- Hessus, Helius Eobanus
- (Eoban Koch, 1488-1540)German Latin poet. Born in Hesse, the son of peasants, he managed to secure an education with the aid of the Cistercian abbot whom his father served. He entered the University of Erfurt in 1504 (B.A. 1506, M.A.1509) and became a leading figure among the young Erfurt disciples of Mutianus Rufus. This group agitated for sweeping reform of the university curriculum to replace traditional scholastic subjects with humanistic ones. Hessus' first significant poetic work, Bucolicon, an eclogue, appeared in 1509. His Heroidum Christianarum epistolae (1514) published 22 letters by female saints. Between 1509 and 1514 he served as secretary to the bishop of Pomerania and then made brief stays at two universities in eastern Germany, Frankfurt-an-der-Oder and Leipzig, before returning to Erfurt, where he was hailed as Germany's leading Latin poet.Hessus and his friends became outspoken supporters of the Hebraist Johann Reuchlin during the latter's conflict with the Cologne Dominicans. In 1518 Hessus was appointed professor of poetry, and a few months later he led a group of Erfurt humanists who travelled to Louvain to honor the leading Northern humanist, Erasmus. Hessus commemorated this visit in his poem Hodoeporicon (1519). His university lectures on the Roman rhetorician Quintilian attracted large numbers of students. When Martin Luther passed through Erfurt on his way to the Diet of Worms in April 1521, Hessus greeted him in the name of the university and published a collection of elegies expressing support for him. Hessus remained a supporter of Luther, though this allegiance did not interrupt his friendship with Erasmus even after the later openly opposed Luther. Since Hessus found that neither his poetry nor his lectures at Erfurt produced much income, in 1523 he began the study of medicine. Although he never completed a degree, his studies did produce a poem on medicine, Bonae valetudinis conservandae praecepta / Advice for Preserving Good Health (1524), which was widely read. In 1526 he became a teacher in Nuremberg, where he stayed until 1533. In 1533 he resumed his teaching at Erfurt. Finding the universty in decline, he moved to the new Protestant university at Marburg in 1536 and spent the rest of his life there. His verse paraphrase of the Psalms (1537) was frequently reprinted, and his Latin version of Homer's Iliad was published in the year of his death.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.