Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum


(Letters of Obscure Men), an early 16th-century German satire written in Latin by the humanists C. Rubeanus, H. von dem Busche, and U. von Hutten. It was published anonymously in two volumes (1515–17).

These parodic letters, written as if by churchmen, ridicule the ignorance, stupidity, religious fanaticism, and moral wretchedness of scholastics. They also expose the vices of papal Rome and the parasitism and profligacy of monks. The lively and witty satire of the Epistolae obscurorum virorum dealt a heavy blow to obscurantists on the eve of the Reformation.


Epistolae obscurorum virorum, vols. 1–2. Edited by A. Bömer. Heidelberg, 1924.
In Russian translation:
Pis’ma temnykh liudei. Moscow-Leningrad, 1935.


Istoriia nemetskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow, 1962.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Nevertheless, handbooks of German literature always mention the Epistolae obscurorum virorum when discussing Hutten's literary legacy but never the Aula dialogue.
This book on stylistic virtues and--especially--stylistic vices focuses on the Letters of Obscure Men (Epistolae obscurorum virorum), an anonymously published work in two parts (1515-17) that contains more than 100 letters.
He was the main contributor to the second volume of the Epistolae obscurorum virorum (1515-17; "Letters of Obscure Men"), a famous attack on monkish life and letters.
The Epistolae obscurorum virorum are a central document of German humanism, and implicitly support Johann Reuchlin in his struggles with the renegade Jew Pfefferkorn.
Creating Anti-eloquence: Epistolae obscurorum virorum and the Humanist Polemics on Style.
In the first quarter of the sixteenth century the humanists tend to take a moderate position, on occasion even ridiculing a belief in the efficacy of witchcraft as in the satires, Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum (Letters of obscure men), Eccius dedolatus, and Erasmus's Moriae Encomium (Praise of Folly).
[138] Witch Riding Backwards on a Goat is related to satires such as the Eccius Dedolatus in which the witch Canidia is asked if she will "ride a fork, or a bundle of hay," and answers that she is "going to mount a hairy goat." [139] It is closer in spirit to the Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum with its mockery of lusty clergymen who think they can attain the object of their desire using witchcraft--waxen images woven with hair from the head of the beloved, incantations, magic names and other mumbojumbo.
For the Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum see Holborn (vii), Mehl, and Overfield's chapter on "The Reuchlin Affair (247-97).
Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum: The Latin Text with an English Rendering, Notes, and an Historical Introduction.
The Letters of Obscure Men (Epistolae obscurorum virorum, usually abbreviated as EOV) is a virulent satire that may well qualify as the century's most comic book after Rabelais.
. "Language, Class and Mimic Satire in the Characterization of Correspondents in the Epistolae obscurorum virorum." Sixteenth Century Journal 25 (1994): 273-89.