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A panegyricus (Latin Panegyricus , ancient Greek πανηγυρικός (λόγος) panēgyrikós (lógos) "celebratory speech", from πανήγυρις panḗgyris "gathering [of all]") was a splendid speech from a festive occasion in antiquity . In the early modern period it was a name for a praise to a ruler or a ruling family.


From ancient Greece, festive lectures by Lysias or Isocrates , for example, have come down to us, which were known as panegyrikós . In the Roman Empire , a panegyricus was understood to be a laudation , in particular a speech in honor of the emperor. The only aim of the presentation is to positively evaluate the character and performance of the person treated. Characteristic are therefore the one-sided selection and, under certain circumstances, falsification (exaggeration or understatement) of the facts communicated as well as the frequent use of stylistic devices and the predominant use of the gender grande or sublime .

In today's parlance, panegyric is a distant, praise-flattering speech. In a negative connotation, the word came panegyrisch in ancient times before: the historian and rhetoric teacher Dionysius of Halicarnassus meant by an amount calculated on effects and the audience so seductive style (see persuasive communication ). Nonetheless, panegyric was a recognized literary genre throughout antiquity with a firm place in social and political life . On certain occasions such as birthdays, funeral celebrations and anniversaries, the performance of panegyrics corresponded to the expectations of society. The social standing of those who were able to present them with perfect rhetorical mastery was correspondingly high. Since panegyric always presupposed a ruler's ethics as a recognized normative basis, it was an important and almost the only possibility, especially in times of monarchy, to remind the ruler of these and to demand their observance - albeit indirectly. Panegyric is therefore related to the genre of the prince mirror in terms of its social and political function as a communicative medium of legitimation of rule , but also of indirect criticism of rule .

The Panegyrici Latini

A collection of twelve Latin speeches of this type is preserved under the title XII Panegyrici Latini . The oldest speech in it is the Panegyricus , which Pliny the Younger gave in 100 on the occasion of his consulate on the Emperor Trajan . In it he praises his life, military skills and virtues of rulership. The speech begins with Trajan's career, shows him as ruler, then his private life and ends with thanks for being awarded the consulate and a prayer to Jupiter .

The other eleven speeches in the collection come from early late antiquity (end of the 3rd century to the end of the 4th century) and represent a not unimportant source. The emperors Constantine the Great and Theodosius I , among others, are honored. The authors were high officials and rhetors , some of which are unknown.


  • I. Panegyricus Plinii Secundi Traiano Augusto - Speech of the younger Pliny on Trajan from the year 100.
  • II. Panegyricus Latini Pacati Drepani dictus Theodosio - Speech of Pacatus to Theodosius I from the year 389.
  • III. Gratiarum actio Mamertini de consulatu suo Iuliano imperatori - speech by Claudius Mamertinus from the year 362, with which he thanks Emperor Julian for his consulate.
  • IV. Panegyricus Nazarii dictus Constantino imperatori - Speech of Nazarius on Constantine the Great at his Quinquennalia in the year 321.
  • Incipiunt panegyrici diversorum septem
    • V. Incipit primus dictus Constantino - Speech on Constantine I from the year 311/312.
    • VI. Incipit secundus - Speech on Constantine I from the year 310, probably given in Trier .
    • VII. Incipit tertius - Speech on Constantine I and his co-emperor Maximian from the year 307, on the occasion of Constantine's marriage to Maximian's daughter Fausta .
    • VIII. Incipit quartus - speech to Constantius I , Constantine's father, from the summer of 297.
    • IX. Incipit quintus - Eumenius' speech from 297, in which he calls for the restoration of a school in his hometown of Augustodunum . It is actually not about a panegyric, but rather a suasorie , a persuasive speech.
    • X. Incipit sextus - Ceremonial speech to Maximian to celebrate the natalis urbis Romae (birthday of the city of Rome) on April 21, 289, presumably given in Trier .
    • XI. Item eiusdem magistri Mamertini genethliacus Maximiani Augusti - speech to celebrate the birthdays of the two emperors Diocletian and Maximian from the year 290/291.
    • XII. Hic dictus est Constantino filio Constantii - Speech on Constantine I from the year 313, given during the games that Constantine hosted after his victory over Maxentius , probably in Trier.

More ancient panegyries

The most famous panegyric in Greek is probably the Romrede of Aelius Aristides (155), in which the speaker rather less than the Roman rule praises a special imperial whole.

Not all panegyric works were speeches; One of the most unusual is the work About the Buildings of Justinian von Prokop , who praised the buildings of this emperor around 550. Often the authors allegedly intended to influence the ruler and to induce a correction of his policies through flattery.

Panegyric also includes poems from the Roman imperial era, which were written by poets close to the court to glorify the ruler or a powerful personality. Panegyric in this sense were the proclamation of the new golden age under Emperor Augustus by Virgil ( Aeneid 6, 791-805), individual odes of Horace , the verses of Lucan in honor of Emperor Nero and those of Statius in glorification of Emperor Domitian . In late antiquity around 400 the court poet Claudian and around 560 the Gorippus, who was influenced by him, emerged in this area. In Claudian's linguistically masterful poetry, which in terms of content did not shrink from excess, the panegyric epic reached a climax, but at the same time the limits of what was reasonable for the audience in terms of content in this area. The transition to the Byzantine panegyric then marked Georgios Pisides (around 630).

Editions and translations

  • Charles EV Nixon, Barbara Saylor Rodgers: In Praise of Later Roman Emperors. The Panegyrici Latini. Introduction, Translation, and Historical Commentary with the Latin Text of RAB Mynors . Berkeley / Los Angeles / Oxford 1994 (includes the eleven Panegyrici from late antiquity).
  • Panegyrici Latini. Eulogies for Roman emperors. Latin and German . Introduced, translated and commented by Brigitte Müller-Rettig. tape 1 : From Diocletian to Constantine. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2008, ISBN 978-3-534-18136-0 .
  • Panegyrici Latini. Eulogies for Roman emperors. Latin and German . Introduced, translated and commented by Brigitte Müller-Rettig. tape 2 : From Constantine to Theodosius. Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2012.
  • Brigitte Müller-Rettig: The Panegyricus of the year 310 on Constantine the Great. Translation and historical-philological commentary (= Palingenesia , Volume 31). Steiner, Stuttgart 1990, ISBN 3-515-05540-1 (also dissertation, Saarbrücken University 1989)
  • Pliny the Younger: Panegyricus (= Texts on Research , Volume 51). Edited, translated and provided with explanations by Werner Kühn (Latin-German). Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1985.
  • Hans Gutzwiller : Claudius Mamertinus. The New Year speech of the consul Claudius Mamertinus before the emperor Julian. Text, translation and commentary . Latin-German. Basel 1942.


Overview representations


  • Michael Mause: The depiction of the emperor in Latin panegyric. Steiner, Stuttgart 1994.
  • Sven Lorenz: Eroticism and Panegyric: Martial's epigrammatic emperors. Narr, Tübingen 2002.
  • Roger Rees (Ed.): Latin Panegyric. Oxford University Press, Oxford et al. 2012.

Web links

Wiktionary: Panegyric  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. Otto Seeck , Eumenius 1) , in: Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswwissenschaft , Volume VI, 1 (1907), Col. 1105–1114, here Col. 1107 f., Argues well founded for 312; Konrat Ziegler im Kleinen Pauly , Volume 4, Col. 456, gives 311 for no further reasons.
  2. See the translation by Brigitte Müller-Redig ( here online ( Memento from March 16, 2007 in the Internet Archive )).

See also