Studi Slavistici XII • 2015

The Legend of Wanda in Jan Kochanowski’s Elegy I 15

Published 2016-02-12

How to Cite

Cabras, F. (2016). The Legend of Wanda in Jan Kochanowski’s Elegy I 15. Studi Slavistici, 12, 59–77.


The purpose of this paper is to investigate the connections between Jan Kochanowski’s elegy I 15, about the legend of Wanda, and seventeenth-century historiographic texts about the same figure, the legendary warrior-queen of the Poles. It is evident that the only influence that such historiography had on Kochanowski regards the plot of the story. The poet indeed portrays Wanda as he would any elegiac puella or classical war heroine (e.g. Camilla), constantly imitating elegiac and epic poets (Propertius, Ovid, Vergil...). Having demonstrated this fact, the article explains why Kochanowski decided to write an epyllion on an episode of ‘national’ Polish history concerning an important, although legendary, character and why he wrote it in elegiac couplets. Attention will also be paid to the consequences of this choice, i.e. the effects we have when two different styles – the elegiac and the epic one – are combined in a single text.