Academic journal article Seventeenth-Century News

Aulularia and Other Inversions of Plautus

Academic journal article Seventeenth-Century News

Aulularia and Other Inversions of Plautus

Article excerpt

Aulularia and Other Inversions of Plautus. By Joannes Burmeister. Edited, translated, and introduced by Michael Fontaine. Bibliotheca Latinitatis Novae. Leuven: Leuven University Press 2015. XI + 278 pp. In contrast to other modern Neo-Latin editions, Fontaine (hereafter F.) starts the introduction (1-91) of his masterful edition of Johannes Burmeister's (1576-1638) 'inversions' of Plautus not with the ordinary bio-bibliographical information, but with a demonstration of what makes these receptions of Plautus peculiar and unique: Burmeister had discovered that some of Plautus' comedies follow the same plot as certain biblical episodes. On this basis, he decided to rewrite biblical stories in the form of a Latin comedy and thereby to follow as closely as possible his formal model Plautus. In doing so, he had to change the names of the characters, but he kept the series of scenes and even the order and sequence of Plautus' single lines. In the best-case scenario, this meant not having to change a single element of a line, which got its new (i.e., biblical) meaning from its new context alone. This mixture of Plautus and the Vulgate, together with Burmeister's obsession with pranks and puns, makes his comedies an extraordinary example of the role that baroque form plays in the reception of Plautus. F.'s new edition of these comedies is therefore very welcome. In the following chapters of the introduction, F. deals with Burmeister's biography (17-32). Here he is able to correct some mistakes that have occurred in earlier studies on this Protestant pastor and author. F. gives an overview of Burmeister's other works (32-37), among which is also a carmen heroicum on St. John the Baptist. Then F. treats the single comedies in more detail: Mater Virgo (1621) tells the story of Christ's birth, modelled on Plautus' Amphitryon (37-49). Although the text of Burmeister's play is lost today, it was known to 2 scholars in the nineteenth century, out of whose works F. edits the fragments of the play (203-247). …

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