Andreas Gryphius

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Andreas Gryphius, copper engraving by Philipp Kilian
Gryphius Signature.gif

Andreas Gryphius (born October 2, 1616 in Glogau , Principality of Glogau ; † July 16, 1664 there ; actually Andreas Greif ) was a German poet and playwright of the Baroque era . With his eloquent sonnets , which contain “the suffering, frailty of life and the world”, Gryphius is considered one of the most important lyric poets of the German baroque.


Origin and education

Gryphius was the youngest son of the archdeacon Paul Greif († 1621) from Glogau (now Głogów, Poland ). About a year after his father's death, his mother Anna married the teacher Michael Eder. He was a teacher at the Protestant Glogau city school, which the young Gryphius also attended. In 1625 the nine year old Gryphius escaped death by drowning. At the end of October 1628, shortly after Gryphius' mother died of consumption ( tuberculosis ), the imperial governor began the forced recatholization of Glogau. Hundreds of Protestants, including Gryphius' stepfather Eder, were driven out. Like all boys under 15, Gryphius initially had to stay in the city, but at the end of the year he was able to follow his stepfather to Driebitz, a small village on Polish territory.

In the following three and a half years, Gryphius tried in vain to go to school again in Görlitz and Glogau. It was not until the summer of 1632 that he was able to continue his life in a somewhat regulated manner in the then Polish woman town . Poland was religiously more tolerant and was spared the turmoil and devastation of the Thirty Years War . Michael Eder had been a Lutheran pastor in Fraustadt since 1631 and was thus responsible for the grammar school there. Gryphius visited it for two years and first appeared in public as an author - as the author of the Latin epic Herod . Declamations, disputations, school theater and his own poetic productions, all in Latin, were part of the typical school operations of the time, but with the printed work Gryphius stepped out of the school sector and appeared as an independent poet.

From 1634 to 1636 he studied at the Academic Gymnasium Danzig - for the young man from the Silesian province this was a new world. Danzig was a cosmopolitan, prosperous trading city, in which denominational differences were not fought with weapons but with words. Here Gryphius encountered the scientific and empirical worldview of Galileo and Kepler and the latest developments in the field of poetics through the mathematician and astronomer Peter Crüger , who taught at the grammar school and who also taught poetry. During the Danzig period a second Latin epic Herod was written, dedicated to the Gdansk councilors and Parnassus Renovatus , dedicated to his future patron Schönborner; In addition, Gryphius probably wrote some of the sonnets that were printed in Lissa, Poland in 1637 ( Lissa sonnets ).

After graduating from high school in Danzig, he went to work as a private tutor on the estate of the Georg Schönborners family, knights of Schönborn, near Freystadt in Silesia. His brother Paul was also a Protestant pastor there. The two-year stay on the estate of the well-known lawyer and former imperial official was probably not always free of tension due to the host's hypochondriac and paranoid personality structure, but Gryphius found a retreat and the opportunity for self-study in the extensive library. He described the devastating fire of Freystadt on the night of July 8th to 9th, 1637 in the longest German-language prose volume he had ever written, which was still published in the winter of 1637 under the title Fewrige Freystadt . With this report, which was based on his own and the observations of other eyewitnesses, Gryphius made many enemies because he not only portrayed Freystadt's war-related situation realistically, but also criticized the failure of the city authorities to fight fires.


Gryphius: To GOTT the Holy Spirit , from the first print of the sonnets from 1637

After the death of his patron Schönborner in December 1637, Gryphius accompanied two of his sons to study at the Dutch University of Leiden in the spring of 1638 , because of the chaos of war with the ship from Danzig across the stormy Baltic and North Sea. The Netherlands was during this "golden century" marked by a confident, liberal middle class, religious tolerance and an unprecedented economic growth. The craft town of Leiden , located in the western province of Holland, had 45,000 inhabitants according to a census of 1622. It formed the core of an urban ensemble (Haarlem, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Gouda, Delft) that was unique in Europe. The Leiden University, founded in 1575 at the beginning of the Dutch struggle for freedom against Spain, was considered one of the most modern and progressive in all of Europe.

During Gryphius' six years of study many well-known scientists taught there, including a. was René Descartes his new philosophy. Gryphius was enrolled as studiosus philosophiae, but did not study just one subject, but dealt with a wide variety of scientific disciplines and held academic exercises himself, probably a kind of repetition course. He was particularly fascinated by the sections in the Theatrum Anatomicum , which in 1658, after his return to his Silesian homeland, led him to publicly dissect two mummies that were in the possession of a Breslau pharmacist. Mummy parts in spherical form or in powder form were administered by doctors, baths and pharmacists against almost every ailment - and promised a lucrative business. In 1640 his brother Paul and his sister Anna Maria died within a few months; Gryphius himself became life-threatening.

During his student days in Leiden, Gryphius consolidated his reputation as a prolific poet: he published five collections of poetry, sonnets , odes and epigrams . The detachment from the school rhetorical tradition and the turn to the German language become clear. It remains unclear whether Gryphius completed his studies with a disputation. In two epigrams (1643) and (1663) he mentions a disputation De igne non elemento , which was burned. Such a thesis would correspond to the then current scientific discussion, which questioned the Aristotelian four-element theory.

At the beginning of June 1644 he set out with a group of Pomeranian nobles on the then usual cavalier tour through France and Italy. The main aim was to see the “world” and to make contacts. Destinations in France were the capital Paris and the old university town of Angers on the Loire, where Gryphius may have witnessed the arrival of Queen Maria Henriette, who had fled England. Obviously he followed the civil war in England with great interest, which culminated in the execution of King Charles I in 1649 - and which inspired Gryphius to write his third tragedy, Carolus Stuardus . The main attractions in Italy were Rome, Florence and Venice. He dedicated the Latin epic Olivetum to the Republic of Venice , which he had printed in Florence.

An exact dating of the individual travel stations is not possible. A diary kept by Gryphius in Latin is lost. What is certain is that he and his traveling companions traveled from Venice to Strasbourg sometime between April and October 1646. Until May 1647 he stayed at the University of Strasbourg , made contacts with well-known scholars and wrote his first tragedy, Leo Armenius . He commissioned the Strasbourg publisher Caspar Dietzel with a complete edition of his German-language works - a company that was not completed because Dietzel got into financial difficulties. Without Gryphius' knowledge, the complete edition was published in 1650 by a Frankfurt publisher. A complete edition authorized by Gryphius was not published until 1657.

In the meantime, the peace negotiations in Münster and Osnabrück were well advanced. Nevertheless, Gryphius and his tour group did not choose the land route, which was still risky, but rather the sea route from Amsterdam in July 1647 in order to return home via Stettin . In Szczecin he finished the second tragedy Catharina of Georgia, which had begun in Strasbourg . In November of the same year he reached Fraustadt again, where he met his stepfather Michael Eder, whose health was bad and was already marked by death.

Lawyer and poet

After nine years of absence, it was certainly not easy for Gryphius to regain a foothold in Silesia. In a sonnet he laments the deaths of numerous friends and acquaintances. The two following years were extraordinarily productive in literary terms. He wrote the tragedies Cardenio and Celinde and Carolus Stuardus and the comedies Peter Squentz and Horribilicribrifax . All of these pieces appeared in print years later, the tragedies in the authorized complete edition of 1657. A revised and modified version of Carolus Stuardus appeared in 1663 after Gryphius had learned new facts about the fate of Karl Stuart. He turned down calls at various universities (Frankfurt / Oder, Heidelberg, Uppsala).

On January 12, 1649, Gryphius married Rosina Deutschländer , daughter of a respected woman-town merchant, with whom he had four sons and three daughters. His eldest son Christian Gryphius (September 29, 1649 - March 6, 1706) published his father's collected works in 1698. In 1650 Gryphius became the syndic of the Glogau estates . As the legal representative of the estates, his task was to assert their interests against the centralistic and confessional aspirations of the Habsburgs . The Peace of Westphalia of 1648 brought the Protestants in the Habsburg ancestral lands, to which the Duchy of Glogau belonged, into severe distress. After three years of research in libraries and archives, Gryphius published the text Glogauisches Fürstenthumbs Landes Privilegia from the originals on day given ( Lissa in Greater Poland : Funcke, 1653), a collection of documents, for the exact wording of which Gryphius personally vouched in the foreword. The office of Glogau's syndic seems to have taken up Gryphius, because only between 1657 and 1659 did a last tragedy Papinian . Gryphius stylized the important lawyer of the Roman Empire as a martyr of the law, possibly an allusion to his own difficult position as the legal representative of the Glogau estates, who inevitably opposed the centralistic and counter-Reformation policies of Emperor Ferdinand III. (until 1657) or Leopold I had to guess.

In 1662 Gryphius was accepted into the Fruitful Society by Duke Wilhelm IV of Saxe-Weimar . His company name was the immortal . In Köthener Society book, Gryphius' entry is under no. 788. There is also the motto conferred him about hidden force and assigned to him Symbol Orant to find. On July 16, 1664, Andreas Gryphius suffered a fatal stroke during a meeting of the Glogau estates. The funeral oration given by Baltzer Sigmund von Stosch is one of the most important sources for Gryphius' biography.

Work and effect

His life was shaped by the sufferings and experiences of his time, especially the early loss of his parents, the destruction of Glogau in the Thirty Years' War and the related persecution of religion. Filled with a deep longing for peace, he felt the tragedies of his time particularly strongly.

In his tragedies and poems, Gryphius thematized the suffering and moral decline during the Thirty Years' War as well as the unrest, loneliness and disruption of people. In addition, there is repeated reference in his works to “ vanity ”, the typical motif of the transience of all human creativity and endeavors in the Baroque era . Exemplary for this are Gryphius 'poems It's all vain , Human misery or Tears of the Fatherland from 1636, in which Gryphius intensely deals with the horrors of the Thirty Years' War.

Known as a tragedy writer during his lifetime, Johann Christoph Gottsched later valued him higher than Daniel Casper von Lohenstein . Friedrich Ludewig Bouterweck and August Vilmar paid tribute to him as the father of German drama. Joseph von Eichendorff called the playwright Gryphius “a masterful linguist” . Although the baroque drama was almost completely displaced from the theater stages by Lessing's drama at the latest, the theater poet Gryphius was still highly valued in literary studies.

His poems remained known at least to poets like Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock , not least because of their high rhetorical artistry , but did not gain attention until the beginning of the 20th century. On the one hand, this was due to the variously motivated devaluation of baroque poetry in the 18th century, and on the other hand, to the aesthetic reception of poems such as the belief in progress, which was particularly influenced by the Goethean epoch. It was not until Victor Manheimer's monograph Die Lyrik des Andreas Gryphius, as well as the interest of naturalists (Richard Dehmel, Arno Holz) and symbolists (Rudolf Borchardt, Karl Wolfskehl) in Baroque literature, that there was a new turn in the scholarly discussion of Baroque poetry. Although poetry around the turn of the century and Expressionism, especially because of the metaphor and imagery, were attested to be related to Baroque poetry, there is no evidence of a broad acceptance of Gryphius' poetry. Only after the Second World War did his poems gain popularity, some of which were read as an echo of the past and thus a visualization of historical horrors.

The American composer Philip Glass took over some poems from Gryphius' work for the libretto of his opera Kepler .

The Gryphius bust at the city theater

A memorial was erected to Gryphius in Glogau on the 200th anniversary of his death. A sandstone bust modeled by the sculptor Hermann Michaelis , 2 1/2 times life size, found its place in a spacious niche above the staircase leading to the theater .

Literature Prize

A literary prize is named after Gryphius .

Works (selection)

First prints

Latin seals:

  • Herodis Furiae et Rachelis lachrymae , Glogau 1634
  • Dei Vindicis Impetus et Herodis Interitus , Danzig 1635
  • Parnassus renovatus , Danzig 1636
  • Epigrammata liber I , Leiden 1643
  • Olivetum Libri tres , Florence 1646


  • Sonnets (Lissaer Sonnets), Lissa 1637
  • Sonnets and Feyrtags sonnets , Leiden 1639
  • Sonnets. The first book , Leiden 1643
  • Odes. The first book , Leiden 1643
  • Epigrammata. The first book , Leiden 1643
  • Thoughts on the churchyard and resting place of the deceased , Breslau 1657


  • A royal-murderous trawer game / called. Leo Armenius , Frankfurt am Main 1650
  • Catharina of Georgia . Or reinforced resistance. Mourning game , Breslau 1657
  • Cardenio vnd Celinde, Or Unhappy Lovers. Mourning game , Breslau 1657
  • Murdered Majesty. Or Carolus Stuardus King of Great Britain. Trauer-Spil , Breslau 1657; significantly revised and expanded version: Breslau 1663
  • Magnanimous legal scholar / Or dying Aemilius Paulus Papinianus. Mourning Spil , Breslau 1659

Comedy games:


  • Fewrige Freystadt , Lissa 1637
  • Mumiae Wratislavienses , Wroclaw 1662
  • Dissertationes Funebres. Or Leich-Abdanckungen , Leipzig 1667 (copy from the Stuttgart State Library)

Study expenses

  • Leo Armenius . Tragedy. Ed .: Rusterholz, Peter, Stuttgart 1986. ISBN 978-3-15-007960-7 (Reclam UB 7960)
  • Catharina of Georgia . Tragedy. Ed .: Haas, Alois M. Stuttgart 1986. ISBN 978-3-15-009751-9 (Reclam UB 9751)
  • Carolus Stuardus . Tragedy. Ed .: Wagener, Hans. Stuttgart 2001. ISBN 978-3-15-009366-5 (Reclam UB 9366)
  • Cardenio and Celinde or Unhappy Lovers . Tragedy. Ed .: Tarot, Rolf. Stuttgart 1986. ISBN 978-3-15-008532-5 (Reclam UB 8532)
  • Absurda Comica or Mr. Peter Squentz . Swear game. Modernized edition. Ed .: Cysarz, Herbert. Stuttgart 1986. ISBN 978-3-15-000917-8 . (Reclam UB 917)
  • Absurda Comica or Mr. Peter Squentz . Swear game. Critical edition. Ed .: Dünnhaupt, Gerhard; Habersetzer, Karl-Heinz. Stuttgart 1986. ISBN 978-3-15-007982-9 . (Reclam UB 7982)
  • Horribilicribrifax Teutsch . Joke game. Ed. Dünnhaupt, Gerhard, Stuttgart 1986. ISBN 978-3-15-000688-7
  • Poems . A selection. Text based on the last edition of 1663. Ed .: Adalbert Elschenbroich. Stuttgart 1968 (Reclam UB 8799) [out of print]
  • Poems . Ed .: Thomas Borgstedt. Stuttgart 2012 (Reclam UB 18561) ISBN 978-3-15-018561-2
  • Latin small spades, epigrammatics and casual poetry . Bilingual edition. Ed .: Czapla, Beate ; Czapla, Ralf G. and Roloff, Hans G. Berlin 2001
  • Herod. The Mount of Olives: Latin Epic . Bilingual edition. Ed .: Czapla, Ralf G. and Roloff, Hans G. Berlin 1999
  • Fewrige Freystadt , text u. Materials, ed. and commented by Johannes Birgfeld. Hannover 2006 (Wehrhahn Verlag) ISBN 3-932324-38-2 .


  • Baltzer Sigmund von Storch: Last and Honor- also therefore permanent Danck- and Denck-Seule / Bey accomplished funeral of the former WolEdlen Mr. Andreae Gryphii. 1665.
  • Johannes Theodor Leubscher: De Claris Gryphiis Schediasma. Brieg 1702.
  • Christian Stieff: Silesian Historical Labyrinth ..., Andreae Gryphii curriculum vitae. Breslau / Leipzig 1737, pp. 805-824.
  • Hermann Palm:  Gryphius, Andreas . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 10, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1879, pp. 73-81.
  • Victor Manheimer : The poetry of Andreas Gryphius. Studies and materials. Berlin 1904.
  • Gerhard Fricke : The imagery in the poetry of Andreas Gryphius. Materials and studies on the problem of form in German literary baroque. Berlin 1933. Reprint Darmstadt 1967.
  • Erich Trunz: Five Sonnets by Andreas Gryphius. Attempt at interpretation. In: Fritz Martini (ed.): From the spirit of poetry. Memorandum for Robert Petsch. Hamburg 1949, pp. 180-205.
  • Marian Szyrocki : Andreas Gryphius. His life and work. Tubingen 1964.
  • Willi Flemming : Andreas Gryphius. A monograph. Stuttgart 1965.
  • Dietrich Walter Jöns: The "sensory image". Studies on allegorical imagery with Andreas Gryphius. Stuttgart 1966.
  • Wolfgang Monath:  Gryphius, Andreas. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 7, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1966, ISBN 3-428-00188-5 , pp. 242-246 ( digitized version ).
  • Hans-Jürgen Schings: The patristic and stoic tradition with Andreas Gryphius. Investigations on the dissertations funebres and tragedy. Cologne 1966.
  • Marvin S. Schindler: The Sonnets of Andreas Gryphius. Use of the Poetic Word in the Seventeenth Century. Gainesville, Fl. 1971.
  • Hugo Bekker: Andreas Gryphius. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1973.
  • Hans-Henrik Krummacher: The young Gryphius and tradition. Studies on the pericope sonnets and passion songs. Munich 1976.
  • Wolfram Mauser: Poetry, Religion and Society in the 17th Century. The "Sonnets" by Andreas Gryphius. Munich 1976 excerpt 33 p. PDF .
  • Harald Steinhagen: Reality and action in baroque drama: historical-aesthetic studies on the tragedy of Andreas Gryphius. Tuebingen 1977.
  • Friedrich-Wilhelm Wentzlaff-Eggebert: Andreas Gryphius. Scientific Buchges., Darmstadt 1983.
  • Conrad Wiedemann: Andreas Gryphius. In: Harald Steinhagen (ed.): German poets of the 17th century. Your life and work. With the collaboration of numerous specialist scholars. Berlin 1984, pp. 435-472
  • Eberhard Mannack: Andreas Gryphius. Metzler, Stuttgart 1986.
  • Janifer Gerl Stackhouse: The constructive art of Gryphius' historical tragedies. Bern, Frankfurt / M. 1986.
  • James Andrew Parente: Religious drama and the humanist tradition: Christian theater in Germany and the Netherlands: 1500–1680. Leiden 1987.
  • Gerhard Dünnhaupt : Andreas Gryphius. In: Personal bibliographies on Baroque prints. Volume 3. Hiersemann, Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-7772-9105-6 , pp. 1855-1883 (list of works and literature).
  • Blake Lee Spahr: Andreas Gryphius. A modern perspective. Columbia SC 1993.
  • Karl-Heinz Habersetzer: Andreas Gryphius. Glogau, Würzburg 1994.
  • Erika A. Metzger, Michael M. Metzger: Reading Andreas Gryphius. Critical trends 1664-1993. Columbia SC 1994.
  • Nicola Kaminski: Andreas Gryphius. Reclam, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-15-017610-7 .
  • Text and denomination. New studies on Andreas Gryphius. Contributions to the first conference of the International Andreas Gryphius Society. Edited by Thomas Borgstedt and Knut Kiesant. In: Daphnis 28 (1999) H. 3-4.
  • Johann Anselm Steiger : School of dying. The "Kirchhofgedanken" of Andreas Gryphius (1616–1664) as a poetological theology in practice. Heidelberg 2000.
  • Manfred Orlick: The most eloquent author of German literature in the Baroque era - On the 400th birthday of Andreas Gryphius ,, Institute for Modern German Literature, Philipps University of Marburg, No. 10, October 2016
  • Nicola Kaminski, Robert Schütze (ed.): Gryphius manual . De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2016, ISBN 978-3-11-022943-1 .

Web links

Commons : Andreas Gryphius  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Andreas Gryphius  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Wolfgang Beutin: German history of literature . Metzler, Stuttgart 2001, p. 119.
  2. ^ Nicola Kaminski: Andreas Gryphius. Stuttgart 1998, p. 22.
  3. ^ Nicola Kaminski: Andreas Gryphius. Stuttgart 1998, p. 22 f. Willi Flemming: Andreas Gryphius. A monograph. Stuttgart 1965, p. 24
  4. ^ Nicola Kaminski: Andreas Gryphius. Stuttgart 1998, p. 24 f.
  5. Cf. Sonett To Herr Petrum Crügerum World-famous Mathematicum and Epigram Uber Nicolai Copernici Bild
  6. ^ Martin Opitz: Book of the German Poetry. Breslau 1624. Nicola Kaminski: Andreas Gryphius. Stuttgart 1998, p. 26 ff.
  7. See Sonett In Bibliothecam Nobiliss. Amplimißimique Viri GEORGII SCHÖNBORNERI . Nicola Kaminski: Andreas Gryphius. Stuttgart 1998, p. 30
  8. Fewrige Freystadt / Andreae Gryphii, printed for the Polish Lissa / bey Wigand Funken. In 1637
  9. Fewrige Freystadt , first new edition since 1637. Edited and annotated by John Birgfeld. Werhan Verlag, Hanover. ISBN 3-932324-38-2 .
  10. ^ Marian Szyrocki: Andreas Gryphius. His life and work. Tübingen 1964, p. 26 f.
  11. The funeral speech given by Gryphius was published as Brunnen-Discurs .
  12. ^ Paul Zumthor: Everyday life in Holland at the time of Rembrandt, Leipzig 1992, p. 23
  13. ^ Paul Zumthor: The everyday life in Holland at the time of Rembrandt, Leipzig 1992, p. 132 ff.
  14. documented in Mumiae Wratislavienses . 1662. Nicola Kaminski: Andreas Gryphius. Stuttgart 1998, p. 31 ff.
  15. Andreas Weiser: Cannibals? We? God forbid! In: GEO No. 4, 2011, p. 87
  16. Cf. several sonnets, etc. a. Tears in grave illness
  17. ^ Nicola Kaminski: Andreas Gryphius. Stuttgart 1998, p. 33 ff.
  18. Cf. Sonnet "Auff the Entry of the Most Sublime Queen MARIAE HENRIETTAE into Angiers ..."
  19. Cf. Sonnet Als Er aus Rom
  20. ^ Willi Flemming: Andreas Gryphius. A monograph. Stuttgart 1965, p. 229
  21. ^ Eberhard Mannack: Andreas Gryphius. Stuttgart 1986, p. 16.
  22. ^ Nicola Kaminski: Andreas Gryphius. Stuttgart 1998, p. 38
  23. "To H. Johann Christoph von Schönborn about my return to Germany"
  24. ^ Nicola Kaminski: Andreas Gryphius. Stuttgart 1998, p. 38 ff.
  25. ^ Nicola Kaminski: Andreas Gryphius. Stuttgart 1998, p. 40
  26. ^ Copy from the British Museum, London, Foreword, p. 3
  27. ^ Joseph von Eichendorff: History of the poetic literature of Germany . 1st chapter. Schöningh, Paderborn 1861, p. 164.
  28. Roland Borgards: Life is a pain. The story of a figure of thought in literature and medicine . In: The Limits of Man. Anthropology and Aesthetics around 1800 , ed. by Maximilian Bergengruen u. a. Königshausen & Neumann Würzburg 2001, ISBN 3-8260-2057-X , p. 135.
  29. ^ Philipp Redl: Andreas Gryphius and the baroque poetry in the world war era . In: The Second Thirty Years War. Struggles for interpretation in modern literature. (= Classical Modernism, Vol. 38), ed. by Achim Aurnhammer u. a. Ergon Verlag, Baden-Baden 2019, ISBN 978-3-95650-491-4 , p. 60.
  30. ^ Philipp Redl: Andreas Gryphius and the baroque poetry in the world war era . In: The Second Thirty Years War. Struggles for interpretation in modern literature. (= Classical Modernism, Vol. 38), ed. by Achim Aurnhammer u. a. Ergon Verlag, Baden-Baden 2019, ISBN 978-3-95650-491-4 , pp. 59-60.
  31. Illustrirte Zeitung No. 1098 of July 16, 1864, p. 51 ff. (With illustration)
  32. a b c d e Friedrich-Wilhelm Wentzlaff-Eggebert: Bibliography of the Gryphius prints in chronological order. In: A. Gryphius: Latin and German youth poetry. Darmstadt 1961, p. 237 ff.
  33. contains the famous sonnets Vanitas vanitatum , later revised under the title Es ist alles vain . Mourning suit of the devastated Germany , later revised under the title Tears of the Fatherland. anno 1636 and human misery .