Ivan Gundulić - Mačica
The Aristocrat of Croatian Literature


One of the most prominent Croatian authors, Ivan Dživo Franov Gundulić, known as Mačica, was born in Dubrovnik, most probably in the year 1589. While Gundulić was a young man, the educational system in Dubrovnik was noted for the works of the teacher Kamil Camilli, an Italian poet renowned for continuing the work of Tass Liberation of Jerusalem. Camilli, as well as Petar Palikuća, the translator of The Life of Karlo Borromeo, who also taught Gundulić, most probably had a significant influence on Gundulićs literary works. Bartul Kašić and Jakov Mikalja resided in Dubrovnik at the time, during the Jesuit humanistic endeavors. They spent their time researching the Croatian language and gathering lexical treasures, thus establishing the base for the compilation and standardization of a unique Croatian literary language. Obviously, they had an influence on how Gundulić viewed language and how he built his Croatian treasure-chest of great literary musical verses. As a handsome and gentle young man, which most probably earned him the nickname of Mačica, Ivan Gundulić was able to pay frequent visits to the home of Nikola Gučetić (1549-1610). Nikola Gučetić was a philosopher and writer, and the author of the dialogue on Love and Beauty (1581), which was inspired by visions of a wonderful natural park in the immediate vicinity of the Dubrovnik ramparts, the botanical garden in Trsteno, and the nearby promenade around Neptunes fountain. They were based on neo-Platonism or thoughts of the omnipresence of beauty and the universe as eternal pulsations of aestheticism.

Baroque-inspired works

In his work, Penitent Poems of King David (Rome, 1621), Gundulić mentions that he wrote a great many composites, or dramatics: Galate, Dijana, Armida, Posvetilište ljuveno, Prozerpinu ugrabljenu, Čerer, Cleopatra, Ariadne, Adona and Koraljka of Šira - that were presented with great celebrity in Dubrovnik. These throes of darkness, as Gundulić called his early works, have remained up to this day in obscurity: only four melodramas have been preserved. Drama was unusually widespread and popular during Renaissance and Baroque times. The shepherds game, Dubravka, one of the best-known drama plays was shown in Dubrovnik in 1628, on Gundulićs wedding day and on the Day of Dubrava, an allegory of Dubrovnik and Croatian freedom, and the marriage of Beauty, Love and Kindness. It contains the verses to the Hymn of Freedom, which are enacted each year during the Opening Ceremony of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival on July 10th. Tears of the Prodigal Son (Mleci, 1622 and 1623) contains partially sung religious poems based on biblical parabolas from the Gospel according to Luke concerning the sinful, prodigal son. Gundulićs life work, Osman, is an epic of twenty songs that has been handed down to todays readers in an incomplete form. Two central songs are missing, a glorification of the victory of Vladislav, a Polish prince, over the Turks and the young sultan Osman in the battle at Hoćima (1621).

One of the greatest Croatian writers, Ivan Dživo Franov Gundulić of Dubrovnik, known as Mačić, produced strong and various works based on Baroque elements. His literary style used pastorals, epics and tears that incorporated the national uniqueness of Croatia and the Croatian literary tradition, as well as the strength of his own poetic and constructive literary and theatrical talents.

He frequently evaded sessions of the Great and Small Councils, and lived his life as a respectable, honored and esteemed Dubrovnik lord - aristocrat. Ideologically, this had an impact on his literary and theatrical works during the golden age of Baroque times.


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