Aemulatio is a form of literary emulation and imitation in art and literature, whereby the aim is often to surpass the respective model. Aemulatio means emulation in the good and evil sense. The goal may be to achieve or surpass the model, whereby all forms can be interpreted as a direct or indirect contest. As a rule, however, it is about the demonstration of superiority. Aemulatio is, therefore, a form of the imitatio veterum, which can basically be translated as the imitation of the older, ie, the imitation of a former poet (cf.
The term can be derived from the Latin noun aemulatio, which can be translated with jealousy and misery, emulation or even betteifer, whereby it becomes clear that the word is rather negatively connotated, although it can also mean the simple imitation or excelling (cf. homage ).
For example, the work of Wilhelm Meister, a novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, can be cited. Here, Goethe tries to expand the type of educational romance with his own variant, whereby his novel is quite in competition with Wieland’s story of the Agathon and tries to exceed it. This surpassing is often found in the literature up to postmodernism, and subsequently less frequently, although it is, of course, a form which can always be observed.