Tacitus' Germania and the Jesuit Relations: Intertextuality in the Transatlantic World of the Early Jesuits in New France.
The first Europeans who wrote about the Indigenous people of the newly discovered Americas, not only used medieval, but also classical literature as a tool of reference to describe 'otherness.' As true humanists, the French Jesuits who arrived in the New World were deeply influenced by their classical education and, as claimed by Grafton, reverted to ancient ethnographic texts, like Tacitus' Germania, to support their analyse of the Indigenous people they encountered. Books talk to books. Inspired by Germania, the early French Jesuits managed to convey to their readers a subtle critique of their own civilization, enhancing, like Tacitus, the virtuous aspect of the so-called barbarians they described while illustrating the corruption of their respective civilized worlds. This thesis suggests that the essence of Tacitus' work is definitively present in Pierre Biard's letters and his Relation. His testimonies illustrate the connection the early French Jesuits had with the humanist thought of their time.