In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Neo-Latin Literature

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Anthologies and Text Collections
  • Reference and Bibliography
  • Collections of Essays
  • Journals and Series
  • Editing
  • Cultural and Educational Context
  • Female Participation and Representation in Neo-Latin Writing
  • Classical Imitation and Intertextuality
  • Neo-Latin and the Vernacular

Classics Neo-Latin Literature
Victoria Moul
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 October 2014
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2014
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0176


Neo-Latin literature is a vast field, covering Latin texts written in an intentionally classical style in both verse and prose across at least four centuries and the whole of Europe, as well as parts of Asia and the New World, by countless authors and in an enormous variety of genres. Given the limitations of space, this article focuses on the most productive period of neo-Latin literature, beginning in Italy around 1300 and continuing until about 1800, although works that include discussion of literature produced after this period are noted. Only a small proportion of individual texts and authors have yet received modern editions, and, of these, only a tiny handful exist in the sort of editions with commentary and translation that scholars and students of classical literature take for granted. Much important work remains entirely unedited, available only in the original early modern editions or digital facsimiles of those editions, or even in manuscript. In this context, digital resources, databases, anthologies, and reference works are of particular importance. The breadth of the field makes this guide necessarily highly selective; it is concentrated on English-language sources where available, but the strength of neo-Latin studies elsewhere in Europe means that much important scholarship has appeared only in other languages. Given the sheer range of texts and authors that may be described as neo-Latin literature, it is not possible to devote sections to specific authors, although exemplary studies of particular authors are included under other section headings where appropriate, and the sections on Anthologies and Text Collections and Journals and Series indicate where translations of texts are included. Many neo-Latin literary genres and themes—even among the most productive—still lack a scholarly overview or authoritative general reference work. Scholars working in the field must often be creative in their use of the scholarly literature: for this reason, some very specialized monographs and essay collections are included when they offer particularly accessible or clearly thought-out methodologies that invite application elsewhere.

General Overviews

The works in this section offer a general orientation in the range of texts, genres, and authors that might be considered neo-Latin literature as well as to the current state of scholarship in the field. For now, IJsewijn 1990 and IJsewijn and Sacré 1998 remain the only recent general guides to the field. To avoid repetition, those volumes are described in detail only here, but they could appear under almost every heading of this article: They should serve as the starting point for any research project, although the discussion in many chapters is necessarily brief. Helander 2001 and van Hal 2007 give an indication of the range of current approaches to neo-Latin studies in general; van Tieghem 1944, Ludwig 1997, and Hofmann 2000 focus on neo-Latin literature in particular. Several major handbooks and companions to neo-Latin, both literature and writing more generally, are forthcoming: Readers should be aware that this is a rapidly developing field, particularly in English-language scholarship.

  • Helander, Hans. 2001. Neo-Latin studies: Significance and prospects. Symbolae Osloenses 76:1–102.

    Text of a debate on the state and future of the discipline, with an initial survey by Hans Helander (pp. 1–44), followed by shorter responses from a wide range of leading scholars in the field, who stress various alternative approaches to the field; concluding remarks by Helander again. Also included is a still useful bibliography. Main article and bibliography in English; responses in English, German, and Italian.

  • Hofmann, Heinz. 2000. Neulateinische Literatur: Aufgaben und Perspektiven. Neulateinisches Jahrbuch 2:57–97.

    Very scholarly survey of the field, with extremely extensive bibliography in the footnotes. Particularly rich on literary genres.

  • IJsewijn, Jozef. 1990. Companion to neo-Latin studies: Part I: History and diffusion of neo-Latin literature. 2d ed. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven Univ. Press.

    Two sections: the first, much shorter, provides an overview of “classical, medieval, and neo-Latin”; the second, the bulk of the volume, is titled “Neo-Latin Literature: Its History and Diffusion.” Arranged geographically, extending even to Australia and a handful of Asian countries.

  • IJsewijn, Jozef, and Dirk Sacré. 1998. Companion to neo-Latin studies: Part II: Literary, linguistic, philological and editorial questions. 2d ed. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven Univ. Press.

    Consists of three major sections, on “literary genres” (including technical prose and even newspapers and inscriptions), “language, style, prosody, and metrics” and “texts and editions.” The treatment of literary prose is particularly impressive and wide-ranging. Without question the starting point for any investigation of a given genre.

  • Ludwig, Walther. 1997. Die neuzeitliche lateinische Literatur seit der Renaissance. In Einleitung in die lateinische Philologie. Edited by Fritz Graf, 323–356. Stuttgart: Teubner.

    Fairly brief but valuable overview of both neo-Latin literature and the scholarship in the field. Arranged in orderly subsections both chronologically and by genre. Some consideration of literature written after 1800, which is beyond the scope of this article. Useful bibliography in the final pages. In German.

  • van Hal, Toon. 2007. Towards meta-neo-Latin studies? Impetus to debate on the field of neo-Latin studies and its methodology. Humanistica Lovaniensia 56:349–365.

    Stimulating article proposing greater theoretical and methodological rigor and self-consciousness in neo-Latin studies. Develops, in particular, a parallel with the historiography of linguistics.

  • van Tieghem, Paul. 1944. La littérature latine de la Renaissance: Étude d’histoire littéraire européenne. Bibliothèque d’humanisme et renaissance 4:177–418.

    Classic and still valuable survey. In French.

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