Marin Držić
Marin Držić also Marino Darza or Marino Darsa; 1508-1567 is considered the finest Croatian Renaissance playwright and prose writer.


Born into a large and well to do family (with 6 sisters and 5 brothers) in Dubrovnik, Držić was trained and ordained as a priest — a calling very unsuitable for his rebel temperament. Ordained in 1526, Držić was sent in 1538 to Siena in Tuscany to study the Church Canon Law, where his academic results were average. Thanks to his extroverted and warm personality, he is said to have captured the hearts of his fellow students and professors, and was elected to the position of Rector of the University. Losing interest in his studies, Marin returned to the Dubrovnik Republic in 1543.

Here he became an acquaintance of Austrian adventurer Christoph Rogendorf, then at odds with Vienna court. After a brief sojourn in Vienna, Držić came back to his native city. Other vagabond exploits followed: a connection with a group of Dubrovnik outlaws, a journey to Constantinople and a brief trip to Venice. After a career as an interpreter, scrivener and church musician, he even became a conspirator. Convinced that Dubrovnik was governed by a small circle of elitist aristocracy bent to tyranny, he tried to persuade in five letters (four of which survive) the powerful Medici family in Florence to help him overthrow the government in his home town; they did not respond. Marin died suddenly in Venice in 1567. He was buried in the Church of St. John and Paul.

Držić's works cover many fields: lyric poetry, pastorals, political letters and pamphlets, and comedies. While his pastorals ("Grizula or Plakir," Tirena; Venera i Adonis/Venus and Adonis) are still highly regarded as masterful examples of the genre, the pastoral has, as artistic form, virtually vanished from the scene.

However, his comedies are among the best in European Renaissance literature. As with other great comedy writers like Lope de Vega, Ben Jonson or Molière, Držić's comedies are full of exuberant life and vitality, celebrating love, liberty and sincerity and mocking avarice, egoism and petty tyrants — both in family and in state. His best comedies include:

Dundo Maroje (1551)
Skup, The Miser
Novela od Stanca, Prank on Stanac
The gallery of young lovers, misers, cuckolds, adventurers, senile tyrants, painted with the gusto of buoyant idiom that exemplifies richness of the Croatian language in the Renaissance period has remained the pillar of Croatian high comedy theatre ever since.


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