Sebastian Castellios Epitaph im Basler Münster

Beobachtungen und Bemerkungen zu Wortlaut und Fortleben


  • Peter Litwan



Sebastian Castellio, Epitaph: Latin terminology, single sheet print, Iova as a name for God, Dialogorum sacrorum libri quattuor, reprints of the epitaph


Peter Litwan: The Epitaph of Sebastian Castellio in the Cloisters of Basel Cathedral
Observations and Comments on the Wording and Transmission

The epitaph in the cloisters of Basel Cathedral that grateful students donated to their Greek language instructor, Sebastian Castellio (1515 – 1563), pioneer of the idea of religious tolerance, has long since disappeared. Its text was passed on as an appendix to the edition of Dialogorum sacrorum libri quatuor of 1565 and in many collections of epitaphs and historical monographs, above all of the 16th and 17th century, and further on way into the 19th century. Since the respective wordings differ at times, an analysis of the oldest testimony of 1565 and the comparison with later printings furnishes proof of what the original wording must have been. By doing so, above all the extraordinary opening and the stylistic construction is being paid tribute to and the existence of a single sheet print is being discussed. The remarkable result of the analysis is that in the later editions of Dialogi the wording of the epitaph was mostly rendered correctly, whereas the printings pretending to have copied the text from the original epitaph in the cloisters are less reliable. Many reprints apart from the Dialogi-editions adopt the variations of the first Basle printings in various ways.