Hieroglifik w teorii Rzeczpospolitej (XVII-XVIII w.). Zarys problematyki

Magdalena Górska

Abstrakt

The hieroglyphic in the theory of the Polish Republic (17th-18th century): an overview 

The article is concerned with the definition of the “hieroglyphic” which was used in the territory of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth from the 17th to the 18th century. It takes into consideration the definition found in linguistic dictionaries and studies the area of rhetoric and poetics (printed and handwritten texts, mainly Jesuitical and Piarist ones). Apart from terminological allusions in literary texts they constitute the basic sources of information for understanding emblems and symbols (Polish writing lacks a separate treatise on issues related to symbolical genres). Polish definitions were far from egyptological issues or the hermetic tradition. During the review of material, attention has been afforded to the blurring of the differences between symbolical genres (for example considering the hieroglyphic as equivalent to an emblem or symbol due to their “symbolic” character, and using hieroglyphics as an emblematic pictorial element) was to a great extent caused by the rhetorical character of their reception. The use of scripts and dictionaries of symbols lead to the loosening of the definition of the hieroglyphic after the first half of the 17th century, and to the use of the hieroglyphic to name motifs or comparisons regarded as abstract, mysterious and allegorical. The key issues related to the definition of the hieroglyphic in Poland invovlved defining the relationship between the genre and image or writing. Among other things, the relationship between hieroglyphics and Egyptian letters was emphasized, the lack of the lemma, the use of sign images or sentences. Due to the influence of studies on the art of memory, hieroglyphics were perceived as compositions consisting of letters of rebus-like character and pictorial alphabet. In the last years of the 17th century the genre has gained interest due to cryptography and universal language. In Poland hieroglyphics were mainly understood as animal and object symbols of simplified, abstract and established, traditional meaning. They were also seen in the context of Egyptian keepsakes from the past and the mysterious sacrum. Attention was also given to this genre in the context of heraldry (coats of arms were perceived as hieroglyphics of representatives of noble families). It was believed that hieroglyphics stemmed from the principle of similarity (similitudo, sometimes identified with allegory), as well as metonymy and synecdoche. In the rhetoric of the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, hieroglyphics were combined with the moral doctrine which is typical of emblematics. In the first half of the 18th century it was common to simplify information about hieroglyphics and to reduce the historical content and sacral aspect of the genre in favor of symbolism and iconology. The enigmatic nature of meaning has gained a pejorative sense. The material which has been subject to analysis (a list of handwritten rhetoric and poetics has been included in the annex) has proved that the reception of hieroglyphics has exerted a decisive influence on the distinctness of Polish emblematics. What may be clearly seen in the context of the definition of the hierogliphicum is the specificity of symbolical writing on the territory of the Polish Republic – the borderline between the emblem and stemma.

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