Monday, October 8, 2012

Mon, Oct 8, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: Samaritan, Psalm 111, Luke 10:25-37, St Thais, Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim (935-1002), a Benedictine Canoness of Saxony

Monday, October 8, 2012 - Litany Lane Blog: 
Samaritan, Psalm 111, Luke 10:25-37, St Thais, Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim (935-1002), a Benedictine Canoness of Saxony

Good Day Bloggers! 
Wishing everyone a Blessed Week! 

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift knowledge and free will as well, make the most of it. Life on earth is a stepping to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Today's Word:  Samaritan  sa·mar·i·tan  [suh-mar-i-tn]

Origin:  before 1000; Middle English, Old English  < Late Latin samarītānus  < Greek samarī́t ( ēs ) dweller in Samaria -an

noun inhabitant of Samaria.
2. Good Samaritan,  a person who gratuitously gives help or sympathy to those in distress. Luke 10:30–37.
3. ( often lowercase ) one who is compassionate and helpful to a person in distress.
4. any of the dialects of Aramaic spoken by the Samaritans in ancient Israel and until recently still spoken in Nablus.


Today's Old Testament Reading - Psalms 111:1-10

1 Alleluia! I give thanks to Yahweh with all my heart, in the meeting-place of honest people, in the assembly.
2 Great are the deeds of Yahweh, to be pondered by all who delight in them.
7 The works of his hands are fidelity and justice, all his precepts are trustworthy,
8 established for ever and ever, accomplished in fidelity and honesty.
9 Deliverance he sends to his people, his covenant he imposes for ever; holy and awesome his name.
10 The root of wisdom is fear of Yahweh; those who attain it are wise. His praise will continue for ever.


Today's Gospel Reading - Luke 10:25-37

A lawyer stood up and, to test Jesus, asked, 'Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' He said to him, 'What is written in the Law? What is your reading of it?' He replied, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.' Jesus said to him, 'You have answered right, do this and life is yours.' But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbour?' In answer Jesus said, 'A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of bandits; they stripped him, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead. Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.
In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan traveller who came on him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him onto his own mount and took him to an inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper and said, "Look after him, and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have." Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the bandits' hands?' He replied, 'The one who showed pity towards him.' Jesus said to him, 'Go, and do the same yourself.'
• The Gospel today presents the parable of the Good Samaritan. To mediate on a parable is the same thing as to deepen into our life to discover in it the call of God. In describing the long journey of Jesus to Jerusalem (Lk 9, 51 to 19, 28), Luke helps the communities to understand better in what the Good News of the Kingdom consists. He does it by presenting persons who come to speak with Jesus and ask him questions. These are real questions of the people of the time of Jesus and they are also real questions of the communities of the time of Luke. Thus, today in the Gospel, a doctor of the law asks: "What should I do to inherit eternal life?" The response, both of the doctor and that of Jesus, helps to understand better the objective of the Law of God.

• Luke 10, 25-26: "What should I do to inherit eternal life?" A Doctor, who knew the law wants to test Jesus and asks him: "What should I do to inherit eternal life?" The doctor thinks that he has to do something in order to be able to inherit. He wants to obtain the inheritance through his own personal effort. But an inheritance is not merited. We receive an inheritance by the simple fact of being son or daughter. "Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir by God's own act". (Ga 4, 7). As sons and daughters we can do nothing to merit the inheritance. We can lose it!

• Luke 10, 27-28: The answer of the Doctor. Jesus responds asking a new question: "What is written in the Law? The doctor responds correctly. Uniting two phrases of the Law, he says: "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself". This phrase comes from Deuteronomy (Dt 6, 5) and from Leviticus (Lv 19,18). Jesus approves the response and says: "Do this and life is yours!" What is important, the principal thing is to love God! But God comes to me in my neighbour. The neighbour is the revelation of God for me. And because of this, I have to love my neighbour also with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my strength and with all my mind!

• Luke 10, 29: "And who is my neighbour?" Wanting to justify himself, the doctor asks: "And who is my neighbour?" He wants to know: "In which neighbour God comes to me?" That is, which is the person close to me who is the revelation of God for me? For the Jews the expression "neighbour" was linked to the clan, it was not a neighbour. Anyone who did not belong to the clan was not a neighbour. According to Deuteronomy, they could exploit the "foreigner", but not the "neighbour" (Dt 15, 1-3). Proximity was based on bonds of race and of blood. Jesus has a different way of seeing which he expresses in the parable of the Good Samaritan.

• Luke 10, 30-36: The parable.
a) Luke 10, 30: The attack along the road of Jerusalem toward Jericho. The Desert of Judah is between Jerusalem and Jericho, which is the refuge of rebels, marginalized and attacked. Jesus tells a real fact which had happened many times. "A man was on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of bandits; they stripped him, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead".

b) Luke 10, 31-32: A priest passed by travelling on the same road, then a Levite passed by. By chance a priest passed by and, immediately after a Levite. They are officials of the Temple of the official religion. Both of them saw the man who had been attacked, but passed by, and did nothing. Why did they do nothing? Jesus does not say it. He allows one to guess with whom to identify oneself. This must have happened many times, in the time of Jesus as well as in the time of Luke. This also happens today: a person from the Church goes by close to a poor person without helping him. It could also be that the priest and the Levite had a justification: "He is not my neighbour!" or, "he is impure and if I touch him, I will also be impure". And today: "If I help him, I will lose the Sunday Mass and will commit a mortal sin!"

c) Luke 10, 33-35: A Samaritan passed by. Immediately after a Samaritan who was travelling passed by. He saw the man and moved with compassion, he got close, bandaged his wounds, lifted him onto his own mount and took him to an inn and looked after him during the night and the following day he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper, that was the salary of ten days and he tells him: "Look after him and on my way back I will make good any extra expenses you have!" This is the concrete and effective action. It is the progressive action: to arrive, to see, to be moved with compassion, to get close and to act. The parable says "A Samaritan who was travelling". Jesus was also travelling up to Jerusalem. Jesus is the Good Samaritan. The communities should be the Good Samaritan.

• Luke 10, 36-37: Which of these three do you think proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the bandits' hands?" At the beginning the Doctor had asked: "Who is my neighbour?" Behind the question was the concern for him. He wanted to know: God orders me to love whom, in a way to be able to have my conscience in peace and be able to say, I have done everything that God has asked me to do". Jesus asks another question: "Which of these three do you think proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the bandits?" The condition of neighbour does not depend on the race, on the fact that they are relatives, on sympathy, on closeness or on religion. Humanity is not divided into neighbour and not neighbour. To know who is our neighbour depends on us: to arrive, to see, to be moved with compassion and to get close. If you get close, the other becomes your neighbour! It depends on you and not on the other! Jesus overturns everything and takes away from the Doctor the security which could come to him from the Law.

• The Samaritans. The word Samaritan comes from Samaria, the capital of the Kingdom of Israel in the North. After the death of Solomon, in the year 1931 before Christ, the ten tribes of the North separated themselves from the kingdom of Judea in the South and formed an independent kingdom (1 K 12, 1-33). The Kingdom of the North survived approximately for 200 years. In 722, its territory was invaded by Assyria. A large part of its population was deported (2 K 17, 5-6) and people from other places went to Samaria (2 K 17, 24). There was a mixture of races and of religions (2 K 17, 25-33), and the Samaritans were born from these. The Jews of the South despised the Samaritans considering them unfaithful and adorers of false gods (2 K 17, 34-41). Many prejudices existed against the Samaritans. They were not well accepted. It was said of them that they had an erroneous doctrine and did not form part of the People of God. Some even went so far as to say that to be a Samaritan was something of the Devil (Jn 8, 48). Most probable, the cause of this hatred was not only a question of race and of religion, but it was also a political-economic problem, linked to the possession of the land. This rivalry lasted even in the time of Jesus. But Jesus places the Samaritans as a model for others.
Personal questions
• The Samaritan of the parable was not of the Jewish people, but he did what Jesus asks. Does this happen today? Do you know people who do not go to Church but live what the Gospel asks? Today, who are the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan?
• The Doctor asks: "Who is my neighbour?" Jesus asks: "Who was the neighbour of the man who was the victim of the bandits"? There are two different points of view: the doctor asks starting from himself. Jesus asks starting from the needs of the other. Which is my perspective or point of view?

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  St. Thais

Feast Day:  October 8
Patron Saint:  n/a

St Thais, Ribera 1641
St. Thaïs of Roman Alexandria and of the Egyptian desert was a repentant courtesan. St. Thaïs reportedly lived during the fourth century in Roman Egypt. She is included in literature on the lives of the saints in the Greek church. Two biographical sketches exist: one in Greek perhaps of the fifth century (it was translated into Latin as the Vita Thaisis by Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Little) during the sixth or seventh century); the other sketch comes to us in medieval Latin by Marbod of Rennes (d. 1123). She also appears in Greek martyrologies by Maurolychus and Greven, though not in Latin martyrologies. The lives of the desert saints and hermits of Egypt, including St. Thaïs, were collected in the Vitae Patrum. St. Thaïs apparently remains on the Calendar of the Church, with her feast day being celebrated October 8.

Thaïs is first briefly described as a wealthy and beautiful courtesan living in the prestigious city of Alexandria, in the eyes of the church a public sinner. Eventually, however, she inquires about Christianity and then converts. In her Vita a monk in disguise pays for entry into her chambers in order to challenge her and convert her, yet he finds that she already believes in God, from whom nothing is hidden. The identity of this person who instructs and offers Thaïs the opportunity of spiritual transformation is unclear, three names being mentioned: St. Paphnutius (Egyptian Bishop in Upper Thebaïd), St. Bessarion (disciple of St. Anthony in the Egyptian desert), and St. Serapion (Bishop in the Nile Delta). Following her acceptance into the Church, she is shown a convent cell where she is provisioned for three years, during which time she performs penance for her sins. When she later emerges, it is said, she lives among the nuns of the Egyptian desert only for a brief period of fifteen days, then she dies.

Claimed discovery of her body

In 1901 the Egyptologist Albert Gayet (1856–1916) announced the discovery near Antinoë in Egypt of the mummified remains of Thaïs and Sérapion, which were exhibited at the Musée Guimet in Paris. Shortly thereafter he qualified his identification, leaving open the possibility of the remains not being those of the two saints.

In Cultural history

During the European Middle Ages widespread popularity was reported for the story of St. Thaïs. Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim (935-1002), a Benedictine Canoness of Saxony (modern Germany), wrote in Latin the play Pafnutius in which St. Thaïs appears. Here is St. Pafnutius addressing the abbess of the desert convent, concerning care for Thaïs:
"I have brought you a half-dead little she-goat, recently snatched from the teeth of wolves. I hope that by your compassion [her] shelter will be insured, and that by your care, [she] will be cured, and that having cast aside the rough pelt of a goat she will be clothed with the soft wool of the lamb."
Traditional pictures of Thaïs show her in two different scenes:
  • Burning her treasures and ornaments.
  • Praying in a convent cell, with a scroll on which is written "Thou who didst create me have mercy on me."

Representations in modern culture

After the distinctive artistic lead of Gustave Flaubert (1821–1880) in his La tentation de Saint Antoine (1849, 1874), there eventually followed, in a decidedly more skeptical, historic-religious vein, the novel Thaïs (1890), which inspired the opera Thaïs (1894), later the play Thais (1911), and the statue Thaïs (1920s).
  • Thaïs is an historical novel by Anatole France (1844–1924) published at Paris in 1890. Paphnuce, an ascetic hermit of the Egyptian desert, journeys to Alexandria to find Thais, the libertine beauty whom he knew as a youth. Masquerading as a dandy, he is able to speak with her about eternity; surprisingly he succeeds in converting her to Christianity. Yet on their return to the desert he becomes fascinated with her former life. She enters a convent to repent of her sins. He cannot forget the pull of her famous beauty, and becomes confused about the values of life. Later, as she is dying and can only see heaven opening before her, he comes to her side and tells her that her faith is an illusion, and that he loves her.
  • Thaïs is an opera with music by Jules Massenet (1842–1912), first performed at the Opéra in Paris on March 16, 1894. The libretto written by Louis Gallet (1835–1898) drew upon the novel of Anatole France. The opera omits the skeptical chapter on the vanity of philosophy. The hermit's name was changed to Athanaël, who is presented with greater sympathy than in the novel. The first duet between Athanaël and Thaïs contrasts his stern accents and her raillery. The last scene's duet shows a reversal of rôles, in which the pious and touching phrases of Thaïs transcend the despairing ardour of Athanaël; desolate chanting, and later, return of the beautiful violin from an earlier symphonic méditation (first played during the intermezzo when Thaïs had converted) complete the effect.
  • Thais is a play written by Paul Wilstach, performed at the Criterion Theatre in London, March 14 through April, 1911 (31 performances), with Constance Collier (1878–1955) playing the title role and Tyrone Power, Sr. (1869–1931) as the hermit.
  • Thaïs is a bronze and ivory statue of a dancing figure, crafted in France (with a limited production run) during the Art Deco era by the Rumanian Demetre Chiparus (1886–1947).


  • "Catholic Encyclopedia (1917)". Retrieved 2008-08-03.
  • An early modern, scholarly edition of the Vitae Patrum exists, produced by Heribert Rosweyde: De vita et vebis seniorum librix, historiam eremiticam complectentes (Antwerp: Plantin 1615); reprinted in Patrologia Latina, at volumes 73-73..
  • Cf., Attwater & Cumming (compilers, editors), A New Dictionary of Saints (1994) at 299 (feast day of St. Thaïs), and at 6 (Church Calendar). The Calendar was reformed in 1969.
  • Attwater & Cumming, A New Dictionary of Saints (1994) at 299 (St. Thaïs), 244 (St. Paphnutius), 54 (St. Bessarion), 285 (St. Serapion).
  • Cf., Benedicta Ward, Harlots of the Desert. A study of repentance in early monastic sources (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications 1989), which includes modern translations of these Egyptian lives.
  • Cf., Clair Rowden, Republican Morality and Catholic Tradition in the Opera. Massenet's Hérodiade and Thaïs (Weinsberg: Lucie Galland 2004).


Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane


Today Snippet: Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim (935-1002), a Benedictine Canoness of Saxony (modern Germany)

Albrecht Dürer woodcut of Roswitha and Otto the Great, 1501
Hrotsvitha (c. 935 – c. 1002), also known as Hroswitha, Hrotsvit, Hrosvit, and Roswitha, was a 10th-century German secular canoness, as well as a dramatist and poet who lived and worked in Abbey of Gandersheim, in modern-day Lower Saxony, a community of secular canonesses. Her name, as she herself attests, is Saxon for "strong voice." She wrote in Latin, and is considered by some to be the first person since antiquity to compose drama in the Latin West.Hrotsvit was born into the German nobility and became a canoness at the Abbey of Gandersheim, located at Bad Gandersheim.

She studied under Rikkardis and Gerberg, daughter of Henry the Fowler. Gerberg's brother, the Emperor Otto I, penned a history that became one of Hrotsvit's poetical subjects, in her Carmen de Gestis Oddonis Imperatoris, which encompasses the period up to the coronation of Emperor Otto I in 962.

She was noted for her great learning and was introduced to Roman Writers by Gerberg. Hrotsvit's work shows familiarity, not only with the Church fathers, but also with Classical poetry, including Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Plautus and Terence (on whom her own verse was modelled). Several of her plays draw on the so-called apocryphal gospels. Her works form part of the Ottonian Renaissance.

Hrotsvit believed Otto had an affinity for Italy because of romances which are set there such as the story of Geoffrey Rudel. Pilgrims returned commending the troubled Queen Adelheid. Hrotsvit penned a number of legends in verse. Two of these are those of St. Gingulphus and Theophilus.

The story of Theophilus was one of the most popular written in any language. It describes how the young archdeacon was disappointed about his promotion. He consults a Jewish sorcerer and is taken to a meeting of devils. Theophilus renounces God in a written document, then repents. He is rescued by the Virgin Mary. Hrotsvit supplements the story with her description of Theophilus in The Seven Arts:- De sophiae rivis septeno fonte manantis.

The most well known and original of the works of Hrotsvit is her imitation of Terence. It was written in prose as six comedies. She writes in her preface that her writing will appeal to many who are attracted by the charm of style.

The comedies of Hrotsvit took the place of Terence in the studies of Gandersheim. Her themes remained love stories. Among them include Gallicanus, Dulcitius, Callimachus, Abraham, Paphnutius, and Sapientia. The reader will note Dulcitius being stricken with illusion, embracing the pots and kettles in the kitchen. In the meantime three lovely maidens, Agape, Chionia, and Irene, are rescued from his villainy.


The most important manuscript of her works, containing all the texts other than Primordia, is the Codex Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (Bavarian State Library) Clm 14485, a manuscript written by several, different hands in Gandersehim toward the end of the 10th or start of the 11th centuries. It was discovered by the humanist Conrad Celtis in 1493/94 in the Cloister of St. Emmeram in Regensburg and formed the first edition (illustrated by Albrecht Dürer).

Her plays feature the chastity and perseverance of Christian women and contrast these to the perceived Latin portrayal of women as weak and emotional. Her Passio Sancti Pelagii is derived, she says, from an eyewitness to the martyrdom of Pelagius of Cordova.

Hrosvit divided her work herself into three books. The Book of Legends contained eight legends— with the exception of Gangolf—in dactylic hexameter:
  • Ascensio
  • Gangolf
  • Pelagius
  • Theophilus
  • Basilius
  • Dionysius
  • Agnes
  • Maria
The Book of Drama presents a Roman Catholic alternative to Terence. These are the six plays, that are not so much drama as "dialogues", and are a medieval example of closet drama:
  • Gallicanus
  • Dulcitius
  • Callimachus
  • Abraham
  • Pafnutius (See Excerpt Below)
  • Sapientia
The third book comprised two historical writings in Latin Hexameters: the Gesta Ottonis (a history of the Ottonian houses 919-965) and the Primordia coenobii Gandeshemensis (a history of her order from 846-919).


Paphnutius or The Conversion of the Harlot Thaïs 

Paphnutius or The Conversion of the Harlot Thaïs is a play by Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim (935-1002) about the relationship between Saint Thaïs and Paphnutius the Ascetic, the hermit who converted her to Christianity. Hrotsvitha evidently employed the Vita Thaisis, a several centuries old translation into Latin of the life of Saint Thaïs. The playwright, a Benedictine Canoness of Saxony, created a story line and a distinctive character for St. Thaïs appropriate to the medieval Christian worldview.


Perhaps unexpectedly, the play begins with a somewhat scholarly dialogue between clerics regarding the harmony inherent in the created world. The subject of concord sets the stage for the drama of the disordered life of the courtesan Thaïs. "She shines forth in wondrous beauty" yet she also "threatens men with foul shame."

In the play Thaïs is presented as someone "who was always eager to accumulate wealth". The saint Pafnutius explains to his disciples that "not only frivolous youth dissipate their families' few possessions on her but even respected men waste their costly treasures by lavishing gifts on her... ." A modern writer observes: "Hrotsvit's Thaïs became a prostitute because of her love of money. The root of her immorality is avarice, which in combination with her great beauty, resulted in her choice of prostitution as a career."

After her conversion to Christianity she "destroys" 400 pounds of gold and burns other articles of treasure before her former patrons. Pafnutius exclaims to Thaïs, "O how you have changed from your prior condition when you burned with illicit passions and were inflamed with greed for possessions!

The depiction of her conversion, her transition from courtesan to Christian, may appear rather truncated to a modern audience. Afterwards Pafnutius would describe the event to a brother religious: "I visited her, disguised as a lover, secretly, and won over her lascivious mind first with admonitions and flattery, then I frightened her with harsh threats."

Their first meeting is presented in part as follows:

Pafnutius: Isn't there another room where we can converse more privately, one that is hidden away?
Thaïs: There is one so hidden, so secret, that no one besides me knows its inside except for God.
Pafnutius: What God?
Thaïs: The true God.
Pafnutius: Do you believe He knows what we do?
Thaïs: I know that nothing is hidden from His view.
Pafnutius: Do you believe that He overlooks the deeds of the wicked or that He metes out justice as is due?
Thaïs: I believe that He weighs the merits of each person justly in His scale and that each according to his deserts receives reward or travail from Him."

Pafnutius then bluntly condemns her actions as meriting damnation. Instead of offering him a snappy comeback, Thaïs acquiesces to the view of Pafnutius; she becomes anxious. Apparently, she had managed to hide from herself her knowledge of her sin. When Pafnutius confronts her, quickly Thaïs realizes her self deception. Then she came to hear the discord within her that had caused her unbalanced life, with its disruptive results. She repents.

After entering a process of spiritual transformation, Thaïs tells Pafnutius that "All angels sing His praise and His kindness, because He never scorns the humility of a contrite soul." Thaïs burns her ill-gotten treasures; she then follows Pafnutius into the desert, to a convent where she will live under the guidance of the abbess for several years. There, in solitude, cloistered and penitent, she will review in a new light her former life and seek forgiveness.

"The philosophical ideas of harmony throughout creation" presented early in the play oblige us "to interpret the sinfulness of Thaïs not as the triumph of evil but as an imbalance or discord between parts of her created being. Hrotsvit looks at this woman, who acts as a volcano of lust... . What she sees is... the discord of her musica humana of body and soul... . Once Pafnutius has guided Thaïs to actions that bring her body and its behavior into agreement with her knowledge of God" there is "concord between body and soul as the essence of the human being." Hrotsvitha's play is not without subtlety.

Thus as death approaches her, Thaïs prays to God: "Thou who didst create me have mercy on me... ." Pafnutius also prays "that Thaïs be resurrected exactly as she was, a human being, and joining the white lambs may enter eternal joys."

Modern Editions and Translations

  • Winterfeld, Paul von (ed.) (1902) Hrotsvithae opera. (Monumenta Germaniae Historica; SS. rer. Germanicarum) Available from Digital MGH online.
  • Strecker, Karl (ed.) (1902) Hrotsvithae opera.
  • Berschin, Walter (ed.). Hrotsvit: Opera Omnia. Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana. Munich/Leipzig, 2001. ISBN 3-598-71912-4
  • Pelagius in Petroff, Elizabeth Alvilda, ed. (1986) Medieval Women's Visionary Literature, pp 114–124. ISBN 0-19-503712-X
  • Abraham in Petroff, Elizabeth Alvilda, ed. (1986) Medieval Women's Visionary Literature, pp 124–135. ISBN 0-19-503712-X
  • Hrotsvit von Gandersheim, Sämtliche Dichtungen; aus dem Mittellateinischen übertragen von Otto Baumhauer, Jacob Bendixen und Theodor Gottfried Pfund; mit einer Einführung von Berg Nagel. München: Winkler, 1966.
  • Hrotsvitha von Gandersheim. Munich, 1973. (German translations by H. Hohmeyer)

Roswitha Literary Awards

The Roswitha Prize (Ger. "Roswitha-Preis") is the oldest German language prize for literature that is given solely to women. The Roswitha-Medal has been given almost yearly since 1973 by the city of Bad Gandersheim. has annually awarded the Roswitha Prize, named for Hrosvit, to female writers.  Since 1974 the Roswitha Ring has been awarded at the close of each summer season of the Gandersheimer Domfestspiele to the outstanding actress.

In 1998 it received its modern designation along with an endowment of €5,500. It is named for Roswitha of Gandersheim, a 10th century Benedictine nun who is considered the first female German playwright and author.

In 2006, American feminist drama group Guerrilla Girls On Tour issued the "First Annual Hrosvitha Challenge" on their website, announcing that they would bestow the First Annual Hrosvitha Award on whichever professional theater decides "to scrap their plans of producing yet another production of a Greek tragedy and instead produce a play by Hrosvitha, the first female playwright".

Hrotsvit is frequently referred to in John Kennedy Toole's comic masterpiece A Confederacy of Dunces, in which she is called Hroswitha.

Asteroid 615 Roswitha

Asteroid 615 Roswitha is a minor planet orbiting the Sun is named in her honor.  

A minor planet is an astronomical object in direct orbit around the Sun that is neither a dominant planet nor originally classified as a comet. Minor planets can be dwarf planets, asteroids, trojans, centaurs, Kuiper belt objects, and other trans-Neptunian objects. The first minor planet discovered was Ceres in 1801 (although from the time of its discovery until 1851 it was considered to be a planet). The orbits of more than 570,000 objects have been archived at the Minor Planet Center. The term "minor planet" has been used since the 19th century to describe these objects. The term planetoid has also been used, especially for larger objects. Historically, the terms asteroid, minor planet, and planetoid have been more or less synonymous, but the issue has been complicated by the discovery of numerous minor planets beyond the orbit of Jupiter and especially Neptune that are not universally considered asteroids. Minor planets seen outgassing may receive a dual classification as a comet.

Before 2006 the International Astronomical Union had officially used the term minor planet. During its 2006 meeting, the Union reclassified minor planets and comets into dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies. Objects are called dwarf planets if their self-gravity is sufficient to achieve hydrostatic equilibrium, that is, an ellipsoidal shape, with all other minor planets and comets called "small Solar System bodies". The IAU states: "the term 'minor planet' may still be used, but generally the term 'small solar system body' will be preferred." However, for purposes of numbering and naming, the traditional distinction between minor planet and comet is still followed.


  • Jones, Charles W. (2001). Medieval Literature in Translation. Mineola: Dover. p. 210. ISBN 0-486-41581-3.
  • Wilson, Katharina M. (1984). Katharina M. Wilson. ed. "The Saxon  Canoness: Hrotsvit of Gandersheim." in Medieval Women Writers. Manchester: Manchester University Press. pp. 30–63. ISBN 978-0820306414.
  • Butler, Mary Marguerite (2011). Hrotsvitha: The Theatricality Of Her Plays. Literary Licensing. ISBN 978-1258181802.
  • Hrotswitha of Gandersheim (1986). Larissa Bonfante and Alexandra Bonfante-Warren, trans. and. ed. The Plays of Hrotswitha of Gandersheim. Oak Park: Bolchazy-Carducci. ISBN 978-0865161788

Further reading

  • Bodarwé, Katrinette. "Hrotswit zwischen Vorbild und Phantom." In Gandersheim und Essen – Vergleichende Untersuchungen zu sächsischen Frauenstiften, ed. Martin Hoernes and Hedwig Röckelein. Essen: Klartext Verlag, 2006. ISBN 3-89861-510-3.
  • Cescutti, Eva. Hrotsvit und die Männer. Konstruktionen von Männlichkeit und Weiblichkeit im Umfeld der Ottonen. Munich, 1998. ISBN 3-7705-3278-3.
  • Düchting, R. In: Lexikon des Mittelalters. vol. 5. 148-9.
  • Haight, Anne Lyon, Hroswitha of Gandersheim; her life, times, and works, and a comprehensive bibliography. New York: Hroswitha Club, 1965.
  • Ker, William Paton. The Dark Ages. Mentor Books, May 1958. pp. 117–8.
  • Licht, Tino. "Hrotsvitspuren in ottonischer Dichtung (nebst einem neuen Hrotsvitgedicht)." Mittellateinisches Jahrbuch; 43 (2008). pp. 347-353.
  • Rädle, Fidel. "Hrotsvit von Gandersheim." In Die deutsche Literatur des Mittelalters. Verfasserlexikon; 4 (1983). pp. 196–210.