Roswitha, a nun of Gandersheim, in Brunswick, Germany, who lived at the close of the 10th century, and is noteworthy because of certain poetical compositions from her pen which have come down to our time. They are written in rhymed hexameters, and include panegyrics on the Virgin, St. Gangolf, St. Dionysius, St. Agnes, the Ascensio Domini, etc. She also wrote Christian comedies in prose, after the manner of Terence, in which she celebrated the victory of heavenly over fleshly love, and of Christian martyrdom over heathen passion, and two historical poems in hexameter — one of which rehearses the history of her convent, and the other that of the emperor Otho I (Carmen de Gestis Ottonis I Imperatoris). The latter possesses some historical interest, though based on the statements of the friends of Otho and showing marks of her ignorance of the world. It contains much fine description, and is written in superior language. Its form approaches that of the Latin epos, particularly of Virgil. The Carmen de Primoerdiis Coenobii Gandersheimensis includes the family history of the house of Saxony, and thus becomes somewhat important to general German history.
Roswitha's works were first published by Conra Celtes (Nuremberg, 1501, fol.). Pertz, Mon. Germ., Hist. Script. 4, 306-335, contains the two historical poems and a life of Roswitha. A complete edition was given by Dr. Barrach, of the Germanisches Museum (1857). See Gfrorer, Kirchengeschichte. 3, 3, 1357; Contzen, Geschichtschreiber der sachsischen Kaiserzeit (Regensburg and Augsburg, 1837), p. 109 sq.; Giesebrecht, Geschichte der deutsch. Kaiserzeit, 1, 742.