Barthius, Caspar

, a very learned and voluminous writer, was born at Custrin in Brandenburg, June 22, 1587. His father was professor of civil law at Franc fort upon the Oder, councillor to the elector of Brandenburg, and his chancellor at Custrin. Having discovered in his son very | early marks of genius, he provided him with proper masters; but:ie enjoyed only a little time the pleasure of seeing the fruits of his care, for he died in 1597. Mr. Baiilet has inserted Caspar in his “Enfans celebres;” where he tells us, that, at twelve years of age, he translated David’s psalms into Latin verse of every measure, and published several Latin poems. Upon the death of his father he was sent to Gotha, then to Eisenach, and afterwards, according to custom, went through the different universities in Germany. When he had finished his studies, he began his travels; he visited Italy, France, Spain, England, and Holland, improving himself by the conversation and works of the learned in every country. He studied the modern as well as ancient languages, and his translations from the Spanish and French shew that he was not content with a superficial knowledge. Upon his return to Germany, to took up his residence at Leipsic, where he led a retired life, his passion for study having made him renounce all sort of employment; so that as he devoted his whole time to books, we need he the less surprised at the vast number which he published.

Barthius formed early a resolution of disengaging himself entirely from worldly affairs and profane studies, in order to apply himself wholly to the great business of salvation: he did not, however, put this design in execution till towards the latter end of his life; as appears from his Soliloquies, published in 1654. He died Sept. 1658, aged 71.

Barthius, in his comment on Statius, after noticing that that poet congratulated himself on having written two hundred and seventy-eight hexameters in two days, adds, that he himself was not ignorant of what it is to make a great many verses in a short time, as he translated into Latin the first three books of the Iliad, which contain above two thousand verses, in three days. In 1607, he published, at Wittemberg, a collection of “Juvenilia;” containing all the poems which he wrote from the thirteenth to the nineteenth year of his age. When only sixteen he wrote a treatise, or dissertation, on the manner of reading to advantage the Latin authors, which shows that his own reading was as judicious as extensive, and both far exceeding what could be expected at that age. This piece is inserted in the 50th book, of his “Adversaria.” His other works were, 1. “Zodiacus vitae Christianse,” Francfort, 1623. 2. “Epidorpidon ex mero | Scazonte Libri III. in quibus bona pars humanse Sapientise metro explicatur,” ibid. 1623. 3. “Tarraeus Hebius,” Epigrams, divided into thirty books, and dedicated to king James, date not mentioned. 4. “Amabiiium Anacreonte decantati,1612, with many other works, original and translated, which are now forgotten, except his editions of Claudian and of Statius, and his “Adversaria,” fol. Francfort, 1624 and 1648. This last is a collection of remarks on various authors and subjects, which proves most extensive reading and erudition, with, what frequently accompanies these, some defect of judgment in the arrangement. Barthius was in all respects an extraordinary man, and his writings published and left in manuscript, form a mass scarcely to be equalled in the annals of literary industry. It is recorded of him that he never made use of any collections, or common-place books, trusting to the vigour of his memory, and that he very rarely corrected what he had written. 1


Gen. Dict. —Niceron, vol. VII. —Moreri. —Saxii Onomast. Bloimt’s Ceusura.