Latinitas in the Polish Crown and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Giovanna Siedina, University of Verona
The volume contains articles concerning the influence of Latinitas in the territory now occupied by Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine and Belarus’. The articles, all published in English, range from history to literature and to cultural history and the history of ideas. They analyze the issue of building an identity, either real or imagined, from different points of view.
Among the most interesting topics are the classical origins of myths and ideas that have helped build the national identities of those that constituted the ethnic mosaic of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the role of Neo-Latin poetry, as a conveyor of Latinitas, in the development of national identities. Because of the significance of Latinitas for both common European cultural traditions and the national cultures, literatures and languages of Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Ukraine, it is to be hoped that the subject will continue to attract a good level of attention in the future.
The idea of publishing the articles gathered here originated during the congress held in March 2012 in Florence, which was devoted to the influence of theLatin heritage on the formation and the development of identities in the lands of the Polish Crown and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the sixteenth-eighteenth centuries. The authors of the articles are some of the major specialists on this topic from Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus and Italy.
The influence of Latinitas in a wide and diversified territory as was that of
the Polish Crown and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is a very broad subject,
which has many aspects. Only in recent years has it been studied from an areal point of view, and not only anachronistically in a modern ‘national’ key. This same topic was the subject of the thematic block that I organized for the 15th Congress of Slavists held in Minsk (Belarus) from August 20 to August 27, 2013. The considerable interest aroused by the papers read there1
and the lively discussion that ensued convinced me that the efforts lavished on organizing the congress and the thematic block were not in vain.
The articles published here reflect, at least partly the different approaches
and the different degree to which the Latin heritage has been studied in the countries that now occupy the territory of the Polish Crown and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, that is Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and Belarus. Besides the political factors, which have certainly slowed down research in this field since WWII, as well as the formation of good specialists in Classical studies in Ukraine and Bеlarus’, the number and the level of publications seems to be directly proportional to the importance that Latinitas has had in their cultural and historical development.