As Petz, sometimes also Meister Petz, is the bear in the fable, but also in fairy tales and legends. It is therefore the name of a fabier, as well as Isegrim for the wolf, Adebar for the stork or master lamp for the hare. Master Petz is attributed to human character in the fable. He is usually characterized as nice, kind and good-natured, but at the same time appears a bit naive and simple. What is essential is that these characteristics do not change in the course of the narrative: Master Petz does not develop, which is why it is usually foreseeable how he will behave in history.
The term is a cousin form of the male first name Bernhard, as the bear is also designated in some examples. It is common for the animals of the fable to bear male first names as well as their factions and short forms. For example, in the Reineke Fox, a medieval epic in verse and prose, all animals bear male names. Thus the hare is described as a lamp, the short form of Lamprecht, the fox as Reineke, a cousin of Reinhard, and the bear as Petz or Meister Petz, Bernhard’s kose form, whereby human beings are attributed to the animals.Meister Petz and Reineke fox in the fable
Master Petz and Reineke Fuchs in Gottscheds Prosewerk Reineke the Fox (1752)
The picture above shows an etching by the Dutch painter and graphic artist Allart van Everdingen (1621-1675), who appeared in Johann Christoph Gottsched (1700-1766), the animal of Reineke the Fox (1752). What is special about this picture is that although it represents fox and bear together, they do not attribute human characteristics on a visual level. These are only shown by the animal’s attitude, movement and expression. But, of course, there are many more examples in the literature.
Examples from the literature
There are many references to the use of the name Meister Petz. Here are some examples: a fable by Jean de La Fontaine, a poem by Heinrich Heine, a fable by Gottlieb Konrad Pfeffel, one by Christian Fürchtegott Gellert and a novel by Jean Paul.