What we are used to call 'Maerlants Martijns' as if it were one work, turns out to be three essentially different texts, especially in the light of their communicative structure. Only in the case of the Eerste Martijn one can speak of a real, or better yet, of a credible dialogue. It appears even thinkable that the author intended the two interlocutors as contrasting types. Starting with the Tweede Martijn, the fictional character Jacob takes the initiative, to the extent that any psychological characterization is lost in favor of the didactic framework. The Derde Martijn, finally, brings us back to the traditional didactic dialogue, that is modelled after de Dialogues of Gregory the Great. In this way the evolution of the didactic element in the three Martijns (of which it is assumed that their ranking number is indicative of the chronology in which they originated) parallels the same didactic evolution that is inherent in Maerlant's oeuvre as a whole. Aside from sharing the same names, the three Martijns are by no means a closed group.
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