Tools: Literary Figures, Deities and Histories

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Adonis: In Greek mythology, a beautiful young man who was loved by Venus.

Aesculaps: Aesculapius was the Greek god of medicine, a great healer who possessed the skill to restore the dead to life.

Alexandrinern: Iamb denotes a metrical foot composed of an unstressed syllable which is followed by a stressed syllable: _ /. An alexandrine, the meter of choice in French poetry since the 16th century, is a line of twelve iambic syllables.

Aphrodite: The Greek goddess of marriage and erotic love.

Amor: The Latin name of Eros, the Greek god of love.

Ariadne: The daughter of the Cretan King Minos, who fell in love with the captive Theseus and helped him to overcome the Minotaur. Theseus later abandoned her.

Armida: A beautiful sorceress and seductress in TorquatoTasso's epic Gerusalemme liberata.

Artemis: A Greek goddess, the daughter of Zeus and Leto, sister of Apollo. Equivalent to the Roman goddess Diana, Artemis is depicted as a huntress whose arrows can send gentle death or quick destruction. Terrible in anger, she is the goddess of nature, who both creates and destroys.

Asträa: L'Astrée, a pastoral romance published in four parts, beginning in 1607, by the French author Honoré d'Urfé (1568-1625); the story recounts the love between the shepherd Céladon and the shepherdess Astrée.

Bacchantinnen: Frenzied female participants (maenads) in the orgiastic celebrations of Bacchus (Dionysus).

Bacchus: The Roman god of fertility and wine, corresponding to the Greek Dionysus.

Bethania: A village close to Jerusalem in which lived the sisters Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus, all of whom were particularly beloved of Jesus. See for example John 11 in the New Testament.

Henriette Byron: Harriet Byron, a prolific writer of letters, is a character in Samuel Richardson's novel Sir Charles Grandison, published in 1754.

Ceres: The Roman name for the Earth Mother, the goddess who protected agriculture and the fruits of the earth.

Circens: In Greek mythology, Circe was a dangerous sorceress who turned the companions of Odysseus into swine.

Cupido: Cupid, the Roman god of love.

David: David, an ancient Israelite king, ruled approximately 1004-965 B.C. This citation refers to 2. Samuel 6:14-15, in which the King and his people celebrate the return of the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem.

Diana: The Roman goddess of the moon and hunting, Diana was the twin sister of Apollo. She was viewed as the protector of women and nature.

Epimeleia: In Goethe’s Festspiel, the daughter of the Titan Epimetheus.

Epimetheustochter: In classical mythology, the Titan Epimetheus, who is the brother of Prometheus and husband of Pandora, takes part in the creation of humanity. In Goethe’s Festspiel, his daughter is Epimeleia.

Esaus und Jakobs: Esau and Jacob were twin brothers whose story appears in the biblical book of Genesis. Jacob, the younger of the two, purchased the birthright from his brother for a bowl of pottage. Then, by impersonating Esau, he tricked their blind father Isaac into giving him the blessing accompanying the birthright. Fearing Esau’s wrath, Jacob subsequently fled; he was reconciled with his brother upon his return many years later. See Genesis 25, 27-28.

Flora: In Roman mythology, the goddess of flowers, wind and grain.

Furie: In Greek mythology, the three Furies were avenging spirits who punished crimes which were beyond the reach of mortal justice.

Gerusalemme Liberata: T. Tasso's famed Christian epic, Jerusalem Delivered, was finished in 1575. Patterned after medieval knightly epics, Homer and Virgil, it combines heroic adventure, Christian belief, "heathen" sensuality and supernatural events.

Goethe: The characters referred to here are drawn from Pandora, an allegorical Festspiel published in 1809 by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). The work remains a fragment, since only Part I was completed. In this play, the Titan brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus symbolize respectively an active and a contemplative approach to life, while Pandora symbolizes imagination. The action centers on the love between Prometheus’ son and Epimetheus’ daughter.

Grandisson: Samuel Richardson, 1689-1761, was a British author who created literature through which he hoped to illustrate the virtues and vices prevalent in society. Three of his novels, Pamela, Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison became particularly influential in Europe. Underlying each of these works is moral-didactic desire to educate the sensibility of readers and present a picture of the ideal woman.

drey Grazien: The Graces were three goddesses who enriched life through their gifts of gentleness and refinement.

“Hesperus”: This refers to Hesperus oder 45 Hundsposttage, a 3-volume Erziehungsroman by Jean Paul (1763-1825) which was published in 1795. The unconventional plot serves as a frame for the portrayal of deep feelings, noble characters and philosophical ideas.

Horatier/Curiatiern: Ancient Roman patrician families around 500 B.C. According to legend, three Horatii brothers fought against three Curiatii brothers from Alba Longa in an attempt to determine whether Rome or Alba Longa was superior. After two of the Horatii brothers had fallen, the third killed his opponents and secured the victory of Rome over Alba Longa.

Hygiäa: Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health, was often pictured with a serpent which drinks from a cup she holds in her hand.

Hymen: In Greek mythology, the god of marriage.

Iduna: Iduna was the Norse goddess of eternal youth.

Isis: The ruling goddess of Egypt, often identified with the moon.

Isolden: The main figures in a medieval cycle of tales centered on the undying love Tristan shares with Isolde, who is the wife of his uncle.

Joseph: That is, Egypt. See Genesis 37-50.

Körnchen dreißigfältig: A reference to Jesus' "Parable of the Sower," found in the New Testament, Matthew 13:3-8, especially verse 8.

Lederstrumpf: Refers to the Leatherstocking Tales, a series of five novels by James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851), which follow the life and adventures of the protagonist Natty Bumppo on the American frontier.

Meister Reinecke: Reinecke Fuchs (Reynard the Fox) is a figure prominent in animal fables and stories dating from early Latin sources. The fox, because of his cleverness, is usually able to turn any situation to his own advantage.

Merkurs: Mercury, the Roman god of commerce and science, a messenger for the gods, and the patron of thieves and vagabonds. 

Metamorphosen: The Metamorphoses is a series of epic tales written in Latin verse in approximately 8 A.D. by the Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso (Ovid), 43 B.C.-17 A.D.

Michael Kohlhaas: Michael Kohlhaas is the protagonist in the novella Michael Kohlhaas (1808) by the German author Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811).

Minerva: The Roman goddess of wisdom, also the patroness of the fine arts and all trades. 

Minotaur: A monster, in shape half bull, half man, which King Minos kept in a labyrinth, and fed with human flesh.

Musen: The nine Muses were the Roman goddesses of memory, the arts and the sciences.

Narzissus: In Greek and Roman mythology, a beautiful young man who became enamored of his own reflection, which he noticed in a fountain. Eventually he pined away, and was transformed at his death into a narcissus flower.

Nick Carter: The name of a fictional detective created by the American author John Russell Coryell (1848-1924), who worked with Thomas Chalmers Harbaugh (1849-1924) and Frederick Van Rensselaer Dey (1861-1922) to produce over 1000 Nick Carter stories.

Nimrod: A biblical figure known as a mighty hunter.

Odin: The Scandinavian supreme deity, Odin (Woden) was the god of wisdom, poetry, war and agriculture.

Omphale: In Greek mythology, a Lydian queen whom Hercules, dressed as a maidservant, served for three years.

Orpheus: A mythological poet, the son of Apollo and Calliope, famed for his deeply moving music. He almost succeeded in rescuing his wife, Eurydice, from the underworld, but lost her when he looked back to see if she was following him.

Pandora: In classical mythology, Pandora, whose name means “the all-gifted,” is the first woman. Among the gifts given to her by the gods is a box which she is instructed not to open. Finally succumbing to curiosity, she opens it, thus releasing all the ills and calamities which afflict humanity. Only hope is left behind. In Goethe’s Festspiel, Pandora embodies imagination.

Parnaß: The realm of poetry, named after the Greek mountain dedicated to Apollo and the Muses. 

Parsifal: Parzival was the hero of a well-known courtly epic by Wolfram von Eschenbach (1172-1220). The reference here is to the opera Parsifal by Richard Wagner (1813-1883), which was completed in 1879 and first performed in Bayreuth in 1882. In this opera, Wagner gives a new philosophical interpretation of the original von Eschenbach epic.

Philemon: According to a story in Ovids Metamorphoses, Baucis and Philemon were an elderly impoverished couple in Phrygia who, out of all the people, were the only ones willing to offer shelter to the wandering gods Jupiter and Mercury. Blessed for the rest of their lives, in their extreme age the two were spared the separation of death, as Philemon was transformed into an oak tree, Baucis into a linden.

Pindarischer Odenflug: Pindaric odes are formal poems written in the style developed by the Greek poet Pindar (522-442 B.C.).

Pluto: In Roman mythology, the ruler of the underworld, or Hades.

Pomona: The Roman goddess of fruit trees.

Pomona: Pomona für Teutschlands Töchter, a journal published by Sophie von La Roche during the years 1783-1784. Briefe an Lina was originally written as a centerpiece for this journal.

Prometheus: In classical mythology, Prometheus is a Titan who steals fire from heaven and, against the will of the gods, creates humanity. He is often seen as the embodiment of heroic resistance to authority.

Psychen: A lovely young woman loved by Cupid in the myth of Cupid and Psyche.

Robinson: Probably refers to The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner (1719-1720), a novel by English author Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) which became the model for the Robinsonade, a genre popular in Germany through the 19th century.

Rosalie: Rosaliens Briefe an ihre Freundinn Mariane von St.** is an epistolary novel published by Sophie von La Roche during the years 1779-81. It was followed by a sequel, Rosalie und Cleberg auf dem Lande in 1791.

Rübezahlbild: In legend, Rübezahl is a Berggeist who is lord of great mountain ranges and guardian of their treasures. He appears variously as a dwarf, monk, giant, or an animal, and teases wanderers, often leading them astray or sending inclement weather to hinder their journey.

Sherlock Holmes: The master detective in novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930).

Sisyphusarbeit: Sisyphus was a legendary king of Corinth who was condemned by the gods to continually roll a large rock up a hill. When it reached the top, it immediately rolled down again, and the process began anew. His punishment has become the symbol for hopeless tasks.

Solmas: In S. Richardson's novel Clarissa, Mr. Solmes is the man the Harlowe family has chosen for Clarissa Harlowe to marry, even though she despises him.

Sternheim: Die Geschichte des Fräuleins von Sternheim, Sophie von La Roche's first literary achievement, also the first novel of note published by a woman in Germany. An epistolary novel, it appeared in the years 1771-72.

Sylphenkind: In the writings of Paracelsus, a sylph is an elemental spirit which inhabits the air. Only those mortals who have preserved unviolated chastity can enjoy the company of such spirits.

Tartüffe: The main character in Molière's comedy Le Tartuffe; in popular usage, a hypocrite.

Theseus: A hero in Greek mythology who killed the Minotaur and found his way out of the labyrinth, with the help of Ariadne.

Titania: In A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595-96) by William Shakespeare (1564-1616) , Titania is the queen of the fairies. Her husband is the fairy king, Oberon.

Urania: The Roman goddess of beauty and love.

Vestalin: In Rome, vestals were the spotless virgins who were consecrated to the goddess Vesta; thus, "vestal" came to mean any woman of unspotted chastity.

Vulgata: The Latin Vulgate Bible, translated from the original languages by Hieronymus at the request of Pope Damasus I. The work of translation was begun in 383.

Weldone: Refers to Sophie von LaRoche's story "Sir Weldone oder das wahre Glück ist in der Seele des Rechtschaffenen," which appeared in her Moralische Erzählungen. Zweite Sammlung, (1784) and in Pomona under the title "Das wahre Glück ist in der Seele des Rechtschaffenen. Eine moralische Erzählung." (1783).

Werthern: J.W. Goethe's epistolary novel Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1774).