum

Est desiderium flebile suavioli.^

[I was saying, "sweet girl, give me a little kiss"; soon you grazed my lips with yours. Thereupon, like someone who jumps back, terrified after stepping on a snake, you suddenly tear your mouth away from mine. My dear, that is not a little kiss, but rather just the tearful longing for a little kiss.]


' See Epigrams 1.5 and 1.76.

2 See Epigrams 1.10, 1.70, and 1.72.

' See Epigrams 1.11, 1.12, 1.13, 1.22 (to Neaera), 1.29, 1.34, and 1.35.

^ Literature is the most prominent art, though several poems deal with paintings {Epigrams 1.39 [on Jan van Scorel], 1.42, and 1.71), medallions or sculpture (1.43 and 1.44), and architecture (1.45).

^ See Guepin, De Kunst van Janus Secundus, 28-29, for a parallel to Basia 3, Pontano's "Ad Cinnamam blande" {Partenopaeus 1.24).


76 The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License

Unlike much of his other poetry, however, the epigrams, as a col- lection, tend not to focus on love as passion. Instead, they have a harder, frequently insensitive, edge. In fact, most of the erotic epi- grams offer a crude, often abusive, commentary on sex or on women (and, to a lesser degree, men^) as sex objects; they are usually humor- ous at the woman's expense.

One exception to this is Epigrams \.ll^ a poem addressed to Neaera that, as is so often the case in Roman love poetry, portrays the riven persona of a tormented male lover torn between love and revilement of a woman:

Lumina mi atque animum cepit tua Candida forma;

Moribus offendor, torva Neaera, tuis. Nee mihi nuda places, sed cum vestita recumbis:

Basia me capiunt; non amo concubitus. Quot dotes natura dedit, totidem tibi mendas

Addidit, et tamen, heu, tete ego depereo. Nimirum coecus non est cum pulcra tuetur;

Tunc Argum, tunc et Lyncea vincit Amor. At mendas spectare aversa fronte recusat.

Tunc et Tiresia coecior et Thamyra.

[Your bright beauty captured my eyes and soul; but, dreadful Neaera, your behavior offends me. You do not please me when you are nude, but rather when you recline with your clothes on. Your kisses captivate me— I do not desire sex. For every gift, nature also gave you a flaw, but, alas, I nevertheless love you des- perately. Certainly, a man is not blind when he sees beauty— Amor conquers both Argus and Lynceus. But, then, blinder than Tire- sias and Thamyras, he refuses to see the flaws before his eyes.]

This poem illustrates the typical Secundian antithesis, which, in addi- tion to irony, is perhaps the most common device in the epigrams. Contrasts inform every thought of the poem: Neaera's beauty and depravity (lines 1-2); the poet's innocence and Neaera's hard-core sexuality (lines 3-4); nature's gifts and flaws (lines 5-6); beauty's power over those with keen vision (Argus and Lynceus; lines 7-8)


  • See Epigrams 1.2 and 1.27.

^ The only other exception is Epigrams 1.52.


The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License 77

and love's ability to make them blind (Tiresias and Thamyras; lines 9-10). Secundus adopts a Catullan persons of the young man who, in his supposed innocence, passionately loves a woman, even though he sees her terrible flaws all too clearly — Catullus's "Odi et amo" (I hate and I love; Catullus 85), for example, comes to mind immediately. Moreover, Secundus connects the individual struggle, aphoristically, to the general observation that humankind remains vulnerable to emotion, despite its faculty for dispassionate judgment. The almost algebraic order of the poem suggests rational control (and the poten- tially salutary force of disillusion), but the controlled structure intensifies the awful sense of agony that arises from embracing — con- sciously, but irrationally— an illusory desire.

Like Catullus and Martial (and in ways reminiscent of Juvenal's satires), Secundus also wrote political epigrams. The presence of political poems in his oeuvre raises questions about the consistency and meaningfulness of his allegiance to an amatory poetics that ag- gressively resists the encroachments of political subject matters. These issues are so important that I suspend thorough discussion of them until chapter six. Nonetheless, I should stress that political poems, all of which are connected in some way to Charles V or his court, figure prominently in Secundus's Epigrams.

Two epigrams written to accompany Nicolaas Hogenberg's De Triomftocht van Karel V (a series of forty engravings commemorating Charles V's coronation at Bologna in 1530), acknowledge the place of political art and also, as one would expect, sing the praises of Charles V. Epigrams 1.43 invites one to view the depictions of imperial and papal power and also comments on the legitimacy of political art, in clicheed fashion, as the means of attaining immortality, or at least an en- during memorial— art ensures the eternal life, as it were, of the arms and the man, though history's hero must support the arts for the sake of his own survival. As we shall see, the movement from political subject to reflection on the nature of art (or an artwork) recurs in Se- cundus's poems on political figures. Moreover, he creates an aprosdochesis with an abrupt apostrophe in the pointe to "posteritas vivida" (oh living posterity; line 6), claiming that art is for posterity and implying that it does not serve Charles exclusively.

Epigrams 1.44 is a more emphatic tribute to Charles, though it, too, celebrates the endurance of art in contrast to the transitoriness of a ruler's life:


78 The Epigrams: Love, Arty and License

Caesar et Hesperiis, et qui dominaris Eois, Accipe, quod tenebris te prohibebit opus.

Non fato veniente cades, multosque secutus, Ignotum longa nocte premere caput:

Sed cum victuris victurus, Carole, chartis Ibis ad Antipodum regna, secutus avum.

[Emperor, lord over West and East, accept this work which will save you from the shades of death! When death comes, you shall not fall; nor will your head, following the many, be pressed into oblivion by the lengthy night. Rather, Charles, you shall endure with these enduring pages and shall go to the realms on the other side, following your grandfather.]

Once again, the Secundian epigram has a binary style, though here the pairs are both geminations and antitheses. Thus we have both east and west; both Charles and the engravings will endure (line 5: "cum victuris victurus, Carole, chartis"); and the repetition of "secutus" (lines 3 and 6) sets Charles apart from the many.^ Obvi- ously, Secundus manipulates the myth of Charles's empire, the realm upon which the sun never sets (because of the territories in the new world, "the realms on the other side"). He uses this absence of night from the Hapsburg empire for the conceit that art and the realm will spare Charles the "longa nox" of death (line 4). The/7omfe, thus, in- cludes an ingenious bow to the dynasty in the words "secutus avum" (which designates Maximilian I) and also uses the concept of the an- tipodal people (i.e., those on the other side of the earth^ to refer both to the empire in the Americas and to Hapsburg transcendence of mortality, or "this world."

Of the Caroline epigrams, there remain two witty tributes to the emperor {Epigrams 1.17 and 1.21) as well as two sharp invectives against Charles's enemy Francis I {Epigrams 1.25 and 1.26). I shall dis- cuss Epigrams \A7 and the poems against Francis in chapter six; for now, however, it is important to consider the casual style Secundus adopts in his epigrams, even when they concern Charles V. Epigrams


' There seems to be an imperial Roman sense of deification at work here, though that idea is expressed most clearly in Epigrams 1.17.

^ Secundus may actually be thinking of Pliny's description of the Hyper- boreans in Naturalis Historia 4.80.


The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License 79

1.21 may even ironize the panegyric elevation of its subject, though, at the very least, it illustrates Secundus's tendency to lower the stylistic level of political panegyric to approximate the levity of his nugatory aesthetic. Obviously, Epigrams 1.21 is a minor, occasional poem, written as a joke to explain the bad weather for Charles's birth- day on 24 February 1531.

Cur nive Caesareus gelida natalis inhorret?

Candida uti foret haec lux, voluere Dei. Cur igitur Phoebus latet aureus? baud opus illo est:

Phoebeum fundit Caesar ab ore iubar.

{Epigrams 1.21)

[Why does Caesar's birthday bristle with gelid snow? The Gods wanted the light of this day to be bright. Why, then, is golden Apollo invisible? There's no need of him: the emperor emits Apolline radiance from his countenance.]

The exaggerated tribute in the pointe comes close to parodying en- comiastic art. Even if the poem is not critically self-parodistic, its im- pressive lightness and humorous tone make the tribute unusual: the hyperbolic conceit gives the epigram an intentional weightlessness that, to a degree, belies the imperial dignity of its subject.

Overshadowing politics, art emerges as a dominant theme in the epigrams. In many of his works— and with particular emphasis in the Epigrams— the experience of art becomes the salient feature in the stylization of his life. Obviously, the idea of experiencing love in- forms his poetics; but much more important is the observation that amatory poetry is itself an experience of erotic art, not just (or not even necessarily) an experience of real love. The underlying idea of Secundus's imitative aesthetic — i.e., art informs both experience and subsequent art— comes to the fore as a discrete theme in several of his epigrams.' Art is, perhaps, the single most common subject in the


' See, for example, Epigrams 1.20, which is an amatory tribute to Proper- tius's lover Cynthia. An idea of experiencing passion through art also occurs in Epigrams 1.66 (to Cranefeldius). Secundus even senses the perfume in Resende's poetry, according to Epigrams 1.67. See also the tributes to Marullo's poetry as a source of erotic verse {Epigrams 1.32 and 1.33). Martyn, "The Relationship between Liicio Angelo Andre de Resende and lohannes Secundus," offers a translation oi Epigrams 1.67, 1.74, and 1.75 (all addressed to Resende) as well as some biographical notes.


80 The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License

Epigrams: many are inscriptions for works of art (1.4, 1.5, 1.16, 1.42, 1.43, 1.44, and 1.47); many comment on fellow poets or artists (1.18, 1.30, 1.31, 1.32, 1.33, 1.40, 1.41, 1.65, 1.66, 1.67, 1.74, and 1.75); and several comment on, or defend, his own poetry (1.18, 1.24, 1.38, 1.47, 1.58, 1.73).

In his addresses to fellow poets (and to scholars for that matter), Secundus usually does not indulge in the stilted praise so endemic to later humanist Latin poetry.^ He consistently executes his laudations in a casual style, frequently ironizing encomium— albeit lightly— with humorous conceits. For instance, a poetic tribute to Joannes Brassica- nus, which complements the gift of a portrait medallion, issues a challenge to the young poet to write more poetry:

Sculpsi, quodque manus et caela dedere peregi,

Exanimum spectas et sine voce caput. Utque diu vivas per nos in imagine parva,

Longaque conspicias secula, mutus eris. Ergo age, perpetuum lapidi tu, lane, silenti

Carmine vocali, si potes, adde sonum.

{Epigrams 1.65)

[I sculpted and completed all that hands and chisels could, and you see a soulless head without a voice. As long as, through my effort, you live on in this small portrait and observe the long centuries, you will be mute. Therefore, Joannes, if you can, with tuneful song add perpetual voice to the silent stone.]

Several poems critique the artistry of other poets, usually, though not always, by applying stylistic criteria of erotic verse.^ Epigrams 1.31, for instance, valorizes the amatory elegy over heroic verses:

Dum tu elegos dicis quae heroica carmina scribis, Dignus eras veros qui faceres elegos.


' See Erich Trunz, "Der deutsche Spathumanismus," 147-81.

^ Two critical poems which do not refer to amatory style, though, are the lampoons of a certain Bubalus (1.40 and 1.41). Epigram 1.41 concerns the poet writing about his own illnesses, a fairly common theme for humanist love-poets. In a clever but crude conceit, the diseased body becomes the source of bad poetry: "Bubalus aegrotat: Paean, succurre poetae, / Ne, quotiens languet, tam mala verba vomat" (Bubalus is sick! Paean [or Apollo], heal the poet lest as often as he languishes he vomit sick words).


The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License 81

[While you called the heroic poems you write elegies, you were worthy of writing real elegies.]

Consequently, it is not by accident that, in the literary-critical epi- grams, Secundus accords the highest praise to Marullo, the premier, albeit controversial, amatory poet of the preceding generation.^ According to Epigrams 1.32 (addressed to the Mechlin schoolmaster Franciscus Hoverius), Marullo is an inexhaustible treasury for poets, though it is his nugatory poetics— described in CatuUan terminolo- gy—that gives his work literary value.

En, Francisce, redit tuus Marullus, Aeque cultus ut ante, dives aeque, Nee vel versiculo minutus uno: Thesaurum tamen ille iam reliquit Nobis ex opibus suis perennem, NuUo pauperior nee asse factus. Qua pro re domino tot esse grates Relatas cupimus, quot expolitos Versus continet optimus Marullus, Quot sales lepidos, ioeosque molles, Quot laudes veterum pias Deorum.

{Epigrams 1.32)

[Look, Franciscus, your Marullo returns to you, just as elegant and just as rich as before. He has not been diminished by so much as a single little verse; he nonetheless has left an inex- haustible treasury of his wealth with me, though he has not been made even a penny poorer. For this, I desire to convey thanks to you, dear headmaster, to the same extent to which wonderful Marullo contains polished verses, charming jests, gentle trifles and pious hymns to the ancient gods.^]

Secundus strives for the entertaining conceit (here the idea of taking from the book without diminishing its contents) and elegant phrase- ology — note the chiastic ploche (i.e., duplication) "aeque cultus . . .


' For a biography of Marullo, see Kidwell, Marullus, though Kidwell is un- aware of Marullo's impact on Secundus.

^ Secundus refers here to Marullo's Hymni naturales which raised consider- able controversy in the Renaissance, especially from Poliziano, for their alleged paganism.


82 The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License

dives aeque," the parallelism of "minutus" and "factus" as well as the graceful anaphora of "quot . . . quot . . . quot." Most important, though, is his use of a Catullan standard of nugatory poetics to in- form the praise of the "expolitos / versus," "sales lepidos," and "iocosque molles." Epigrams 1.33 reiterates the classical standard for amatory style, including this time both Catullus^ and Tibullus as models.

Cum legerem faciles elegos, Francisce, Marulli,

Miratus lepidos cum gravitate iocos, lam quis adhuc, inquam, sani modo pectoris est, qui

Vera neget Samii dicta verenda senis.^ Cernimus en culti mentem remeasse Tibulli,

Corpore conclusam, culte Marulle, tuo.

[Franciscus, whenever I read MaruUo's deft elegies, admiring the combination of charming jests and weightiness, I say, "who is there now of sound intellect who would deny that the vener- able words of old Pythagoras are true?" Behold! We see the mind of elegant Tibullus has returned, encased in your body, elegant Marullo!]

While the pointe playfully invokes the Pythagorean concept of trans- migration of the souls, the poem retains considerable force, especially in the surprising apostrophe to Marullo and the gemination of the epithet "cultus." The hyperbole is effective, in part, because it is a self-conscious exaggeration (and, therefore, has a light irony), though the tribute to Marullo's art remains forceful: being Tibullus, Marullo "embodies" the model of Renaissance imitative erotic art.

But Secundian love, as is also true for Marullo's poetry, does not always resemble the gentle eroticism one might associate with Tibul- lus. Secundus's vigor resides in graphic descriptions of sexual desire as well as purposeful descents to the level of obscenity. For example, with a tone of insouciance, he celebrates the affairs of a married woman and two men (1.10); the sexual encounter can, furthermore, be repeated ad libitum, as the husband has been thoroughly duped:


' The Catullan terminology is strongest in line 2: "lepidos . . . iocos.'


The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License 83

Marullus Variusque^ Septimillae Donavere toga nova maritum. Nunc ille ambulat hue et hue togatus, Et transit fora, porticus, tabernas, Vicos, balnea, fornices, popinas, Nee toto deeies revisit anno ReHetam dominis domum noveUis. Securi modo saepe luce prima, Securi modo saepe sole sero, Securi medio die fruuntur Marullus Variusque Septimilla.^

[Marullus and Varius gave Septimilla's husband a new toga. Now he walks everywhere clad in a toga! He goes through the forums, porticos, taverns, neighborhoods, bathhouses, brothels, and bistros. Nor does he revisit his house, turned over to new masters, ten times in an entire year. Secure at dawn, secure in the evening, secure at midday, Marullus and Varius enjoy Septi- milla often.]

With exaggerated rhetorical devices (alliteration, climactic accumu- latio, and anaphora), Secundus emphasizes the subject of repetition and also, though without a specific source, suggests CatuUan invec- tive. The repetition of the first line in the finale, for example, is a common device of Catullus's obscene poems.' Similarly, Secundus puts the stamp of a classical style on his obscene tirade on the ugli- ness of the women of Bourges [Epigrams 1.76). He concludes it with an imitation of TibuUus's threats to punish Marathus's promiscuity:

His (i.e., ugly women of Bourges) tamen accumbunt iuvenes, dignaeque videntur Cum quibus extensa proelia nocte gerant. Illos posse putem rabidae concumbere tigri, Inque cruentatas turpiter ire lupas.

(lines 7-10)


' MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 126, "Variusque" is an emendation of a crossed out name (which is now illegible).

^ Ibid., fol. 127, "fruuntur . . . Septimilla" is an emendation of the crossed out "dolabunt . . . Septimillam."

' See Catullus 16, 36, 52, 57, and 112.


84 The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License

[Nonetheless, the young men go to bed with these women and the women seem to them to be worthy of the long, nocturnal battles. I should think that those young men could go to bed with a fierce tiger or, wickedly, go against bloody wolves.]

In the recasting of TibuUus, Secundus creates an even harsher image of indiscriminate sex.^ The comparison of the women to "lupae" probably is intended to associate them with prostitution, though, above all, one is left with the intentionally offensive image of bestiali-

Obscene sex functions not only as a device of the invective epi- gram, but also as Secundus's defense of poetic license. This can be seen most clearly in a group of epigrams that revile grammarians. In Epigrams 1.18, grammarians represent, and are lampooned as, the source of a restrictive code of poetic decorum. One of Secundus's longest epigrams, it begins with an extensive invitation to Jeronimo de Zurita (1512-1580) to visit him at a modest country estate. The invitation has Vergilian and, above all, CatuUan echoes.^ Zurita is to bring "quidquid habes facetiarum / Et quidquid salis, atque risionis" (all the witty stories, jests, and bon mots you have; Epigrams 1.18.21-22). Initially, in fact, the poem seems to be little more than an imitation of Catullus 's humorous dinner invitation to FabuUus (Catullus 13). While Catullus creates a light tone by inviting the guest to bring all the food (and, more importantly, wit), Secundus implores Zurita not to bring a grammarian, as that would spoil the rustic locus amoenus. Specifically, the grammarian must be excluded since he, as an audi- ence, will reject Secundus's poetry. In typical fashion, he concludes the poem, which began with a charming and refined description of


^ The Tibullan source is 1.9.75-76: "Huic tamen accubuit noster puer: hunc ego credam / cum trucibus venerem iungere posse feris" (Nonetheless, my boy lay with him and I think he would be able to have sex with savage beasts).

^ Moreover, Secundus intended several other epigrams to be equally offen- sive. For example, he lampoons a lover named Ponticus in Epigrams 1.70: "At- trectans digito muliebria, laeserat ungue / Ponticus: hunc resecat dente: venustus homo est." The sarcastic "venustus," like the surprising punch-line, is reminis- cent of Catullus (see Catullus 22.2).

' Line 6 ("qua fagus patulis commata ramis") suggests, at least slightly, Vergil, Eclogues 1.1, and Bosscha associates the image of line 5 ("Si lenis tremula quies in umbra") with Vergil, Eclogues 5.5 ("sive sub incertas Zephyris mo- tantibus umbras").


The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License 85

bucolic quietude, with a sexual innuendo of an unnamed grammari- an, narrated in the style of a Renaissance facetia-.

Nam quidam mihi retulit poeta, Notae Grammaticum severitatis Noctes atque dies dolenter angi. Quod nee Grammaticum vocare doctum, Nee se Grammaticam vocare doctam In libri titulo sui venusti Possit, cum generis sit ipse neutri: Cui vates meus, ut gravi labore lam tandem miserum senem levaret, Secure pater, inquit, eloqueris. Si te Grammaticosque masculinos Tecum, Grammaticosque femininos, Communesque simul, simulque neutros, Omnes, Grammaticum pecus vocabis.

{Epigrams 1.18.32-45)

[For a certain poet told me that a grammarian of well-known severity was grievously vexed night and day because he was unable to call himself a learned "grammaticus" or a learned "grammatica" in the title of his charming book, as he was, actually, of neither gender. To alleviate the hard efforts of this poor old man, my poet said to him: "You will speak without worry, father, if you will call yourself, and all the masculine grammarians along with you, and all the female grammarians, and all those of both common and neuter gender the 'grammari- an herd!' "]

The ending (lines 42-45), with its strident repetitions, finds a suitably invective climax in the appellation "grammarian herd," the circumlo- cution that avoids the "gender problem" of the emasculated gram- marian. While gender has obvious grammatical pertinence, the sexual innuendo discredits, with considerable irony, the implicit literary standard of poetry without sex. The invitation itself — until it turns at line 25 to the attack on grammarians— ingeniously evokes the antique style. CatuUan and Vergilian reminiscences, not to mention the flu- ent hendecasyllabics, make the poem a model of humanist verse, it would seem. Obscenity, which presumably accounts for the poem's unacceptability, emerges only when Secundus claims a distance be-


86 The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License

tween his poetry and the rhetorical stricture of decorum. The central idea of distance is, in fact, present both in the initial image of bucolic withdrawal and the concluding invective assault on the grammarian. This curious interplay between imitation of antique style and rejec- tion of the grammarian (presumably a source of philological/imita- tive poetry) indicates once again that Secundus conforms to a rigid stricture of form (that of classical Roman poetry) but rejects the need to conform to an imposed poetic ideal. In this respect, it is important to note that Secundus often uses Roman sources in his obscene poetry. The sexual invective against the grammarian, for example, may be based on an epigram of Ausonius.^ What Secundus ultimate- ly does in an epigram such as this one is to ironize conventionality without, I would stress, superseding it.

Epigrams 1.73 mocks the moralistic literary code of the "gram- matici" with a similar display of obscenity. The poem opens, in the voice of the poet, with an earnest sounding invocation to the gram- marians to speak out, and immediately devolves into a mock scholar- ly analysis:

Dicite, Grammatici, cur mascula nomina cunnus,

Et cur^ femineum mentula nomen habet? Sic ego: sic aliquis senior de gente verenda

Retulit, attollens longa supercilia: Mentula feminei gerit usque negotia sexus;

Inde genus merito vindicat ilia sibi. Indefessus agit res qui sine fine virorum,

Mascula non temere nomina cunnus habet.

["Grammarians, tell us why 'cunt' (cunnus) is a masculine noun and 'prick' (mentula) is a feminine noun?" Thus I spoke. And thus an older member of the reverend race, raising his mighty eyebrows, responded: "The 'prick' does the business of the fem- inine gender, wherefore its gender is vindicated. The 'cunt', which indefatigably and without end performs the affairs of men, is a masculine noun with good cause."]


  • See also Martial 1.35 for the motif of schoolmasters and obscenity.

^ MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 150, "et cur" is an emendation of the crossed out "cur male."


The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License 87

The sustained mockery of the grammarian ("senior de gente verenda" and "attoUens longa superciUa") sets the tone for the ironic "justifica- tion," as it were, of obscene diction. Serious words such as "merito" and "non temere," of course, only stress the incongruity of the analysis. The scientific language is humorous but also revealing, as the grammarian is unable, on his own, to express in frank terms the act of making love. He can only use odd euphemistic circumlocutions: "feminei gerit . . . negotia sexus" and "agit . . . res . . . virorum." Nonetheless, the vulgar words "cunnus" and "mentula" can be mentioned unabashedly as they are but the lemmata of the scholarly gloss. Furthermore, Secundus heightens the sexual innuendo by implying that the grammarian, though unable to name it, has a vivid image of sex in mind,' since he describes intercourse rather extravagantly (though naively), suggesting a kind of insatiability ("usque . . . Indefessus . . . sine fine").

Epigrams 1.24 and 1.58 defend the erotic poetics of license with specific reference to Secundus's Basia. 1.24 is an ironic protestation that two women, inappropriately, have questioned his virility:

Casta quod enervi cantamus Basia libro,

Versibus illudit fusca Lycinna meis; Et me languiduli vatem vocat Aelia penis,

Quae Venerem in triviis porticibusque locat. Scilicet exspectant nostrum quoque noscere penem!

Parcite turpiculae, mentula nulla mihi est. Nee vobis canto, nee vobis basia figo:

Ista legat teneri sponsa rudis pueri. Ista tener sponsus, nondum maturus ad arma,

Exercet variis quae Venus alma modis.

[Because I sing of chaste "Kisses" in a languorous book, dark Lycinna mocks my poetry and Aelia calls me the poet of the little limp penis. She sells herself on the streets! Indeed, they ex- pect also to get acquainted with my penis. Stop it, you wicked women! I don't have a penis! I neither sing nor make "Kisses" for you. May the simple bride of the gentle boy read them and the gentle bridegroom, not yet mature for the wars which nurturing Venus exercises in different ways.]


See Basia 12 (discussed in chapter four) for a similar suggestion that the would-be puritanical audience is actually interested in sexually explicit poems.


88 The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License

As so often in Secundus's epigrams, 1.24 recalls the bawdiness of Catul- lus and Martial. Catullus, for example, speaks of a "languid penis" in 25.3 ("pene languido senis") and occasionally suggests that, on the basis of his poetry, his virility has been called into question.^ More impor- tantly, Secundus draws on Martial 3.69, which, especially when read in conjunction with 3.68, is a defense of a sexually crude style. Secun- dus's contrast of "casta . . . basia" and "mentula" evokes Martial's sar- castic praise of a poet named Cosconius for composing poems in "castis verbis" without any "mentula."^ Obviously, in Martial "mentula" has the transferred sense of obscenity, a meaning which Secundus also exploits. Cosconius's "words should be read by boys and little girls," while Martial asserts that he writes for the de- bauched or tormented lovers (see lines 5-6). Whereas Marital ironizes the chaste, but boring author, Secundus directs irony at himself with his emphatic, but untenable, insistence that his Basia are free of ob- scenity. Moreover, Secundus associates poetry once again with sex. This is clear in the ironic claim "mentula nulla mihi est" (line 6) and the placement of the kiss-poems in an "enervi ... libro" (line 1).^ And, of course, the conclusion professes a genuine interest in eroti- cism, though here again literary style is suggested by the phrase "variis . . . modis" (line lO).'*


  • See, for example, Catullus 16.1-4: "Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo, / Aureli

pathice et cinaede Furi, / qui me ex versiculis meis putastis, / quod sunt molliculi, parum pudicum."

2 See Martial 3.69:

Omnia quod scribis castis epigrammata verbis

Inque tuis nulla est mentula carminibus, Admiror, laudo; nihil est te sanctius uno:

At mea luxuria pagina nulla vacat. Haec igitur nequam iuvenes facilesque puellae,

Haec senior, sed quem torquet arnica, legat. At tua, Cosconi, venerandaque sanctaque verba

A pueris debent virginibusque legi.

[I admire and praise you because you write all your epigrams with chaste words and there is no penis in your poems (i.e., there is no obscenity). Absolutely no one is holier than you. Yet not even a single page of mine is without licentiousness. Therefore, may worthless boys and easy girls read these, and, rather, an old man whose girlfriend torments him. But your venerable and holy words, Cosconius, should be read by boys and maidens.] ^ Note that there is a pun here as "enervus" could mean "without a penis" or, at least, "unmanly."

  • Such an association between sex and poetry in the concept of variation


The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License 89

Epigrams 1.58, as indicated by its title, "Ad Grammaticos, cur scribat lascivius" (To the Grammarians, Why He Writes Rather Lasciviously), justifies salacious writing.^

Carmina cur spargam cunctis lasciva libellis,

Quaeritis? insulsos arceo Grammaticos. Portia magnanimi canerem si Caesaris arma,

Factave divorum religiosa virum, Quot miser exciperemque notas, patererve lituras!

Quot fierem teneris supplicium pueris! At nunc uda mihi dictent quum basia carmen,

Pruriat et versu mentula multa meo, Me legat innuptae iuvenis placiturus amicae,

Et placitura novo blanda puella viro, Et quemcumque iuvat lepidorum de grege vatum

Otia festivis ludere deliciis. Lusibus at laetis procul hinc absistite, saevi^

Grammatici, iniustas et cohibete manus; Ne puer ob moUes caesus lacrymansque lepores,

Duram forte meis ossibus optet humum.

[Why do I scatter lascivious poems in all my little books, you ask? I ward off the insipid grammarians! Were I to sing of the doughty arms of the high-spirited emperor, or the religious deeds of saints, how many censures would wretched I receive, or how many corrections endure.-* To how many tender boys would I become a torment? But, now, since moist kisses dictate my poems and the penis often burns in my verse, let a young man about to please an unwed girlfriend and a sweet girl about to please a young husband read me! — and whoever from the troupe of witty poets likes to play away the leisure time with humorous, erotic poems. Raging grammarians, go far away from these happy trifles and check your unjust hands, lest a


also occurs in the Basia. See, for example, Basia 10, especially lines 18-22.

' This poem, which refers to the Basia (with links directly to Basia 9, 12, and 14), was deleted from the edition of 1541. MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 143-44, has the entire poem crossed out.

^ MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 144, line 13 is an emendation of the crossed out "Lusibus at saevi (■*) procul hinc abstitite laetis."


90 The Epigrams: Love, Art, and License

schoolboy, beaten and crying on account of my soft, charming poems, implore the earth to lie hard on my bones.]

This is also a highly imitative poem; the diction ("lepidus," "otium," and, of course, "mentula") imbues a CatuUan coloration, though other poets are also evoked.^ The poem's form, a modified recusatio, harks back to ancient practices, in particular the poetry of Ovid and, to a degree, Horace. Unlike the ancient recusatio, which is a "refusal" to write epic, Secundus's is not merely a vow of allegiance to the lighter (and consequently less significant) art of lyric. Rather, his epi- gram claims liberty to write as he wishes. Imitating the Horatian "odi profanum vulgus et arceo" {Odes 3.1.1), he inveighs against schoolmen: "insulsos arceo Grammaticos" (line 2). But, most impor- tantly. Epigrams 1.58 defines Secundus's transgressive poetics with a vivid image: "Pruriat et versu mentula multa meo" (Often the penis burns in my verse; line 8). In a somewhat gentler tone, he claims that his works are intended for those interested in pleasure, be they boys, girls, or poets. Predicting the grammarians' opposition to erotic poetics (line 5),^ he desires separation from a literary code of deco- rum and, furthermore, protests the grammarians' compulsion as a type of violence (lines 13-14). The touching image of the concluding couplet stresses the desire for detachment from literary standard. In fact, he has cultivated the graphic style, he says, to preclude incorpo- ration of his poetry in the school curriculum, thus saving his own poetry from becoming a device of oppression. The savage grammari- ans must stay away from happy literary games ("lusibus").

Secundus also defends love itself (as opposed to poems about love or sex) from social constraints. Epigrams 1.52, an address to young men worried, it seems, about pursuing trysts in church, gently (and humorously) elevates love beyond social principles of decorum.

State cum pulcris iuvenes puellis, lungite et dextras, neque templa, nee vos Ara divellat veneranda Divum:


' As Bosscha noted, line 9 ("Me legat innuptae iuvenis placiturus amicae," etc.) recalls Propertius 1.7.13 ("me legat assidue post haec neglectus amator" [afterwards, may the neglected lover read me constantly]).

^ It is perhaps ironic that Bosscha, a grammarian of a later age, carps at the poem (specifically, the use of "forte"). See BB, 1:341.


The Epigrams: LovCy Arty and License 91

Quin inauratae temerentur arae

Aureo pro basiolo puellae.

Laedit, et magno hie pudor est pudori.^

[Young fellows, stay there with the beautiful girls. Embrace and don't let the churches or the venerable altars of the gods divide you. Indeed, the gilded altars should be desecrated in order to get a golden little kiss from the girl. Shame is a violation and a great shame here.]

Secundus constructed this epigram carefully, with parallelism in the imperatives ("State . . . lungite") and the comparison of altars and the kiss ("inauratae . . . aureo"). He also uses interlocking word order (as for example in line 1 "pulchris iuvenes puellis") and, as required for the consummate epigram, saves an elegant and emphatic phrase for the one-line pointe (line 6). Nonetheless, the poem reinforces the Secundian interpretation of love as a potentially transgressive act of opposition to cultural restrictions. Indeed, despite the casualness of the tone and the distancing achieved by the antique setting ("templa" and "divum"), Secundus claims the right, however artificially formu- lated, to "desecrate" ("temere") the altars of the church with love. Taken together, the Epigrams illustrate that Secundus's poetics entails mediation between ideals of stricture and license. Graphic de- scriptions of sexuality and frequent use of obscenity imitate, in part, classical style. Because of the classical refinement, some epigrams could be said to evince a style of "refined crudity." And, indeed, his latinity deepens the tensions and ironies of his transgressive poetics since only an elite audience can understand and appreciate the com- plexity of his imitative obscenity. Moreover, Secundus cultivates the obscene, albeit humorously, to offend and discredit an audience seek- ing to impose a moralistic poetics. This ideal of poetic license is, I think, an important source of the individuality of his poetic voice. Even at his most vulgar, he conforms to an imitative aesthetic. But, in a basic shift in the function of obscenity, he uses it to reject conformity to certain political or moralistic understandings of imitative art.


' Schoolfield, Janus Secundus, 123, draws an interesting parallel between this poem and Celtis's famous "Ad Sepulum disidaemonem," indicating, however, Secundus's overriding interest in the erotic sphere. But, as Schoolfield notes, Secundus did not know Celtis's poetry.


6


Politics and the Poet of Love


Bellaque resque tui memorarem Caesaris, et tu Caesare sub magno cura secunda fores . . . Propertius 2.1.25-6 (addressing Maecenas)

[I would celebrate the wars and deeds of your Caesar and you would be my second subject, after great Caesar . . .]

Oometime in 1535, Secundus wrote a poetic epistle, addressed to Diego Hurtado de Mendoza (1503-1575), reaffirming his adherence to amatory poetics. One of his most elegant poems. Poetic Epistles 2.6 locates the poet, to paraphrase Hnes 11-13, in the shade of a myrtle, whose crown is buffeted by the vernal Zephyr, where nature com- miserates with the poet over his lost loves. ^ The opening of the poem rejects a request from Mendoza for loftier poetry, which in this context, we can safely assume, meant a Caroline epic:

Didace, quid frustra vatem, levioribus olim Adsuetum numeris, urges ad grandia verba? Carminaque integris solide constantia membris? Qualia, cum magni caneret primordia mundi, Floridus insonuit grandi Lucretius ore.-* Magnos magna decent: rivos ego parvaque quaero Flumina; nee ventos, sed lenem persequor auram.

{Poetic Epistles 2.6.1-7)


^ See Poetic Epistles 2.6.11-13: "An me potius myrti iuvet umbra venustae, / Quae gracilem vernis Zephyris impulsa coronam / Commiserata meos mecum suspiret amores.'" (Or, rather, may the shade of the charming myrtle give me pleasure, which, while its graceful crown is buffeted by the vernal Zephyrs, sighs, commiserating in my loves).


Politics and the Poet of Love 93

[Diego, why do you vainly urge a poet so long accustomed to lighter metrics to write epic words and poetry thoroughly uni- form, in whole verses of hexameter, the kind which florid Lu- cretius intoned from his grand mouth when he sang of the origins of the great earth? Lofty songs become lofty men. But I seek the streams and little rivers; I pursue not the wind, but the light breeze.]

Though declining to do so in serious compositions, this poem actual- ly uses the "grand words" of hexameter, perhaps as a convenient demonstration that Secundus, despite his professed aversion, was cap- able of writing in the epic meter. Nonetheless, both the description and the use of the hexameter are somewhat ironic. Hexameter is characterized as the whole or intact verse, as opposed, implicitly, to the lesser (incomplete) pentameter of amatory verse. The hexameter also lends itself to the mock-heroic moment, as we find it in the hyperbolic description of Lucretius's grandiloquence (lines 3-4).

The external circumstances, as far as they can be surmised, give the poem a special place in Secundus's oeuvre. Mendoza was a poet who, among other things, accompanied Charles V on his campaign in Tunisia.^ Secundus, too, had been expected to join the expedition in order to record its achievements in verse, but illness compelled him to forgo those plans. One might assume, therefore, that Secun- dus composed this poem after it became clear that he would not be required (or able) to serve as the war's poet. Using Lucretius's memo- rable passage from the beginning of Book Two,^ Secundus situates himself in a landscape of peace, from which he can see, in the dis- tance, the difficulties besetting those who tempt the ocean on such military exploits. This, certainly his last, recusatio is the only example we have of Secundus distancing himself from what we have reason to believe was an actual commission to write political poetry.

The prominence of the recusatio in his oeuvre as well as this re- treat from an actual commission raise a question about Secundus's amatory aesthetic. Did he face pressure to write "lofty words for lofty subjects"? Would that explain the intensity of the self-defenses in his love poetry? While one should retain this as a possibility, I


  • For information on Secvindus's Spanish acquaintances, see Malkiel, "Juan

Segundo."

^ See Lucretius, De rerum natura 2.1-6.


94 Politics and the Poet of Love

think that, in the absence of more evidence, external pressure proba- bly does not account for the defensiveness of his poetry. Secundus's recusatio is a device of self-definition— its prominence is just one aspect of the extensive poetological self-reflection in his oeuvre. Fur- thermore, any complaints about writing occasional poetry should be taken with a grain of salt. Once, Nicolaus Grudius Sent a humorous complaint^ to Secundus and Marius, protesting the short notice he had been given for composing some adulatory poetry for the funeral procession of Margaret of Austria: "Putant nimirum ignari isti aulici carmina nobis in arboribus nasci, aut cacari"^ (Undoubtedly, those stupid courtiers think that poems grow on trees for us, or that we shit them). Grudius, however, cheerfully wrote the poem and, appar- ently pleased with himself, sent it to his brothers for their opinion.

There is, in fact, no need to see amatory poetry in opposition to political life since it certainly had a role, albeit probably a small one, in court entertainment. After all, Gombert, Charles's court compos- er, set Secundus's erotic "Ode to Love" {Odes 10) to music. More- over, Secundus's contemporary audience, as far as the slight records indicate, were those who walked in his circles at court and at univer- sities. That amatory poetry does not reject political life does not mean that it does not reject political poetry. It does, and the distinc- tion between life and poetry is important here. Secundus's aesthetic, which was formed, in part, in the crucible of courtly artistic culture, made the erotic a distinctive form of humanist poetry that eschewed the constraints on poetry concerned with political topics, events, or figures. In Secundus's oeuvre, love poetry exists perpetually, it seems, in opposition to the idea of "public," political literature.

Nonetheless, Secundus did write some political poetry, all of which was consonant with Hapsburg interests. The presence of this political verse does not undermine the integrity of his defense of an amatory aesthetic; it merely establishes an actual contrast, showing that at times Secundus recorded events from political life and, fur- thermore, did need to praise Charles V in poetry. But given the


' This letter also gives a brief glimpse into the way poUtical occasional poetry was commissioned. The Hapsburg court provided Grudius with the material for the poem in the form of a French summary of Margaret's life and accomplishments.

^ Quoted from the transcription provided by Endres, /o^nnes Secundus, 211. This letter is not included in the Burmann-Bosscha edition.


Politics and the Poet of Love 95

intensity of Secundus's rejection of "serious" or political poetry, it is interesting to read the Hapsburg poems from the perspective of his position as a love poet. To what extent does Secundus inject the ama- tory style— both its content and its tendency toward levity and irony — into his political poetry?

It is fortuitous that we know Secundus did agree, at least once, to compose a political epic. In fact, a fragment of the inchoate Bellum Tunetanum (The Tunisian War) survives,^ giving, I think, an indica- tion of how he might have attempted the very Caroline heroic epic, which later, in the letter to Mendoza, he refused to write.

Rursus bella parat Caesar: patientia rursus Mansueti iuvenis longo devicta dolore est, Et violata gravem pietas erumpit in iram. Fervere iam video densis maria omnia remis, Telluremque armis, coelum splendescere flamma. Quid tantum, Fortuna, paras? cui fata minantur Tarn dirum excidium? quantove cruore redemtam Aeternam, Furiae, pacem conceditis orbi?

(Fragment 2)

[Once again Caesar prepares for war; once again a long-standing grief has overtaken the patience of the gentle youth, and his piety, now that it has been violated, has burst into grave anger. Now, I see all the oceans teeming with dense oars and the land with arms; the heavens flashing with flame. Fortune, what are you readying? What do the fates threaten with such dire de- struction? Furies, how much slaughter do you require for eternal peace to be restored to the earth?]

Without any comment on how unusual such a poem would be for him, Secundus sent a copy of these eight lines to his brother Everar- dus Nicolai. Sadly, he wrote the letter from his sickbed in Madrid while suffering from fever. He laconically refers to a planned poem called the "Historia" and even expressed the wish that he might join in the war. The reason for his militaristic urge, though, is poetic: if he participated in the battles, he would be able to imitate Aeneas's fa-


' It survives in the sixth prose letter (sent to Nicolaus Everardi) which is printed in BB, 2:279-82.


96 Politics and the Poet of Love

mous words (spoken as he began to narrate to Dido the fall of Troy in Book Two of the Aeneid): "Et quorum pars magna fui"^ (Of these things I was a great part). Indeed, the fragmentary proemium indicates that, as a strategy for the Caroline epic, Secundus's ear was attuned to Vergil's Aeneid. Charles will be celebrated as "pius" ("violata . . . pietas"), cast specifically in a religious struggle against the Muslim Tunisians. Secundus, furthermore, wants to make a cor- relation between his subject and Augustus, using the typology of Aeneas/ Augustus that informs the Aeneid. One characteristic which does recall Secundus's usual thematics is the longing for peace over war. But the theme of peace, though only introduced and not elab- orated, suggests above all an attempt to tie Charles to Augustus. Like Augustus, Charles will create an empire of the entire world and will impose a Pax Romana, here an "aeterna . . . pax" (a pronouncement which, for Secundus in 1535, was probably more disingenuous than wishful).

The parallelism between Charles and Augustus informs Secun- dus's earliest panegyrics, the two odes from 1530 and 1531. As one would expect, Horace was the model for the language of both odes, even more so, I should add, than earlier commentators have noted. Both are written in Alcaic strophes, the most commonly used metri- cal scheme in Horace's Odes, but also in the distinctive stanzaic form of all the so-called "Roman Odes," the concentrated set of six pro- Augustan poems at the beginning of Book Three {Odes 3.1-6). Secun- dus's Odes 1, written to commemorate Charles's coronation in Bologna and printed as early as 1530, was one of his first publica- tions.^


' See BB, 2:280: "Omnes homines cum Caesare et pro Caesare pugnare gesti- unt; neque nos, si res ad arma venerit, imbelles aut ignavi arguemur, ut tale quid in Historia mea locum habere possit, quale est illud Aeneae: 'Et quorum pars magna fui' " (All men are eager to fight for, and along with, the emperor; if it comes to battle, may I not be thought weak or craven, so that I can have a line in my "historia" like the one in the Aeneid: "Of those things I was a great part").

^ Since the poem was published during Secundus's lifetime, Dekker, Janus Secundus, 132-33, offers an overview of the textual transmission. The only significant change made by the brothers for the edition of 1541 was the emen- dation of "fatis" in line 20 to "superis." This emendation makes the line conform to the metrics of the Alcaic strophe which does not allow substitution of two shorts for a long.


Politics and the Poet of Love 97

Adeste, magni progenies patris,

Musae, potenti carmina Caesari

Cantate, quae fides priorum

Hactenus haud tetigere vatum. Quae saxa rursum, quae moveant feras, Aquasque sistant blanda volubiles, Quae mulceant aures canore

Omnium ubique hominum suavi. Gaudete cives, plaudite, plaudite: Gaudete quotquot terra tenet bonos, Curasque tristes, atque acerbos Pellite pectoribus dolores. Sumsit sacrato debita vertici Post tot moras tandem diademata lUe optimusque, maximusque, Ille vagum domiturus orbem. Erro? anne vati talia fervido Sagax futuri Cynthius indicat?

Quaecumque suggeris, precamur, Ut Superis rata sint, Apollo! Et noscat Ortus, noscat et Occidens Unum potentem Caesara Carolum, Quo mitius, clementiusque

Nil dederuntve dabuntve secla: Non si recurrant tempora, quae lovis Ferunt parentem, falciferum senem, Rexisse, cum Fides, Sororque lusta pio superesset orbi. Ergo querelas ponite lugubres, Ergo repostum promite Caecubum: Haec, haec dies, haec est choreis, Haec rutilis decoranda flammis.

[Be present. Muses, offspring of the great father, sing for mighty Caesar songs that have never touched the strings of the ancient poets; songs that move back rocks, captivate wild animals, beau- tiful songs that make running water stand still, that soften the breezes with the smooth singing of all men everywhere.

Citizens, rejoice, applaud, applaud. Rejoice as much as the earth has good things. Chase away any sad cares and bitter grief


98 Politics and the Poet of Love

from your hearts. After such a long delay he has finally received the deserved crown on his sacred head, he who is greatest and best and destined to conquer the wandering globe.

Do I err? Doesn't wise Apollo indicate such things of the future to the eager poet? We pray, Apollo, that the gods will bring all your indications to pass. Both the East and the West know Charles, the only potent emperor, than whom no one ever was or ever shall be kinder and more gracious, not even if the age should return that they say was ruled by Jupiter's fa- ther, the old man with the scythe, when Faith and her just sister were still available to a pious world.

Therefore, put aside the mournful complaints and bring out the cellared Caecuban. This, this is a day for dancing; this day must be adorned with bright torches.]

The dramatic invocation to the Muses gives the poem a lofty, hym- nic quality (which is certainly desired in a celebratory ode), but it also represents the intense poetic self-consciousness incumbent upon such a panegyric situation. Asking the Muses to sing is but one indi- cation of how heavily tradition weighs in Odes 1. To us it may even appear ironic that the poet, grasping at originality in lines 3-4, ex- presses his purported uniqueness with a strong echo of the opening lines of the "Roman Odes," especially Horace's purpose to sing "car- mina non prius / audita" (songs never heard before; Odes 3.1.2-3). The invocation, therefore, reaches the stylistic level of the sublime, but it also, I think, indicates the need for inspiration as Secundus moves beyond the pale of his usual style and subject. It is perhaps ac- cidental, but nonetheless noteworthy, that some poets of antiquity invoke the Muses as they turn, usually momentarily, from lighter poetry to a political subject. One thinks of the young Vergil of the erotic Eclogues with his invocation to the Theocritean muses at the beginning of his political genethliacon ("Sicelides Musae, paulo maio- ra canamus" [Sicilian Muses, let me sing somewhat grander songs; Ec- logues 4.1]). The most telling parallel, though, is Horace himself who included an extensive invocation to the muses in Odes 3.4, the center of the "Roman Odes." The celebration of Charles's coronation, moreover, recalls the "Cleopatra-Ode" {Odes 1.37), especially with its invitation to drink cellared Caecuban wine in honor of the peace. ^


' Line 30 of Secundus's ode is an answer to Horace's "antehac nefas depro-


Politics and the Poet of Love 99

Most importantly, lines 22 to 27 evoke Horace's Odes 4.2.37-40, a panegyric passage from a recusatio in which Horace declines to sing tributes to Augustus:

quo nihil mains meliusve terris fata donavere bonique divi, nee dabunt, quamvis redeant in aurum tempora priscum.

[The fates and the blessed gods have given the earth nothing greater or better than him — nor shall they, even if time were to return to the golden past.]

Secundus has once again borrowed Horace's apparently heart-felt ap- preciation of the Pax Augustana, especially Horace's comparison of it to the Golden Age (which is implied in the phrase "aurum . . . priscum"). The focus on peace, though a forceful device of humanist pro-imperial panegyric, also moves Secundus into the vicinity of his usual subject of love.

The characterization of Charles in Horatian terms reveals the recurrent attempt by Secundus to apply the ancient concept of deifi- cation of the emperor to the homage to Charles. The artificiality and transparency of this device of cultural imitatio tone down the effect somewhat, but the praise of Charles as god on earth, based on the model of Augustus, demonstrates the lengths to which Secundus was prepared to go in his panegyrics. Unlike others, this poem does not make a deification of Charles explicit. Nonetheless, he does have a "sacred head" and is described as a force that rules, like a god, over the physical globe of the earth, not just over people (line 16). Most importantly, he bears the honorific "optimus maximus" (line 15), which was used for Roman emperors, but always as a conscious deri- vation from the cultic title "Jupiter Optimus Maximus."

A distinctive feature of Secundus's ode is that it turns a political moment— a celebration of Charles's coronation— into a poetic one. To be sure, Secundus creates a festive tone (especially with the echoes of the "Cleopatra-Ode") and he certainly pays homage to his Caesar. But an unmistakable strategy of the ode is the elevation of the poet's


mere Caecubum / cellis avitis" (until now, it was a sacrilege to bring out the Caecuban from the ancient cellars).


100 Politics and the Poet of Love

office. The invocation to the Muses asks not only for songs never heard before from the ancient poets, but also for songs that can change the course of nature. One may feel the presence of an un- spoken Orpheus in these Hnes, but they serve primarily to set poetry on an equal level with Caesar. Like the powerful songs, Caesar, it is said, will change the world, restoring it to something even greater than the Golden Age. The parallelism becomes poignant within the context of peace. Songs will soften the ears of men with their tuneful- ness (line 7), just as the world will experience Charles as the kindest and most merciful emperor (line 23). The parallelism also extends to a suggestion that both poet and Caesar are divine. Secundus uses the Augustan concept of the vatic poet ("vates" or priest-poet), though he adopts a rather light tone when he gives the vatic poet access to the mysteries of Apollo.

Elegies 3.2 (a poem that accompanied the presentation of a medal- lion portrait of Charles V) offers an earnest-sounding praise of the emperor, especially of his religiosity, power, and sense of justice, but also reflects on the power of art. (See the illustration of the medal- lion, fig. 4.) Here the "sculptor poeta" (line 5) claims, somewhat light-heartedly, that art cannot do Charles justice— so much is lost because Secundus does not have the hands of a Lysippus (line 15). Nonetheless, the medallion, despite its infelicities, possesses the power, according to Secundus, to define Charles for posterity, even if the pages of history and literature should be silent about him:

Sic vultus si secla tuos venientia cernent,

Et pietas illis et tua nota fides; Relligioque et mens observantissima iusti.

Nulla licet de te charta loquatur, erit.

{Elegies 3.2.33-36)

[Thus, if future generations will see your features, their piety, your faith, religion, and deep regard for justice will be noted, even if no writings speak of you.]

Similar panegyric strategies inform Odes 6, a commemoration of Charles V's return to the Low Countries in 1531. The ancient con- cept of imperial deification is suggested by the hymnic quality of the ode, especially its many references to prayer. Moreover "numine cuius" (by whose divine will; line 25) transfers the idea of the emper- or-god ushering in a Pax Augustana to the sixteenth-century Nether-


Politics and the Poet of Love 101

lands. To make the connection between peace under Augustus and Charles even closer, Secundus once again imitates Horace. Lines 25 to 36 recall Horace's Odes A.b} Secundus's "per quem per agros tutus it bos" (because of him the cow goes safely through the fields; line 31) is borrowed directly from Horace's "tutus bos etenim rura perambulat" (then the cow walks safely through the countryside; Odes 4.5.17). The theme of poetry is less significant than in Odes 1, though it emerges in the finale. Charles's peace will restore the muses, long in exile, to the Netherlands: "[Caesar] Ac exsules terra Sorores / Sideribus revocabit altis" (And Caesar will recall the sisters, exiles from the earth, back from the stars; lines 35-36).

The celebratory Alcaic odes have a measured dignity, achieved perhaps by their copiousness and intricacies, but they also have mo- ments of levity. In that respect, theirs is not entirely distinct from the tone of the amatory odes in Alcaic strophes {Odes 10 and 11). Nonetheless, other political poems, especially epigrams and, to a lesser degree, some elegies and funeral poems, illustrate even more clearly Secundus's ability to adapt his casual style to earnest subjects.

Elegies 3.12, for instance, uses the poetic strategies of the panegyric odes. Just like Odes 6 which invokes "Belga" (the Low Countries) in its celebration of Charles, Elegies "SAl praises Saragossa, using it as a foil for an encomium to Charles. The elegy celebrates the emperor in no uncertain terms as the modern pendant to Augustus. The finale even reencapsulates the propagandistic myth of the reemergence of a Pax Augustana in Charles:

Rex idem, Caesarque idem, mitissimus idem, Qualis ab Augusti non fuit imperio.

{Elegies 3.12.15-16)

[The same man is king, emperor, and the most benevolent, such as has been missing since the empire of Augustus.]

This elegy, though, has considerably more levity than do the odes. For one thing, Secundus uses a poetic conceit to achieve his Augus- tan translatio imperii in the context of the praise of Saragossa. Sara- gossa had been named, in Latin, "Caesarea Augusta" after Augustus,


' The simile comparing the Belgians yearning for Charles's return to birds in a nest awaiting their dilatory mother is said to have been inspired by the simile in Horace, Odes 4.5.9-16.


102 Politics and the Poet of Love

who had founded the city as a settlement for his veterans. The trib- ute to "Caesarea Augusta" is obviously designed as an artful way of locating the second Caesar Augustus in the original's city. Secundus also makes love a prominent topic in the panegyric. In fact, he apos- trophizes Caesar's city as a place of beautiful women, associating Venus with the imperial lineage:^

Te blandis, te molliculis Cytherea puellis En beat, Augusto proque nepote colit.

(lines 9-10)

[Look, Venus blesses you with beautiful, charming girls and she devotes herself to you for her Augustan descendant.]

Elegies 3.8, a celebration of the Treaty of Cambrai (1529) between Charles and Francis I of France, naturally was an occasion for Secun- dus's panegyric strategy of associating the Hapsburg dynasty with peace for its subjects. The tribute to peace, especially the images of agrarian tranquility, remind one of Tibullus's anti-war poetry, espe- cially 1.10.^ Poetry has a prominent role in the pacified world, as the goddess "Pax" returns with the nine Muses:

Et vos Pierii turba novena chori: Quas inter medius radianti vertice Phoebus Increpat argutae fila canora lyrae.^

(lines 18-20)

[And you (are among her companions), the choir of the nine Muses, in the midst of whom Phoebus, with radiant head, strikes the tuneful strings of his harmonious lyre.]

Secundus also claims the political elegy for his theme of love. At the end of the "Cambrai-Elegy," he announces the outbreak of a new kind of war— the Ovidian lover will now join battles to replace the political wars:

Vos qui bella prius, iuvenes, aetate virentes, Gessistis cruda sanguinolenta manu,


  • Venus was, of course, the mother of Aeneas.

^ Tibullus 1.10 also inspired Secundus's poetic address to his friend Charles Catz [Elegies 2.11).

' Dekker, Janus Secundus, 125-27, gives a critical text of Elegies 3.8.


Politics and the Poet of Love 103

Pro dura galea, roseis ornate coroUis

Tempora, proque tubis sumite plectra manu.^

Bellaque lascivis nocturna movete puellis, Figite et optato vulnera grata loco.

(lines 39-44)

[Young men, blossoming with youth, you who had before waged bloody wars with rough hands, in the place of the hard helmet, adorn your temples with garlands of rose; in the place of war-trumpets, take up the lyre in your hand. And engage nocturnal wars with sexy girls. Make pleasing wounds in desired places.]

Filling military words with amatory meaning is an important device of his antipolitical aesthetic. Here, the depoliticization of military termi- nology creates a distinctively frivolous amatory-political poem?

Though certainly a genuine tribute to Charles V as he embarked on the Tunisian expedition of 1535 (just as Elegies 3.8 is a genuine en- comium to the Peace of Cambrai), Epigrams 1.17 not only offers the possibility of an ironic reading, but also indicates very clearly Secun- dus's efforts to conflate political panegyric and amatory poetics.

Aeneae sanguis, formosi sanguis luli

Carolus in regnum venit, Elisa, tuum; Vindicet a saevo pius ut tua busta tyranno,

Armatas ducens per freta mille rates. lUius auspiciis prisco reddentur honori

Moenia, Romana quae cecidere manu: Ergo age, in Aeneadas odium fatale remitte,

Spectatumque veni Caesaris ora Dei. Crede mihi; dices, huius si ardore perissem,

Causa meae fuerat mortis honesta magis.

[Dido, Charles, of Aeneas's blood and the blood of beautiful Julus (i.e., Ascanius), is on his way to your realm, in order that


' MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 73, "proque tubis sumite plectra manu" is an emen- dation of the crossed out "Pro lituis sumite sistra manu." The brothers, obvi- ously, objected to the intransitive use of "sumite."

^ The exclamations of line 2 ("io . . . io") also recall in a general sense the exclamations of Catullus's epithalamium (Catullus 61), reinforcing the poem's gaiety and its background tones of love.


104 Politics and the Poet of Love

he, pious Charles, leading a thousand warships across the sea, might free your tomb from the rule of a cruel tyrant. Under his auspices, your walls, which had fallen to a Roman hand, will re- gain their former prestige. Therefore, come, relinquish that mortal hatred of Aeneas's descendants; come to see the face of the divine emperor. Trust me; you will say: "If I had perished for love of him, the cause of my death would have been more noble."]

One might argue that the tonal levity renders this poem ridiculous— and that may well be Secundus's intention. To an excessive degree, Charles wears the trappings of the heroic Aeneid. Pleonastically, he is of the blood of both Aeneas and Ascanius; like his Trojan forebear, he is "pius." Secundus also invokes Dido as "Elisa," a designation he has taken from the Aeneid. The artificiality of the Roman omatus hints at the mock heroic. Indeed, the conceit of Dido falling in love with Charles— which Secundus saves for the humorous pointe—aiso ironizes the heroic intonations (and, perhaps, the myth that Hapsburg represents the greatness of Rome). More importantly, the apostrophe to Dido exudes an amatory spirit, retaining, most tellingly, the lightness of love poetry for the celebration of a military campaign.

Many of the Funeral Poems pertain to Hapsburg dynastic or court- ly affairs. In general, the funeral poem ifuner or epicedion) is a versa- tile genre in Secundus's hands, with a scope similar to that of his epigrams. Several poems are tributes to deceased family members and acquaintances {Funeral Poems 1, 12, 14, and 21); some are lightly erotic epitaphs {Funeral Poems 6, 13, 15, 17); and others commemo- rate literary or pedagogical figures {Funeral Poems 7, 8, 10, 11, 23). But as a single group, those poems on political figures, all with a connection to the Hapsburg interests, dominate {Funeral Poems 2-5, 9, 13, 19, 20, and 24-29).

For example, two epicedia commemorate Margaret of Austria, regent of the Netherlands, who died on 1 December 1530 {Funeral Poems 4 and 5). In Funeral Poems 4, Margaret addresses her subjects with benevolent condescension (ironically portrayed?) for the last time. Apart from the tribute to dynasty, Secundus's main point is that the regent was an agent of peace. This accolade was natural for Margaret as she had negotiated the Peace of Cambrai, but Secundus asserts, wherever possible, that the Hapsburg empire blesses its sub- jects with its ability to enforce the peace.


Politics and the Poet of Love 105

Caesaribus proavis, et Caesare clara nepote, Margareta Austriaci sata semine Maxmiliani, Ilia ego, quae miti rexi moderamine Belgas, Et per femineas percusso foedere destras Discordes populos tranquilla pace beavi,^ Hie fato depressa cubo, tellus tenebit Nescio quid nostro de corpore pulveris atri. Lustra decern vitae Lachesis vix neverat, et mox Stamina Parca ferox fatalia rupit, iterque Ire per obscurum nulli remeabile iussit. At vos plebeo geniti de sanguine, quando Ferrea nee nobis didicerunt fata, nee ullis Parcere nominibus, patientius ite sub umbras.

{Funeral Poems 4)

[Distinguished by ancestors who were emperors and a descen- dant who is the emperor, I am Margaret, born from Maximi- lian's seed; I have ruled the Netherlands benevolently and through that treaty hammered out by women's hands, I blessed the strife-torn people with tranquil peace. I lie here, humbled by fate; the earth shall retain but the black dust of my body. For my life, Lachesis spun scarcely fifty years and soon the harsh Fate broke the fatal threads and ordered me to go on that dark journey from which no one returns. But you, born from plebe- ian blood, since the iron fates did not learn to spare me nor any of the high born, go unto death with less resistance.]

Though this poem is an unqualified tribute to Margaret as a part of the Hapsburg dynasty, it is noteworthy that Secundus borrows some of its language from Catullus. Line 10 is based on Catullus 3.11-12. Curiously, the other tribute to Margaret {Funeral Poems 5) also recalls a Catullan formulation,^ all of which suggests a mind focused sharp- ly on amatory poetry.

Secundus composed several humorous funeral poems, some of which concerned figures of the Hapsburg court. Of the two poems written upon the death of Mercurino Arborio di Gattinara (died 5


' MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 101, line 5 is an emendation of the crossed out "tranquilla populos et longa pace beavi."

^ This line recalls Catullus 3.11-12. Funeral Poems 5 evokes Catullus 5.6.


106 Politics and the Poet of Love

June 1530), who had been chancellor to Charles V, Funeral Poems 2 is somewhat whimsical, making a pun on Gattinara's first name in order to associate him as well as Charles V with the gods:^

Mercurius moritur. Quid? Maia natus? an ille,

Dignus qui Maia, qui love partus erat? Quern sibi vuh socium terrenus Jupiter olim,

Sive paret pacem, seu grave Martis opus?

(lines 1-4)

[Mercury has died. What? The son of Maia? Or was it he, worthy to be born to Maia and Jove, whom the earthly Jupiter used to have as a companion, if he prepared for peace or the heavy work of war?]

A broadly humorous tone emerges in a poem on the death of a cer- tain Heduus (a name that would designate a boy from Autun) who was a cupbearer at the court of Charles V. The reflection on his death, with its comparison to Ganymede, suggests that the epitaph was designed not to express bereavement but as a kind of erotic joke for the court.

Marmorea iuvenem facie croceoque capillo

Miscentem nostro pocula casta lovi, lupiter, aetherias cur, invide, tolhs in^ arces?

Quod puer Iliacus, non erit iste tibi. Ulta tuum melius numquam Saturnia crimen;

Formosum thalamis inferet ipsa suis.

[Funeral Poems 13)

[Why, envious Jupiter, did you raise to the heavenly citadel that boy with the marble features and the golden locks, who mixed pure cups of wine for our Jove? He will not be what the Trojan boy was to you! Never has Juno better avenged your sin. She will carry that beautiful boy off to her marriage bed.]


' The other tribute to Gattinara is Funeral Poems 3, which is a good example of the epigrammatic style Secundus often uses in his epitaphs.

^ I have restored the only manuscript reading here. Burmann-Bosscha print "ad arces" (BB, 2:124).


Politics and the Poet of Love 107

Political poetry could also be critical, though only of Charles's enemies.^ Three poems inveigh against Francis I after his breech, in 1536, of the Treaty of Cambrai: two are lampooning epigrams {Epi- grams 1.25 and 1.26) and one is a mocking farewell to the dauphin, Francois de Valois, who died on 10 August 1536 [Funeral Poems 25). Epigrams 1.25, the sharpest of the poems against Francis, makes a triple pun on the word "Gallus," which Secundus uses as an appella- tion for Francis I: it means Gaul (or Frenchman), cock, and a castrat- ed priest of Cybele, the ancient earth-mother goddess. For the innu- endo, Secundus draws upon an epigram by Martial (9.68) and, more importantly, Lucretius's famous description of the "Galli" or priests of Cybele [De rerum natura 2.600-660) as well as Catullus's Attis poem (Catullus 63), a work in the extremely rare galliambic meter that narrates Attis's self-castration on the island of the great mother.

Armigerumne lovis, volucris cristata, lacessis?

Tamne cito exciderunt vincula Ibera tibi? Quid petis Italiam tam longo, Galle, volatu.-*

Innumeros Gallos ilia recondit humus. Quod si longinquas cura est tibi visere sedes,

Idaei montis culmina celsa petas; Turritamque colas matrem, et cava tympana palmis

Concute, et horrisono cornua rauca sono; Correptusque furore, hosti quae tela parabas,

Inguinis haec facias caede cruenta tui: Talia namque decent Galium, non arma movere,

Et terram bellis concutere et maria.^

[Epigrams 1.25)

[Oh cock with the fancy headdress, are you challenging Jupiter's armbearing eagle? Have you so quickly forgotten those Iberian chains?^ Cock, why do you seek Italy in such a long flight? That land already has plenty of cocks (or: castrated priests). But if you want to visit far-off places, go to the lofty summits of Mt Ida. Wor-


^ There is one other invective against a ruler: Epigrams 1.48, which seems to be a stylistic exercise, inveighs against Nero's cruelty.

^ This poem did not appear in the edition of 1541. MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 132-34, has the entire poem crossed out.

^ This is a reference to Francis's imprisonment after he had been captured by Charles in 1525.


108 Politics and the Poet of Love

ship the mother with the turreted crown and beat the hollow tym- pana with your hands and the raucous horns with their frightful din. Infuriated, bloody those weapons you prepare for your enemy with the gore of your own genitals. For, indeed, that befits a "Gallus" (a priest of Cybele); wielding arms and striking land and sea with wars do not!]

Secundus not only threatens the French cock ("Gallus") with the Hapsburg eagle^ but also discredits Francis as an effeminate eunuch. It is telling that Secundus, as an amatory poet opposed to epic, makes the potentially heroic image of war into a— for Secundus— humorous idea of sexual self-mutilation. The sexual mutilation, above all, is derived from Catullus 63, representing once again Secundus's attempt to cast the political epigram in a Catullan style.

There is also a set of invectives against Henry VIII, attacking both his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and the execution of Thomas More. As Catherine was part of the Hapsburg dynastic policy,^ Secundus was obviously opposed to Henry's action. Strangely, as an answer to a poem by Francesco Molza (1489-1544),^ Secundus also wrote a heroide, in which Henry VIII offers an eloquent explanation of his rejection of Catherine. The poem remains very puzzling, despite the unpersuasive effort by Burmann and Bosscha to argue that Henry VTIFs justification of the dissolution falls flat.'* Secundus also wrote an epitaph for Catherine which, though respectful of her dire situation, is principally a political lampoon against Henry:

Ilia ego, quae poteram regi placuisse marito,

Et forma, et castis moribus et genere, Postquam me thalamis exclusit adultera pactis,

Emorior, solo funere grata viro.^

{Funeral Poems 29)


' That is also the sense of Epigrams 1.26.

^ The dynastic policy became the subject of an anonymous epigram: "Bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube; / Nam quae Mars aliis dat tibi dona Venus" (Let others wage wars, Austria you are blessed by marriage; for the gifts Mars gives to others, Venus gives to you).

^ Molza's poem was printed by Burmann-Bosscha as Sylvae 9; Secundus's poem, written in the voice of Henry Vm, is Sylvae 10.

Obviously, Secundus himself did not publish the answer of Henry, and it is impossible to know if he would have, or if he would have altered it.

^ MS. Rawl. G. 154, fol. 121, has the entire poem crossed out.


Politics and the Poet of Love 109

[I am she who was able to please her royal husband with beau- ty, character, and lineage. But after the adulteress drove me out of the legal wedding bed, I perish, pleasing to my husband with my funeral alone.]

Anti-Henry sentiments are strongest in the three commemorations of Thomas More, written after his execution on 6 July 1535. Two are brief poems [Funeral Poems 27 and 28) that threaten Henry VIII with punishment in the afterlife. Funeral Poems 26, one of Secundus's longer poems, is a rambling lamentation of More's execution.^ Tributes to More's probity are numerous, including a strong hint that he will be canonized (lines 158-60); there is also a long address to Margaret, More's learned and devoted daughter (lines 92-112). Much of the poem, however, is a visceral attack on Henry as a godless tyrant, a distinctive feature of which is Secundus's growing worry over the fragmentation of the church. For example, in lines 62-70, Henry is damned most emphatically for his rejection of papal authority. The Hapsburg concern for unity in Christendom informs another of Secundus's late poems, a prayer to God asking for deliver- ance from the tumults of the antibaptists— a certain reference to the debacle in Munster in 1534-1535 [Odes 12).

At the end of his residence in Spain, Secundus was, finally, pre- pared to write political epic, though circumstances thwarted the proj- ect. Until then and even afterward, he restricted his political efforts to the genres he had mastered, especially the ode, elegy, epigram, and funeral poem. His glorification of Charles and the idea of Hapsburg imperium as a reincarnation of Augustus comes across, in retrospect, as a predictably humanist strategy. The paradigm of imitatio, to a degree, lessens the strain of the hyperbolic panegyric: deification of the emperor, after all, is just an ancient device, in this case one drawn from the celebratory odes of Horace and scattered passages in Vergil. Secundus, though, relies on the ancient poets of small forms (the lyri- cist, elegist, and epigrammatist) who, despite their overriding interest in amatory and philosophical poetry, did compose political poems.


' For an edition and French translation of the poems on Thomas More, see Blanchard, "Jean Second et ses poemes sur I'execution de Thomas More." Blanchard also printed and translated two poems by Nicolaus Grudius on More's execution; see idem, "Poemes du XVIe siecle a la memoire de Thomas More et de Jean Fisher."


110 Politics and the Poet of Love

Horace, thus, became an inspiration, and his focus on the peace of the empire — a thought one would not be incUned to associate with Charles V— provided Secundus with a subject for his imperial panegy- ric. Horace's tributes to the Pax Augustana, when imitated for Caro- line encomium, also offered a promising transition from the political to the amatory, as love is depicted as the prime reward of peace. Beyond these characteristics, it is important to note that Secundus repeatedly injects the levity of his nugatory poetics into political poetry. Wars of soldiers became wars of lovers; courtly celebration is a time for drink and dance; a modern emperor is cast as a suitable lover for the ancient queen Dido. To be sure, there is not a trace of reluctance to endorse Charles to the stars, though there remains the frequent, albeit inconsistent, attempt to conform Caroline poetry to the trifling aesthetics of love.


7


A Concluding Note


llis gifts of genius aside, Secundus was most fortunate to have been born into his circumstances of family and society. We have soHd evi- dence that at least three of his older brothers and sisters aspired to be artists or writers. We also know that wherever he went, he moved in the highest levels of society and in a community of, among other things, artists and professionals who, like so many of the humanisti- cally minded, devoted their leisure to letters. And, of course, Mech- lin, Brussels, and the itinerant court of Charles V in Spain were extraordinarily receptive to humanist literature. As we have seen, much of Secundus's poetry is written to or for those at court with their own literary and artistic aspirations.

Of more general significance to his development was the high status of Latin as well as the existence of a well-defined erotic tradi- tion in the poetry of Italian humanists. He was born to a moment in literary history when Italian Latin lyric not only had achieved, per- haps, its artistic apex but also had become fashionable, and widely accepted, on the literary scene of northern Europe. As indicated in several foregoing discussions, one cannot read Secundus without hear- ing the resonance of such poets as Crinitus, Marullo, Sannazaro, and Pontano. In fact, as is apparent in his repeated acknowledgments, Se- cundus openly styles himself a follower of these Italian erotic poets. In Elegies 3.7, he narrates a dream, based on Ovid, Amoves 3.1, in which the allegorical figure "Elegy" speaks to him. Representing above all amatory elegy, "Elegy" appears as an Italian girl, with an Italian style of dress. (See Elegies 3.7, lines 17ff., for the description of the "new adornment" of Italian poetry.) Pontano, for example, is an innovator of erotic poetry, according to Secundus's "Elegy":

Pontanus, cuius laudibus aura sonat, Pontanus, puerum docui quem prima sonare

Alitis Idalii vincula, tela, faces. {Elegies 3.7.28-30)


112 A Concluding Note

[Pontano, for whom the breeze sounds with praises, Pontano, whom I first taught in his youth to sing of the chains, weapons, and torches of the winged IdaUan.]

Secundus, in turn, developed his poetic idiom in part by studying the ItaHan pupils of "Elegy." More importantly, the precedent of the Italian humanists— especially the Strozzi, Marullo, and Pontano, all of whom wrote daringly about sexual desire— legitimated erotic licentiousness, at least to a degree.

While it is appropriate to see him as a northern European exten- sion of the Italian love poets— indeed, it was certainly fitting that even in the sixteenth century he was anthologized with such a writer as Marullo^— Secundus articulated a distinctive poetic voice. His dis- tinctiveness lies not only in the brilliance of his phraseology, or the vividness of his portrayals of sexual desire, or the blending of life and art in his descriptions of experience, but also in his reflections on the meaning and sociopolitical location of his nugatory poetics; his voice epitomizes and defines the paradox of the transgressive convention- ality of his amatory poetics. His poetological reflections, moreover, defend erotic amatory poetry without taking recourse for legitimacy to the "meaningfulness" of allegorical or philosophical forms of love poetry, especially the strong traditions of Petrarchism and neo- Platonic amatory poetry. Instead, he flouts, on occasion, the very idea of legitimacy, consciously transgressing mores while remaining within the borders of the classical and Italian erotic landscape.

Secundus repeatedly stylizes an ideal of life as the experience and pursuit of art. Elegies 3.18 records what must strike us today as an unusual "orgy" ("He mixed the gifts of Bacchus with Roman Phoe- bus"^, an evening of wine and poetry reading devoted to Latin works by German authors. (Eobanus Hessus, Georg Logau, and Georg Sabinus are mentioned.) At the end of the poem, he invokes the Muses to express gratitude to a certain Joannes Ottinger (an otherwise unknown German poet) for the introduction to German humanist poetry; like an experience of love, it seems, recollection of that


' This was the work of Ludovicus Martellus in his edition of Poetae tres ele- gantissimi of 1582. The third poet was Hieronymus Angerianus (c. 1490-1535), another Italian practitioner of the erotic, whose works, however, tend to be flat and unoriginal. He is remembered principally for his coinage of the generic des- ignation "erotopaegnion."

^ Elegies 3.18.23: "Miscuit et Latio Lenaei munera Phoebo."


A Concluding Note 113

day will never fade.^ Poetological reflection is a constant element in Secundus's poetry, which, like the best of Renaissance lyric, arises as a conscious struggle between acceptance of convention and the urge to achieve something different. Secundus, at times, attempts to define poetry as an artistic discourse raised above (or lowered beneath) the level of political ideology, while at other times he uses poetry as a medium for political panegyric, such as the glorification of the Hapsburg empire as the equivalent of the Augustan imperium. In the larger body of his poetry, however, he repeatedly valorizes artistic experience— the life of imagination, the power of beauty, the writing of love — over the heavy (and grounding) momentousness of political history or panegyric.

Nonetheless, politics figures prominently as a negative force in his love poetry. It is the world of law, convention, order, and serious- ness—characteristics which are the opposite of his poetic ideals. He may have been caught in the middle of the contrary poles of an artistic and a political-bureaucratic life. But such a notion of him would be entirely speculative, as the evidence for determining his outlook in life is scanty. Perhaps the compromises of his brothers who, like so many humanists, kept literary interests alive while pur- suing political careers, were unsettling. To its credit, though, the Caroline court did accommodate such literary interests. Moreover, Secundus would have found it exceedingly difficult to achieve or maintain social status and independence on the strength of his writ- ing alone. (Apart from the political life, his only other options as a humanist would have been academic or ecclesiastical careers.) In his devotion to art, he was not a Horace. While Horace, according to Suetonius, repeatedly refused Augustus's attempts to appoint him sec- retary, Secundus was all too eager for such an office under Charles V. But, whether or not this tension existed in his life— and we have every reason to assume that he accepted his career in the Hapsburg bureaucracy without reluctance— it remains a strong force in his poetry. Consequently, the apolitical ideal of his amatory world is highly political. Writing love, he reflects in sensitive and evocative ways on the connection between art and cultural, social, and political expectations.


' See Elegies 3.18.33-34: "Quorum me semper memorem fore dicite Musae, / Sive prememus humum, sive prememur humo" (Muses, tell him that I shall always recall all these poets, whether I shall press the earth or the earth shall press me).


Select Bibliography


Please note that the most complete bibliography of works by and about Secundus is that of Dekker, Janus Secundus, 274-96. My list is confined to important editions and studies as well as a few additional works I consulted.

Editions of Works by Janus Secundus

Bodleian Manuscript Rawl. G. 154. Manuscript begins: "Hoc ordine edenda lo. Secundi poematia." [This is the manuscript that was used as the printer's copy for the edition of 1541. I have used a microfilm of it.]

loannis Secundi Hagiensis Basia. Et alia quaedam. Edited by Michael Nerius. Lugduni: Apud Seb. Gryphium, 1539. [This is the first edition of the Basia.]

loannis Secundi Hagiensis Opera: nunc primum in lucem edita. Edited by Nicolaus Grudius and Hadrianus Marius. Traiecti Batavorum: Hermannus Borcolous, 1541. [The first edition of the collected works; a facsimile reprint of this is available from Nieuwkoop: de Graaf, 1969.]

Poetae tres elegantissimi, emendati, et audi, Michael Marullus. Hierony- mus Angerianus. loannes Secundus. Edited by Ludovicus Martellus. Parisiis: Apud Dionysium Duvallium, 1582. [First edition to anthologize Secundus with Italian eroticists. Text of Secundus's poems is based on a 1561 Paris edition done by Gulielmus Cri- pius.]

Poetmata et effigies trium fratrum Belgarum. Nicolai Grudii Nic: Eq. etc. Hadriani Marii Nic: Eq. etc. loannis Secundi Nic. Edited by Bonaven- tura Vulcanius. Lugduni Batavorum: apud Elzivirium, 1612. [An anthology of poetry by the three brothers.]

Delitiae c. poetarum Belgicorum. Edited by Janus Gruterus. 4 vols.


Select Bibliography • 115

Francofurti: Typis Nicolai Hoffmanni, sumptibus lacobi Fischeri, 1614. [This is an important anthology, compiled by Gruterus who was a philologist and poet as well as the last librarian of the Palatine Library in Heidelberg.]

loannis Secundi Hagiensis, Poetae elegantissimi. Opera quae reperiri potuerunt omnia. Edited by Petrus Scriverius. Leiden: Jacobus Marcus, 1619. [First critical edition of Secundus.]

lohannis Secundi Opera. Edited by Petrus Scriverius. Leiden: Fran- ciscus Hegerus, 1631. [This is the corrected edition, for which Scriverius used the Bodleian manuscript.]

loannis Nicolaii Secundi Hagani Opera omnia. Edited by Petrus Bur- mannus Secundus and Petrus Bosscha. 2 vols. Leiden: Luchtmans, 1821. [This remains the standard edition, though Alfred Dekker has announced the preparation of a much-needed new edition.]

Basia. Edited by Georg Ellinger. Berlin: Weidmann, 1899. [A critical edition of the Basia.]

The Love Poems of Johannes Secundus. Translated by F. A. Wright. London: Routledge, 1930. [The renderings in English are very loose, though some of the phrases are admirable.]

Les baisers et I'epithalame suivis des odes et des elegies. Edited and translated by Maurice Rat. Paris: Garnier, 1938. [This is a large selection of poems with accurate prose translations in French.]

Kiisse. Translated by Felix M. Wiesner. Zurich: Waage, 1958. [Exam- ple of a fine press edition that stresses Secundus's eroticism.]

An Anthology of Neo-Latin Poetry. Edited and translated by Fred J. Nichols. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. Pp. 486-523. [Contains text and translation of Epigrams 1.58, Basia 1-19 and Sylvae 8 (the erotic epithalamium).]

Other Works Cited

Blanchard, Andre. "J^^*^ Second et ses poemes sur I'execution de

Thomas More." Moreana 9/36 (1972): 1-32. . "Poemes du XVIe siecle a la memoire de Thomas More et de

Jean Fisher." Moreana 11/41 (1974): 93-99. Catullus, Gaius Valerius. Carmina. Edited by R. A. B. Mynors.

Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972. Crane, DougaW. Johannes Secundus. Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1931. Dekker, Alfred M. M. Janus Secundus (1511-1536): De tekstoverlever-


116 • Select Bibliography

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Graaf, 1986. Ellinger, Georg. Geschichte der neulateinischen Literatur Deutschlands

im sechszehnten Jahrhundert. 3 vols. Berlin: De Gruyter, 1933. . "Goethe und Johannes Secundus." Goethe-Jahrbuch 13 (1892):

199-210. Endres, Clifford and Barbara K. Gold. "Joannes Secundus and His

Roman Models." Renaissance Quarterly 35 (1982): 282-86. Endres, Clifford. Joannes Secundus: The Latin Love Elegy in the Ren- aissance. Hamden, Conn.: Archon, 1981. Erasmus, Desiderius. Dialogus Ciceronianus. Edited by Pierre Mes-

nard. In Opera omnia, vol. 1.2:581-710. Amsterdam: North-Hol- land Publishing Company, 1971. . Opus epistolarum. Edited by P. S. Allen and H. M. Allen. 12

vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1906-58. Greek Anthology. Edited and translated by W. R. Patton. 5 vols. Lon- don: Heinemann, 1953. Guepin, J. P. De Kunst van Janus Secundus: De 'Kussen' en andere

Gedichten. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker, 1991. Horatius Flaccus, Quintus. Opera. Edited by Edward Wickham and

H. W. Garrod. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967. Joos, German. "Eenige grieksch-latijnsche en italiaansch-renaissance

invloeden op de Basia van Janus Secundus." Revue beige dephilolo-

gie et d'histoire 20 (1941): 5-14. Kidwell, Carol. Marullus: Soldier Poet of the Renaissance. London:

Duckworth, 1989. Lucretius Caro, Titus. De rerum natura. Edited by Joseph Martin.

Leipzig: Teubner, 1969. Malkiel, Maria Rosa Lida de. "Juan Segundo y la biografia de varios

autores peninsulares de siglo XVI." In Miscelanea de estudos em

honra do Prof. Hemani Cidade, 134-67. Lisboa: Imprensa de

Coimbra, 1957. Martial, Epigrammaton Libri. Edited by W. Heraeus and lacobus

Borovskij. Leipzig: Teubner, 1976. Martyn, John R. C. "loannes Secundus: Orpheus and Eurydice."

Humanistica Lovaniensia 35 (1986): 60-75. . "The Relationship between Lucio Angelo Andre de Resende

and lohannes Secundus." Humanistica Lovaniensia 37 (1988): 244-

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Marullus, Michael. Carmina. Edited by Alessandro Perosa. Zurich:

Artemis, 1951. Molhuysen, P. C. "Julia." Handelingen en mededeelingen van de matt-

schappij der nederlandsche letterkunde (1910/11): 107-9. Nichols, Fred J. "The Renewal of Latin Poetry in the Renaissance:

Rhetoric and Experience." YnActes du Vie Congres de I'Association

Internationale de Litterature Comparee. Edited by Michel Cadot et

al., 89-98. Stuttgart: Bieber, 1975. Ovidius Naso, Publius. Amores. Medicamina faciei femineae. Ars

amatoria. Remedia amoris. Edited by E. J. Kenney. Oxford: Clar- endon Press, 1961. . Metamorphoses. Edited by William S. Anderson. Leipzig: Teub-

ner, 1977. Oxford Latin Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982. Perella, Nicolas James. The Kiss Sacred and Profane. Berkeley and Los

Angeles: University of California Press, 1969. Propertius, Sextus. Carmina. Edited by E. A. Barber. Oxford:

Clarendon Press, 1960. Raa, C. M. G. ten. "Everaerts, Nicolaas." Nationaal Biografisch

Woordenboek, 7:214-31. Brussel: Paleis der Academien, 1977. . "Nicolai, Elisabeth." Nationaal Biografisch Woordenboek,

7:652-56. -. "Nicolai, Ever^iert." Nationaal Biografisch Woordenboek, 7:656-


62. Ronsard, Pierre de. Oeuvres completes. Edited by Paul Laumonier. 8

vols. Paris: Librairie Alphonse Lemerre, 1914-19. Rupprich, Hans. Der Briefwechsel des Konrad Celtis. Munich: Beck,

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ische Literaturstudien 1936-1956, 921-44. Tubingen: Niemeyer,

1959. Stallybrass, Peter and Allon White. The Politics and Poetics of Trans- gression. London: Methuen, 1986. Tibullus, Albus, et al. Carminum libri tres. Edited by John Postgate.

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