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Marko Marulić

Marko Marulić
1903 illustration
Born 18 August 1450
Split, Republic of Venice
Died 5 January 1524(1524-01-05) (aged 73)
Split, Republic of Venice
Occupation poet, humanist
Language Croatian, Latin
Nationality Venetian
Ethnicity Croat
Period Renaissance
Notable works Judita

Marko Marulić (Croatian pronunciation: ; Italian: Marco Marulo; 18 August 1450 – 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.[1] He signed his works as Marko Marulić Splićanin ("Marko Marulić of Split"), Marko Pečenić, 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.[2][3][4]


  • Biography 1
  • Writing 2
    • Latin works 2.1
    • Croatian works 2.2
  • Assessment and legacy 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


Marulić was a nobleman born in Split, Dalmatia, coming from the distinguished aristocratic family of Pečenić (Pecinić, Picinić), the 15th century family branch whose founder was Petar, and only began calling themselves again Marulić, 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 to Rome (to celebrate the year 1500).

He lived for about two years in Nečujam on the island of Šolta. 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

Cover sheet of Marulić's Evangelistarium, 1571 Tuscan-language edition, translated by Silvano Razzi from Latin original.

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. 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 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, 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.[5]

Croatian works

Monument in Knin

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 (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 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 with his infinite might 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.[6]

Assessment and legacy

Bust of Marko Marulić by Ivan Meštrović in Split.

His works are neither aesthetically nor stylistically superior to the works of his Ragusan predecessors. 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 three 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.

American historian John Van Antwerp Fine, Jr. emphasizes that Marulić 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 mot seem to have "Croat" identity, particularly not a Croat ethnic identity.[7]

Order of Danica Hrvatska with face of Marko Marulić is Croatian state decoration awarded for special merits for culture

Marulić's portrait is depicted on the obverse of the Croatian 500 kuna banknote, issued in 1993.[8]


  1. ^ Marulianum Center for study of Marko Marulić and his literary activity. – Retrieved on 28 November 2008.
  2. ^ Darko Zubrinic, Zagreb (1995) Croatian Humanists, Ecumenists, Latinists, and Encyclopaedists.
  3. ^ "psihologija". Hrvatski jezični portal (in Croatian). Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Moderna Vremena i Marko Marulić – Retrieved on 28 November 2008.
  6. ^ Marko Marulić at HRT archives. – Retrieved on 28 November 2008.
  7. ^ Jr., John V. A. Fine (1 January 2006). When Ethnicity Did Not Matter in the Balkans: A Study of Identity in Pre-Nationalist Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia in the Medieval and Early-Modern Periods. University of Michigan Press. p. 273.  
  8. ^ Croatian National Bank. Features of Kuna Banknotes: 500 kuna. – Retrieved on 30 March 2009.

Further reading

  • Posset, Franz; Kurian, G.T. (2011), Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization (s. v. ‘Marulus, Marcus’), Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell 
  • Bratislav Lučin (2008), The Marulić Reader, Split: Književni krug Split 
  • Mirko Tomasović (2008), Marko Marulić Marulus: An Outstanding Contribution to European Humanism; in Croatia and Europe II – Croatia in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance: A Cultural Survey, London and Zagreb: Školska knjiga – Philip Wilson Publishers 
  • Dubravko Jelčić (2005), Zbornik radova o Marku Maruliću; u povodu 550. obljetnice rođenja i 500. obljetnice njegove Judite 1450.-1501.-2001 = Collected Papers on Marko Marulić. In celebration of 550th anniversary of his birth and 500th anniversary of the birth of his Judita 1450-1501-2001 (in Croatian and English), Zagreb: HAZU 
  • Franz Posset (2013), Marcus Marulus and the Biblia Latina of 1489. An approach to his biblical hermeneutics, Cologne: Böhlau 
  • Fališevac, Dunja; Nemec, Krešimir; Novaković, Darko (2000), Leksikon hrvatskih pisaca (in Croatian), Zagreb: Školska knjiga d.d,  
  • Mirko Tomasović (1999), Marko Marulić Marul : monografija (in Croatian with summaries in English, French, and German and Italian), Zagreb-Split: Erasmus naklada – Književni krug Split, Marulianum – Zavod za znanost o književnosti Filozofskog fakulteta u Zagrebu 
  • Josip Badalić; Nikola Majnarić (1950), Zbornik u proslavu petstogodišnjice rođenja Marka Marulića 1450–1950 (in Croatian), Zagreb: HAZU 

External links

  • Marcus Marulus Spalatensis (site of the Marulianum, Centre for Studies on Marko Marulić and his Humanist Circle
  • Vita Marci Maruli Spalatensis per Franciscum Natalem, conciuem suum, composita (Latin text and French translation)
  • Marko Marulić, the "father of Croatian literature"
  • Links to digitized old editions of Marulić's books
  • Links to works about Marulić in English, German, Italian, and Spanish
  • Links to translations of Marulić's works in English, French, German, Icelandic, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish
  • Project VALMAR: Valorizzazione e recupero degli scritti e dei luoghi dell'umanista spalatino Marko Marulić/Marcus Marulus
  • "Colloquia Maruliana" on Hrčak, portal of scientific journals of Croatia
  • French translations of several works of Marulić
  • , Venice, 1521Judita of editio princepsFacsimile of the
  • Marko Marulić at Find a Grave
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