Emblematic Epithalamii in Vilnius in the Second Half of the 17th Century (Summary)

Anna Nowicka-Struska (PDF)

Scholars of old Polish literature acknowledge that one of the essential characteristics of the poetic word is its occasional and panegyric character. Occasional literature includes epithalamii, which are common in manuscripts and prints from the 17th century. Many of them have already been assessed by literary historians. The epithalamii of Vilnius have been little studied so far: ‘Crown of heraldic embellishments’ (Wieniec z herbownyh klejnotów…, 1677) by Krzysztof Zenowicz and ‘Immortal Cedar Tree’ (Godzięba cedr nieśmiertelny…, 1677) by Bogusław Lenkiewicz. These prints are very rare and were not described by Karol Estreicher. Only a few copies have survived in Poland, and one has survived in Vilnius. They are linked by the publication year and the author of the emblematic engravings, Zachary Zeligmacher. According to current data, these are the only surviving works of this engraver and goldsmith, born into a prominent family of Vilnius goldsmiths. It is also interesting that Zeligmacher signed the illustrations, a rarity in the 17th century. The texts are rich in heraldic symbolism. Designated as wedding gifts, they are based on typical signs of the wedding ritual genre. The epithalamy by Zenowicz is a precisely and dynamically composed epic text with a strict metre, an interesting construction of the world depicted and a narrator. There is a strong literary convention and tradition here, derived from the poetry of Catullus and Statius. Both works are panegyrical and reveal the values of the families. The texts are also saturated with political meanings, especially anti-Turkish ones, which is not surprising given the publication date. The emblematic carvings are narrative and correspond to the content of individual parts of the work. The emblematic lemmas are also present in the dedication ‘Crown of Heraldic Embellishments’ by Zenowicz.

Keywords: Krzysztof Zenowicz, Bogusław Lenkiewicz, Zachary Zeligmacher, literature, goldsmith, carvings