Jacob Masen

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Jacob Masen SJ ( Latin Masenius , pseudonym: Ioannes Semanus, born March 23, 1606 in Dahlen , † September 27, 1681 in Cologne ) was an influential Jesuit poet , theologian and historian.


Masen attended the Jesuit Latin Tricoronatum in Cologne ( Dreikönigsgymnasium ) and then joined the order in Trier in 1629 . First he taught rhetoric and poetics, and after his consecration in 1648 he worked as a priest and writer in Cologne, Paderborn and Trier. We owe two important writings on the history of Trier to his historical interests. He also endeavored to reunify the Christian churches and gave a lecture on this subject before the Frankfurt Reichstag in 1658. His speech was printed in Latin in 1661 ("Meditata concordia") and soon translated (Johann Caspar Jäger, "Well-considered Association of Protestants with the Catholischen ", Aschaffenburg 1662). His connection to his hometown Dahlen is documented by his ode about the devastating fire in Dahlen on June 5, 1647, which he wrote for his childhood friend Peter Syben and in which he laments Dahlen's decline as a result of the Thirty Years' War and that fire. Masen became known far beyond the regional borders through his work on the history of the Archdiocese of Trier (1652), the Diocese of Paderborn (1677), his commission to prepare an expert opinion on the possibilities of a reunification of Catholics and Protestants (1658) and his biographies of the Emperor Karl V and Ferdinand I. Jacob Masen died of dysentery on September 27, 1681 in Cologne at the age of 75 .


However, it is primarily his writings on the theory of poetry that make up his scientific significance. His Speculum imaginum veritatis occultae is still used today as an index for the development of Baroque imagery and emblems ; the poetics drawn up in the three-volume Palaestra eloquentiae ligatae are adapted and a. Aristotle's theory of tragedy for the demands of Jesuit drama . In doing so, Masen repeatedly refers to his own dramas, which he obviously considers exemplary - but in contrast to many other poetics of the time, the Palaestra also have a detailed appendix with examples from ancient and contemporary dramas. In 1654, as part of his Palaestra eloqentiae, an epic Sarcotis was published , which describes the fall of the human race: a subject that John Milton also took up in his Paradise Lost (1667) and thus raised the question of whether this major work was the subject of literary criticism in the 19th century English literature is a plagiarism of the epic by Masen.

  • Ars nova argutiarum. Cologne 1649
  • Palaestra eloquentiae ligatae. 3 volumes. Cologne 1654
  • Palaestra oratoria. Cologne 1659
  • Speculum imaginum veritatis occultae. Cologne 1681, third edition.


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