Hungary Literature Part II

And the influence of the humanistic spirit did not diminish in Hungary even after the death of the great king. In the smaller provincial centers the legacy of Mattia remained alive for decades. The new generation of Hungarian humanists was in continuous relations with Italy, whose fruitful strength was also felt on the further development of Hungarian culture. Under Vladislaus II and his son, Italian impulses yielded to the influences of Vienna which brought Erasmus’s doctrines into Hungary. Their dominion, however, was short. The Hungarian Erasmus generation disappeared with the last remnants of the nation state, the united kingdom and the country’s independence, buried in a single mound with the young King Ludwig II on the mourning day of Mohács (29 August 1526).

The spiritual direction of Hungary was then assumed by the disciples of Luther and Melanchthon. The struggles of conscience for “the true religion” and the wars against the Turks gave character to the two centuries that followed. Catholicism for long decades detaches itself from the development of the spiritual life. Protestant pastors become almost the only supporters of relations with the West. With Lutheranism the German spirit gained ground, and only in the century. XVII young students of Swiss and Flemish universities begin to counterbalance this spirit with French and English influences. The reform had a beneficial influence on the revival of Hungarian-language literature and on the art of typography. The first books printed in Hungarian were translations of the Bible, the full version of which, due to the shepherd Gaspare Károlyi (1590), he contributed greatly to the formation of the literary language. Religious polemics and sermons were the main literary genres of the reform, cultivated with the greatest success by the Calvinist Pietro Méliusz Juhász (v.melio, App.), by the Unitarian Francesco Dávid and by the tireless and versatile Gaspare Heltai. Stephen Magyari, Lutheran preacher, in his work On the causes of the many ruins in the nations (1602) firmly declared, but did not prove, responsible the Catholicism of the sad conditions in which the Hungarian homeland found itself. The controversy, following the example of Erasmus, gladly resorted to the dialogic form. The disputes of Michael Sztáray, a former Franciscan, who could have formed the nucleus of the Hungarian theater, were also represented if the Calvinists had not put an end to this fashion. The most important dramatic attempt of the time: The comedy of betrayal by Melchiorre Balassa (1569), is an effective social and moral satire, in which the unknown author tries to demonstrate how Hungary was in decline due to the many discords and the elections of foreign princes. The lovers of Protestant religious poetry love to draw parallels between this fatal fate and the ruin of the Jewish people; the lamentations of Jeremiah echo in their verses and even the translators of the Psalms weave the lay of their people to the text of Sacred Scripture. Secular poetry is also driven by political and moral tendencies. Among the numerous wandering singers, the most famous was Sebastiano Tinódi (1510? -1556) who, accompanying himself on the lute, glorified the heroes of the Turkish wars. His poetic vigor is scarce, but he remained so adherent to reality that his works, published in 1554 under the title of Chronicle, have the value of a historical source. Favorite readings of this era were the so-called széphistóriák: versed fictional stories, the subjects of which were for the most part of humanistic origin. A belated Hungarian renaissance of a popular character vibrates in these compositions. Boccaccio, through the Latin translations of Petrarch and Beroaldo, gave the plot to Volter and Griselda (1539) by Paolo Istvánfi, to Gismunda and Guisquardus (1574) by Giorgio Enyedi and to Titus and Gisippus (1577) by Gaspare Szegedi-Veres, as well as the lost story of Cimone. An unknown author elaborated in 1577 the Eurialo e Lucrezia by Enea Silvio Piccolomini; others drew on the Gesta Romanorum and German and Croatian popular books. It has not yet been possible to find the (probably Italian) source of the most beautiful of these tales, Prince Argirus by Alberto Gyergyai.

According to thedresswizard, the wonderful figure of the poet Valentino Balassa (1551-1594), the creator of artistic lyric, arises in part from the patriotic-religious lyric tradition, and is in part a product of humanistic culture.

In his amorous songs resounds the popular song which became ennobled under the influence of the learned models of other peoples; his military songs exalt the beauty of the stalwart life of those who bravely fought against the pagan enemy; his religious hymns are inspired by the remorse of a struggling sinful soul. His imitators were many; but they reached neither the clarity of its form nor its depth. The preceptor of Balassa, Pietro Bornemisza (1535-1585), the apostate bishop Andrea Dudits (1533-1589) and the friend of Pier Vettori, Giovanni Zsámboky (Sambucus, 1531-1584) renowned emender and editor of Greek and Latin classics, they are the most fruitful scholars of the time.

The Catholic reaction reached its greatest successes from the beginning of the century. XVII onwards, when the House of Habsburg put all its power in defense of the Catholic cause, aided by the Jesuit missions. The leading figure of the Hungarian Catholic Restoration was a Jesuit, later a cardinal, Pietro Pázmány (1570-1637).

Hungary Literature 2