Frischlin, Nicodemus

, a learned critical and poetical writer of Germany, was born at Baling, in Suabia, in 1547. His father being a minister and a man of letters, taught him the rudiments of learning, and then sent him to Tubingen, where he made so amazing a progress in the Greek and Latin tongues, that he is said to have written poetry in both when he was no more than thirteen years of age. He continued to improve himself in compositions of several kinds, as well prose as verse; and at twenty | years old was made a professor in the university of Tubingen. Though his turn lay principally towards poetry, insomuch, that as Melchior Adam tells us, he really could make verses as, fast as he wanted them, yet he was acquainted with every part of science and learning. He used to moderate in philosophical disputes; and to read public lectures in mathematics and astronomy, before he had reached his twenty-fifth year. In 1579, his reputation being much extended, he had a mind to try his fortune abroad, and therefore prepared to go to the ancient university of Friburg, where he had promised to read lectures. But he was obliged to desist from this purpose, partly because his wife refused to accompany him, and partly because the duke of Wirtemberg would not consent to his going thither, or any where else.

Hitherto Frischlin had been prosperous; but now an affair happened which laid the foundation of troubles that did not end but with his life. In 1580 he published an oration in praise of a country life, with a paraphrase upon Virgil’s Eclogues and Georgics. Here he compared the lives of modern courtiers with those of ancient husbandmen; and noticing some with great severity, who had degenerated from the virtue and simplicity of their ancestors, made himself so obnoxious, that even his life was in danger. He made many public apologies for himself; his prince even interceded for him, but he could not continue safe any longer at home. With his prince’s leave, therefore, he went to Laubach, a town of Carniola, in the remote part of Germany, and kept a school there; but the air not agreeing with his wife and children, he returned in about two years, to his own country. He met with a very ungracious reception; and therefore, after staying a little while, he went to Francfort, from Francfort into Saxony, and from thence to Brunswick, where he became a schoolmaster again. There he did not continue long, but passed from place to place, till at length, being reduced to necessity, he applied to the prince of Wirtemberg for relief. His application was disregarded, which he supposing to proceed from the malice of his enemies, wrote severely against them. He was imprisoned at last in Wirtemberg castle; whence attempting to escape by ropes not strong enough to support him, he fell down a prodigious precipice, and was dashed to pieces among the rocks. | His death happened in 1590, and was universally and justly lamented; for he was certainly ingenious and learned in a great degree. He left a great many works of various kinds, as tragedies, comedies, elegies, translations of Latin and Greek authors, with notes upon them, orations, &c. These were published 1598 1607, in 4 vols. 8vo. He had also written a translation of Oppian, but this was never published. His scholia and version of “Callimachus,” with his Greek life of that poet, are in Stephens’ s edition of 1577, 4to. While he was master of the school at Labacum, or Laubach, he composed a new grammar; for there was no grammar extant that pleased him. This was more methodical, and shorter than any of them; and, indeed, was generally approved; but, not content with giving a grammar of his own, he drew up another piece, called “Strigil Grammatica,” in which he disputes with some little acrimony against all other grammarians; and this, as was natural, increased the number of his enemies. With all his parts and learning, he seems not a little to have wanted prudence. 1


Melchior Adam, in vitii Germ. Philos. Baillet Jugemens. —Niceron, vol XIX.