Matthias Roick (Göttingen)

What was the meaning of ethics in early modern culture, what was its place in society? How to write a history of ethics? How to reconnect past and present, and how to combine biological, psychological and cultural perspectives on ethics?

The five-year research project The Ways of Virtue, generously founded by the VolkswagenStiftung’s Freigeist programme and based at the University of Göttingen, tries to answer these questions by looking at the Ethica section in Wolfenbüttel. Once part of the book collection of Duke August the Younger of Brunswick-Lüneburg (1579-1666), the section is preserved in today’s Herzog August Bibliothek. It offers us a ‘window’ onto the varied landscape of early modern ethics and the wealth of literature on ethics: philosophical treatises, poetry, novels, plays, emblem books, proverbs, conduct books.

The works in the Ethica section reflect the interest of Duke August and his contemporaries in questions of a moral ‘formation’ and in the notion of virtue, one of the central concepts of early modern ethics and culture. It provides us with ample materials to examine the ways in which the concept of virtue marked early modern arguments, attitudes, and mentalities, and how it was challenged by the changes in the political and intellectual climate of the seventeenth century.

Since 2015, the Herzog August Bibliothek has been generously hosting researchers invited by Dr. Matthias Roick, the project’s principal investigator. Together, the library and Dr. Roick offer early-career as well as senior guests the possibility to investigate and discuss the riches of one of Europe’s most important research libraries.



Dr. Laura Refe (Venezia) Aristotle in the Renaissance, Italian vernacular translations and its reception 21.07.-29.07.2019
Prof. Giuseppina Brunetti (Bologna) Medieval Manuscript and Literary Culture


Dr. Patrizia Piredda (Viterbo) Friendship in Utopia and Renaissance


Jason Rosenholtz-Witt (Chicago) Musical Networks on the Borders of the Venetian Republic, 1580-1630 16.10.-27.10.2018
Dr. Stefano Gulizia
The Ethics of Natural Knowledge: The European Reception of Aristotelian Meteorology, 1450-1650 15.11.-12.12.2017

Prof. Dr. Albrecht Classen (Tucson)

Geschichte der Toleranz, 16.-18. Jahrhundert


Massimiliano Traversino (London)

Law and Ethics in the Early Modern Reception of Dante Alighieri's Monarchia


Laura Refe (Venedig)

Petrarca and the Role of Marginalia in the History of Ethics


Prof. Dr. Ruben Apressyan (Moskau)

The Appearance of a Philosophical Concept of Morality in Modern Moral Philosophy


Dr. Olga Artemieva

The Transformation of the Concept of Virtue in Eighteenth-Century British Moral Philosophy


Dr. Andrey Prokofev

The Self-Regarding Content of Morality in Modern Moral Philosophy


Dr. Christoph Haar

Ethical and Political Oeconomica in Early Modern Discussions


Prof. Dr. Katja Triplett

Japanische Jesuitendrucke


Dr. Tommaso de Robertis

Prudentia and fortuna as Key Concepts of Early Modern Ethics


Dr. Sara Ferrilli

Morality and Manuscripts. The Corvinae and Beyond


Prof. Dr. Danilo Facca

Early Modern Universities and the Teaching of Ethics


Dr. Valentina Lepri

Early Modern Academies and Ethics. The Case of Zamosc


Dr. Enrica Zanin

In the Footsteps of Boccaccio. Novellas, Narrative Literature and Ethics in Early Modernity


Dr. Marìa Diez Yañez

The Aristotelian Ethics and Early Modern Spanish Literature


PD Dr. Frauke Kurbacher

Zu einer Philosophie der Haltung. Frühneuzeitliche Perspektiven


Dr. Valérie Cordonier

The Liber de Bona Fortuna in the History of Ethics