Croatian Neo-Latin literature and its uses

A small anthology

In Croatia, for over a thousand years, Latin language was used for the belles-lettres, education, and scholarship, for politics and religion, for private correspondence and public administration, at times addressing Croatian public, at times an international audience.

To demonstrate the contexts of Latin writing and uses to which the classical culture was put in the corpus of Croatian Latin, we present the following texts: the Historia Salonitana by Thomas the Archdeacon of Split (c. 1200-1268), an epistolary poem by Ilija Crijević (1463-1520), a report from the wartime military camp near Sisak (1592), the autobiography of the Jesuit missionary in Ottoman lands Bartol Kašić (1575-1650), a Nativity poem written in an artfully archaic Latin by Ignjat Đurđević (1575-1650), an epigram improvised in 1800 by the imprisoned revolutionary Marko Faustin Galjuf (1765-1834), and a free-verse poem by Ton Smerdel (1904-1970).

Toma Arhiđakon (c. 1200-1268)

Of unknown, probably patrician origin, Toma studied in Bologna and had a chance to listen to a sermon by Francis of Assisi. In 1227-32 he was the notary of the city of Split; as elected archdeacon, in 1230 he had a falling-out with the then archbishop of Split, Guncellus; in 1244 Toma himself failed to become archbishop there. His Historia Salonitanorum pontificum atque Spalatensium, or Historia Salonitana, chronicles developments in the archbishoprics of Salona and, later, Split (formerly the palace of emperor Diocletian), from Roman times until 1266.

Source: Toma 2003; translation: Thomas 2006.

Historia Salonitana 1 and 4

Dalmatia secundum Ysidorum est prima pars Gretie et dicitur a Delmi ciuitate antiqua, que ibi fuit, sed ubi hec ciuitas Delmis in Dalmatie partibus fuerit, non satis patet. Verum tamen Dalmatia dicebatur olim largius, censebatur enim cum Chrouatia una prouintia. Est enim regio quedam in superioribus partibus, que dicitur Delmina, ubi antiqua menia ostenduntur, ibi fuisse Delmis ciuitas memoratur. Nunc uero Dalmatia est regio maritima, incipiens ab Epyro, ubi est Dirachium, et protenditur usque ad sinum Quarnarium, in cuius interioribus est oppidum Stridonis, quod Dalmatie Pannonieque confinium fuit. Hec fuit patria tellus beati Hieronymi, egregii doctoris. Dicta est Dalmatia etiam alio nomine Liburnia a quodam genere nauis piratice, que in usu erat apud illos, unde Lucanus: Pugnacesque mari Graia cum classe Liburnos. Exercebant enim piraterium propter oportunitatem locorum, quia mare illud ob multitudinem insularum latebrosum et portuosum est ualde. (…)

Secundum poetarum fabulas Cadmus dicitur in eandem deuenisse prouintiam, quando in serpentem mutatus est. Fuit autem ciuitas eius Epitaurus, que est iuxta Ragusium, in qua est magnum antrum et usque hodie opinio est, ibi habitare draconem, unde poeta: Cur in amicorum uitiis tam cernis acutum, ut serpens Epitaurius. Ob hanc causam populi illi dicebantur anguigene. Et etiam de beato Ylarione legitur, quod magnum ibi draconem peremit. Secundum ystoriam uero idem Cadmus rex fuit in Gretia, qui depulsus regno uenit in Dalmatiam factusque pirata seuissimus cepit quasi lubricus anguis per mare discurrere, nauigantibus insidiari et quoscumque poterat opprimere impotentes.

Dalmatia, according to Isidore, is the first part of Greece, and is named after the ancient city of Delmis that was there; but it is not entirely clear in what part of Dalmatia this city of Delmis was. However, the name Dalmatia was formerly used in a broader sense, for it was considered as one province with Croatia. Now there is a certain area in the upper regions called Delmina, where ancient walls are to be seen; it was there, according to tradition, that the city of Delmis stood. Today, however, Dalmatia is a maritime region. It begins from Epirus, where Durrës is, and extends up to the Gulf of Kvarner, in the hinterland of which is the town of Stridon, which was the boundary between Dalmatia and Pannonia. This was the birthplace of the blessed Jerome, the illustrious doctor. Another name for Dalmatia was Liburnia, coming from a kind of pirate ship in use among them—whence Lucan: And the fierce Liburnians on the sea with the Greek fleet. They practiced piracy taking advantage of the terrain, the sea there being full of hiding places and good harbors on account of the great number of islands. (…) According to stories of the poets, Cadmus is said to have come to this province, whereupon he was transformed into a serpent. His city was Epidaurus, which is near Dubrovnik. In it there is a great cave, and to this day there is a belief that a dragon lives there; whence the poet: Why do you, like the serpent of Epidaurus, discern so sharply the faults of friends? For this reason all these peoples were called “serpent-born.” Moreover, we read of the blessed Hilarion that he destroyed a great dragon there. But according to history this same Cadmus was a king in Greece, who after being expelled from his kingdom came to Dalmatia, and became a most cruel pirate; like a slithering serpent, he took to ranging over the sea, lying in wait for those who sailed and falling upon the helpless whenever he could.

Ilija Crijević (Dubrovnik, 1463-1520)

Born in Dubrovnik, in one of its noble families, Crijević studied in Italy; in 1484 he was crowned as a poet laureate in Roman Accademia of Pomponio Leto. Returning to Dubrovnik in 1487, he spent most of his life teaching in the communal school; his attempts to ensure patronage of various Renaissance princes and rulers remained unsuccessful. In 1510 the widowed Crijević became a priest and canon of the Dubrovnik cathedral chapter. An excellent versifier and stylistic virtuoso, Crijević wrote exclusively in Latin, mostly poetry and shorter oratorical prose. In his lifetime only four of his poems were published, the rest surviving in manuscripts (which still have not seen a comprehensive critical edition). Of all Croatian Renaissance humanists, Crijević was the one to take most seriously the notion of synthesis of philology and literature.

Source: Novaković 2004. Translated by the author of this anthology.

A letter in verse to Marin Bunić

Aelius Lampridius Ceruinus suo Mario Bonae salutem.

Pollicitus sum mea persica locutura, quae muta ad te uenerunt. En, loquuntur ultro, et quod admonent, cupiunt persuadere ut exemplo suo tuis ignibus consulas. Vale!

Quae sunt in patrio uenena caelo, 
Hic nectar sapiunt et inquilina 
Sunt suauissima poma; diminuta 
Delectant capite exulisque succi, 
Nec postliminio, Mari, recaepto	
Vescentem indigena sapore laedunt. 
Ergo his utere tutus: irrigatum 
Dices ambrosia salubre munus, 
Foecundauit aprica quod fenestra 
Et cultrix Venerilla. Sole bino	
Censentur mea poma pensilique 
Horto. Quid Veneris perustionem, 
Quam tu scis, loquar? Haec sata intuendo 
Et nostrum nemus urrit et propinquam 
Visu uulnerat arborem; et roseta	
Et languentia lilieta cogit 
Suspirare, adeo nouos amores 
Lasciuis iaculatur ex ocellis! 
Ergo tot liquidos anhela fontes 
Exaurit Venerilla et insereni	
Imbres adsiduos Iouis precatur 
Supplex, irrequieta, temperatque 
Ardorem geminum, hinc siticulosam 
Aestatem, hinc Veneris faces propinquae, 
Alternosque refrigerat calores.	
Hinc uiuit rosa, persicis et arbor 
Inclinat tenues onusta ramos, 
Et tot lilia pensilis uireti 
Tollunt purpureos ad astra conos. 
Sed cur non simili uenusta flamma	
Bacchatur Venerilla, quae decoram 
Praegressa est Venerem? Peculiarem 
Visum credere floribus ueretur 
Ne suspiria, ne nouos amores, 
Formae conscia procreet; uideri	
Formidat neque mobiles ocellos 
Exercet, dea uisilis nec ulli est. 
Sic illam geminus decor uenustat, 
Et forma et roseus pudor, Dianae 
Vt mixtam Venerem putes: proteruit	
Haec ultro speculas palam per omnes 
Et lasciuior ore liberali 
Nunquam temperat illices ocellos. 
Quorum tu facibus, Mari, gemellis 
Flagras usque adeo nec inuidendum	
Forsan floribus abnuas quod illis 
Cultrix sedula sustulit tot aestus. 
Sed cur inuideas? Ab igne tanto, 
Si non admonitus meos recusas, 
Quae nunc fictilibus laborat urnis,	
Te cultrix Venerilla uendicabit 
Exemploque tuos pari leuabit 
Aestus, ut facibus recaepta binis 
Bino sidere poma uendicantur.

Aelius Lampridius Ceruinus salutes his Marius Bona - I have promised that my peaches, which came to you mute, will start talking. Look, they do talk, and they issue a warning, wishing to persuade you to follow their example and take care of your flames. Farewell.

Under the sky of their homeland they are poisonous, / here they taste as nectar: as immigrants / they become sweet, having lost their rights / of citizenship, they please us with juice of exile; / and even if they managed to reclaim their status, Marius, / should one eat them, they won't do harm any more. / So take them and don't worry: you'll find / a healthy gift, drenched in ambrosia, / nurtured by a window exposed to sun / and by our stewardess Venerilla. Thus my fruit / is endowed with two suns, as well as with a hanging / garden. Need I mention the fire / of Venus, well known to you? Glancing at these crops / she burns our grove and hurts the nearby tree, she makes / rosebeds and lily beds faint and / sigh – such is the power of passion / streaming from her ravishing eyes! / Because of them Venerilla must drain each wellspring, / and pray for heavy rain from Jupiter's clouds; / pray humbly, unremittingly, while fighting back / the double blaze, drought of summer and the torch of Venus, / sheltering the garden staggering heatwaves. / Thanks to her the rose still lives, and the peach-tree / still bends her tender boughs under heavy load, / and the hanging flower bed of lilies / still raises its purple cones up towards the stars. / But why would not lovely Venerilla give in / to another kind of fiery rage? For she has already surpassed / the beautiful Venus! But she declines / to show to any flower / her stunning face, so as not to cause new sighs, new infatuation; / aware of her beauty, she trembles at being seen, / declines to apply her lovely nimble eyes; / this is a goddess which cannot be seen by anyone. / So she is blessed by double beauty: / by looks and rosy modesty – and you may think her / Diana mixed with Venus. And all the while the latter gladly / struts in everybody's sight, on every lookout, / shameless beyond all measure, with her gorgeous face, / she never restrains her beguiling eyes. / Under these twin torches, Marius, / you burn to this day, and don't you deny that the flowers may be envied, / because a diligent stewardess sheltered them from heat. / But should you envy them, indeed? From such a flame / (just don't reject what I have to say) / you can be rescued by the one / that now is tending to earthenware pots: / by the stewardess Venerilla! / Your fever will be eased in a similar way / as the fruit, in danger of twin flames, finds shelter from the heat of these two stars.

Nikola Mikac (fl. 1573-1604)

Born in Tišina near Sisak, Mikac was a canon of the Zagreb cathedral chapter 1573-1604, and commander of the fort of Sisak (under jurisdiction of the Zagreb archbishopric) in 1591-92; his short historical monograph Obsidio Sisciensis (Siege of Sisak) tells the story of his second tour of duty. Later Mikac was bishop of Knin (in Croatia), Pécs (in Hungary) and Nagyvárad (today Oradea in Romania); he was still alive in 1613.

Source: Ivanović and Kolanović 1993. Translated by the author of this anthology.

A letter to Zagreb from the fort of Sisak, May 2, 1592

Reverendi domini et patres colendissimi, orationum commendationem.

Perfecto destinato opere hostili castroque bene munito Caunis hodie hora octava transtulit castra in singularem planiciem quae imminet oppido Hraztovicensi, ubi condam virgines Hraztovicenses ad mediam usque noctem coreis indulgebant. Castris fixis restaurat Hraztoviczam qua restituta Goras, quibus praeter portam nihil aliud deest atque aliquot asseres, restaurabit. Heri sub crepusculum casulam quandam stramineam pro apibus fovendis, per custodes Berzayenses sub Berzay factam, Valachi combusserunt. Nudius tertius prope Letovanich locum excubiarum, Pleter dictum, vulcano tradiderunt. Serpit hostis ut venenum nec est qui se opponat. Concilia Germanorum inconstantia neque aliquod ab illis liberandi auxilium sperandum. Hodie centum haramias vicegeneralis dedit, quibus ex more iusti exercitus dati pulveres, locabuntur ubi expedient; verum tamen in illis parum admodum, ut video, positum praesidium, cum sint ignari harum partium neque promittunt aliud quam sedere et non excubare in locis vigiliarum. Zagrabienses nostri pellantur huc capilatim. Colonorum tertia pars vix adest et hi sunt nobis ob famem molesti. Cum his valeant reverendae dominationes vestrae ad vota.

Ex castris ad pontem 2. Maii 1592. Reverendarum dominationum vestrarum servitor deditissimus Micatius, manu propria.

Honorable gentlemen and respected fathers, commending to you my prayers.

Having finished the works intended by the enemy, and having secured the camp well, Caunis today, at eight o'clock, moved camp to that remarkable plain above the dwelling of Hrastovica, where in times past virgins from Hrastovica used to dance until midnight. Having repaired the camp, Caunis is rebuilding Hrastovica; after that he will rebuild Gore, where nothing is missing except for the gate and a couple of poles. Yesterday in the early evening the Vlachs burned down one straw beekeeping hut, built under the Brzaj by the local guards. The day before yesterday, near Letovanić, they set fire to a guard post called Pleter. The enemy is creeping upon as like poison and there is no one to fight back. The Germans change their plans from day to day, and there is no hope that they would help us get free. Today the lieutenant general gave us a hundred haramijas; they received gunpowder like proper soldiers, and they will be deployed wherever they will be of use; however, it seems to me we shouldn't expect much assistance from them, because they don't know these regions, and they probably won't be doing anything but sitting around and not keeping guard on the outposts. Our Zagreb conscripts are being dragged hither by their hair. Of peasants there is barely a third here and they are a burden to us because of hunger. With these words let our reverend lords be saluted, all the best.

From the camp near the bridge, 2 May 1592, the most loyal servant of your reverend lordships, Mikac, with his own hand.

Bartul Kašić (1575-1650)

From the Dalmatian island of Pag, he was ordained as Jesuit in 1606; he taught and preached in Rome, Dubrovnik, and Loreto. In 1612-13 and 1618-19 Kašić made two missionary journeys to Catholics in the Balkans under Ottoman rule, travelling as far as Belgrade (today in Serbia) and Temesvár (today Timişoara in Romania). Kašić wrote the first grammar of Croatian (Institutionum linguae illyricae libri duo, 1604), and published a number of religious works in Croatian; his Croatian translation of the Bible, done in 1622-30, was not accepted for publication (for reasons of Vatican politics; the Church chose to support books in Old Church Slavonic, and in Cyrillic or Glagolitic script). Kašić's Latin autobiography, Vita P. Bartholomaei Cassii Dalmatae ab ipsomet conscripta, was written around 1649, and covers the period until 1625. Our excerpt describes Kašić's stay near Donji Miholjac (in Slavonia, a continental region of Croatia), sometime in 1618-20.

Source: Vanino 1940. Translated by the author of this anthology.

Vita P. Bartholomaei Cassii Dalmatae ab ipsomet conscripta

Interim pauperrima cibaria pro prandio parabantur, cum cucurbita aqua plena ex aliqua lacuncula hausta, quae ex cucurbita invisibiliter ebibita dentes arenula percutiebat. Vinum autem raro in mensa apparebat, nisi a quadam vicina villa forte emptum deferretur quod potius emebatur ad celebrandum Sacrum quam ad potandum in mensa parcius. Hospes enim domi dolia vini nulla habebat, cuius familia sitim aqua frigidula exstinguere satagebat aceto diluta et infecta aliquantulum.

Aliquandoque accidit Patri supra pavimentum subiecta palea seu foeno sub culcitra dormiendo cubare noctu; prope in eodem plano procubuere etiam tres aliquando milites seratliae finium custodes Turcae; profecto modestissime atque silentissime ne verbum quidem post decubitum proferendo aut aliquid indecentius faciendo. Post primum somnum experrecti aquam ex amphora vesperi ad caput apposita potabant nihilque loquentes iterum obdormiscebant. Erant autem tria strata supra tabulas a solio altius sublevata pro maritis et ipsorum uxoribus domesticis, in quibus quilibet cum sua somnum capiebant exstinctis lucernis tenebrisque obtecti nemine advertente cubabant honestissime summo cum silentio. Verum solus Pater sibi ex pituita defluente in fauces gravissimam tussim patiendo exspuendoque caeteris suaviter dormientibus molestus esse poterat; sub lectum tamen elevatum ex parte pedum exspuebat averso capite a Turcis, ne ipsis aliquid molestiae inferret. Experrecti ipsi porro mane sub auroram silentes surgebant e strato; modesteque sarcinis suis compositis absque ullius molestia abibant in suis equis armati. Pater vero clara luce persolutis suis precibus ad altare praeparandum pro celebrando Sacro omnia pie ac devote cohonestabat ordinabatque pro loci parvitate ac paupertate omnibus rebus necessariis compositis uti expediebat. Et quoniam in omnibus 14 villis, quas invisere potuit, non invenit in vicinia nisi duo templa profanata, unum s. Andreae superius iam descriptum cum tecto, alterum sine illo discoopertum cum suis altaribus latericiis lapideisve sed dirutis, in quibus satis incommode ara poterat apparari.

The life of Father Bartholomaeus Cassius, Dalmatian, written by himself

Meanwhile modest victuals were being prepared for a meal, accompanied by a gourd filled with water from some small cistern; when drinking from the gourd, one could feel one's teeth scraped by grains of sand. There was only rarely wine on the table, unless it was bought and brought from a nearby village; and it was bought for celebrating the Mass rather than to be drunk frugally during meals. Our host had not a barrel of wine at home; his family quenched thirst by plain cold water, mixed with vinegar and somewhat polluted.

Sometimes it so happened that the Father had to sleep lying on the floor, putting straw or hay under the mattress; sometimes three Turkish seratlija soldiers (borderline guards) would lie down nearby, almost on the same level; they did so decorously and very quietly, uttering not a word nor doing anything indecent after going to bed. Waking after the first sleep, they would drink water from the pitcher placed in the evening beside their heads, say not a word, and go back to sleep. Three beds on planks were raised somewhat higher from the ground; there husbands and their housewives would sleep, each with his spouse; after the lamps were put out, under cover of darkness they would lie not making themselves noticed, most decently, in utter silence. On the contrary, only the Father could have been annoying to others, who were enjoying peaceful sleep, as he suffered from heavy cough and had to spit out phlegm that was flowing down into his throat. He would spit under the raised bed, on its foot side, turning his head away from the Turks, so as not to cause them any annoyance. The Turks would awake next day at dawn, and silently rise from their bedrolls, politely pack up their kit, and without troubling anyone they would ride away on their horses, under arms. In the full daylight, the Father would say his prayers and piously and devotedly do honor to and take care of everything necessary for preparing the altar for celebrating the Mass, arranging the things as it was fitting, taking into account the small size and poverty of the place. Because in the neighborhood of all fourteen villages which he was able to visit there was not to be found but two desecrated churches, one with the roof, dedicated to St. Andreas, and already described above, another open to the sky, with altars of brick and stone, but in a state of ruin, it was quite inconvenient to prepare the altar there.

Ignjat Đurđević (Dubrovnik, 1675-1737)

Born in Dubrovnik in a family that only recently gained noble rank, Ignjat Đurđević joined the Jesuits in 1697; he studied philosophy and taught in Italy, returning to Dubrovnik in 1705, and entering the Benedictine order, spending the rest of his life between Italy and monasteries on the territory of Dubrovnik. He is one of the two foremost authors of baroque poetry in Croatian (the other one being Ivan Gundulić, 1589-1638); Đurđević's Croatian poems are studied much more intensively than Latin and Italian parts of his oeuvre. Most of his Latin verse, including the Iter ad antrum Bethlemiticum, was gathered in the collection Poetici lusus varii, copied around 1703-1708.

Source: Gortan 1951. In the original manuscript, iambic and trochaic combinations, which imitate the cantica of Plautus, are written as continuous prose; Gortan added verse boundaries. Translated by the author of this anthology.

Iter ad antrum Bethlemiticum stylo Livii Andronici, poetae vetustissimi iambici

Acurasso, ne mihi abusa sit via, grandibo gradus. / Vix queo, pape! oppido mi prae curriculo istactenus desudascitur, / Egomet iam gravastellus, nec meo immerito, cluo, / Defloccata canitudo et vires concipilatae meum itiner lamberant. / Inque tute, bucaeda bubsa, per tua te quaeso pecuda, / Sic ne te infelicare velit magnos Iovis, inque mihi ignaruri, / In qua domu puerum puera Puerpera peperit et lactem nato danit. / Atat, gemiti vox meas aureis batuit. Ellum! euax! ipsus est Diespiter, / Qui manceps humanum capital in specu suo cordolio luit. / Salve, mea lubentia, turturille; salve, passercule, columbule, / Mi lepus, mea monedula, mulse, mel, mellilla, mellinia, / Tu mepte dulcificas, o licessit mi tecum aevum agere, / Moriri nequitur ibus, qui tecom sedent. / Fungi sunto et buccones, bucculenti, eleborosi, blitei, / Qui mavolunt cunctare, nec hilari convenibunt te, o Deus ipsissime, / Ut labias isti tuo nidamento applicent et dorsa in curvedinem duint. / Egone me hinc aliquo abstulam? Nae cerritus, si id faxo, fuam. / Nam mea confirmitate autumo me, quod volupe est, a te impetrassere, / Mi decet te amplectier efflictim et contente, qui caelos amplectis manu.

Going to the cave of Bethlehem, iambic verse in the style of Livius Andronicus, a most ancient poet

Take care, I will; not to have travelled in vain, I'll supplement my steps. / 'Tis hard, alas! Indeed, this toil of speeding up to here, how it makes one sweat! / Unhaired can I be called already, forsooth, and not guiltlessly: / my hoary-headedness, my strength gone into heaviness, both turn my gait to shreds and patches. / I prithee, keeper of the horned herd, by the flock that you tend, / by Jove that thunders, may he not smite you with any grief – do you have an answer for th' ignorant: / which is the home where to maiden-maid a boy was borne and given mother's milk? / Lo! sound of crying did hit these ears of mine. Behold! Rejoice! See Jove Himselfe! / A bondsman he, the human sin he washes off, here in the cave, grief in his heart. / Hail, my delight, my turtle-dove; hail, my sparrow, pigeon mine, / hail, my bunny, my daw, my sweet honeyed honey-wine, / thou sweeten'st my life, o! were it allowed with thou to spend my days, / Death threatens not them who sit with thee. / Mushrumps and brazen-faced, scurvy-valiant, toad-spotted, guts-griping, beet-headed, / are those who prefer to procrastinate, and do not rush to pursue delight in you, o your most godly self, / who do not press their lips upon this your aery's nest and crook the hinges of their backs. / Myself, to remove me hence, go speed elsewhere? Frantic I'd be, and lunatic, in so doing! / For having shown will in't, so would I esteem, a treasure did I casket, / permission to embrace madly and sweetly thee, who the o'erhanging firmament embraceth!

Marko Faustin Galjuf (1765-1834)

Born in Dubrovnik, to a middle-class merchant family, Galjuf studied in Rome at the Piarists' Collegium Nazarenum; there he was also a member of the Accademia degli Arcadi. In 1798, when the French took Rome and established the Roman Republic, Galjuf resigned as a priest and entered politics. After the fall of the Republic he worked first in Paris and later in Genova, where he taught law at the university. Dismissed from his post in 1815 because of his Bonapartist tendencies, he spent the rest of his life touring the Western Europe as a celebrated Latin improviser. The following epigram is preserved with a portrait of Galjuf done in 1800 in Civitavecchia by the Dutch artist David Pierre Giottino Humbert de Superville (1781-1849); Galjuf and Humbert were held there as prisoners of war.

Source: Bolten 1986. Translated by the author of this chapter.

Dum Romanam exul fugeret Gagliufius iram,
  Expectans summo in littore, talis erat

Fleeing from Roman wrath as an exile, this is what Gagliufius
  looked like while waiting on the shoreline.

Ton Smerdel (1904-1970)

Born on the island of Silba, Smerdel studied in Zagreb, during 1928-1941 taught in several places in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia; in the fascist puppet Independent State of Croatia Smerdel worked for the Ministry of external affairs. In the post-war Yugoslavia Smerdel was unemployed until 1956; afterwards he was a library researcher and copy editor in Zagreb, in the Lexicographical Institute, where the influential Croatian writer and intellectual Miroslav Krleža (1893-1981) employed many highly educated, but politically suspect 'former people'. Smerdel translated into Croatian Pindar and Sappho, Giacomo Leopardi (whose fictional biography he published in 1966) and Nikos Kazantzakis. In Yugoslavia, Smerdel's collections of Latin poetry were either privately printed or published in the classical philology journal Živa antika; abroad, it was published in little specialized Western European magazines such as Vita Latina (founded in 1957 in Avignon). The influential Companion to neo-Latin studies (1977) by the Dutch scholar Josef Ijsewijn (1932-1998) presented Smerdel as a representative of 'minor modern forms' of writing in Latin.

Source: Smerdel 1967. Translated by the author of this chapter.

Vagationes lyricae (1967)


Umbracula nucis dulcia
ego et cicada umbratici
redeunte aestate sumus solis phanatici


Hic angulus ridet nobis umbrifer
et cicada cantum lucente sole
alis suis nitentibus incipit:
-- Amice
momentum nos habemus brevis Fortunae
ex sinu Fati raptae
        umbratice amice
video etiam cupressos
et Parcas venientes
sine filis nobis et nuci arridentes

Lyrical Roamings


Sweet shades of the nut-tree
I and a cicada, shady characters,
as the summer returns get frenzied by the sun


Here a corner welcomes us with shade
and as the sun is glittering the cicada 
starts to sing straining its wings:
-- O my friend
         in the shade
we have a short moment of Fortune
seized from the bosom of Fate
O my friend
         o friend in the shade
I see the cypresses as well
and the Parcae coming
without threads they smile at us and at the nut


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  • Gortan, Veljko. 1951. ”'Iter ad antrum Bethlemiticum' Ignjata Đurđevića.” Živa antika 1 (2): 185-205.
  • Ivanović, Jozo and Josip Kolanović, eds. 1993. Sisak u obrani od Turaka: izbor građe 1543-1597. Zagreb; Sisak: Arhiv Hrvatske; Povijesni arhiv Sisak; Matica hrvatska Sisak.
  • Novaković, Darko. 2004. “Autografi Ilije Crijevića (I): Vat. lat. 1678.” Hrvatska književna baština 3: 9-251.
  • Smerdel, Ton. 1967. “Vagationes lyricae.” Vita Latina 32: 29-30.
  • Toma Arhiđakon. 2003. Historia Salonitana: povijest salonitanskih i splitskih prvosvećenika. Split: Književni krug.
  • Thomas Archdeacon Spalatensis. 2006. Historia Salonitanorum atque Spalatinorum pontificum. Budapest: Central European University Press.
  • Vanino, Miroslav. 1940. “Autobiografija Bartola Kašića.” Građa za povijest književnosti hrvatske 15: 1-144.
z/croatian-neo-latin.txt · Last modified: 2015/03/01 17:43 by njovanovic
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