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Andreas Gryphius

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Andreas Gryphius

Andreas Gryphius
Born Andreas Greif
(1616-10-11)11 October 1616
Großglogau (Głogów), Silesia
Died 16 July 1664(1664-07-16) (aged 47)
Großglogau, Silesia
Occupation Lyric poet
Nationality German
Period Baroque

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 Gdańsk library. Coming from war riddled Silesia, taking refuge at the big international harbor and a 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 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 (German: Lissa) 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 (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.

Gryphius grew up during the Catharina von Georgien (1657), Cardenio und Celinde (1657) and Papinianus (1659). No German dramatic writer before him had risen to so high a level, nor had he worthy successors until about the middle of the 18th century.



  • Cardenio and Celinde (1647) - tragedy
  • Leo Arminius (1650) - historical tragedy
  • Carolus Stuardus (1657 - first version; 1663 - second version) - historical tragedy
  • tragedy
  • Absurda Comica oder Herr Peter Squenz (1658) - comedy
  • Papinianus (1659) - historical tragedy
  • The Beloved Rose with a Thorn (1661) - comedy
  • Horribilicribrifax (1663) - comedy


  • Banham, Martin, ed. 1998. The Cambridge Guide to Theatre. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. ISBN 0-521-43437-8.
  • Gillespie, Gerald, ed. 1992. German Theater Before 1750. The German Library 8. New York: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-0703-X.
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain

External links

  • Map of 1600 Germania showing Glogau in Silesia etc
  • Andreas Gryphius: Saemtliche Gedichte
  • Andreas Gryphius on Project Guttenberg
  • Works by or about Andreas Gryphius at Internet Archive
  • Works by Andreas Gryphius at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
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