Martin Opits

Martin Opits

German Baroque poet.
Date of Birth: 23.12.1597
Country: Germany

  1. Biography of Martin Opitz
  2. The Heidelberg Circle
  3. Professorship and Literary Works
  4. Vienna and Imperial Recognition
  5. The Fruitful Society
  6. Service to Count Carl Hannibal von Dohna
  7. Final Years in Danzig

Biography of Martin Opitz

Martin Opitz, a German Baroque poet, was born in Bunzlau, Germany. He attended the gymnasium in Bunzlau and later studied at the prestigious school in Frankfurt-an-der-Oder, where he focused on French, Dutch, and Italian poetry. In 1618, he enrolled in the university in Frankfurt-an-der-Oder and published a small treatise titled "Aristarchus sive de contemptu linguae teutonicae," defending the right of the German language to literary life and arguing that it was just as capable as French or Italian in creating new literature based on classical antiquity.

The Heidelberg Circle

In 1619, Opitz became the leader of a circle of young poets in Heidelberg, who were centered around Heinrich Albert Cynkreth. They aimed to create a national poetry movement. However, due to the turmoil of war, the circle dispersed in 1620, and Opitz fled to Leiden. In Leiden, he gained the favor of Daniel Heinsius, whose Latin ode on the birth of Christ Opitz had translated while still in Heidelberg.

Professorship and Literary Works

In 1622, Opitz accepted an invitation from Prince Gabor Bethlen of Sárospatak to become a professor of philosophy and fine arts at the higher school in Weissenburg. It was during this time that he wrote the descriptive-didactic poem "Zlatna oder von Ruhe des Gemüts" and began an extensive but unfinished work on the antiquities of Dacia, titled "Dacia antiqua."

Vienna and Imperial Recognition

In 1624, Opitz entered the service of Duke George Rudolf of Liegnitz-Brieg. In 1625, he visited Vienna and presented an ode on the death of Archduke Karl to Emperor Ferdinand II. Impressed by Opitz's poetic skills, the emperor personally crowned him with a poetic wreath. In 1628, Opitz was ennobled under the name "von Bobersfeld."

The Fruitful Society

In 1629, Opitz was elected a member of the so-called "Fruitful Society," established in Weimar to purify the German language. Initially, the society was unfriendly towards Opitz's aspirations, but they eventually recognized his talent and gave him the nickname "the crowned."

Service to Count Carl Hannibal von Dohna

In 1626, as a Protestant, Opitz became the secretary to Count Carl Hannibal von Dohna, who was known for his harsh persecution of Protestants. At the count's request, Opitz translated a polemical work by the Jesuit Bécanus against Protestants in 1631. Serving the count provided Opitz with the opportunity to visit Paris in 1630, where he met Hugo Grotius and translated his treatise on the truth of Christianity into German verse.

Final Years in Danzig

In 1635, Opitz settled in Danzig. He was appointed as the royal secretary and historiographer of Poland for his ode dedicated to King Vladislaus IV. During this time, he focused on the study of Sarmatian antiquities but also dedicated much of his attention to ancient Germanic poetry. Opitz published "Song of St. Annon" with Latin annotations in 1639. Sadly, he succumbed to the plague in the same year and passed away. The original manuscript of the "Song of St. Annon" has been lost.