18 August 1450|
Split, Republic of Venice
5 January 1524 (aged 73)|
Split, Republic of Venice
Marko Maruli? (Croatian pronunciation: [mâ:rko m?rulit?]; Italian: Marco Marulo; 18 August 1450 - 5 January 1524) was a Croatian national poet and Renaissance humanist, known as the Crown of the Croatian Medieval Age and the father of the Croatian Renaissance. He signed his works as Marko Maruli? Spli?anin ("Marko Maruli? of Split"), Marko Pe?eni?, Marcus Marulus (or de Marulis) Spalatensis, or Dalmata. He was also the first who defined and used the notion of psychology, which is today in current use.
Maruli? was a nobleman born in Split, Dalmatia, coming from the distinguished aristocratic family of Pe?eni? (Pecini?, Picini?), the 15th century family branch whose founder was Petar, and only began calling themselves again Maruli?, Marulus or De Marulis, in the 16th century.
Very little is actually known about his life, and the 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 Padua University, after which he spent much of his life in his home town. Occasionally he visited Venice (to trade) and Rome (to celebrate the year 1500).
He lived for about two years in Ne?ujam on the island of ?olta. In Split, Maruli? 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, Maruli? was inspired by the Bible, Antique writers and Christian hagiographies. Main topics of his writings were Christian theological by nature. He was a poet and writer who wrote many poems, discussions on theology and Christian ethics, stories and some epics. He wrote in three languages: Latin (more than 80% of his preserved opus), Croatian and Vulgar Italian (three letters and two sonnets are preserved). Maruli? 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.
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 Venice; this work influenced St Francis Xavier, and it was claimed by one of Francis' associates in 1549 to be the only book that he read during his missionary work. Maruli? 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 books, 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, Maruli?'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.
In the works written in Croatian, Maruli? achieved a permanent status and position that has remained uncontested. His central Croatian oeuvre, the epic poem Judita (Libar Marca Marula Splichianina V chomse sdarsi Istoria Sfete udouice Iudit u uersih haruacchi slosena chacho ona ubi uoiuodu Olopherna Posridu uoische gnegoue i oslodobi puch israelschi od ueliche pogibili) written in 1501 and published in Venice in 1521, is based on the Biblical tale from a Deuterocanonical Book of Judith, written in ?akavian dialect - his mother tongue and described by him as u versi haruacchi slozhena ("arranged in Croatian stanzas"). His other works in Croatian are:
American historian John Van Antwerp Fine, Jr. emphasizes that Maruli? belongs to a group of humanist and clerics placed in the "Croat" camp who, at least at the time when they wrote their texts, did not seem to have "Croat" identity, particularly not a Croat ethnic identity.
Recently discovered manuscript of Marko Maruli? in the University Library, Glasgow throws a new light on his work and persona. It was discovered in 1995 by Darko Novakovi? and he states that in comparison with Maruli?'s known carmina minora the poems in the codex introduce three thematic novelties. Unexpectedly vehement, satirical epigrams are featured and the intensity of his satirical impulse is startling: even in such conventional poems as epitaphs. Three poems reveal his love of animals. The greatest revelation are the verses which show Maruli? as the author of love poems. This aspect represents the most serious challenge to our traditional picture of the Poet: the last epigram in the collection is a true Priapeum marked with lascivious ambiguity.
According to Fiskovi?, Maruli? was an accomplished illustrator. In his will he leaves to his sister a book that he illustrated and conceived. The second edition of Judita, prepared by Zadar publisher Jerolim Mirkovi?, dated 30 May 1522 is adorned with nine woodcuts of which the last one is signed "M". It is assumed that the illustrations were created by Maruli? himself.
Thus it seems that identity as "Croat", and particularly one with a feeling for such as an ethnic identity, was missing - at least at the time when those men wrote their texts - in all these figures. And they I might add included two figures placed in the "Croat" camp at the beginning of the chapter: Marko Maruli? and ?imun Ko?i?