Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum ("Letters of Obscure Men," the word obscuri being intended to mean at the same time ignorant and illiberal persons), a collection of satirical letters in dog Latin, published anonymously in 1515 and 1517, the first part at Hagenau, by the learned publisher Angst, the second at Basel by Froben, though Venice is named on the title page as the place of publication. These letters are conspicuous in the history of the reformation in Germany. At that time John Pfefferkorn, a converted Jew, and Jacob Hoogstraaten were foremost among those in Cologne who endeavored to keep down the light of independent thought developed by the study of the classics. A violent literary feud between them and the liberal thinkers, Reuch-lin especially, caused the publication of the Epistoloe, a keen and caustic satire on the ignorance and perversity of the clergy. There was much uncertainty in regard to their authorship. Reuchlin, Erasmus, and Ulrich von Hutten were severally supposed to have been the authors. But careful investigation has shown that there was a large number of contributors, including Ulrich von Hutten, Hermann von dem Bussche, E. Hess, Peter Eber-bach, Rhegius, Sommerfeld, Caesarius, Pirk-heimer, Wolfgang Angst, and Jakob Fuchs, for the first volume; and besides them, Hermann von Nuenar and F. Fischer for the second.

The Epistoloe were prohibited by the pope in 1517, in consequence of which their popularity increased. The book has been frequently republished. The best editions are those of Frankfort (1643), London in 12mo (no year given), that edited by Maittaire at London (1710), a new edition by Rotermund (Hamburg, 1827), another by Munch (Leipsic, 1827), and the latest by G. Bocking (Leipsic, 1858), which includes also a third volume, published for the first time in 1689. The satirical form of the Epistoloe has on several occasions been imitated by more modern authors. One of these imitations is the Epistoloe Novoe Obscuro-rum Virorum, which was published by Prof. Schwetschke (Halle, 1849) as a satire on the German parliament.