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Marko Marulić (Splitmarker, 18 August 1450 - Split, 5 January 1524) was a Croatian national poet and Christian humanist, known as the Crown of the Croatian Medieval Age and the father of the Croatian Renaissance. He signed his works as Marko Marulić Splićanin ("Marko Marulić of Split"), Marko Pečenić, Marcus Marulus Spalatensis, or Dalmata.


[[Image:MarkoMarulicLipovacSantiago.jpg|thumb|right|Marulić's monument in Santiagomarker.]]

Marulić was a nobleman born in Split, Dalmatia, coming from the distinguished aristocratic family of Pečenić (Pecinić, Picinić), who in the 15th century they began calling themselves Marulus or De Marulis.

Very little is actually known about his life, and a few facts that have survived to this day are fairly unreliable. It is certain that he attended a school run by a humanist scholar Tideo Acciarini in his hometown. Having completed it, he is then speculated to have graduated law at the Paduamarker University, after which he spent much of his life in his home town. Occasionally he visited Venicemarker (to trade) and to Romemarker (to celebrate the year 1500).

He lived for about two years in Nečujam on the island of Šoltamarker. In Split, Marulić practised law serving as a judge, examinator of notarial entries and executor of wills. Owing to his work, he became the most distinguished person of the humanist circle in Split.


The central figure of the humanist circle in Split, Marulić was inspired by the Bible, Antique writers and Christian hagiographies. He wrote in three languages: Latin (more than 80% of his preserved opus), Croatian and Vulgar Italian (three letters and two sonnets are preserved). Marulić was active in the struggles against the Ottoman Turks who were invading the Croatian lands at that time. He wrote, among other works, an Epistola to the Pope where he begged for assistance in the fight against the Ottomans.

Latin works

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 published Psichiologia de ratione animae humanae containing 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 Venicemarker. Marulić 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 rediscovered 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 Humanist genre of those centuries: they vanished into oblivion.

Croatian works

Cover sheet of the first edition of Judita, Venice 1521.
In the works written in Croatian, Marulić achieved a permanent status and position that has remained uncontested. His central Croatian oeuvre, the 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 Čakavian dialect - his mother tongue and described by him as u versi haruacchi slozhena ("arranged in Croatian stanzas"). His other works in Croatian are:

  • Suzana (Susan) - biblical poem in 780 stanzas, listing Croatian works at the end and theming Babylon Jewish woman falsely accused on adultery
  • Poklad i korizma (Carnival and Lent), Spovid koludric od sedam smrtnih grihov (Nun's confession of seven deadly sins), Anka satir (Anka the satire) - secular poetry, poems dedicated to his sister Bira
  • Tuženje grada Hjerosolima (Jerusalem's Lament) - anti-Turkish laments
  • Molitva suprotiva Turkom (Prayer against the Turks) - poem in 172 doubly rhymed dodecasyllablic stanzas of anti-Turkish theme, written between 1493 and 1500. Poem has a hidden acrostic Solus deus potes nos liberare de tribulatione inimicorum Turcorum sua potentia infinita, "Only God can save us from the misery of our enemies Turks", discovered by Luko Paljetak. The poem is assumed to exhibit influence of Juraj Šižgorić's Elegija o pustošenju Šibenskog polja and medieval song Spasi, Marije, tvojih vjernih from Tkonski miscellany. This Marulić's work influenced Zoranić's Planine - the first Croatian novel, in which ganka pastira Marula is sung alluding to Turks, and also to Petar Lučić and his work Molitva Bogu protiv Turkom, and Primož Trubar's Pjesni zuper Turke.

His works are neither aesthetically nor stylistically superior to the works of his Dubrovnikan predecessors. Three puzzling facts tend to raise questions:

  • Marulić's Croatian work is aesthetically plainly inferior to the lyric poetry of Hanibal Lucić and the dramatic vitality of Marin Držić.
  • Even in terms of chronology, Džore Držić and Šiško Menčetić wrote in an essentially modern Croatian Shtokavian dialect some 3 decades before him.

Marulić's national eminence is due to a happy confluence of some other facts: no one among his contemporaries or predecessors had achieved fame during his lifetime. Further, his deeply patriotic and Catholic verses had assimilated the frequently superficial and imitative poetry of his southern compatriots and transformed it into an epitome of Croatian national destiny. His Judith representing the Croat people defending against the Ottoman Empire invasion – Marulić remained the ineradicable centre of Renaissance Croatian patriotism – of Croathood itself. That is why his stature as the father of Croatian literature is secure and unshakeable.

Marulić's portrait is depicted on the obverse of the Croatian 500 kuna banknote, issued in 1993.



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