Dynamics of Neo-Latin and the Vernacular

Van Hooijdonck, Eva

The Amsterdam Rhetoricians as vernacular counterparts of the Leyden humanists

From the fourteenth century onwards, chambers of rhetoric dominated the literature of the Low Countries. With the foundation of the University of Leyden and Leyden Latin and vernacular humanist poetry, the Amsterdam rhetoricians still counted some of the leading poets of Holland among their number, such as, the celebrated poets P.C. Hooft and Joost van den Vondel, both members of a rhetorician’s chamber. In his famous dedication to Jacob van Dijck, introducing the Nederduytsche Poemata of Leyden humanist Daniel Heinsius, Petrus Scriverius even celebrated some of these Amsterdam rhetoricians as leaders of a new kind of poetry. Poets of the Leyden humanist circle should follow their example in writing learned and vernacular poetry. In turn, the Amsterdam rhetoricians looked up to the Leyden humanists and tried to incorporate the humanist views in their own poetry. In this paper, I will discuss the development in poetics of two Amsterdam rhetoricians´ chambers, as well as the poetics of the Leyden humanists. The role of the rhetoricians’ chambers in the development of a vernacular standard throughout the Republic of the Seven United Provinces will be investigated as well. In addition, the efforts of Leyden humanists such as Petrus Scriverius to upgrade Dutch as a literary language will be examined, in order to understand the dynamics between the two literary traditions and their respective role in the promotion of learned vernacular poetry.