Horatius, Ovidius és Vergilius művei a fóti Károlyi-kastély egykori és a keszthelyi Festetics-kastély ma is látogatható Helikon könyvtárában

  • Buda Attila
  • Anna Tüskés


Works of Horace, Ovid and Virgil in the library of the Károlyi Castle in Fót and in the Helikon Library of the Festetics Castle in Keszthely


The aim of the study is the analysis of the presence of the three classic Latin author’s works in two aristocratic libraries of the 18th–19th centuries. The motivations of reading and collecting books are similar and more catalogues make possible the comparison of the two collections.

The members of the Károlyi family were significant in distributing education and culture in the 17th-18th centuries. Two remaining manuscript catalogues (1830, 1843) shows that the Fót library was a live collection throughout its existence. It was constantly growing and diminishing, it served to entertain and inform its owners. Therefore seeking philological or bibliophile aspects in its composition is not worthwhile. Concerning the items of the manuscript catalogues: the subsequent researcher can more or less identify the individual works based on the fragmented descriptions but doesn’t hold the copy that served as a base for the previous categorisation. The two library catalogues can surely be linked to István Károlyi who studied in the Piarist high school in Vienna, later in Pest. The first catalogue contains one edition of Horace and two of Virgil, the second attests eight Horace, three Ovid and seven Virgil.

The Keszthely Library is a baronial library like the one in Fót. For the Festetics family, who moved to Keszthely in the second half or the 1740s, books were important. The Hungarian National Archives conserves twelve library catalogues of the Festetics estates in one and a half century, between 1746 and 1894. On the basis of these twelve catalogues, five Horatius, twelve Ovidius- and five Vergilius-editions can be identified from the 16th–18th-centuries. The currant collection contains also several 19th-century editions.

In the Helikon Library of the Festetics Castle there is an unpublished two sheet print in Hungarian and German, titled ‘The adaptation of Virgil’s known poems for the Hungarian coronation”. The distich believed to be written by Virgil, the starting point of the pamphlet published in Pest in the printing house of Mátyás Trattner in 1792, on the coronation of Ferenc I. The version of the poem adapted for the coronation is as follows: “Rain by night: We are crowning our King in the morning: / With Nature shares thus our beloved Ferenc”. And in German: “Des Nachts ein Regen: des Morgens fröhliche Krönung: / So theilt Theurer FRANZ mit dir die Zeit – die Natur ein.” At the bottom of the sheet this note can be read: “NB. That all happened like so, can those present in Buda and Pest attest.” As a work of propaganda it is intended to bolster the image of the king himself. The epigram ascribed to Vergil by the so-called Vita Vergilii by Donatus was frequently used in the Middle Ages. The hexameter furnishes the standard example for 'spectaculum' in the Latin grammar manuals. It was imitated for example in the Silva by the Milanese doctor and humanist Bernardino Rincio which narrates the splendid festival of the reign of Francis I, the Bastille festival of 1518. “Luce pluit tota, redeunt spectacular nocte, Imperium iunctum cum Iove Rex habeas.” “It has rained throughout the day, the spectacles return with the night, may you O King have your empire joined with Jupiter.”