Thomasin of Zirklaria (Zerkldre)

Thomasin Of Zirklaria (Zerkldre)

in the Italian Tyrol wrote a lengthy didactic poem between August, 1215, and May, 1216, entitled Der wälsche Gast (The Foreign Guest), by which production he began the extended series of ethical poems that distinguish the 13th century. Thomasin was a layman, and wrote for laymen, and with him begins the distinction between a religious morality for the people and a theological morality of the Church. His work is characterized by vivacity and gracefulness, by clearness of expression and warmth of feeling, though not by aesthetical and linguistic beauties. Independence of thought is also a leading quality, and is carried to such a degree as to defend the principle that conscience is superior to ecclesiastical institutions of every kind. Thomasin does not rage against the priesthood and the papacy, but rather esteems them very highly when they "bear the image of good doctrine;" but he does not, on the other hand, hesitate to utter in their ears the most cutting truths. His object, in brief, was to teach a practical morality; and his place is rather among the exponents of the religious and ethical tendencies of his time than among the poets. He teaches that Stäte, an inward and settled affinity for the good and the right, is the center of all virtues. This is not the Constantia of the 'stoical Seneca merely, but a positive energy which actually gives effect to the impulses of the heart. Evil is Unstäte, or instability. Among particular virtues, humility is given the first place. The book existed in MS. form only until 1852, when it was issued by Rückert under the title Der walsche Gast des Thomasin von Zirklaria (Quedlinburg and Leips.), with notes. Comp. the extracts given in Gesch. d. poet. Nationalliteratur, by Gervinus, and see Diestel, Der wälsche Gast u. d. Moral des 13ten Jahrh. in Kiel, Allgem. Monatsschrift, Aug. 1852, p. 687- 714. —Herzog, Real-Encyklop. s.v.

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