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Understanding National Antiquity. Transformations of Tacitus’s Germania in Beatus Rhenanus’s Commentariolus

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Chapter Summary

This article inquires about the strategies of appropriation Beatus Rhenanus developed in his commentary on Tacitus's Germania, titled Commentariolus, in order to construct a plausible Antiquity of the German nation. Rhenanus's comments on Maroboduus, King of the Marcomanni, who is mentioned only marginally in Tacitus's Germania, serve as an example. It becomes apparent that by commenting on the Germania, Rhenanus does not so much aim to glorify German Antiquity as to find a sound historical foundation in order to prove its very existence. In late antiquity, the Germania disappeared almost entirely, and it was hardly noticed or received in the Middle Ages. The example of Maroboduus demonstrates that aim in particular: Rhenanus is interested in providing, amplifying, and concentrating the scanty knowledge of the Germania as well as other information about Maroboduus with further quotations from ancient texts that are of a historical content.

Keywords: Beatus Rhenanus; Commentariolus; German Antiquity; Germania; Maroboduus; Tacitus



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