Republicanism, Stoicism, and Narcissism in Henrik Wergeland’s <i>The Creation, Man, and Messiah</i>

Jørgen Magnus Sejersted

in Romans and Romantics

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199588541
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741845 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Republicanism, Stoicism, and Narcissism in Henrik Wergeland’s The Creation, Man, and Messiah

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This chapter discusses the Norwegian poet Henrik Wergeland (1808–45) and the depictions of Roman culture in his main work Skabelsen, Mennesket og Messias (The Creation, Man and Messiah) of 1830. This giant poem of approximately 600 pages, influenced by Byron, describes the world from its mythological origins until the death of Christ, and culminates in a utopian revolution. This totalizing vision of an inspired Romantic strives to encompass elements of a strong Enlightenment tradition. The chapter argues that, within this mythopoetic Romantic universe, Roman culture defines lost republicanism, pragmatic stoicism, and constrained (sexual) narcissism. In representing the necessary boundaries within the otherwise explosive Self, figures such as Pilate and Cato demonstrate the inner tensions of the romantic imagination.

Keywords: Byron; Cato; Jesus Christ; The Creation; Man and Messiah; Skabelsen; Mennesket og Messias; narcissism; Norwegian romanticism; Pilate

Chapter.  7700 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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