Henrik Gabriel Porthan

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Porthan, portrait by Johan Erik Hedberg

Henrik Gabriel Porthan (1739 in Viitasaari – 1804 in Turku) was a scholar sometimes known as The Father of Finnish History. He was a student of Daniel Juslenius and a Fennophile. He brought Finnish history-writing, study of mythology and folk poetry, and other humanistic sciences to an international level. His De Poësi Fennica (published in five parts 1776-78), a study on Finnish folk poetry, had great importance in awakening public interest in the Kalevala-poetry and Finnish mythology, and the study was also the basis of all later study of the poetry.[1] He was among the founders of the Aurora Society that advocated Finnish literary pursuits and was the editor of the first Finnish newspaper, Tidningar ugifne af et sällskap i Åbo, founded in 1771. He supervised Christian Erici Lencqvist, whose 1782 dissertation De superstitione veterum Fennorum theoretica et practica was a seminal study of Finnish charms.[2]

Porthan was the teacher of Frans Mikael Franzén and also inspired the following generation of Finnish authors, poets and researchers, many of whom were among the founders of the Finnish Literature Society in 1831.

The Porthania building of the University of Helsinki is named after Porthan.


The main edition of Porthan's works remains Opera selecta. Skrifter i urval, ed. by Sven Gabriel Elmgren and Josef August Schauman, 5 vols (Helsingfors: Finska Litteratur-Sällskapets tryckeri, 1859–73). However, scans of the original publications are now available via http://www.doria.fi.

See also


  1. ^ Juha Y. Pentikäinen, Kalevala Mythology: Expanded Edition, ed. and trans. by Ritva Poom (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), p. 3; Henricus Gabriel Porthan, Dissertationis de poësi Fennica, issued in 5 parts (Åbo: Frenckell, 1766-78), pp. 87-88; fascicule 1: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fd2014-00004879; fascicule 2: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fd2014-00004872; fascicule 4: http://www.doria.fi/handle/10024/109616; fascicule 5: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fd2014-00004890; Henrik Gabriel Porthan, Suomalaisesta runoudesta, ed. and trans. by Iiro Kajanto ([Helsinki]: SKS [= Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura], 1983).
  2. ^ Juha Y. Pentikäinen, Kalevala Mythology: Expanded Edition, ed. and trans. by Ritva Poom (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), p. 4; Christianus Erici Lencqvist, Specimen academicum de superstitione veterum fennorum theoretica et practica, 2 vols (Åbo: Frenchell, 1782), http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fd2014-00004930, http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fd2014-00004909.

External links

  • Lauri Henrik Gabriel Porthan in 375 humanists 15.02.2015, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki

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