Learn more about Marko Marulić
Marko Marulić (Split, August 18, 1450 - Split, January 5, 1524) was a Croatian poet and Christian humanist, known as the Crown of Croatian Medieval Age and the father of Croatian renaissance. He signed his works as Marko Marulić Splićanin ("Marko Marulić of Split"), Marko Pečenić, Marcus Marulus Spalatensis, or Dalmata.
Marko Marulić was born in an appealed Split noble family. He comes from the distinguished aristocratic family Pečenić. He finished humanist school in Split and then graduated law at the Padua University, after which he spent his life in his home town. In Split, Marko practiced law serving as a judge. The central figure of Split humanist circle, Marko was inspired by the Bible, Antique writers and Christian hagiographies, and produced vast opus in Latin and Croatian languages. Marko was active in the fights against the Ottoman Turks who were just invading Croatian Lands. He wrote, among other works, an Epistola to the Pope where he begged for assistance and common fight against the bringers of the new faith.
His European fame rested mainly on his works written in Latin which had been published and re-published during 16th and 17th century and translated into many languages. He publish Psichiologia de ratione animae humanae which is the earliest known literary reference to psychology. He wrote De institutione bene vivendi per exempla sanctorum, a moralist tractate of Biblical inspiration which he managed to publish in 1506 in Venice. Marko also wrote the Evanglistarium, a systematic discourse on ethical principles that he managed to publish in 1516 and in 1517 - The Davidiad a religious epic which fused Biblical motifs and Antique, Virgilian poetics in 14 verses, the most important being the story on the life of the Bilbical King David. Unfortunately, the Davidiad was discovered only in 1924, only to be lost again and found finally in 1952. However, Marulić's Latin works of devotional and religious provenance, once adored and envied across Europe, shared the destiny that befell the genre in past two centuries: they vanished into oblivion.
In the works written in Croatian language Marulić achieved permanent stature and position that remained uncontested. His central Croatian oeuvre, epic poem Judita written in 1501 and published in Venice in 1521, is based on the Biblical tale from a Deuterocanonical Book of Judith, written in Croatian Chakavian dialect. His other works in Croatian are:
- Suzana (Susan)
- Poklad i korizma (Carnival and Lent)
- Spovid koludric od sedam smrtnih grihov (Nun's confession of seven deadly sins)
- Anka satir (Anka the satire),
- Tuženje grada Hjerosolima (Jerusalem's Lament),
- Molitva suprotiva Turkom (Prayers asking to be saved from the Turks).
In his works he is neither aesthetically nor stylistically superior to the works of his Dubrovnik predecessors. Three puzzling facts tend to raise questions:
- Marulić's Croatian work is aesthetically plainly inferior to the lyric poetry of Hanibal Lucić and dramatic vitality of Marin Držić.
- His dialectal idiom was a rather archaic and did not play important role in the process of standardization of Croatian language — unlike the poetic and prose expression of writers from Dubrovnik, Korčula and Hvar like Hanibal Lucić and Petar Hektorović.
- Even chronology-wise, Džore Držić and Šiško Menčetić wrote in essentially modern Croatian Shtokavian dialect some 3 decades before him.
Marulić's national eminence is due to happy confluence of some other facts: no one of his contemporaries or predecessors had achieved fame during his lifetime. Also, his deeply patriotic and Catholic verses had assimilated frequently superficial and imitative poetry of his southern compatriots and transformed it into an epitome of Croatian national destiny. His Judith representing Croatian people fighting Ottoman Empire invasion – Marulić remained the ineradicable center of Renaissance Croatian patriotism – of Croathood itself. That is why his stature as the father of Croatian literature is secure and unshakeable.