Rehor Hruby z Jeleni

Written by Antonin Stanc

Category: Notables

Rehor Hruby z Jeleni was a Czech translator, writer, and humanist who lived during the reign of Vladislaus II of Hungary. Although he was a leading figure of Czech humanism and his works of translation had an immense influence on Czech literature, we know very little about him, and very few people today even know of his existence. What we do know is that he was born around the year 1460 as a lower noble from the z Jeleni Knightly family and died in 1514 in Prague. It is not known where he acquired his literary knowledge, but it is believed that he owned a homestead somewhere in the Louny District, before either renting or selling it around the beginning of the 16th century and moving to Prague.
He was an utraquist and had one wife, whose name is unknown , though we know she was catholic but later also converted to utraquism. They had one son, Zikmund Hruby z Jeleni, more known under his Latin name Sigismund Gelenius, who was born in 1497 in Prague. Zikmund studied in Prague before being sent by his father to study in Italy where he became an eminent Greek scholar. After Zikmund’s return to Prague, he became dissatisfied with local conditions and moved to Basel, where he worked in a printing house and even worked with the Erasmus of Rotterdam.
When it comes to the works of Rehor Hruby Z Jeleni, most of them were written in Czech. This along with his translations indicates that he was very likely trying to promote the Czech branch of humanism. Although it is believed that most of his works were preserved in the form of manuscripts and later transcripts, he published very little, with his most known writing being Napomenuti k Prazanum, written during the spring of 1513, where he warns against an imminent public uprising in Prague and states that war between Christians is unacceptable.
But what Rehor is truly known for are his translations. He was the first to translate In Praise of Folly into the Czech language, filling in his commentary and expressing both his admiration of Erasmus of Rotterdam and lamenting his inability to fully express all of the advantages of the original. Other famous translations of Rehor include De remediis utriusque fortunae(1501) and O pratelstvi a Paradoxa, which is a Czech translation of the Cicero speeches.

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