Johannes Secundus  

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Johannes Secundus (also Janus Secundus) (15 November 1511 – 25 September 1536) was a New Latin poet of Dutch nationality. His most famous work was the Liber Basiorum (Book of Kisses, first complete edition 1541), a short collection consisting of nineteen poems in various metres, in which the poet explores the theme of the kiss.

Early life and education

Born Jan Everaerts in The Hague, his father Nicolaes Everaerts was a well known jurist and friend of Erasmus.

In 1528 his family moved to Mechlin, where Secundus wrote his first book of elegies. In 1532 he went to Bourges with his brother Marius to study law under Alciati. He obtained his licentia.

Career

In 1533 he went to join his other brother Grudius at the Spanish court of Charles V. There he spent two years working as secretary to the Archbishop of Toledo. He returned to Mechlin because of illness, and died at Saint-Amand in September 1536 at the age of twenty-four.

Writings

Secundus was a prolific writer, and in his short life he produced several books of elegies, epigrams, odes, verse epistles and epithalamia, as well as some prose writings (epistles and itineraria).

His most famous work, though, was the Liber Basiorum (Book of Kisses, first complete edition 1541), a short collection consisting of nineteen poems in various metres, in which the poet explores the theme of the kiss. The 'Basia' are really extended imitations of Catullus (in particular poems 5 and 7) and some poems from the Anthologia Graeca; Secundus situates his poetry, stylistically as well as thematically, firmly with the Neo-Catullan tradition. Variations on the central theme include: imagery of natural fertility; the 'arithmetic' of kissing; kisses as nourishment or cure; kisses that wound or bring death; and the exchange of souls through kissing. Secundus also introduces elements of Neo-Platonism and Petrarchism into his poems.





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