Johan Ihre on the origins and history of the runes : Three Latin dissertations from the mid 18th century
Abstract: Johan Ihre (1707-80),professor Skytteanus, i.e. professor of eloquence and politics, at Uppsala University for 42 years, is considered the most prominent Swedish humanist and philologistof the 18th century. Under his presidency more than 450 dissertations were submitted on a variety of subjects. In this thesis his three Latin dissertations on the origin and history of the runes are presented in a critical edition with translation and a commentary. These texts, De runarum in Svecia antiquitate 1769; De runarum patria et origine 1770 and De runarum in Svecia occasu I-II, 177l-73, were epoch making in the respect that they meant the full emergence of the rational era in the field of runology and dealt a deathblow to the old and fabulous ideas on the origin of the runes. In the introduction, the position of the Latin language in 18th century Sweden and the system of examinations (disputationes) at the Swedish universities of the period is discussed. This is followed by short surveys of the life of Johan Ihre and the earlier history of runology. In the chapter on language and style a number of orthographical, morphological and syntactical phenomena of later Neo-Latin, as they appear in the texts under discussion, are treated, and through a comparison with a great number of other dissertations from the same period the characteristic features of scientific Latin prose, of which the Latin dissertations formed a part, are analysed.
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