Hrotsvitha von Gandersheim

Hrotsvitha von Gandersheim (ca. 935–ca. 975).
Opera Hrosvite illustris virginis et monialis germane gente saxonica orte nuper a Conrado Celte inventa.
Nuremberg: Sodalitas Celticae, 1501. (AFM4742)

Hrotsvitha, a tenth-century Benedictine nun from Gandersheim, gained posthumous fame when the German humanist scholar Conrad Celtis discovered a manuscript containing several of her long-lost writings in 1493. Six of these works, Latin morality plays modeled on the comedies of Terence, emphasized the virtues of chastity and faith, which made them far more suitable reading material for the nuns than Terence’s pagan dramas. Hrotsvitha’s highly learned writings impressed Celtis as evidence of Germany’s forgotten ancient literary tradition. Edited by Celtis, this first edition of her works was published in 1501 with several woodcut illustrations. The exhibited woodcut by Albrecht Dürer depicts Hrotsvitha presenting her plays to Emperor Otto I while her aunt, the Abbess of the Gandersheim convent, looks on from behind the kneeling playwright.

Listen as curator Dr. Eric White talks about Hrotsvitha von Gandersheim during a tour.

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Women of the Middle Ages
Hrotsvitha von Gandersheim