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The Zadar Elephant and Mosquito: The Polemic of Nardinus Celineus and Palladius Fuscus

Neven Jovanović orcid id ; Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 332 Kb

str. 13-27

preuzimanja: 625



A manuscript codex, today in Osimo (Biblioteca Istituto Campana, ms. 18. L. 13), preserves works by Nardinus Celineus (Nardino Celinese), a humanist born in Friuli. The works seem to belong to the period Nardinus spent in Zadar, between 1508 and 1521. Besides an unfinished epic De bello Gallico and a speech addressing the pope Julius II, the Osimo MS contains a number of poems addressed to members of noble families from Zadar (Soppe, Detrico, Ciprianis, Gallelo, Benja, Grisogono) and to the Venetian administrators of that Dalmatian city (Lorenzo Correr, Giovanni Minotto, Bernardo Bondumier, Leonardo Michiel,Francesco Foscari, Agostino da Mula), as well as to other Venetian officials (Bartolomeo d’Alviano, Antonio Giustinian, Pietro Zeno); there is also a poem to the Polish diplomat and humanist Ioannes Dantiscus, and a pair of epigrams to the Dubrovnik poet Ilija Crijević. But a special set of texts – four prose letters and five epigrams (ff. 22-26, 36-37, 43 of the Osimo MS) – belongs to the polemic that Nardinus waged against his fellow teacher and competitor, the Paduan Palladius Fuscus (Palladio Fosco or Negri, 1450-1520), employed by the Zadar commune in the years 1493-1516.
It seems that sometime in 1513 Nardinus took Palladius to task for using a verse of Vergil (G. 2, 43 = A. 6, 625) in one of his epigrams. Nardinus compounded the offence by writing under the name of one of his patrician pupils, Grisogonus Cedulinus. Palladius responded with a challenge of his own: this time he appropriated Macrobius’ words from Sat. 6, 1, 2-5 without giving the source. Nardinus was able to recognize it, and the debate soon degenerated into spectacular verbal abuse, all the while returning for ammunition to ancient Greek and Latin writers. Thus, in a small treatise on kinds of plagiarism, Nardinus paraphrased Vitruvius’ anecdote about Aristophanes of Byzantium (Vitr. 7, 5-7),demonstrating by his own example how the ancients’ words should be retold with style and not slavishly copied. Nardinus also interpreted Macrobius’ defence of Virgil’s »thefts« as a tongue-in-cheek manoeuvre, and interspersed his sentences freely with esoteric Greek words (such as γραμματοκύφων from Demosthenes’ On the crown). Both lines of attack suggest Palladius’ weak spots – his insufficient interpretive skills and his limited knowledge of Greek. Moreover, Nardinus gave short shrift to Palladius’ main philological achievement, a commentary on Catullus first printed in Venice in 1496. (Mention of Catullus again testifies to the popularity of the poet from Verona in Renaissance Dalmatia; we remember that in the nearby Split, roughly contemporarily to the polemic of Nardinus and Palladius, Marcus Marulus was using Palladius’ commentary to compose his own philological annotations of Catullus, which were added to the margins of the Codex Parisinus (olim Traguriensis) 7989, later famous for preserving the Cena Trimalchionis.)
Clearly, the polemic between Nardinus and Palladius was in part a public event: both sides chose insults and accusations designed to resonate with the citizens and officials of Zadar. Nardinus’ position is the less secure: in contrast to Palladius, Nardinus had no published book of his own (apart from a few texts in books by others, Nardinus did not publish anything in his lifetime). Therefore, he had to prove that his knowledge was superior to that of Palladius. A sign of that knowledge are names from antiquity. An analysis of 114 names which signal acquaintance with the cultures of Greece and Rome (58 of the names are unique) shows predominance of Virgil and Macrobius, the Muses and the Greeks, the Latins, Plinius, Afranius, and Homer. But Palladius uses 13 ancient names in his three texts, while nine texts by Nardinus offer 101 occurrences of names (cf. a table on p. 10); just five names mentioned by Palladius were not picked up by Nardinus.
A further important sign of the antiquity in Nardinus’ and Palladius’ texts is their use of quotations. Relying on a CiTO controlled vocabulary (developed by David Shotton and Silvio Peroni), our analysis of modes of citing led to a nuanced interpretation of quotations and their rhetorical presentation in texts of the two humanists; a quotation has multiple layers of semantic functions.
In Croatian Renaissance literature, there are relatively few polemics, and we rarely get to hear both sides in them. The polemic between Nardinus Celineus and Palladius Fuscus – although played out by Italians, by foreigners – was intended for the ears and eyes of people from Zadar. That is why this polemic, at the centre of which was the use of Greek and Latin texts (supported by naming ancient names, by quoting ancient words), may testify to the level of »the general culture« of a Dalmatian city in 1513.

Ključne riječi

Renaissance humanism, Zadar, reception of antiquity, polemic, Nardino Celinese, Palladio Fosco

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