Captatio Benevolentiae

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The Latin expression captatio benevolentiae ( "chasing after goodwill") refers to a since the ancient common figure of speech .

The author of a text approaches the reader directly with flattering words and asks them to kindly accept the following. In ancient practice, a captatio benevolentiae occurred particularly frequently in connection with the spoken word, for example at the beginning of a speech or a play . It can therefore also be understood as an elaborate form of “asking for peace” vis-à-vis the listening audience.

In a less elaborate form, captatio-benevolentiae-like phrases are still part of the standard repertoire of every speech today. In the theater there was still a long tradition of putting a prologue in front of the actual stage action; in a similar way, the author of longer prose texts occasionally initially addresses the "inclined reader".

In a broader sense, the Captatio Benevolentiae is understood to mean any form of courting for the public's favor, especially ingratiation and flattery, which is why the writer Harry Rowohlt referred to the opening minutes of his author's readings, which are preferably used for this purpose, as the "slime phase".


“You see the state, Quirites, and all of your life, wealth, prosperity, your wives and children, and this seat of the most glorious kingdom, this highly happy and glorious city, through the great love of the immortal gods for you, through mine Effort, advice and the dangers I faced from murder and fire, almost torn from the jaws of fate, saved and given back to you. "

“The course of their doomed love
And the course of parental anger,
which only drove away the death of the children,
Is now good for two hours on the stage;
What is still missing, listen with a patient ear.
Hopefully brings out our efforts. "

"With confidence in the good reception and respect, the Ew. Showing excellence to all the products of literature, as a prince who is inclined to favor the fine arts, especially those who, because of their nobility, do not condescend to the service and profit-seeking of the mob, I am resolved to recommend the ingenious noble Don Quixote of la To let some come to the light, under the umbrella of Ew. Your Excellency, glorious name, to whom I ask with the reverence I owe your greatness to benevolently receive him under your protection, so that under this cover he may lack the fine ornament of elegance and erudition which usually clothe works Usually, which are written in the houses of learned men, nevertheless dare to appear boldly before the judge's seat of some who, not restrained within the bounds of their ignorance, are accustomed to condemn other people's work with great severity and less justice; because if Ew. Your Excellency directing your bright insight to my good intention, I hope you will not disdain the triviality of such an insignificant service. "

“This is a high-profile comedy that has been persecuted for a long time and the people it targets must have made it clear that they have more power in France than anyone I have before have targeted. Marquis, precious women, cuckolders and doctors have allowed themselves to be represented without causing a stir and have pretended to be talking to everyone else; but the hypocrites were not joking; They were shocked from the start and thought it strange that I had the boldness to make their faces and to denigrate a craft that so many decent people do. "

- Molière : from the preface to Tartuffe

“To your Highly Born Mr. NN , the real reader of this book.
Copenhagen, August 1843
My dear reader! Forgive me for speaking to you so confidentially, but we are among ourselves. Although you are a poetic person, for me you are by no means a plural, but only one, so we are just you and me.
If one were to assume that anyone who reads a book for one or another accidental reason that does not affect the book itself is only an improper reader, then there may not be many real readers left even for those authors whose reading world is very numerous; for who in our time can think of to waste a moment on the purring thought that it is an art to be a good reader, let alone to spend time trying to become one? (...) "

- Sören Kierkegaard : The repetition

"First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being proclaimed in the whole world."

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Harry Rowohlt and Christian Maintz : Dear God, you are the boss, amen, your rhinoceros. Live in Barmbek. No & But Records 2009.
  2. Beginning of the third speech against Catilina by Cicero based on the translation by Osiander .
  3. ^ End of the prologue to the tragedy Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare based on the translation by Schlegel (1891).
  4. Dedication of the novel Don Quixote by Cervantes ( Memento of the original from February 3, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. after the translation by Tieck .  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. ^ Préface to the comedy Tartuffe by Molière .
  6. ↑ based on the translation by Günther Jungbluth (DTV, Munich 2005, p. 432 f). Kierkegaard puts this Captatio benevolentiae in the form of an eight-page letter to the reader at the end of his writing, in order to excuse the unusual nature of its plot .