Gratius, Ortwin (van Graes)
GRATIUS, ORTWIN (VAN GRAES)
Theologian and humanist; b. Holtwick, near Münster, 1480; d. Cologne, May 22, 1542. He was educated in the school of the Brethren of the Common Life in Deventer under Alexander Hegius. He studied in Cologne (B.A., 1501; M.A., 1506) and subsequently taught in the arts faculty, serving at the same time as an editor for the Quentell publishing house. He was ordained in 1514. His humanist learning was evident in his Orationes quodlibeticae (Cologne 1508), nine orations in support of the seven liberal arts, poetry, and philosophy, containing citations from the classics. He soon alienated the humanists, however, by opposing Hermann von dem Busche, who had attacked traditional authorities; by translating into Latin various books by Johann pfefferkorn, who favored burning Jewish books (1507–09); and by displaying his hostility to Johann reuchlin. Against Reuchlin he wrote a Latin poem to accompany Arnold von Tungern's Articuli (1512); the Praenotamenta (1514), a collection of documents presenting a slanted version of the Reuchlin controversy; and a Defensio (1516). Consequently Crotus Rubeanus and Ulrich von Hutten made him the chief target of their ridicule of the Cologne scholastics in their Letters of Obscure Men (1515). His inept rejoinder, more wordy than witty, Lamentationes obscurorum virorum (1518), merely unleashed another barrage of pamphlets and letters from which Gratius' reputation has suffered unjustly ever since. He published a Fasciculus rerum expetendarum ac fugiendarum (Cologne 1535), a collection of documents from Aeneas Sylvius, Lorenzo Valla, Wyclif, Poggio, the Waldenses, and others favorable to reform and critical of conditions within the Church, a work later placed on the Index.
Bibliography: d. reichling, Ortwin Gratius: Sein Leben und Wirken (Heiligenstadt 1884). f. zoepfl, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (Freiburg 1957–65) 2 4:1171–72.
[l. w. spitz]
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