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OBLITI PRIVATORUM PUBLICA CURATE: A Ragusan Political Epigraph and its Historical Background

Nella Lonza

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 1.864 Kb

str. 25-46

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The article focuses on the Latin inscription Obliti privatorum publica curate which reminds that common good should be given priority over private matters. It stands in Rector’s Palace in Dubrovnik, over the entrance to the hall of the Major Council. Until now, scholars have believed that the epigraph was inscribed there after the Great Earthquake of 1667, but this article shows that the inscription had certainly been there before 1667, possibly carved even at the time of the Palace’s construction, at the end of the fifteenth century. The article illuminates inscriptions conveying political meaning as well as the iconographic programme within the same complex of the public buildings of the Rector’s Palace and the Council Hall. Special emphasis has been placed on the two inscriptions, unknown until now, which had once stood in the hall of the Minor Council. Their false attribution to the famous Greek legislators Lycurgus and Solon was a sort of political statement, while in fact the quotations are borrowed from one of Cicero’s philippics and a text generally attributed to Seneca the Younger. The inscription ‘Obliti privatorum...’ was long believed to epitomise Ragusan political ideals, its diction being attributed to the natives. Only recently, philologist Neven Jovanović has indicated that this adage is a variation of an extract of Cicero’s De officiis in which he paraphrases Plato, whereas Joško Belamarić, an art historian, examined the possible mediators to the Ragusan milieu (Cardinal Bessarion). The author follows on from their discussion and shows that the ‘common before private’ topic can be traced in 46 Anali Dubrovnik 44 (2006) a succession of authors from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment (Thomas Aquinas, Remigio de’ Girolami, Bartolus de Sassoferrato, Girolamo Savanarola, Francesco Guiccardini, Montesquieu); some authors quote Cicero’s exact words (Guillaume de Conches, Guillaume Pérault, Brunetto Latini, Matteo Palmieri, Domenico Morosini). The author points to the data which show that Dubrovnik was acquainted with some of their works, too. Consequently, the author brings to light two epigraphs completely identical with the one in Dubrovnik. One of them was painted in the Basel Town Hall by Hans Holbein the Younger in 1521-1522; the wall painting itself quickly fell into decay, but the copies of the original designs have been preserved. The second inscription has been located in a house in the village of Lustrola near Bologne, dated 1690. Given the inscriptions’ dispersion in time and space, the author rejects the possibility of mutual copying, assuming that all three epigraphs were derived from a florilegium widely popular at the time. The exact source has yet to be established, but the assumption of foreign source quotation can be supported by the examples from art history, when parts of iconographic scenes of the same building of the Rector’s Palace were carved after foreign pictorial models.

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