Unpublished manuscript heritage of the Croatian Latinists in the libraries and archives of Dubrovnik: preliminary report


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EUROCLASSICA CONGRESS Dubrovnik, 29.03-02.04.05.

Ivica Martinović, Dubrovnik
Unpublished manuscript heritage of the Croatian Latinists in the libraries and archives of Dubrovnik: preliminary report

Writers and scholars alike write primarily to see their work published, reviewed and, above all, read. This, too, was the goal of the Dubrovnik-born Croatian Latinists who acquired their classical learning either in Dubrovnik or at one of the Italian Universities of Bologne, Ferrara, Padua, Naples, Rome, or even Paris. Upon completing their studies abroad, most of them returned to their native city. Their academic careers varied from highly distinguished and honoured to obscure and wretched. Myriad were the reasons of their return to Dubrovnik or recurrent departure: crowned as poeta laureatus at the Academy of Iulius Pomponius Letus in 1484, Ilija Crijević decided to return to his hometown; having lost in a financial action, Nikola Brautić was sententenced to prison at St Angelo Castle in 1621, after which he renounced his bishopric and returned to Lopud, his place of birth; after Rome and Bologne, Stjepan Gradić was to spend ten years in Dubrovnik (1643-1653), left for Rome again, where he remained until death; Ignjat Đurđević renounced the Jesuit Society in Rome and returned to Dubrovnik in 1705 to join a stricter Benedictine order; Bernard Zamagna returned home after the suppression of the Society of Jesus in 1773. Having graduated from the best European Universities, some Latinists were determined to pursue their careers in the most sophisticated cultural, scientific and ecclesiastical centres of the day: a Dominican Ivan Stojković in Paris and on the Councils, the Jesuits Ivan Lukarević, Benedikt Rogačić, Ruđer Bošković and Rajmund Kunić in Rome, Marko Faustin Galjuf in Rome and Genoa. Lastly, apart from an episode or two, some of the major Dubrovnik Latinists never left their hometown: Damjan Beneša, Nikola Vitov Gučetić, Vice Petrović, and Džono Rastić.

Different life stories reflect different attitudes to the publication of one's work. As an illustration, I shall provide three examples from three distinctive productive periods.
The first concerns the literary production of the turn of the fifteenth century. The works of Ivan Gučetić, the first Latin poet of the Renaissance Dubrovnik, remained unpublished and shortly before death he himself burnt his love verses. Out of his voluminous production, Ilija Crijević published only 4 epigrams and a prose epistle dedicated to Sigismund Đurđević. Damjan Beneša followed their example. Ludovik Crijević Tuberon, 'Ragusan Sallust', did not live to see the publishing of his historical work Commentaria de temporibus suis; yet he is among the rare authors whose major work had been reissued four times by 1800, although not on the autograph basis. Contrarily, Fran Lucijan Gundulić published the novelette Baptistinus, his only extant work, Jakov Bunić had his two epics printed (1490, 1526), and Karlo Pucić published his love cycle Elegiarum libellus de laudibus Gnesae puellae (1499).

The second period concerns the most prominent figures after 1737 or following the death of the polyhistor Ignjat Đurđević. Although in the period 1728-1752 Serafin Crijević authored an impressive number of prose works, he did not publish any of them during his lifetime, not even his principal work Bibliotheca Ragusina, a bio-bibliographical lexicon of Dubrovnik writers, which, apparently, he had prepared for print. Out of his voluminous poetic production, Vice Petrović lived to see the publication of but one epigram: praise of the poetic accomplishment of Baro Bettera. Unlike his heroic poems and epigrams, Ruđer Bošković's contributions to mathematics, astronomy and natural philosophy were published almost regularly. His carefully selected verses were published in a collection Arcadum carmina (1756). Bošković was equally determined to see his epic De Solis ac Lunae defectibus edited three times (London, Venice, Paris). This period also saw the publishing of the two epics of Benedikt Stay, in which he describes the natural philosophy of Decartes, Newton and Bošković. Rajmund Kunić hesitated with the publishing of his ample epigrammatic production, but his selection of elegies was edited several times. From his early academic years Bernard Zamagna, Kunić's student, showed great zeal in publishing and is thus an exception among the Dubrovnik Latinists. In the period 1791-1803 Đuro Ferić published regularly, only to abandon the practice, leaving behind great many unpublished works, particularly the valuable collections of epigrams and translations of folk songs. Džono Rastić's Carmina were published posthumously, while Marko Faustin Galjuf managed to publish a representative selection of his works shortly before his death.

The third period covers the last years of the Ragusan Latinism.Vlaho Getaldić, among the last devotees of the Latin Muse in Dubrovnik, published but a few of his occasional poems (1838-1842), an epistle to Paravia of Zadar (1842) and a Latin translation of Gundulić's Osman (1865), having left behind a voluminous manuscript production.
What has become of the unpublished manuscripts? A small but valuable amount was published in the printing houses of Dubrovnik and Zadar during the nineteenth century, then in the editions of the Yugoslav Academy of Sciences and Arts, in the journal Rad JAZU and in the series Hrvatski latinisti, and finally in the anthology of Hrvatski latinisti, edited by Veljko Gortan and Vladimir Vratović (Zagreb: Matica hrvatska, 1969-1970). It is difficult to establish how much of this production will never be restored. The bulk of the literary production of the Ragusan Latinists remains dispersed in the libraries and archives of Dubrovnik, Croatia and elsewhere in the world. This is a brief survey of the Dubrovnik resources of the unpublished manuscript heritage of the Ragusan Latinists, not a systematic list but rather an essay on the available infrastructure of the neo-Latin heritage in Dubrovnik: on the resources, transcribers and printed catalogues.
The following Dubrovnik institutions house the manuscripts of the Ragusan Latinists:

Franciscan Archives;

Research Library;

Library of the Dominican friary;

State Archives;

The private collection of Ivo Bizzaro, housed at the Institute for Historical Sciences of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

The first three institutions are particularly rich in autographs: Franciscan Archives files the autograph manuscripts of Damjan Beneša, Ignjat Đurđević, Vice Petrović, Serafin Crijević, Sebastijan Slade, Rajmund Kunić, Rafo Radelja, Inocent Čulić and Vlaho Getaldić, Research Library keeps the autographs of Damjan Beneša, Ignjat Đurđević, Vice Petrović, Rajmund Kunić, and Đuro Ferić, and the Library of the Dominican Friary of Serafin Crijević.

Franciscan Archives surpasses all the others in size, as it houses more than 2100 manuscripts. In the first and so far the only available volume of the manuscript catalogue published to date (1952), Mijo Brlek has compiled 276 manuscript items, of which 39 contain the literary works of the Dubrovnik Latinists. An evident imbalance between Latin on one side and Croatian and Italian on the other is the result of the editor's aim to embrace in the first volume the entire manuscript heritage in Croatian, even at the cost of the changes in catalogue numeration.
Appendix 1

The manuscripts of Dubrovnik Latinists in the Franciscan Archives:

Selected bibliography for nn. 300-2000

Vital Andrijašević

Viridiarium, n. 558.
Ivan Karlo Anđelić

Ad Admodum Illustrem Dominum Vincentium Petrovich, n. 792, 5 pp.

Ad Vincentium Petrovich ode, n. 1895, 4 ff.

In Principum Christianorum discordias, anno 1718, quod auget Othomanorum imperium, ex libris Michaelis Milliscich, a Stulli Blasio, anno 1831 inventum, n. 761, 6 pp.
Vlaho Bolić

Carmina, n. 738, 51 pp.

Carmina, n. 1208, 22pp.
P. Bonifacius a Ragusio

Hymnorum ecclesiasticorum collectio, n. 364, cum notis, 17th c.
Baro Bošković

Carmina (edita et inedita), n. 1351, 96 pp.
Ilija Crijević

Carmina libris IX comprehensa, Agić’s manuscript ‘edition’, n. 409.

Serafin Crijević

Bibliotheca scriptorum Ragusinorum transcripta et redacta, 211 pp, n. 1407.

Historiae ecclesiasticae Rhacusinae epitome, n. 332, 986 ff.

Illustrium Ragusinorum scriptorum vitae, transcription from 1790, n. 1131, 210 ff.

Prolegomena in Sacram Metropolim Ragusinam, Caput V, n. 780, 19 pp.
Didak Pir

Elegiarum libri tres ad Dominicum Slatarichium, n. 410.
Sebastijan Dolci

De Epidaurensis et Ragusinae civitatis origine, autograph, n. 414.

Nonnulla poetica, n. 826, 32 pp.
Bernard Đurđević

Carmina varia, ex Codice Vaticano 6910, Radelja’s transcription, n. 1212.
Đuro Ferić

De laudibus Epidauri carmen, n. 1491, 56 pp.

Apophtegmata Erasmi latinis versibus explicata (1808), n. 931, 30 fascicles.
Vlaho Getaldić

Opera, autograph, nn. 1051-1067.

Lucubrationes poeticae, autograph, n. 1162. 1841.

Đuro Hidža

Elegiae ad varios, n. 1217.
Rajmund Kunić

Carmina, Radelja’s manuscript ‘edition’, n. 1156, 103 fascicles.

Elegiae, Radelja’s transcription, 20 elegias, n. 2055, 124 ff.
Ivan Lukarević

De cultu virginitatis, n. 1307, liber I.

De cultu virginitatis, n. 2095, liber II.

Infortunia .... carmen, n. 1855, 10 ff.
Fr. Michael Angelus de Ragusio

Disputatio in octo libros Aristotelis, nn. 544-545. Mediolani, 1620.
Vice Petrović

Epigrammatum liber I., autograph, n. 1190, 24 pp.

Carmina, autograph, n. 1511, 10 fascicles, 255 pp.
Nikola Pribisalić

Appendix ludi Corcyrensis, n. 1505, 39 pp.
Klement Ranjina

Commentaria in quatuor libros Sententiarum [1549], autograph, n. 595, 2 volumes.
Džono Rastić

Carmina, autograph, n. 846, 60 pp.
Benedikt Rogačić

Nonnulla carmina Benedicti Rogacci et Blasii Bolichii, n. 978, 69 pp.
Cvijeto Tvrdiša

Versi in varie lingue, n. 1621, 15 ff.Frano Volanti

Elegiarum et epigrammatum liber, n. 757, 38 pp. 1718.
Bernard Zamagna

Carmina, n. 315, 24 ff.

Nonnulla carmina minora inter quae varia autographa, n. 1520, 33 ff.
Ivan Luka Zuzorić

Antiquitates Graeciae, n. 894.
The Research Library in Dubrovnik, formerly Dubrovnik Library founded in 1941, houses 930 manuscripts, of which 127 contain the literary works of the Ragusan Latinists, from Damjan Beneša to Ivan Stojanović, from the end of the fifteenth to the end of the nineteenth century.

The manuscript collection of Luka Pavlović, housed at the State Archives of Dubrovnik, comprises 12 volumes of the Ragusan Latin poetry, transcribed mostly by Pavlović and his assistants. Besides the transcription of Agić's manuscript 'edition' of Ilija Crijević, the State Archives files the works from Junije Palmotić and Stjepan Gradić to Đuro Hidža, and particularly the minor poets from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century.

The private collection of Ivo Bizzaro contains 72 manuscripts. The works of the Dubrovnik Latinists are to be found in 7 manuscripts within a time-span of about a century: from Vice Petrović and Vlaho Bolić to Džono Rastić and Luko Stulli. Also filed here is Ivo Bizzaro's short collection Carmina Latina, an autograph manuscript.

These resources in Dubrovnik should be appended by two manuscript collections in Zagreb: that of the National and University Library (Nacionalna i sveučilišna knjižnica) and the Archives of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (Arhiv HAZU). Although in Zagreb, these two collections represent 'Dubrovnik' resources sui generis. The manuscripts are generally of the Ragusan provenance, as they reached Zagreb during the Croatian National Revival, probably donated to the forerunners of the Croatian cultural scene in Zagreb or transcribed from the Ragusan originals. They owe their current storage to the bequests of Ljudevit Gaj and Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski, to mention only the two most significant legacies.
Transcribers-editors in the nineteenth century: Agić, Radelja and Pavlović
At the turn of the eighteenth century Dubrovnik witnessed an interesting phenomenon: transcribers-editors of the works of the Croatian Latinists, men who proved equally qualified to transcribe and edit opera omnia of the most renowned Ragusan Latinists. Interestingly, their laborious work was never crowned with a book. Viewed from the present-day perspective, these transcribers appeared at the very last moment as far as the available manuscripts were concerned. Only, the question remains whether the same result could possibly be achieved today.

Three names stand out:

(1) franciscan Antun Agić (1753-1830);

(2) canon Rafo Radelja (? – 1831);

(3) don Luka Pavlović (1821-1887).

Agić and Radelja were contemporaries. The former edited Opera omnia of the two leading Latinists from the turn of the fifteenth century Ilija Crijević (AMB, 409) and Damjan Beneša (AMB, 256), along with a collection of eighteenth-century poetry (AMB, 244). Radelja transcribed Carmina of Rajmund Kunić (AMB, 1156), together with the works of Ilija Crijević (AMB, 195), Đuro Bašić (AMB, 204), Đuro Ferić (AMB, 179). Both of them transcribed already published verse and of the same poet – Stjepan Gradić (AMB, 244; AMB, 184).

Luka Pavlović followed in their footsteps but went a step further, as he recopied what his predecessors had already transcribed. Namely, he copied Agić's 'edition' of Ilija Crijević (DAD, RO 283, 19) as well as Nonnulla carmina Junii Palmottae, Stephani Gradii et Bernardi Georgii (DAD, RO 283, 35) from Agić's transcription, thus providing us with the alternate solutions of Agić's editorial transcriptions. Additionally, he himself edited opera omnia of Vice Petrović (DAD, RO 283, 24), approximately 11,500 lines, together with Đuro Ferić's Carmina (DAD, RO 283, 18). Among Pavlović's valuable transcriptions one should point to Vlaho Bolić's Carmina inedita (DAD, RO 283, 14), Đuro Bašić's Carmina (DAD, RO 283, 14) and transcriptions of many minor poets of the nineteenth century. Pavlović has thus saved from oblivion an epic Oeconomia by an unknown poet, a versified version of Aristotle's work (DAD, RO 283, 14).
Appendix 2

The manuscripts of Dubrovnik Latinists in Luka Pavlović’s manuscript collection within the State Archives of Dubrovnik:

Selected bibliography

Abbreviation: DAD, RO 283,

12 volumes; 26 collections; 21 poets.


Nonnulla epigrammata Georgii Antonii Hyggiae, ff. 336-347.

Carmina varia Domini Georgii Higgiae, pp. 1-57 of original pagination, ff. 361-389.

Blasii Bolich Rhacusini Societatis Jesu Carmina (inedita), pp. 35-112.

Carmina inedita Ioannis Caroli de Angelis Soc. Jesu (?), pp. 103-113.

Francisci Volanti Elegiarum, et Epigrammatum libri duo, pp. 1-26 of original pagination, pp. 115-140. 1718.

Didaci Arboscelli Civ. Rhacusini et Cancellarii Reipublicae Rhacusinae nonnulla Illyrica et Latina carmina, pp. 1-17 of original pagination, pp. 193-209.

Carmina D. Georgii Bassich Soc. Jesu, pp. 287-297.

Appendix Ludi Corcyrensis D. Nicolai Pribissalich Presbiteri Rhacusini, pp. 311-345. 1770.

Varia carmina R. Florii Tvardiscia Ladestini, pp. 351-391. 1793.

Nonnulla carmina Bernardi Zamagnae Patricii Ragusini nondum typis edita, pp. 407-454.

Oeconomia ignoti Ragusini, pp. 551-607.

Carmina nonnullorum Rhacusinorum qui vixerunt saeculo XIX. Vol. I.

Carmina varia D. Raphaelis Radeglia Canonici Ragusini, pp. 105-127.

Luca Stulli, Collezione di varie poesie Latine ed Italiane, pp. 201-228.

Poesie del Sig. Antonio di Pietro Liepopilli, pp. 293-357.

Carmina D. Georgii Ferrich Ragusini, pp. 9-277.

Petar Frano Aletin, Carmina, pp. 349-372.


Aelii Lampridii Cervini carmina libris IX comprehensa, pp. 1-520, on pp. 147-520 transcribed by Luka Pavlović. Transcription of Agić’s manuscript ‘edition’ of Ilija Crijević’s Carmina.

»Index« (of incipits), pp. 511-520.

»Notae ad carmina Aelii Lampridii Cervini«, pp. 1-66.


Ignatius Georgius Abbas Melitensis, Augustissimo Caesari Carolo Austriaco hujus nominis sexto ... Epinicium, ff. 282-303. Notae, ff. 306-311.


Collectio carminum Vincentii Petrovich Ragusini, ff. 1-223.

Nonnulla carmina Junii Palmottae, Stephani Gradii, et Bernardi Giorgii.

Carmina Bernardi Giorgii, 129-141. 1675.

Raccolta di Poetici Componimenti in Lingue diverse; opera di Marco Bruere Desrivaux Francese. MM. SS. ex autografo.

Marci Bruere Desrivaux nonnulla Latina carmina, pp. 49-82.

B.[lasius] S.[tulli], Memoriae nonnullorum Rhacusinorum et Exterorum doctrina et virtute praestantium, ff. 3-65.


Poetici componimenti in Italiano, Slavo, e Latino di Marco Bruere Desrivaux Francese.

Poesie Latine-Italiane del medesimo, pp. 61-68.

Latina carmina Marci Bruere Desrivaux, pp. 119-143.

[Raymundi Cunichii Epigrammata] Encomiastica, ff. 1-272, 1191 epigrams. Radelja’s transcription.

Apart from these major three transcribers, equally valuable was the work of Frano Stay, Vijeko Grmoljez, Baldovin Bizar, Stjepan Marija Tomašević, Marko Marinović and many others.

Printed manuscript catalogues
The here submitted list of the printed catalogues clearly testifies to the Herculean and time-consuming task of cataloging:

Catalogo della Biblioteca del P. Innocenzo Ciulich detto P. Sordo nella Libreria deRR. PP. Francescani di Ragusa redatto da Giovanni Augusto Dr. Casnacich. (Zadar, 1860).

Catalogo dei libri rari, manoscritti e membranacei, appartenenti alla biblioteca relitta da Don Luka Pavlović (Ragusa: Alle spese della massa ereditaria, 1889).
Petar M. Kolendić, »Rukopisi gimnazijske biblioteke u Dubrovniku«, Srđ 6 (1907), pp. 991-997, 1041-1048.
Mijo Brlek, Rukopisi knjižnice Male braće u Dubrovniku, knj. I. (Zagreb: JAZU, 1952).
Miroslav Pantić, »Rukopisi negdašnje biblioteke Bizaro u Historijskom institutu u Dubrovniku«, Anali Historijskog instituta u Dubrovniku 8-9 (1962), pp. 557-596.
»Cunichiana u Arhivu Male braće u Dubrovniku«, u: Jozo Sopta, »Književna ostavština Rajmunda Kunića SJ (1719-1794) u Arhivu Male braće u Dubrovniku«,

Anali Zavoda za povijesne znanosti HAZU u Dubrovniku (1996), pp. 9-29, na pp. 14-28.
»Kazalo rukopisnog zbornika Collectio Carminum Poetarum Rhacusinorum iz knjižnice Stulli«, u: Ivica Martinović, »Poezija Rajmunda Kunića u rukopisnom zborniku hrvatskih latinista iz knjižnice braće Stulli«, Anali Zavoda za povijesne znanosti HAZU u Dubrovniku (1996), pp. 49-71, na pp. 63-68.

[Stjepan Kastropil - Matija Bete], Rukopisi Znanstvene knjižnice Dubrovnik: Knjiga II. Rukopisi na stranim jezicima (Dubrovnik: Dubrovačke knjižnice, 1997).

The road to a 'reliable description', to quote Darko Novaković, is even harder. Thus creating a data base of the entire manuscript heritage is a much-needed priority and an initiative that should be applauded.

The fact that the bulk of the Ragusan manuscript heritage in Latin is still housed in the libraries and archives of Dubrovnik may be accounted by by looking at a wider social context:
Many Dubrovnik Latinists produced outside Dubrovnik. Given that they published irregularly and in less accessible editions, it was through manuscript copies that the work of these writers could have been read and appreciated in their native city. Such is the case of the manuscript heritage of Stjepan Gradić in the Dubrovnik resources. As he died while holding the keeper's post of the Vatican Library, all of his works are housed in this famous institution.
Some prominent Latinists, such as Bošković and Kunić, were determined to see their manuscript heritage housed in Dubrovnik. Sold at auction by his successors, Bošković's manuscripts found their way to the Bancroft Library at Berkeley (USA, CA), where they are still kept, while Kunić's works are mostly to be found in the Franciscan Archives in Dubrovnik.
There were Latinists, poetae minores in particular, whose literary output was limited to Dubrovnik, but since neither the city nor the Republic had a printing press, were unable to publish them. It was not until 1783 that the Ragusan patrician government allowed the opening of the first printing house. Even then, rare were the writers who decided to publish their complete works or in continuation.

The period after 1700 was marked by a succession of qualified transcribers of the manuscript heritage from autographs or good copies. The emergence of three transcribers-editors in the nineteenth century deserves special credit. With utmost excellence have Antun Agić, Rafo Radelja and Luka Pavlović copied and edited opera omnia of some of the most renowned Dubrovnik Latinists - Ilija Crijević, Damjan Beneša, Vice Petrović and Rajmund Kunić – having saved dozens of unpublished Latin poets from oblivion.

Today, eight Dubrovnik institutions house the Latin manuscripts of the Ragusan authors. In the catalogues printed between 1952 and 1997, only 217 manuscripts with the literary works of the Dubrovnik Latinists have been described. Thus the cataloging of the manuscript heritage of the Croatian Latinists is a priority beyond dispute. This particularly concerns the Franciscan Archives, the major resource of Latin manuscripts in Dubrovnik.

Darko Novaković, Zagreb


There are several reasons why I decided to speak on the Croatian Neo-Latin epic poetry on this occasion. Firstly, the epic was a highly praised genre in the Antique and has fully retained its exalted status in the humanistic period. We should not forget that Petrarca believed that he will be remembered primarily for his Africa and not for his more modest Latin compositions and even less for his vernacular verse. Secondly, the Croatian Neo-Latin epic poetry has by and large been preserved as ‘manuscript heritage’, the very title of our present gathering. Many of our epics have only survived in manuscript form and saw printed publication only during the XIXth and XXth centuries, some remain still unpublished. I have been further guided by the location of our symposium. Dubrovnik acquired the first printing works only in the late XVIIIth century, yet in such pre-Gutenberg conditions the literary life of the Republic remained vibrant throughout; not only were the manuscripts carefully preserved but, as catalogues of various Ragusan libraries attest, scarcer published works were regularly copied in manuscript. Finally and unlike some other humanistic genres such as elegy, epigram or oratory, the Neo-Latin epic poetry appeared for the first time on the Croatian soil in this very town and for some four centuries remained intrinsically linked with Dubrovnik.


According to present day knowledge, the first epic poem of our literature, both Latin and vernacular, is ‘The Capture of Cerberus’ (De raptu Cerberi, c.1490) by the Ragusan Jakov Bunić (1469-1534). This work was published some thirty, or at worst around twenty years before Marulić’s ‘Judith’; it should be noted that Marulić owned a copy in his library. The poem of 1006 hexameters is evenly arranged in three books and each book is named after one of the Three Graces. The story deals with the mythical descent of Hercules to the Underworld, where the most famous ancient hero meets captured lover Hylas, overcomes the three-headed dog Cerberus and after contest with Dis, the god of the Underworld, frees Theseus. Clearly Bunić did not intend a simple rendition of a pagan myth in verse form but sought an allegorical interpretation which equates the labour of Hercules with the labour of Jesus. Hercules, the conqueror of the evil Underworld forces, is the prefiguration of Christ the Conqueror of Hell.

In the chronology of the genre, the next poem by Ivan Polikarp Severitan (1472- ?1526) from Šibenik, parallels Bunić by its size and division into three books. His ‘Song of Jerusalem’ (Solimais) was printed in Rome in 1509, but according to poet’s own admission written before 1497. The narrative is based on the opening chapters of Genesis (1-3, 6-9, dealing with the Creation, Adam and Eve, the Original Sin and the Great Flood) and the second chapter of Matthew’s Gospel (dealing with the Adoration of the Magi). Unlike Bunić's epic, in The Solimaid the allegory is no longer necessary to illustrate clearly Christian dimension of the work. It is important to note Polikarp’s desire to reconcile the Old and New Testament in the narrative argument; three repeated proemia are used for this purpose.

The attributes of The Solimaid should also be borne in mind when considering The Davidiad (Davidias) by Marko Marulić (1450-1524), by far the most important epic of the Croatian Humanism and a poem of major international significance whose recognition alas had been postponed by some four and a half centuries. This epic presumably composed in the second decade of the XVIth century, was published for the first time in 1954, 430 years after poet’s death. Fourteen cantos narrating the story of David, son of Jesse, and his rise to the throne are related to its genre predecessors by several obvious associations: Marulić shares Polikarp’s primary objective to highlight the unity of the Old and New Testament and like him employs three proemia in his narrative. In The Davidiad much like Bunić, Marulić uses the figure of Christ as his principal character but resorts unequivocally to allegory: the reader is directed to the addendum Tropologica Davidiadis expositio which correlates not only the Old Testament figures but also their actions with New Testament values.
In the summer of 1522 Polikarp published in Venice in the space of few days two epic poems: second edition of The Solimaid and The Feretreid (Feretreis), an epic dedicated to Guidobaldo II, nine year old son of his patron the Duke of Urbino, Francesco Maria da Montefeltro della Rovere. It is 150 verses shorter than The Solimaid (829 : 979) and an entirely secular work celebrating the family history of both branches of the House of Urbino, da Montefeltro (hence the title) and della Rovere, from the earliest times to the present.

Another Croat who managed to publish two epic poems in his lifetime is Jakov Bunić. In 1526 his voluminous ‘Life and Works of Jesus Christ’ (De vita et gestis Christi) of over 10000 hexameters was printed in Rome. Based on all four Gospels but mainly on Matthew, Bunić used linear narrative in sixteen cantos. The first part consisting of nine books deals with the Birth, Childhood and Youth of Jesus, the second part in books 10 to 16 starts with His Disputation with the Pharisees and ends with the Passion and Resurrection. This imbalance is intentional and corresponds to a complex symbolic numerical program clearly of singular interest to the author. The first part is divided into three Hierarchiae of three cantos each and each hierarchia is dedicated to one aspect of the Holy Trinity, the first to God the Father, second to the Son and third to the Holy Ghost. In addition to such triadic structure each canto is also entitled after one of the nine angelic choruses (Chori: 1. Seraphin, 2. Cherubin, 3. Throni, 4. Dominationes, 5. Principatus, 6. Potestates, 7. Virtutes, 8. Archangeli, 9. Angeli). Final seven cantos are also given names after the Gifts of the Holy Ghost (1. Timor, 2. Pietas, 3. Scientia, 4. Fortitudo, 5. Consilium, 6. Intellectus, 7. Sapientia). The narrative is interrupted by various insertions: at the end of each Hierarchiae are dedicatory poems in Sapphic strophes to each of the personifications of the Holy Trinity, in the second part first four cantos end by the dedication to Virgin Mary and the remaining three again to the Holy Trinity. Therefore the epic formally ends with the dedication to the Holy Ghost.

Nullus adhuc cecinit tam clare dogmata Christi/ carmine grandiloquo, quam fecerit ipse Iacobus / Illyriae splendor, Racusaeae Gloria gentis – triumphantly wrote in his epigram ad lectorem one of Bunić's predecessors, Ivan Polikarp Severitan. Neither such praise nor the intervening issue of Girolamo Vida's ‘Christiad’ (Christias) discouraged another Ragusan patrician Damjan Benešić from undertaking a similar task. His colossal epic poem ‘The Death of Christ’ (De morte Christi) in 8300 verses remains in manuscript form until present day. As another participant in this symposium and the editor of the first critical edition of this work, is scheduled to speak later, it suffices to say that Benešić's epic closes the period of monumental humanist epic poetry in Croatian Neo-Latin literature. The decades which follow are characterised by the narrowing of epic vision and by shorter works, albeit not necessarily by lesser aesthetic quality.

Some reasons for the change were strictly of literary nature. The competition between hexameter and elegiac distich is present in narrative poetry throughout the humanistic period; in somewhat simplified terms it is the rivalry between Virgil and Ovid. The Ragusan Ilija Crijević (1463-1520), one of the leading poets of the Croatian Humanism and also one of the foremost Croatian Latinists of all time, wrote ironically in the preface to his jocular elegy: nec cuiusque ingenii est fingere, unde poetae nomen est. Nos non epici, sed opici sumus, sine Venere, sale et gratiis (Carm. 7,23, praef.). Nevertheless he wrote epic poetry, albeit in a modified form. His literary bequest contains an unfinished epyllium on local history ‘On Ragusa’ (De Epidauro) which tells the story of the destruction of the ancient city of Epidaurus (present day Cavtat) and of the flight of its inhabitants to the safety of neighbouring nascent Ragusa. Ideological background to this story is the venerable and ancient origin of the city of Ragusa: Barbara Romanis urbs est formata colonis, / Quam ueteres dicunt Epidaurum (Carm. 7,3,87-88). He evidently also has in mind the Ragusan patrician families, which are mentioned in the vaticinium ex eventu by the Almighty (vv. 400-412).

The same characteristic humanist desire to unearth ancient origins of the home towns is evident in somewhat later work on the nearby township entitled ‘The Description of the City of Cattaro’ (Descriptio Ascriviensis urbis) by Ivan Bona-Bolica (c.1520-1572). Apparently, Cattaro (Ascrivium) was founded by the ancient Greeks from Ascra in Beotia who, following the death of their famous fellow citizen the poet Hesiod, decided to move en bloc to new shores: postquam fata impia Vatem / Ascraeum rapuere suum, tum protinus omnes / Deseruisse domos, atque execrasse Penates (vv. 321-323).
Thematically, between the great epics dominated by the hero figure and the epyllia celebrating home townships, stands the hagiographical epic celebrating local patron saint. Such is the unfinished epyllium on the Ragusan patron saint St. Blaise (Divus Blasius Rhacusanus) written by the Portuguese Jew Diego Pires (Didacus Pyrrhus, 1517-1599) who found refuge from persecution and spent around a half of his long life in Ragusa. Chronologically close is also ‘The Life of Blessed John, Bishop of Trogir’ (Vita beati Ioannis, episcopi Traguriensis) written by Sebastijan Mladinić (1561?-1621?) from the island of Brač, first published in error under another name at the beginning of the XIXth century.


Although caution is always advisable when apportioning literary periods to specific centuries, there are many reasons which justify the assertion that the end of Croatian Humanist Neo-Latin literature coincided with the end of the XVIth century. Post-Tridentine Counter Reformation acquired new characteristics with the arrival of Jesuits to Croatia and by subsequent opening of their schools (Zagreb, 1607; Rijeka, 1627; Varaždin, 1628; Dubrovnik, 1658; Požega, 1698). The Jesuit Ratio studiorum, (1599), with Latin language at the centre of instruction, dominated not only the linguistic and literary skills of future Latinists but also their literary tastes and genre affinities.

In the XVIIth century grammatical and stylistic standard of Latin writing improved markedly, accompanied however by notable reduction in thematic range. It is well known that one of the results of the Counter Reformation is the stimulation of writing in the vernacular; therefore this is the time when Croatian language began to replace Latin. The tendency is particularly clear in this very city. Croatian epic writing in Ragusa is barely worth a mention in the XVIth century; in the XVIIth not only is epic poetry written in Croatian language but seminal works of foreign Neo-Latin epic poets are translated (e.g., Paskoje Primović: Sannazaro’s De partu Virginis, Junije Palmotić: Vida’s Christias).
Generally speaking the entire Neo-Latin poetry of the XVIIth century is of devotional nature and its conventional genre and stylistic characteristics are less evident under the influence of this dominant attribute. Therefore it is not surprising that religious themes dominate the XVIIth century epic poetry. Moral and philosophical epic poem Euthymia sive de tranquillitate animi, written by the Ragusan Jesuit Benedikt Rogačić (1646-1719) and advocating the path toward and subsequent maintenance of inner peace as the pinnacle of happiness, is strongly didactical in nature, thus heralding the change in the genre. It was clearly a success, a second edition followed within five years of the publication.

The study of the colossal opus of Kajetan Vičić from Fiume (? – before 1700) has begun only recently; until the year 2000 he was not even mentioned in any history of the national literature, which is rather surprising as he is the author of the longest Croatian Neo-Latin epic poem ‘The Jesseid’ (Iesseis), in twelve cantos and more than 13500 verses, printed posthumously in Prague in 1700. This epic narrates the story of the Virgin Mary, a subject matter requiring on part of the reader thorough theological education and a familiarity with canonical and apocryphal texts. He is also the author of another shorter epic ‘The Thieneid’ (Thieneis, 1686) dedicated to St. Caietanus, the patron saint of the Theatine Order of which Vičić was a member.

A move towards international hagiographical themes is also manifested in the epyllium on the famous penitent St. Marguerite of Cortona (Sanctae Margaritae Cortonensis admirabilis ad paenitentiam pietatemque conversio) written by Ignjat Đurđević (1675-1737). This work remains in manuscript form only and has not been hitherto listed in any survey of author’s works; hopefully a critical edition is due shortly.


The didactic epic poetry is prevalent in the ‘Enlightened’ XVIIIth century, which is also characterised by the appearance of major epic translations. The famous astronomer Ruđer Bošković (1711-1787) is the author of the epic ‘On Solar and Lunar Eclipses’ (De Solis ac Lunae defectibus, 1760) on Newtonian astronomy and optics which he wrote for some 25 years albeit with interruptions. He was also the principal adviser to a Ragusan priest, Benedikt Stay (1714-1801), a Latinist in service of several popes (Clement XIII, Clement XIV, Pius VI). Whilst still in Ragusa, Stay, aged 30, wrote the didactic epic Philosophiae … versibus traditae libri sex on Descartes’ natural philosophy and ethics, published in 1744 on the centenary of the publication of Descartes’s own Principia philosophiae. This work contains some 10200 verses; the author added another thousand at a later date. Persuaded by his brother Christian and by Bošković he also rendered into verse Newton's theory Philosophiae recentoris versibus traditae libri decem, a work of impressive length in more than 24000 hexameteres, augmented further by Bosković's notes and numerous digressions in prose form. Nearly forty years elapsed between the publication of the first and last volume of this impressive task (1755-1792).

Anachronic vitality of the Croatian Latinism on the eve of the French Revolution is attested by several Ragusan epic poets. Rajmund Kunić (1719-1794), Jesuit professor of rhetoric and a prolific epigrammatist, achieved international fame as the translator from classical Greek; his Latin version of Homer’s ‘Illiad’ (Homeri Ilias Latinis versibus expressa, 1776) was widely considered the best to date and this edition was used by Vincenzo Monti for his influential Italian translation. His pupil and fellow Jesuit, Bernard Džamanjić (Zamanja) (1735-1820) continued in his teacher’s footsteps and crowned his own efforts by the translation of The Odyssey (Homeri Odyssea Latinis versibus expressa, 1777). In his varied opus two didactic epic poems can be highlighted, ‘The Echo’ (Echo, 1764) dealing with acoustic, meteorological and astronomic phenomena and ‘The Airship’ (Navis aeria, 1768) on the flying machine supported by four hot air balloons.


Contrary to the impression given by surveys of Croatian literary history, the Neo-Latin writing continued in the XIXth century, well beyond the symbolic year of 1847 when Latin ceased to be the official language of the Croatian Parliament. It comprised largely of occasional dedicatory verse and shorter works, although there are notable exceptions. One of these is ‘The Diocliad’ (Dioclias), an epic in three books written by Josip Čobarnić from Makarska (1790-1852) and published posthumously in 1881, which takes for its subject the Salonitan martyrs from the time of Emperor Diocletian. Two further Čobarnić's epyllia Ecclesia Salonitana and Ecclesia Jadertina deal with local ecclesiastical history and his hexametric poem (carmen) revisits the suffering of the Salonitan martyrs (Martyres Salonitani).

When speaking about Croatian Neo-Latin Literature in the XIXth century and on heritage regrettably confined to manuscripts only, the opus of one author stands out. We shall seek in vain for the works of Vlaho Getaldić (1788-1872) in the surveys of Croatian literary history. Regardless of his enormous contribution as a writer and translator, it is his misfortune that he wrote in the wrong languages, Italian and Latin, at the wrong time: on the eve, during and even after the period of the reawakening of Croatian national consciousness, better known as the National Revival. He published relatively little in his lifetime, mainly dedicatory verse on the occasion of royal visits, namedays, marriages, episcopal consecrations and even an address given at the foundation of district agricultural society in Zadar. In the main his oeuvre remains in the manuscript form held here in Dubrovnik, mostly in the Franciscan Library and the rest in the Scientific Library. It amounts to some twenty sizeable volumes or, to use a modern benchmark, in the electronic format it would hardly fit on a single DVD.

Remarkably, by far the longest work published in his lifetime is his rendering into Latin of Gundulić's epic Osman printed in Venice in 1865 (Osmanides). Our local participants will need no reminder, but for the benefit of our foreign friends, it should be stated that Osman is the seminal work of Croatian literature, an epic composed probably in the third decade of the XVIIth century which (incidentally) also remained in the manuscript form for some two hundred years. For Croatian political and cultural reformers in the early years of the XIXth century Osman was something of a cult, a literary work dealing with the struggle against foreign domination and the affirmation of the sense of belonging to a broad Slavic tradition and to Christian community in general. The symbolic significance of this poem can be seen in the fact that author of the Croatian national anthem, Antun Mihanović wrote a bilingual Croat-Latin pamphlet seeking public subscriptions for its first publication in 1818.
At first glance it seems somewhat paradoxical that Getaldić decided to translate from Croatian to Latin a poem which by his time was acknowledged as one of the key elements in the revival of Croatian national consciousness. His motives can be seen in two prefaces to the work: Nuncupatio and Ratio operis. The first one is in fact a dedication of his labour to the city of Dubrovnik, full of praise for his home town but at the same time an assertion that his rendition is also his ‘life’s work’ (extremus laborum meorum fructus). The second more conventional preface states that he was led by two motives: firstly by the wish to introduce Gundulić's ‘celebrated work’ to educated European public for which - despite long vernacular tradition – Latin is still (in 1865!) a prestigious and universal language (communis hominum conciliatrix, doctrinae vinculum); secondly he is generally encouraged by the example of unnamed famous Ragusan fellow translators. It is not difficult to presume that he mainly refers to Kunić, Džamanjić and possibly Ferić. Indeed he names two translators of this epic from earlier generations; Džamanjić, whose translated fragment of thirty Latin verses he included without changes in his own work (5, 14-43) and Faustin Galjuf, who undertook some preparatory work for the translation of Osman into Latin. With such dual motive and following a passage from Appendini’s Notizie istorico-critiche sulle antichità, storia e letteratura dei Ragusei, Getaldić queried the epic attributes of Gundulić's poem but concluded that regardless of certain unusual characteristics it clearly belongs to the epic genre. Therefore he resolved to base his own rendition on Virgil, whom he explicitly calls his mentor and teacher (ducem et magistrum habui summum Maronem). He did not hesitate to revert to Virgil’s original ‘parts of the text which Gundulić took from Virgil verbatim’. Of course we recognise today that in 1865, despite Getaldić's fervent hope, Latin was no longer the universal European language and even less so the language of European poetry. If and when the Latin verse was written, it was the Franciscae meae laudes and not the epic hexameter.


In the conclusion let me remind you of a curious coincidence. The basic handbook of Neo–Latin literature by the late Professor Josef IJsewein and Dirk Sacré opens its part on poetry with the survey of the epic. At the very beginning of the chapter it states that Latin epic poetry effectively ceased to exist in the middle of the XXth century:

At the final decline of Latin, after World War II, an Italian diplomat, Ippolito Galante, used Sanskrit traditions to write his Saniucta (Rome, 1957) which probably will remain for ever the last epic poem written in Latin. (Companion to Neo-Latin Studies, Part II, Leuven 1998).
Coincidentally and in that very year, another enthusiast, a priest from Split Ivan Baković, rendered into Latin hexameters and published his translation of another seminal epic of Croatian XIXth century literature, Mažuranić's The Death of Smail-aga Čengić (Mors Smail-aga Čengić, 1957). With the exception of a short polemic review by Veljko Gortan in Živa antika (VIII, 2), his effort received little public recognition. Today it seems that his work is not held even by the largest libraries in Croatia; moreover, he is often confused in their electronic databases with the eponymous and prolific author of business correspondence manuals.
Much as is the case with Getaldić, this sad and undeserved neglect is a suitable topic for another discourse on another occasion. In today’s conclusion it suffices to note that Neo-Latin Calliope came to rest in the same area where she first appeared, on the Adriatic shores.

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