Kalevipoeg, a Great European Epic

Juri Talvet
University of Tartu

Resources - Links


Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald

Source: http://www.lisest.org/2003/Friedrich%20Reinhold%20Kreutzwald_ENG.htm


Source: http://www.l-virumv.ee/Reform/kadrina%20kaart.jpg

Kadrina is a rural municipality in Laane Virumaa County. At the beginning of the 20th century in Estonia as well as in Kadrina, the National Awakening intensified. In 1907 was founded Kadrina Society of Education. The monument of the Estonian language was erected in Kadrina in 1994.


Ida-Virumaa (Eastern Viru) county is situated in the north-eastern part of Estonia, stretching from the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland to the northern shore of Lake Peipsi. Its ancient name is Alutaguse and because of strategic position, it has, through ages, been the battlefield of great wars.

Vindri Roin Ristmets is the original Estonian name of Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzvald, subsequently turned to German.


Source: http://europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/images/esto_pict/tal93_tallin.jpg

Tallinn is situated in front of gulf of Finland, under the hill Toompea where was born the first unit of the city. Its architecture, consciously restored, shows all the medieval glamour of 14th and 15th century. Since 14th century Tallin became a prosperous trading town of Hanseatic league, but soon the war for the control of Baltic area among Swedish, Russians, Poles and the Lithuanians, arrested the development. Only in 19th century Tallin restarted his growth until counting 150.000 inhabitants at the beginning of first World War. At present, the city counts about 400.000 inhabitants thanks to the flows of immigration from the neighboring countries.

Military Medical Academy of St. Petersburg

Source: http://www.museum.infran.ru/eng/pavlov/pavlov.htm

Tartu (Dorpat) University

Source: http://www.helsinki.fi/~jnuotio/0007.html

The University of Tartu (Estonian: Tartu Ülikool, German: Universität Dorpat) is the national classical university of Estonia, located in the city of Tartu. The university, established by King Gustav II Adolph of Sweden in 1632, is a member of the Coimbra Group. During its history the University of Tartu was known as Academia Gustaviana, University of Dorpat, (Kaiserliche) Universität (zu) Dorpat, and University of Yuryev/Jurjev.

Gustav Adolf II

Source: http://www.uni-regensburg.de/Fakultaeten/phil_Fak_III/Geschichte/w97vsmm3.html

Gustav Adolf II, successor of Charles XI, known as “Gustavus Adolphus”, king of Sweden (1611-1632), was born in 1594 and killed at the Battle of Lützen in 1632, during Thirty Years' War in which he was involved because of his desire to assure Swedish control of the Baltic States. Gustavus's excellent education, and early experience in affairs of state prepared him for his crucial role in Sweden and Europe. Firstly he insured internal stability by granting concessions to the turbulent nobility, and he terminated (1613) the Kalmar War with Denmark by buying off the Danes. This enabled him to undertake a successful campaign against Russia, which was forced to cede (1617) Ingermanland. In Thirty Years War, which had begun in 1618 his primary objects was invading Poland, consolidate Swedish hegemony over the Baltic by acquiring Polish Livonia and eventually reduce the threat posed by the Catholic Sigismund III of Poland to Swedish Protestantism. The victories of the armies of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II in the Thirty Years War soon caused the king to promise in 1628 his aid to Christian IV of Denmark in the defense of Stralsund. In 1629, through the mediation of Cardinal Richelieu of France, he obtained a large part of Livonia and several good Baltic ports: France and Sweden established a secret treaty to assure French subsidy if Gustavus entered Germany. The king landed in Pomerania with 13,000 troops in 1630; a year later the Franco-Swedish treaty was openly ratified at Bärwalde, and after the fall of Magdeburg, Saxony and Brandenburg accepted the king's conditions for an alliance with Sweden. The spectacular sweep of the Swedish army through Germany then began. In Sept., 1631, Gustavus defeated the new imperial commander, Tilly, at Breitenfeld near Leipzig in the first Protestant victory of the war. In 1632, Gustavus moved toward east, defeated the imperial troops at the crossing of the Lech (where Tilly was mortally wounded), and entered Bavaria. Finally Gustavus attacked Wallenstein's camp, but he failed and retired toward Würzburg. At Lützen the two armies met and the Swedes won the battle, but Gustavus was killed.

Alexander I

Source: http://worldroots.com/brigitte/royal/arti-r.htm

Aleksandr Pavlovich Romanov or Tsar Alexander I (The Blessed), born in 1777, was czar of Russia from 1801 to 1825. The first year of his reign show the liberalism of his charismatic Swiss tutor, Frédéric César de La Harpe. Because of this influence, beyond suppressing the secret police and improving the position of the serfs, he began the reform of the educational system. After a first coalition against Napoleon I in 1805, he formed an alliance with him by the Treaty of Tilsit (1807) as a consequence of the Russian defeats at Austerlitz and Friedland and joined Napoleon’s Continental System. During this period Russia gained control of Georgia and parts of Transcaucasia as a result of prolonged war with Persia (1804–13) but the deterioration of relations with France deteriorated lead to Napoleon invasion of Russia in 1812. Alexander’s power was incremented by the defeat of the French. After a first period of liberal foreign policy, from 1812 on, Alexander was preoccupied by a vague, mystical Christianity, which contributed to his increasing conservatism. Under this influence he created the Holy Alliance to uphold Christian morality in Europe. Viewing revolutionary movements, the czar now supported Metternich in suppressing all national and liberal movements, considered as challenging to the authority of legitimate Christian monarchs. The military colonies, product of his religious fervor, became notorious for the regimentation and near-serfdom imposed on the soldiers. Alexander abrogated many of his earlier liberal efforts, causing the formation of secret political societies, which could be able to lead an abortive revolt only after Alexander’s death (1825), under the reign of his brother Nicholas I.

Friedrich Schiller

Source: http://www.odysseetheater.com/schiller/bilder/schiller.jpg

Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller was born on November 10, 1759, in Marbach, Germany. When he was 13 years old, Schiller entered the Karlsschule military academy of Duke Karl Eugen of Württemberg, whom his father worked for. the He studied law and medicine, he was a foremost German dramatist and, along with Goethe, a major figure in German literature's Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) period. Both physical and spiritual freedom and psychology of people in crisis were issues in such plays as the Wallenstein cycle (1798-99), Mary Stuart (1800), The Maid of Orleans (1801), and William Tell (1804). Schiller's first play was The Robbers (1781). Because he left the duke’s regiment without permission to see the play performed at Mannheim, he was put under arrest and forbidden to write anything more. Schiller fled to Mannheim, later settling in Leipzig, where he wrote his first major poetic drama, Don Carlos (1787), whose blank verse was recognized medium of German drama. Influenced by the philosophy of Kant, Schiller developed his aesthetic theories, stressing the sublime and the creative powers of humanity. He wrote several important treatises on aesthetics, foremost among them On the Aesthetic Education of Man. Schiller edited The Hours, a journal published by Johann Friedrich Cotta, and produced his masterpiece, the Wallenstein cycle in 1798 continued to write and translate and, beginning in 1798. Partly to be near Goethe, Schiller moved to Weimar in 1799 where he died on May 9, 1805.

Schiller's first play, written in 1781. It gives evident indication of how Schiller eventually achieved the restrained classicism of his later works. The characters of Franz and Karl von Moor are probably based on Edmund and Edgar, Gloucester's sons in King Lear. Karl, an impetuous idealist, has run away from home to lead a dissolute life, but now wishes to return to his home, and to his cousin Amalia, whom he loves. But his evil younger brother Franz persuades their elderly father not to forgive Karl, and writes Karl a letter, purporting to come from their father, saying that he has been disinherited. (In fact, their father loves Karl best, in spite of his wildness - of course!) Karl then agrees to lead a band of outlaws - the Robbers of the title. At the end of the play he voluntarity decides to give himself up to the authorities, as he realises that he cannot reform the world by breaking the law - he is in fact a criminal like the men he has been leading.

Sturm und Drang

German literature movement that flourished approximately from 1770 to 1784. It takes its name from a play by F. M. von Klinger, Wirrwarr; oder, Sturm und Drang (1776). The ideas of Rousseau before, and Herder and Lessing later, were the major influences of the movement. Thanks to Sturm und Drang, German authors became cultural leaders of Europe, especially in developing the theme of youthful genius in rebellion against accepted standards. The great figure of the movement was Goethe, who wrote its first major drama, Götz von Berlichingen (1773), and its most sensational and representative novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774). Other writers of importance were Klopstock, J. M. R. Lenz, and Friedrich Müller. The last major figure was Schiller, whose The Robbers and other early plays were also a prelude to romanticism.

Friedrich Maximilian Klinger

Source: http://images.encarta.msn.com/xrefmedia/sharemed/targets/images/pho/t073/T073118A.jsm

Friedrich Maximilian Klinger, German dramatist and novelist, was born of humble parentage at Frankfort-On-Main, in 1752. When his father died he was a child, and his early years were a hard struggle. He was enabled, however, in 1774 to enter the university of Giessen, where he studied law and received help from his friend Goethe. In 1775 Klinger gained with his tragedy Die Zwillinge a prize offered by the Hamburg theatre, and in 1776 was appointed Tkeaterdichter to the "Seylersche Schauspiel-Gesellschaft". After his access in 1778 to the Austrian military service, he took part in the Bavarian war of succession. In St Petersburg he became first an officer in the Russian army, then. was appointed director of the corps of cadets, and having married a natural daughter of the empress Catharine, was made praeses of the Academy of Knights in 1799. In 1803 Klinger was nominated by the emperor Alexander curator of the university of Dorpat. He then gradually gave up his official posts to die at Dorpat on 1831. Sturm und Drang (1776), the work which gave its name to this literary epoch, reflects the bitter experiences of his youth, like other dramas. In Russia he devoted himself to the writing of philosophical romances such as Fausts Leben, Taten und Ilollenfahrt (1791) and many other works that give ezpression the to leading ideas of Sturm und Drang.

Johann Gottfried Herder


Born and grown up in Mohrungen in the Kingdom of Prussia, learning from his father's Bible and songbook, Herder started to study in 1762 at the University of Königsberg, where he was influenced by Johann Georg Hamann and Immanuel Kant. Now a preacher, in 1764 Herder went to Riga to teach and produce his first major works of literary criticism. In Strasbourg he met a young Goethe, who was evidently inspired by Herder's literary criticism to develop his own style. In 1771 Herder took a position as head pastor and court preacher at Bückeburg but throughout this period he continued elaborating his own unique theory of aesthetics in works such his famous Essay on the Origin of Language. Herder wrote an important essay on Shakespeare and Auszug aus einem Briefwechsel über Ossian und die Lieder alter Völker (Extract from a correspondence about Ossian and the Songs of Ancient Peoples) published in 1773 in a manifesto along with contributions from Goethe and Justus Möser. Towards the end of his career Herder endorsed the French Revolution, which earned him the enmity of many of his colleauges. At the same time, he and Goethe experienced a personal split. Herder died in 1803 in Weimar. Along with Wilhelm von Humboldt, he proposed what is now called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis - that language determines thought. Language and cultural traditions create a "nation" extended to include folklore, dance, music and art, a conception which encouraged democracy and the free self-expression of a people's identity. To promote his concept of the Volk, he published letters and collected folk songs. These latter were published in 1773 as Voices of the People in Their Songs (Stimmen der Voelker in ihren Liedern). The poets Achim von Arnim and Clemens von Brentano later used Stimmen der Voelker as samples for The Boy's Magic Horn (Des Knaben Wunderhorn).


Source: http://www.5stars-of-scandinavia.com/images/riganight.jpg

Riga is the capital of the Republic of Latvia one of the business attraction Western Europe and huge Eastern markets. since 14th and 15th centuries, when the city became one of the most important trade centers of the Hanseatic League, which granted special rights to transport goods along the Daugava. Nowadays, the main elements that make the city as a transit center are the harbor of Riga, the Riga international airport and developed railway and road networks. The city is also well known for its architectural and cultural values that make it the largest center of education and science.


Source: http://media.maps.com/magellan/Images/LATVIA-W1.gif

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Latvia

Known for the most part as Livonia, from the 13th century onward was under the influence of the German Sword Brethren. However, in the 18th and 19th century, Russia gained control over Latvia but then, devastated by revolution and World War I, Latvia declared its independence on November 18, 1918. A republican government was estalished in 1920-30 untill constitution was adopted on February 15th, 1922. As with most democratic governments, it was a multi-party system overthrown by its own Prime Minister, in a military coup in 1934. Latvia became an. Its independence as authoritarian state lasted only briefly, as the Soviet Union occupied and annexed the country on 17 June 1940 in accordance to the Soviet-German agreement (Ribbentrop-Molotov pact) of 1939. In 2004 the country became a member of both NATO and the European Union.

Stimmen der Völker in Liedern

Source: http://www.lyrik-kabinett.de/bibliothek/book.php?id=41

Friedrich Robert Faehlmann

Source: http://www.nlib.ee/html/expo/kalevipoeg/sisse.html

Friedrich Robert Faehlmann, paver of the way to the national movement in the second half of the 19th century, was born in 1798. Ater his graduation in 1827 at Tartu University’s medical faculty, Faehlmann kept in mind the good of his people in everything he did. He devoted himself to the study of the Estonian language and the Estonians’ spiritual world, so that the Learned Estonian Society was founded at his initiative in 1838. He was author of folklore-based stories widely known until today and put forth the idea of a national epic, based on folk tales about a legendary king, Kalevipoeg that will be later written by a younger colleague of Faehlmann’s, Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald, and published in 1857-1861.

Gelehrte Estnische Gesellschaft

The organization Gelehrte Estnische Gesellschaft (GEG) was founded in 1838 by the teachers of Tartu University to study Estonian history, language, and culture. Yet another society - Naturforscher-Gesellschaft bei der Universität Dorpat (NFG) - was organized at Tartu in 1853 to study natural conditions of the Baltics. In both societies, the study of geography played an important role. In the GEG, it was tied primarily to history; in NFG to geology and other natural sciences.


This poetic song tradition appeared for the first time in 1835, edited by Elias Lönnrot on the basis of the epic folk poems he had collected in Finland and Karelia. The epic, which markes an important turning-point for Finnish-language culture. had been part of the oral tradition among speakers of Balto-Finnic languages for two thousand years. Lönnrot's aim was to arrange the mythological and other poems into a single volume, comparable to the Icelandic Edda, and tell about the past heroes like Homer did in Iliad and Odysse.. Lönnrot and his colleagues continued their efforts to collect folk poetry and using this new material, Lönnrot published an expanded version of the Kalevala in 1849. The Kalevala begins with an account of the Creation - from a broken egg - and ends with an interpretation of the Virgin Birth. At the beginning of the arrangement of the material, Lönnrot believed that the events of the old poems rested more or less on historical facts. Kalevala brought a small, unknown people to the attention of other Europeans, and began to be called the Finnish national epic

Elias Lönnrot

Source: http://www.folklorefellows.fi/netw/ffn23/

Collector of folklore, linguist, medical doctor, professor in Finnish philology at the University of Helsinki, was born in Sammatti. In 1822 entered the Academy of Turku and received his M.A. in 1827. Between 1829 and 1831 Lönnrot published at his own expense four volumes of poetry, entitled Kantele. After graduating in he made field trips among the Lapps, the Estonians, and the Finnish peoples of northwest Russia to study the relationships between Finno-Ugrian languages. During his years in Kajaani Lönnrot started to edit his collections of folk poetry for publication. In 1835 there appeared Vanha Kalevala (The old Kalevala), then Kanteletar (1840), and Uusi Kalevala (The new Kalevala) in 1849. Events described in the Kalevala went back to the pre-Christian period when the Finns worshipped their own pagan god, Ukko. The epic ends with the victory of Christianity. Lönnrot also started to publish the first magazine in Finnish, Mehiläinen (The Bee), edited a collection of riddles (1833), proverbs (1842), and produced Suomalaisen Talonpojan Kotilääkäri (1839, The Finnish Peasant's Home Doctor. In the province of Sammatti in southern Finland, he compiled a Finnish-Swedish dictionary in two volumes (1866-1880), and published a collection of Finnish magical poems (1880) before to die in Sammatti in1884.


In East Estonian legends, the giant hero named Kalevipoeg ("Kalev's Son"), carries stones or throws them at enemies and uses planks as weapons, forms landscapes builds towns. He walks through deep water. And eventually dies from having his feet cut down by his own sword. Kalevipoeg was one of the sons of Kalev and Linda. Alevipoeg, Olevipoeg and Sulevipoeg were his relatives. In 1839, Friedrich Robert Faehlmann read a paper at the Learned Estonian Society about the legends of Kalevipoeg. and started to sketch the plot of a national romantic epic poem. Only in 1850, Kreutzwald started writing the poem, collecting oral stories and wove them together into a unified whole. The first version of Kalevipoeg (1853; 13,817 verses) could not be printed due to censorship. The second, (19,087 verses) was published with an included German version, by the Learned Estonian Society in 1857–1861. In 1862, the third version counts almost 19,023 verses in old Estonian alliterative verse.


Source: http://www.kuopio.fi/images.nsf/Imgs/200704140441137/$File/scenery_iso.jpg?OpenElement

Kuopio has a rich cultural heritage During the last few decades the City of Kuopio has been growing and developing significantly. The ancestors of contemporary Kuopio residents, the Savo tribe, lived in the area during the Stone Age and supported themselves by hunting, fishing, picking berries and other natural products. Kuopio was founded in 1653 by the governor general Peter Brahe but gained full city status only in 1775 when King Gustav III of Sweden ordered the establishment of the city of Kuopio. The period of autonomy was characterised by rapid development. in traffic connections, as the Saimaa Canal was completed in 1856. From 1778 Kuopio has a "trivium" school offering secondary educationm, a high school since 1842, industrial school, commercial school and nursing school since 1890s. Finally, the university was founded in 1966. Kuopio was bombed during the wartime and when a lot of people in the Karelia region had to leave their homes, many were evacuated to the Kuopio region. After the wartime the population grew quickly. In the 1946 there were 30 000 inhabitants in the city. The second half of the century was a period of fast development. The university education has contributed a lot in developing the city in new ways. In the end of the 20th century the City of Kuopio started to focus on developing a city of modern technology and research.

Russian Academy of Sciences

Source: http://www.pran.ru/images/n/index_08.jpg

The Academy of Sciences was established in St. Petersburg by a decree of the Governing Senate on January 28 (February 8), 1724 following an order of The Emperor Peter the Great. The event took place in the time when the science in its modern understanding was in the process of making and life itself required a closer connection between science and practice. This need for development depended on the raising demands of growing industries and the quest for strengthening the Russian State. To solve this tasks, Peter the Great strove to involve Russia in the general process of European cultural development by introducing some reforms. According to Peter’s view, the academy was to become not just a research body but also an educational institution with his university and gymnasium.

Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Source: http://www.budpocketguide.com/photosgallery/worldheritage/11_Hungarian_Academy_of_Sciences.jpg

The Hungarian Academy of Sciences (originally named Hungarian Scholarly Society) was founded in Pest in 1825. The Society had six departments: history, law, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy and natural sciences. Furthermore, it had a certain number of issues which they deemed important to make rapid progress on. One of these was to develop a dictionary of Hungarian mathematical terms, then published in1834. However, the publication of Euclid's Elements in Hungarian by the Society in 1832 was probably more significant. Problems arrived in 1849 when the Society decided to follow the Hungarian War of Independence: after the first enthusiasm for the defeat of Hasburgs and the declaration of independence, a combined force from Russia and Austria retook the country and the Hungarian army surrendered and many people were shot or imprisoned. Vienna banned meetings of the Academy in the period immediately after the war and no new members were permitted to be elected until 1858 new members were admitted. During the period of conflicts, the Academy supported ventures to strengthen Hungarian scholarship. In the Compromise of 1867 the Hungarian Kingdom and the Austrian Empire became independent states within the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. As a consequence, the Technical University of Budapest was set up from the polytechnic school in 1871 (in fact Budapest was created from the union of the towns of Pest, Buda, and Obuda).

August Annist

Source: http://www.kirmus.ee/erni/foto/anni04.html

Felix Oinas
Estonian Ambassador to the U.S. Kalev Sticescu presented an honor to Professor Felix Oinas in 1998

Source: http://www.indiana.edu/~reeiweb/index/Oinas.jpg

Born on March 6, 1911 in Kambja parish, Felix Oinas was the oldest Estonian folklorist. He graduated in Tartu University (MA) in 1938 and his scientific career was spent mostly in exile, where he wokred for many years as professor at Indiana University. His work concerned Estonian, Finno-Ugric and Slavic langfuages and folklore. Felix Oinas maintained Estonian folkloristcs a world science while Estonia was behind the iron curtain. On September 25, 2004, he died in his home in Bloomington (Indiana, USA).

Jorge Luis Borges


Jorge Luis Borges was born in 1899. His most important works is Ficciones, his breakthrough collection of "essays" ( a collection which introduced us to "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote"). Ficciones is now regarded as one of the essential postmodern texts.

Friedebert Tuglas

Source: http://www.tuglas.fi/kuvat/tuglas.jpg

Estonian author, scholar, critic, national writer of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (1946), Friedebert Tuglas was born in Ahja, he studied in Tarto but because he became involved in revolutionary activities, his early ecucation was cut short. He was imprisoned for some time and after his release Tuglas went into exile for over ten years (1906-1917). During this hard period he read widely and developed intensively his own esthetic views. As a writer Tuglas made his debut in 1906 with the short story Hingemaa (1906) was his first work, followed by His Own Plot of Land, a realistic story about rural proletariat. Two years later appeared a collection of short stories, Kaheski, in which had found his own voice. During the years of World War I Tuglas published his resigned novel Felix Ormusson (1915), in which the central character realizes the uselessness of his romantic ideals but cannot change himself. From 1906 to 1917 Tuglas lived in exile in Finland and in France and when he returned to Estonia, he edited several literary magazines, among them Odamees, Ilo, Tarapita. Tuglas's wartime stories were collected in Saatus (1917) and Raskuse Vaim (1920). However, his study Juhan LIIV (1927) was a major contribution to the growing body of Estonian literary research. After World War II Tuglas, while beeing a correspondent member of the Academy of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic, he continued to publish short prose pieces and his memoirs, Mälestused, which dealt with politically neutral period, the years between 1885-1910. Tuglas died in Tallinn in 1971.

Lydia Koidula

Source: http://www.litterature-estonienne.com/koidula.jpg

Lydia Emilie Florentine Jannsen was born on 1843. She was eleven when she entered German Higher School for girls in Pärnu. Her natural talent revealed when she finished the school in 1861 with the best marks only. The education got from that school was the highest one which was allowed for women to get in Russia. Soon Lydia passed a home-teacher's examination at Tartu, becoming private tutor of her younger brothers and sisters. The main task remained to help Jannsen in his editor deities which she had fulfilled since Postimees had started to come out. Lydia had got excellent knowledge of foreign languages (German, Russian, French, Italian) so that she became not simply secretary but also translator and author of Postimees soon. Addapting naive stories for the "Speaking-corner" of Postimees, Lydia decided to write something similar herself. Her second story The Brook Miller and his Daughter-in-law was printed as a separate book in 1863. It became not popular although it was a fresh and lovely story, adapted by a German writer Würdig. After some other attempts, printed under Jannsen's name, Lydia published two anonymus books of verses: Waino-Lilled ('Meadow Flowers', 1866) and Emmajõe Öpik ('Nightingale of the Emajõgi River', 1867). By her poems, Lydia was really "Koidulaulik" - 'Singer of the Dawn', as she became to be called by friends. By that expression she got her writer name Koidula which is more widely known as her own name.

Anton Hansen Tammsaare

Source: http://homepage2.nifty.com/kmatsum/kirjandus/Tammsaare.html

Born in Järvamaa, in the municipality of Albu from poor family, he nevertheless managed to study in Väike-Maarja and Tartu in Hugo Treffner's Gymnasium, and afterwards at the University of Tartu, where he studied law. His studies were interrupted by tuberculosis in 1911, which obliged him to spent over a year in a sanatorium in the Caucasus and the following six years in his brother's farm in Koitjärve, Estonia, where he started to read works of Cervantes, Shakespeare and Homer.In 1918, when Estonia become independent, Tammsaare had moved to Tallinn to wrote the works which have gained him a permanent place in Estonian literature. Although Tammsaare took his subjects from the history and life of the Estonian people, his novels have deep connections with the ideas of Bergson, Jung and Freud, and such writers as Knut Hamsun and André Gide.

Jakob Hurt

Source: http://members.tripod.com/~napolarch97/9908/9908hurt.html

Born in 1839, Hurt was originating from the most archaich South-Eastern part of Estonia, from Põlva district, where people had held in memory ancient Pagan traditions and Old Estonian folk song. Hurt entered Tartu Gymnasy and the University of Tartu where he soon emerged for being absolutely strong-minded in preserving his Estonian originality. When the Kalevipoeg was published in 1862, many of the young patriotes did not know meaning of uncommon Estonian words. The verse form made more difficult to understand the content, too. Thanks to Hurt, the Estonian students and gymnasy pupils explored the text and were able to hold correspondent contacts with Kreutzwald until he himself moved to Tartu in 1877. That "Kalevipoeg circles" was doubtlessly one of the causes of the Awakening later (Hurt had took part in all Awakening activities, especially the first Song Festival). Good knowledge about the ancient Estonian folk poetry leaded Hurt to publish Pildid isamaa sündinud asjust ('The Pictures of the Real-Happened Events of the Fatherland', 1879), a booklet containing great deal of folkloric material. Because of his interest to the Estonian language and being considered follower of so-called new system of spelling (uus kirjaviis) his work Die Estnischen Nomina auf -ne purum awarded him title of Doctor of Liguistics at the University of Helsinki. Furthermore, Estonian national flag, black-and blue-and white tricolor, was consecrated by Hurt in Otepää Church as flag of Society of the Estonian students (1874). Hurt as pastor was totally religious and faithful to Christianity and Lutheran ideas. That caused misunderstanding between him and more radical Awakening persons and also with other local pastors. The landlords were especially irritated so that not only mental pressure but also brutal acts of violence started against him. Hurt refused to leave Otepää but he had to leave to save his family when Germans began to burn his houses secretly. Since 1880 Hurt was working as pastor at Jaani (St. John's) Estonian Congregation Churhc in St. Petersburgh where he died in 1906 (13.01.1907, by the new calendar). Hurt's works on the Estonian folk poetry, Vana kannel ('The Old Harp'), and Setukeste laulud ('Songs of the setukesed'), are still inestimable.


Source: http://www.filmdeculte.com/photo/autour/iliade/2.jpg

Iliade, a Homer’s poem, contains 24 songs and it’s considered a bench mark of Greek literature. It is about a brief history of the war of Troy. The poem, together with Odissey, was composed in Ionian of Asia in the IX century b. C. even if some critics postpone the birth in 720 b. C. The most ancient copy is dated about VII century b. C. and this will be used by Athenian tyrant Pisistrato, when he decide in the VI century to conform in written shape a poem that had been handed on only in oral shape. The story is focused on the beautiful Elena, Tindaro’s daughter, king of Amiclea (Sparta), who is promised to Menelao, brother of the powerful Agamennone, king of Micene. Paride, prince of Troy, fall in love of her and with Aphrodite’s help manages to take her with him in Troy. Menelao and Agamennono, together with other kings and warriors (Achille is one of them), compose a great army for recovering Elena and move the war toward Troy.


In 1643, when the Icelandic bishop Brynjólfur Sveinsson discovered in the south-west of Iceland an ancient manuscript containing 29 songs about gods and heroes, he was sure of having found the collection from which Snorri Sturlusonr took inspiration for his Edda in prose. The manuscript was composed of 45 sheets, with a big gap of 16 pages. Having no title, Brynjólfur called it Edda. He need to specify the author and he thought to the scholarly priest Sæmundr Sigfússonr (1056-1133), traditionally known as a great sage. The manuscript was copied and received the complete title of Edda Sæmundi Multisci. From that time on we distinguish Poetic Edda (also called Old Edda or Edda of Sæmund) and Edda in Prose (Young Edda or Edda Snorri). Actually the manuscript is dated about the second half of the XIII century and has nothing to do with Sæmundr Sigfússonr, who lived two centuries before. The mysterious author aimed to a certain order, first arranged the eleven poems around the gods, then the other eighteen around the human, based on a rough chronological criterion and linked by verses in prose to fill the great gaps. The songs are dated on a wide period between the XI and the XIII century. There are several hypothesis about the original place: Norway, or the greater nucleus of Iceland, or even Greenland and some Scandinavian colonies of the British islands. The poems of Poetic Edda seem to have a certain verbal semplicity which use few synonyms, and the kenningar. The hard interpretation is due to the impossibility of acceding to such a culture passing from thousand years.


Aeneas Carries Anchises from Troy
Source: http://chss2.montclair.edu/classics/aeneas3.jpg

The Aeneid is a Latin epic written by Virgil in the 1st century BC that tells the Trojan Aenea’ travel to Italy where he bacame the ancestor of the Romans. He was already a myth among the Romans and Virgil took the disconnected tales of his wanderings and his vague association with the foundation of Rome making him a personage of no fixed characteristics other than a scrupulous piety, construing a nationalist epic that at once tied Rome to the legends of Troy andglorified traditional Roman virtues. Following the example of the Homeric epics, Virgil begins the poem with an invocation to the Muses and an explanation of the theme, and the root cause of the principal conflict of the plot, in this case, the resentment held by Juno against the Trojan people.

Chanson de Roland

The Chanson de Roland is a medieval epic which belongs to the tradition of the Chanson de geste, novelistic poetic genre that spread in France in the XIII century. In the most ancient manuscript we reached, the language used is the anglo-norman and the author is supposed to be a man of letter called Turoldo. Even if his role is not so clear, we can argued that he simply copied the manuscript, because the author did not had yet the conscience of his work. The epic is composed by stanzas which contain autonomous episodes in decasyllabics that remark the rhythm. The Chanson de Roland, even if written, has the typical characteristics of the oral tradition as the formulas and the simplicity of a language easy to remember by heart. The main topic is constituted by the fight between the Carlo Magno’s champions and the Muslems, and even if the most of the episodes are legends, they always are inspired by a concrete event: in 778 the rearguard of Carlo Magno received the attack on the Pyrenees from a army of Basque peasant. The historical event are idealized in order to offer a model of behaviour for the French society of the crusades age. In the epic are remarked values such as the courage, the heroism in war, the love for the native land and the loyalty towards the monarch. Furthermore, is clearly evident that each action of the champions receive the impulse from the religious beliefs. The tale is really simple and focused on the clean contrast between Good and Evil, Christians and pagans, but are omitted the doubts and the fears.

Cantar de Mío Cid

El Cantar de Mio Cid is the oldest conserved Spanish cantar de gesta, transmitted only orally and incompleted, but written down in 1207 by Per Abad in medieval Castilian. Its current title is a modern invention due to the lackness of an original title. Being based on a true story, it tells of a Spanish hero El Cid or El Campeador, whose true name was Rodrigo (or Ruy) Díaz, during the Reconquista, or reconquest of Spain from the Moors. El Cid married the sister of king Alfonso VI, Jimena Díaz, but for obscure reasons (according to the story, he made the king swear he had not ordered the fratricide of his own brother), he fell into the disfavour of the king and had to leave his home country Castile.To regain his honour, he participated in the battles against the Moorish armies and conquered Valencia. By these heroic acts he regained the confidence of the king and his honour is restored. His two daughters then married the infantes (princes) of Navarre and Aragon. The entire work, consisting of more than 3700 verses, is conventionally divided into three parts: Cantar del Destierro, Cantar de las Bodas and Cantar de la Afrenta de Corpes.


The Nibelungenlied is an epic poem in Middle High German that takes Burgundian kings as its subject matter. The work of an anonymous poet from the Danube is dated from about 1190/1200; the author re-worked various pre-Christian Teutonic and Nordic heroic motifs and oral traditions into a work of courtly poetry. Nibelungenlied is pervaded by the national in character and some usual topics such as deep tragedies, the tragedy of fate, the inevitable retribution for crime, the unending struggle between the forces of good and evil, of light and darkness. There is also a somewhat less modified Old Norse version, known as the Volsunga saga. One of the main problems of the Nibelungenlied lies in its transmission of a Germanic subject matter. With its long Germanic lines it differs formally from contemporary courtly literature, such as Hartmann von Aue, Gottfried von Strassburg and Wolfram von Eschenbach. Despite its contradictions, the poet puts the Germanic heroes and Valkyries into a Christian noble context. Some situations, which exagerate the conflict between the Germanic migrations and the chivalrous ethics may be interpreted as irony.

Os Lusiadas
Os Lusíadas, written by Luís de Camões in the Homeric fashion is an epic poem focused mainly on a fantastical interpretation of the Portuguese discoveries movement, in the 14th through 17th centuries and It is often regarded as Portugal's "national epic. Consisting of ten cantos, Os Lusíadas documents the voyage of Vasco da Gama from Portugal around the Cape of Good Hope, along the Eastern coast of Africa, and eventually finding some respite in Melinde, of present day Kenya. From there, da Gama and his crew travel onward to India and the East, eventually finding their reward on the Isle of Love.


Source: http://genealogia.sapo.pt/images/pessoas/pes_64622.jpg

Luis Vaz De Camões (1524-1580), was born and died at Lisbon and through birth occupied a distinguished place at court until an unhappy love affair banished him from the city in 1547. He joined the army and later lost an eye at the naval battle of Ceuta. Returning from Goa in 1570, after persecution and imprisonment, he fell into poverty and obscurity and so died. His great work the Os Lusiadas, was published first in 1572.


Source: http://ecole.wanadoo.fr/college.dubellay/joachim/images/Ronsard.jpg

Ronsard (1524-1585) was one of the stars of the Pléiade, French humanists who were inspired by classical culture, but sought to create a French literature. His poetry is wonderfully musical, sensuous, pagan, romantic. Although a cleric in minor orders, he was constantly celebrating the beauties and sorrows of his various loves. He was patronized by Charles IX and wrote pieces for some of Catherine de' Medici's court pageants, but he was much more than a royal apologist. These poems were written near the end of his life, when he fell in love with the much younger Hélène, a lady-in-waiting to Catherine de' Medici who kept him dangling but refused his passion for her. Sorrow is good for poets, as these poems testify.

The Fairy Queen

Source: http://www.uwm.edu/Library/special/exhibits/clastext/clastextimages/spe1758a.jpg

Edmund Spenser’s greatest and longest work, The Faerie Queene, occupied him for most of his life, though he published other poems in the interim. The first three books of The Faerie Queen were published in 1590 but still at work on his voluminous poem, Spenser died on January 13, 1599, at Westminster, completing only half of what he planned. He intended to write 12 books of the Faerie Queene, all in the classical epic style following the structure of Homer and Virgil poems. This poem is an allegoric story whose characters and events nearly all have a specific symbolic meaning. The poem's setting is a mythical "Faerie land," ruled by the Faerie Queene, a figure which represents his own monarch, Queen Elizabeth. Each book concerns the story of a knight, representing a particular Christian virtue, as he or she would convey at the court of the Faerie Queene. Because only half of the poem was ever finished, the unifying scene at the Queene's court never occurs; instead, we are left with six books telling an incomplete story. The mythical land, The Faerie Queen was intended to relate to Spenser's England, most importantly in the area of religion. Spenser lived in post-Reformation England, which had recently replaced Roman Catholicism with Protestantism (specifically, Anglicanism) as the national religion and being particularly offended by the anti-Elizabethan propaganda that some Catholics circulated he starts to consider the Catholicism as the anti-religion. This sentiment is an important backdrop for the battles of The Faerie Queene, which often represent the "battles" between London and Rome.

Edmund Spenser

Source: http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/ENG/spenser/

Born in London in 1552 from a modest family, he attended the Merchant Taylor's Grammar School. In 1569 he started his university studies in Cambridge, where he acquired most of his ancient and modern literary knowledge. During these years was remarkable the influence of his friend Gabriel Harvey, a puritan scholar who helped him in finding an employment under the potent Robert Dudley of Leicester. Another of his best intellectual friend was Philip Sidney, gradnson of Dudley, to whom he dedicated his first work, The shepheard's calendar, issued in 1579. Nominated as Grey’s personal secretary, he moved to Ireland and remained there for the rest of his life. During several journeys in London in 1590 and 1595, he published the first books of his most famous work, The Fairy Queen, and other works as Complaint : containing sundry small poems of the world's vanity. His second wife, Elisabeth Boyle, was probably the adressee of his Epithalamion, a poem of a new complex metric in England. Unfortunately, in 1598 the Irish rioters set afire the castle of Kilcoman [Cork], where Spenser lived, destroying the last songs of The Fairy Queen. After this episode, Spenser return to London where he died in 1599.

Os Eoas

The author Edoardo Pondal, published in 1858 an extended epic poem, Os Eoas (Sons of the Sun) based on the discover of American continent, clearly influenced by the book Os Lusiadas by Camoens. It is an uncompleted symbolic poem where the characters, the sons of the Sun, win the darkness of the sea, discover and conquest the new land of America.

Edoardo Pondal

Source: http://www.spid.es/webs/abg/Galego/Autores/1965.htm

Eduardo María González-Pondal Abente (1835–1917), a Galician language poet, was born in Ponteceso from a rich family who allowed him to study Latin grammar from a priest relative of his. In 1848, he moved to Santiago de Compostela to study Philosophy and, afterwards, Medicine at University. At Liceo de Santo Agostiño he was discovered as a poet during the banquet of Conxo, organized by liberal students in 1856 to honor "the third state”. His first poem in Galician language was A Campana de Anllóns. Through Murguía, one of his partner of debates in Corunna, Pondal would know James Macpherson's poetry, and decided to become the "bardo" (bard) of the Galician country, becoming the guide and interpreter of the route it would follow. He published Rumores de los pinos on 1877, a compilation of 21 poems in Galician and Spanish, which would become a basis for Queixumes dos pinos (1886). One of the poems in Galician, "Os pinos" (literally "The Pines") would become the lyrics for the Galician national anthem, with music by Pascual Veiga. Pondal considered himself a poet of freedom, wanting to raise his people and trying to recover a past of independence with his poetry, renewing History. Unfortunately, the Celtic past was almost completely lost in Galicia, so Pondal had to guess and re-invent it, based on Ossian's poetry. Finally he died in Corunna (A Coruña) in 1917. His remains lie in the local graveyard, Cementerio de San Amaro.

H. W. Longfellow

Source: http://www.cyberhymnal.org/bio/l/o/longfellow_hw.htm

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine on February 27, 1807. He received his first education at the age of three years. Henry started college at Bowdoin when only fourteen years old , then he begun to study law under the influence of his father but after a short period he developed scholarly interests. After graduating from Bowdoin College, Longfellow was asked to become the first professor of Modern Languages there. He started to travel around the Europe (he visited England, France, Germany, Holland, Italy and Spain), and returned home in 1829, he taught at Bowdoin between 1829 to 1835. He married Mary Potter in September 14, 1831 and in 1834, Longfellow was appointed a professorship at Harvard, but after four years that they were married Mary died in Rotterdam because of her poor health. After Mary’s death, Longfellow continued his travels through Germany and Switzerland before returning to Harvard to teach. In 1839, Longfellow published his first book of poems, “Voices of the Nigh” but he felt that teaching interfered with his writing and resigned from Harvard in 1854. In June of that year he started writing “The Song of Hiawatha”. Eight month after Mary’s death, Longfellow met Frances Appleton during his travels through Germany and Switzerland. After a long courtship they married in July 13, 1843 and they had six children. Longfellow works were very influenced by his family, in 1839 he wrote “Hyperion” and the heroine of the book was based on his wife. His children also influenced his writing as evidenced in his poem “The Children’s Hour”. On July 9, 1861, tragedy again tormented Longfellow when his wife and two of his daughters died in a fire. After the terrible event Longfellow was deeply depressed and travelled to Europe accompanied by his children. During this trip, he received honorary degrees at Oxford and Cambridge. Longfellow was also selected as a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and of the Spanish Academy. Longfellow wrote many books, and the last one “In the Harbor” was written in 1882 the same year of his death. He died at the age of 75 of peritonitis. Two years after his death, he was the first American poet whose bust was placed in the Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Song of Hiawatha

Longfellow began Hiawatha on June 25, 1854, he completed it on March 29, 1855, and it was published November 10, 1855. The Song of Hiawatha is based on the legends and stories of many North American Indian tribes, but especially those of the Ojibway Indians of northern Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. This histories were collected by the historian explorer and geologist Henry Rowe Schoolcraft that he was also the superintendent of Indian affairs for Michigan from 1836 to 1841. Schoolcraft married Jane Johnson the daughter of John Johnson, an Irish trader, and and O-shau-gus-coday-way-qua (The Woman of the Green Prairie), who was a daughter of the Chief of the Ojibway tribe at La Pointe, Wisconsin. Jane and his mother researched and authenticated, much of the material Schoolcraft included in his Algic Researches (1839) and a revision published in 1856 as The Myth of Hiawatha. It was this latter revision that Longfellow used as the basis for The Song of Hiawatha. At the moment of the publication of the poem it was very criticized as a plagiary of the Finnish epic poem Kalevala but Longfellow made no secret that his works was based on the meter of Kalevala but for the legends he gave credit to Schoolcraft in his preface.

Scotch James Macpherson

Source: http://www.nndb.com/people/163/000095875/

James Macpherson (October 27, 1736–February 17, 1796), was a Scottish poet, known as the "translator" of the Ossian cycle of poems.
He was born at Ruthven in the parish of Kingussie, Inverness-shire. He studied at Edinburgh, but took no degree. When he was a student he was supposed to have written over 4000 lines of verse but only some of this was published, notably “The Highlander” (1758). On leaving college, he returned to Ruthven to teach in the school there. At Moffat he met John Home, the author of “Douglas” encouraged by him and others, he produced a number of pieces translated from the Gaelic, which he were published at Edinburgh in 1760 as “Fragments of Ancient Poetry collected in the Highlands of Scotland”. He also had the opportunity to visit the islands of Skye, North and South Uist and Benbecula where he obtained manuscripts which he translated. In 1761 he announced the discovery of an epic on the subject of Fingal (Finn mac Cumhail) written by Ossian (Oisín), and in December he published “Fingal, an Ancient Epic Poem in Six Books, together with Several Other Poems composed by Ossian, the Son of Fingal, translated from the Gaelic Language”, and a collected edition, “The Works of Ossian”, in 1765. In 1764 he was made secretary to General Johnstone at Pensacola, Florida, and he returned to England after two years. He went on to write several historical works, the most important of which was “Original Papers, containing the Secret History of Great Britain from the Restoration to the Accession of the House of Hanover”, to which are prefixed “Extracts from the Life of James II”, as written by himself (1775).He entered parliament in 1780, and continued to sit until his death. In his later years he bought an estate, to which he gave the name of Belville, in his native county of Inverness, where he died. Macpherson is still regarded as one of the great Scottish writers. His works were translated into many European languages, and Herder and Goethe (in his earlier period) were among its profound admirers.

Ossian’s Songs

This work purports to be a translation of an epic cycle of Scottish poems from the early dark ages. Ossian was a poet sings of the life and battles of Fingal, a Scotch warrior. When it was published, Ossian had a lot of popularity and had a great cultural impact during the 18th and 19th centuries. Napoleon carried a copy into battle; Goethe translated parts of it; the city of Selma, Alabama was named after the home of Fingal, and one of Ingres' most romantic and moody paintings, the Dream of Ossian (above) was based on it. Macpherson said that Ossian was based on an ancient Gealic manuscript, but the existence of this manuscript was never established, in fact there’s no dark-age works of epic poems that came from Scotland. There are Scottish manuscripts and books in existence today which date as far back as the 12th century, but they are principally on subjects such as religion, genealogy, and land grants. For this reasons the Ossian was very contested particularly by Samuel Johnson. Macpherson is today considered the author of this work. The language of composition was probably English. For this and several other reasons which are dealt with in the Preliminary Discourse et seq., authenticity of the work was widely contested, particularly by Samuel Johnson. A huge (and probably excessive) backlash ensued, and conventional wisdom today brands Ossian as one of the great forgeries of history. Nowadays the works has literary marits and historical importance. The project resembles other Romantic era attempts at national epic-building such as the Finnish Kalevala; however the Kalevala is acknowledged to be based on years of ethnographic fieldwork by Elias Lönnrot.


Source: http://www.cancellieri.org/images/goethe%202.jpg

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet, novelist, dramatist, scientist, and natural philosopher. In literature Goethe gained early fame with “The Sorrows of Young Werther” (1774), but his most famous work is the poetic drama in two parts, “Faust”. Goethe was one of the paramount figures of German literature and European Neo-classicism and Romanticism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. His father was a man of means and position, who personally supervised the early education of his son. At the age of 16, Goethe began to study law at Leipzig University (1765-68) and Strasbourg (1770-71). He was recognized as a leading figure in the Sturm und Drang, which celebrated the energetic Promethean restlessness of spirit as opposed to the ideal of calm rationalism of the Enlightenment. At the invitation of Karl August, Duke of Saxe-Weimar, he went in 1775 to live in Weimar, where he held a succession of political offices, becoming the Duke's chief adviser. During this period, his great love was Charlotte von Stein, an older married woman, but the relationship remained platonic. After Charlotte he lived happily and unmarried with Christiane Vulpius, who became Goethe's mistress in 1789, and they married in 1806. In 1786-88 Goethe made a journey to Italy which inspired his play “Iphigenie auf Tauris”, and “Romishe Elegien”, poems relating partly to Christiane. He took part in the Napoleonic wars against France and in the following began a friendship with Friedrich Schiller, which lasted until the latter's death in 1805. In 1812 Goethe met the famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven in Teplitz. Beethoven had admired Goethe already in his youth, and he composed several music pieces based on the author's texts, among them “Egmont”. Goethe remained creative during his last period. He edited “Kunst and Altertum” (1816-32) and “Zur Naturwissenschaft” (1817-24), wrote his autobiography, “Poetry and Truth”(1811-1833). Interested in visual arts throughout his life, Goethe wrote a large volume on the theory of colour, which he considered one of his major achievements. At the age of 74 Goethe fell in love with the 19-year old Ulrike von Levetzow, but the relation remained platonic. Goethe died in Weimar on March 22, 1832. He and Schiller, who died over a quarter of a century earlier, are buried together, in a mausoleum in the ducal cemetery.


Goethe worked for most of his life on this masterwork. He started to compose it about the age of 23 and finished the second part in 1832, just before his death. It is an alchemical drama from the beginning to the end. The main character of the Faust was inspired by the legendary figure of Gregorius Faustus (or Gregorius Sabellicus, Faustus Junior, c1480-1510/1) a seeker of forbidden knowledge, whose identity is not known, but he claimed to be an astrologer, expert in magic, and an alchemist. This legend attracted Christopher Marlowe, who offered in his play a psychological study of the battle between good and evil. Goethe created a new figure for the devil: Mephistopheles, who was a gentleman that adopted the manner of a courtier. The protagonist Faust wants to obtain the whole knowledge and he makes a contract with Mephistopheles: he will die at the moment he declares himself satisfied. In the first part, published in 1808, Faust seduces and loses Margaret who is condemned to death for murdering her illegitimate child by Faust. In the philosophical second part Faust marries Helen of Troy and starts to create an ideal community. His plans have failed and he is finally satisfied, but Mephistopheles loses his victory when the angels take Faust to heaven. This masterpiece can be considered an allegory of human life in all its ramifications. In style and in point of view, it reflects the impressive range of Goethe’s development from the rebellious days of the Sturm und Drang period to the calm classicism and realistic wisdom of his mature years.

Giovanni Boccaccio

Source: http://www.culturalresources.com/images/Boccaccio.jpg

Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian author and poet, an important Renaissance Humanistand author of a number of notable works including “On Famous Women”, the “Decameron” and his poems in the vernacular. He was born in Paris but he grew up in Florence. Around 1327 he moved to Naples to study laws but he developed more interest for literature then here he began what he considered his true vocation: poetry. In this period he produced “Teseida”, “Filoloco” (a prose version of an existing French romance), and “La caccia di Diana” poem in octave rhyme. He returned to Florence in 1340 because of the growing tensions between the Angevin King and Florence. In 1343 Boccaccio's father re-married, to Bice del Bostichi. In 1348 Florence was hurt by the Black Death (later used in the Decameron) which killed about a three quarter of the population. When his father died in the same year, Boccaccio became the guardian of a younger brother, and as head of the family Boccaccio was forced into a more active role. Boccaccio began work on the “Decameron” around 1349 and the work was largely completed by 1352, he also rewrote it in 1370-71. He held certain public offices in Florence and was entrusted with diplomatic missions to Padua, Romagna, Avignon and Brandeburg. In October 1350 Boccaccio was delegated to greet Petrarch as he arrived in Florence, the meeting was very important for Boccaccio, they became good friends. Because of the political dissentions in Florence, he was forced to live the city to reside in Certaldo and he was more distant from government affairs. On hearing of the death of Petrarch (July 19, 1374) Boccaccio wrote a commemorative poem, including it in his collection of lyric poems, the “Rime”. Afterwards, he returned to work for the Florentine government in 1365. His later works includes “De casibus virorum illustrium” (1355-74) and “De mulieribus claris” (1361-75) he also gave a series of lectures on Dante at the Santo Stefano church in 1373 and these resulted in his final major work, the detailed “Eposizioni sopra la Commedia di Dante”. His final years were troubled by illnesses, many relating to his great obesity, and he died in Certaldo on 21 December, 1375.


Decameron is the most important work of Boccaccio, He completed it in 1352 but part of which had probably been written before the "Black Death. Boccaccio start his work with a description of the terrors of the pest, then he introduce a company composed by seven ladies and three young gentleman who have come together at a villa outside Naples for ten days to escape the epidemic. Each component of the company tells for a day one story, so that at the end one hundred stories have been told. Boccaccio selected the plots of his stories from the popular fiction of his day, and especially from the fabliaux which had passed into Italy from France, the matter being medieval while the form is classical. The two great tendencies which run through European literature, the classical and the romantic, work together in the Decameron. The "Decameron" has been translated into nearly every European tongue; and its influence on European literature has been lasting, not merely in Italy, but in France and England. Chaucer and Shakespeare both borrowed from it. This majestic work has also been the subject of poems by Keats, Tennyson, Longfellow, Swinburne and George Eliot.


Source: http://veeb.tallinn.ee/album/nr/66.htm

Lake Ülemiste is the largest lake in Tallinn, Estonia. Its location is near the Tallinn Airport but in spite of this the local population gets its drinking water from the lake. Ülemiste is fed mostly by Kurna stream and Pirita river (through Vaskjala-Ülemiste canal). In the lake there is a boulder called Lindakivi. The legend tells that the mythological Ülemiste Elder lives into the lake. When he meet somebody he’s supposed to ask: “Is Tallinn Ready Yet?”. So the other person have to answer: “No there’s much to be done yet”, because if the answer is “Yes” then he would flood the city!

Don Juan

Most agree that the legendary figure of Don Juan is based on a 17th century Spanish nobleman called Don Juan Tenorio. He was a legendary libertine, a clever seducer whose story have been told many times by various authors. It is believed that the first recorded tale of Don Juan is the play of Tirso de Molina “El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra” (1630). Later, the story was dramatized by several French playwrights including Molière, who wrote “Dom Juan; ou, Le festin de Pierre” (Don Juan; or, The Stone Banquet, first acted in 1665). An important later Spanish version, still popular, is the verse play “Don Juan tenorio” (Don Juan the Rake, 1844) by José Zorilla. Along the years the character and the story of Don Juan were changed by later authors, including Lord Byron in his epic “Don Juan” (1819-1824) and George Bernard Shaw in his comedy “Man and Superman” (1903). Today the name Don Juan is still used figuratively as a synonym for seducer. The legend tells that Don Juan seduced a young girl called Doña Ines, daughter of a Sivilla’s military commander. After killing the father of the girl in a duel, Don Juan came across the cemetery statue of him and invited it home to dine. The statue accepted the invitation, and comes to life as a ghost, then he arrived for dinner as a harbinger of Don Juan death. The Statue asks to shake Don Juan's hand, and when he extends his arm, he is dragged into hell.


Taara is the Supreme god that belongs to the stage of the Nature worship of the Estonian Mythology. To him were sacred many oak forests, and the most celebrated of those was in the neighbourhood of Dorpat. He is also called Uko or Ukko (the Old God), by which name he is usually known in the Kalevala. Ukko or Taara is the ancestor and protector of the heroes; he attended with Rougutaja at the birth of the Kalevipoeg, watched over and took care of him during his life, sometimes appeared in vision to counsel him, and after his death, the supreme God received him in his heavenly halls and assigned to him his future employment. Ukko also had two daughter called Lindu and Jutta the queens of birds, but they are believed to be the same persons and the first at least may be identical with Kalev’s bride, Linda. In fact she was born from an egg and her mane is derived from lind or lindu, a bird.

Thor is a thunder god in Norse mythology, the son of Odin and Jord (Earth). While Odin is the god of the powerful and aristocratic, Thor is much more the god of the common man and lived in the hall of Bilskirnir in Thrudheim. His wife was called Sif, with whome he had two sons: Thrud and Modi, but he had also a stepson, Ullr who was the son of Sif. Thor traveller in a chariot drown by two goats, which were both magic, he had also a famous hammer named Mjolnir, which, when thrown at a target, it magically came back to the owner. With this hammer, Thor performed his giant-killing duties.

Scandinavian Mythology

Before the arrive of the Christianity, the Scandinavian Mythology was the common beliefs of the Scandinavian people. This mythology is really close to the German mythology but the legends and myths about ancient heroes, gods, and the creation and destruction of the universe developed out of the original common mythology of the Germanic peoples. Because Scandinavian mythology was transmitted and altered by medieval Christian historians, the original pagan religious beliefs, attitudes, and practices cannot be determined with certainty, but we know that the cult of god Odin, the supreme god and the Chef of gods, may have spread from western Germany to Scandinavia. Odin is the god of War and he’s also associated with learning, wisdom, poetry and magic. Besides Odin there is his wife Frigg goodness of home, Thor god of Thunder who protected other gods and humans from the giants, Frey the god of prosperity and Freya the sister of Frey and the fertility goodness. Most information about Scandinavian mythology is contained in Old Norse Literature, in later sagas and in the Eddas. The Scandinavian gods were served by a group of Priest-chieftains whose name was Godar. The worship of the deities was generally outdoors in oak forests or in sacred arrangements of stones. Later the wooden temples were used with altars, the most important tample was at Old Uppsala (Sweden), where animals and even humans were sacrificed.

Prometheus is a figure that belongs to the Greek mythology. He’s the son of Iapetus who was one of the titans ( a race of god giants who were considered to be the personification of the forces of the Nature). The legend of Prometheus tells that he tricked the other gods into eating bare bones instead of good meat. He stole the sacred fire from Zeus (the suprem ruler of the Olympus, which was the mountain where all gods lived). Prometheus did not tell Zeus the prophecy that one of Zeus's sons will overthrow him. In punishment, Zeus commanded that Prometheus be chained for eternity in the Caucasus. An eagle would eat his liver, but each day his liver would be renewed. So the condamnation was endless, until Heracles finally killed the bird.

Eugen Kapp

Kapp was born in Astrakhan, Russia, in 1908. He returned to Estonia in 1920 with his father Artur Kapp an important composer. Between 1922 and 1926 Eugen studied piano at the Tallinn Conservatory and in 1931 graduated the class of composition under his father Professor Artur Kapp. In 1935 he started to work as a teacher and continued teaching after the end of the Second World War. He also worked as professor at Tallinn Conservatory as a head of the composition Department and from 1944 to 1966 Kapp was the head of the Estonian Union of Composers. He’s the author of numerous works including six operas, two ballets. Vocal music with orchestra three symphonies and minor orchestral works, concertos, chamber music and choir songs. His stage music, especially his opera “The Flames of Revenge” (“Tasuleegid”) and the ballet “Kalevipoeg” have been repeatedly staged at Estonian music theatres.

Andrejs Pumpurs

Source: http://www.vietas.lv/userfiles/image_gal/small/2/image-702.jpg

Andrejs Pumpurs is famous Latvian poet who was born in Lieljumpravas Latvia in 1841. For a short time he attended the parish school but because of the lack of miney he was forced leave the school and join his father working on various estates. Andrejs begun to read and observe the life around him, this experiences were very useful when he start to write about himself. He pubblished his first major book “A Baltic History” in 1869, but two year earlier he had had a book of popular short stories pubblished. In 1876 Pumpurs travelled to Moscow and joined a volunteer
regiment, in which two years later he became an officer. In 1888 was pubblished his major work “Lacplesis” he died in 1904.


The creation of literary Epics in the Latvian Culture in 19th century, coincided with the growth of a new consciousness of the nation. Latvian’s epic was Lacplesis, set in pagan Latvia of 800 years ago around the time German Crusaders invaded and conquered the nation. In fact the story-legend of Lacplesis begin as German knights arrive and impose their Christianity on the Latvian tribes; when pagan gods predicted the subjugation of Latvian people to foreign power, they selected Lacplasis as the national hero, who had the duty to defend his homeland from assorted invaders. The Author, Andrejs Pumpurs based his history line on existing Latvian folklore, the epic conjures up images of black magic, and also takes its fair share of shots at Germans. Lacplesis is the son of a man and a she-bear, from whom he inherited bear ears, which are the source of his exceptional physical strength. A sage (closely identified with "the nation") named Vaidelots takes the nursing child from his mother-bear at an early age and places him with a tribal chief called Lielvards. The little child took his mane at the age of 18 (Lacplesis maens Bear-Slayer) when he saved his adoptive father by killing an attacking bear. Lielvards revealed to Lacplasis his origins and the predictions about his future, and from this moment he antered in action whenever Latvian people were in trouble, his speciality was to kill bears, which he could slay by ripping their jaws with his bare hands. Lacplesis symbolized strength and leadership. At the moment of the pubblication, the epic had a huge impact on Latvia, influencing generations of writers, artists and politicians. The spectre of the traitor-figure Kangers is still raised when Latvians speak of Soviet-era turncoats. Streets are named after Latvia's epic hero, and many shops take their names from characters in the epic.

Sergei Kruks

Sergei Kruks is a lecturer and researcher in Communication Theories and Discourse Analysis at the University of Latvia. He received the M.Phil. degree in Media Studies at the University of Oslo in 1997 and a doctoral degree in Information and Communication Science at the University of Paris in 2003. Currently he is visiting scholar at the Indiana University-Bloomington and recently defended his doctoral dissertation at the University Paris-2. His academic research interests include social change and identity discourse in post-Soviet societies.





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Scandinavian mythology: http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761568635/Scandinavian_Mythology.html

Prometheus: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/p/prometheus.html

Eugen Kapp: http://www.emic.kul.ee/InglE/composers/Kapp,%20Eugen.htm

Andrejs Pumpurs: http://riga-cd.infolatvia.com/quiz/yes06.html

Lacplesis : http://www.balticsww.com/news/features/bear_slayer.htm


Sergei Kruks: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_folklore_research/v041/41.1kruks.html