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Graecia Transvolavit Alpes

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Chapter Summary

The sixteenth century abounded with imaginary pedigrees. Fantasies concerning the origins of dynasties and peoples held Europe's educated classes in their thrall. In a sense, what this chapter attempts to outline is a case study of one such instance of a sixteenth century learned collective helping itself to a respectable pedigree. At the same time, however, it describes something profoundly different. The chapter traces the imagined genealogy of Greek and Greek studies in Germany as portrayed by Melanchthon and other Lutheran humanists. It presents a survey of several sixteenth century perceptions of the progress and role of Greek learning. Imaginary pedigrees were no rarity in the sixteenth century, and were by no means a Lutheran preserve. The main difference, however, between the Melanchthonian Graecia transvolavit Alpes and other pedigree claims lies in Melanchthon and his followers' understanding of the function and validity of ancestral transference.

Keywords: Germany; Graecia transvolavit Alpes; Lutheran humanists; Melanchthon



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