Balliol Spanish Lecturer discovers lost Spanish poems

Monday 14 November 2022

Maria Czepiel (Lecturer in Spanish at Balliol) has found lost works by the Spanish Renaissance poet Garcilaso de la Vega (15011536).

Garcilaso de la Vega (15011536) is famous for introducing classical and Italian forms such as eclogues, elegies and odes into Spanish poetry. In his day he was also praised for his poetry in Latin. Additionally, it was known from a letter by the Italian humanist and poet Pietro Bembo that Garcilaso had dedicated an ode to him. But until recently only three of Garcilaso’s Latin odes were extant, and no copies of the ode to Bembo had survived.

Then, while studying for her DPhil, Maria came across a 16th-century printed book of Latin poetry which had a further collection of handwritten poems in the back. Among these, she discovered previously unidentified copies of Garcilaso’s three Latin odes and two more poems attributed to Garcilaso. One of the poems was that dedicated to Bembo, which had been lost for almost 500 years. The second was addressed to the German poet Johann Alexander Brassicanus, who was not previously known to have a connection with Garcilaso.

Maria explains these discoveries and their significance in more detail in this feature on the University website.

She has also published an article in the Bulletin of Spanish Studies in which she presents the two newly discovered odes and new critical editions of the three previously known poems – which are often disparaged by modern critics – and shows how they allow a better understanding of Garcilaso’s Latin odes and restore his reputation as a consummate Latin poet.