Andreas Gryphius

Andreas Gryphius bigraphy, stories - German lyric poet and dramatist

Andreas Gryphius : biography

11 October 1616 – 16 July 1664

Andreas Gryphius (11 October 1616 – 16 July 1664) was a German lyric poet and dramatist.

Asteroid 496 Gryphia is named in his honour.

Life and career

Gryphius was born as "Andreas Greif" in Großglogau, (Polish: Głogów), in Silesia, where his father was a clergyman. The family name was Greif, latinized, according to the prevailing fashion, as Gryphius. Left early an orphan and driven from his native town by the troubles of the Thirty Years’ War, he received his schooling in various places, but notably at Freistadt (Polish: Wschowa), where he enjoyed an excellent classical education.

In 1634 he went to Danzig (Polish:Gdańsk) where he met professors Peter Crüger and Johann Mochinger at the Danzig Gymnasium, who introduced Gryphius to the new German language poetry. Crüger had for years close contacts to Martin Opitz, who became known as ‘father of German poetry’. Greatly influenced by Crüger, he is the only one Gryphius dedicated poems to. Gryphius wrote Latin language poetry as well as German poems and a number of Sonetten.

The same year that Gryphius arrived, the printer Andreas Hünefeld published Martin Opitz’s Buch von der deutschen Poeterey (Book of German Poetry), The same publisher printed Opitz’s translation Tetrastichen des Pibrac and Antigone. Among Gryphius’ benefactors was the city’s secretary Michael Borck, who wrote a German version of the life of Jesus Christ. Borck’s illustrated book is still at the Biblioteka Gdańska PAN . Coming from war riddled Silesia, taking refuge at the big international harbor and Polish city greatly stimulated Gryphius. In 1635 he published his second epos of Herodes Dei Vindicis Impetus et Herodis Interitus . He dedicated this to the city state council.

While still in Danzig he published the Parnassus Renovatus in praise of the eminent jurist Georg Schönborner (1579–1637, from the town of Schönborn). In 1636 he went to Fraustadt Wschowa, then to Schönborn, in order to became tutor of the sons of Georg Schönborner, a man of wide culture and considerable wealth, who, after filling various administrative posts and writing many erudite volumes on law, had been rewarded by the emperor Ferdinand II with the title and office of imperial count-palatine (Hofpfalzgraf). Schönborner, who recognized Gryphius’s genius, crowned him poeta laureatus, gave him the diploma of master of philosophy, and bestowed on him a patent of nobility, though Gryphius never used the title. A month later, on 23 December 1637, Schönborner died.

In 1637 Gryphius published at Wigand Funck in () Leszno a poetry collection in German and some Latin, named Lissaer Sonetten after the town.

In 1632, he had witnessed the pillaging and burning of the Silesian town of Freystadt by Swedish troops, and immortalized the event in his poem Fewrige Freystadt. Also in 1637 he went to continue his studies at Leiden, where he remained for six years, both hearing and delivering lectures. Here he fell under the influence of the great Dutch dramatists, Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft and Joost van den Vondel, who largely determined the character of his later dramatic works.

In 1635 with the Prager Frieden (Peace of Prague), the Habsburgs took control over in Silesia again and persecuted Protestants and closed their churches. In 1638 Paul Gryphius, the brother of Andreas, received a position as Superindendant at Crossen an der Oder (Krosno Odrzańskie) in Brandenburg from the Elector Georg Wilhelm of Brandenburg. Paul was for several years banned from Silesia for of being a Protestant, and Andreas dedicated and sent him several poems for the start of his new position.

After travelling in France, Italy and South Germany, Gryphius settled in 1647 at Fraustadt, where he began his dramatic work, and in 1650 was appointed syndic of Glogau, a post he held until his death. A short time previously he had been admitted under the title of The Immortal into the Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft ("Fruitbearing Society"), a literary society, founded in 1617 by Ludwig, prince of Anhalt-Köthen on the model of the Italian academies.