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A Frame for Miscellanies and the Varia Dalmatica

Neven Jovanović orcid id ; Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zagrebu, Zagreb, Hrvatska

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 123 Kb

str. 5-16

preuzimanja: 815



Manuscript miscellanies are quite heterogeneous collections. Therefore they present the challenge of how to cope with all the information contained. Here we meet this challenge with simple computing tools (spreadsheets), instead of the usual printed indexes, descriptions, lists and concordances.
Having compiled a list of all the interesting questions about a manuscript miscellany – concerning both its physical features and its contents – it is easy to transform these questions into column headings, and to proceed to answer them for each and every text and page in the miscellany, filling out columns in a spreadsheet table. This almost mechanical task forces the description to remain consistent and explicit. Afterwards, with the contents of the miscellany represented as a digital table, we have a highly manipulable »model« of the MS: a representation which may be sorted, regrouped, and filtered at will, accepting also later corrections, or enlargements with further columns and rows.
To illustrate such digital frame for a miscellany we prepared a spreadsheet description of a MS collection of Latin texts known as Varia Dalmatica (Zadar, Znanstvena knjižnica / Science Library, shelf no. 253290, MS 617); the MS was compiled c. 1570-1670 by Petar and Ivan Lucić from Trogir). The description, freely available at, contains basic data (page number, title, incipit, author etc.) on all 337 texts from the MS. This spreadsheet was then explored in several directions.
The Varia Dalmatica is known as a collection comprising poems »mostly by Croatian humanists«. Therefore we tried to find out how many authors in the MS are connected with Dalmatia (this group turns out to comprise 41 of the 58 known authors). But then we looked for authors with the most texts, and they turn out to be »foreigners«: there are 58 poems by Symposius, a late Roman poet, and 48 poems by Nicolas Bourbon the Elder, a French epigrammatist (1503 or 1505 – after 1550). They are followed – but not closely – by »the locals« Ludovik Paskalić (16 poems), Marko Marulić, (12), Sebastijan Mladinić and Ivan Pridojević (10 poems each).
The manuscript began as a repository for two large anonymous collections (identified here as poems by Symposius and Nicolas Bourbon); later it became a collection of Latin poems by authors local and foreign, major and minor; a remarkably homogenous group is formed of 16 poems by Paskalić; the group comprises many of the longest texts in the MS. A noticeable change happens at f. 90, where funerary epigrams for Petar Lucić are written in a different, less skilled hand, which belongs obviously to his very young son Ivan (born in 1604, the future cel-ebrated Croatian historiographer was ten year old when his father died in 1614). Here ends the collection of contemporary Latin poetry; further quires of the MS comprise texts of antiquarian interest, such as the Vita of Marko Marulić by Frano Božićević, various inscriptions, charters, chronicle fragments, and historical notes.
Filtering the entries in the spreadsheet for texts without titles we noticed a discrepancy: though such texts in the MS are usually anonymous, one was attributed to Pridojević. This attribution turned out to be false. The two-line epigram in praise of St Jerome is quoted in the De situ Illyriae et civitate Sibenici (Juraj Šižgorić, 1487) as written by a friend of Šižgorić, a humanist from Trieste, Raffaele Zovenzoni (1431 – c. 1480). Further inquiry into anonymous texts in the Varia Dalmatica suggests that there are actually several types of anonymity in the MS. The authors of 173 texts of the MS are simply not listed; two cases are explicitly marked as incerti auctoris. In a further 40 texts the author is implied (by the group to which the text belongs, or by the authorship of the preceding texts); ten texts hide their authors behind initials, and such texts seem to be mostly by local writers. When we selected a subgroup of anonymous didactic and memorable texts – today they would be part of Latin dicta et sententiae – examining their position and function on the page, we recognized a practice known from another MS compiled by Petar Lucić, the Croatian miscellany Vartal. In both MSs Lucić uses the shorter poems as filler for empty space on the pages. During this examination we identified three short Croatian poems by Lucić from Vartal (no. 83 in the edition by Kolumbić, 1990) as translations of Latin mnemonic verse included in the Varia Dalmatica (ff. 38r, 63r).
Finally, we researched the metrical form of poems in the MS, finding a great preponderance of hexameter (197 poems, 1686 verses) and elegiac couplets (39 poems, 1684 verses). Sapphic strophe, hendecasyllable, and versus caudati are used rarely, alcaic strophe and iambic dimeter just once. This led us to explore the correlation of length, meter, and content in the MS: does the content influence meter in longer poems? Five of the longest poems from the MS (by Fran Trankvil Andreis, Paskalić, and Marulić) are political and religious; all are in hexameter. Even the exception, a description of an imagined locus amoenus by Paskalić (De nemore Corytio), contains strong religious overtones. Of the next five longest poems, four are in elegiacs (the hexameter piece, by Trankvil Andreis, is a political pamphlet). Elegiac poems are written by Marulić, Pridojević, Paskalić and Mladinić; three of the poems are either love poetry or epistles. One, however, is different. Pridojević chose elegiacs for a praise of Trogir (Ad nobiles viros Tragurienses patris Ioannis Pridoevii Scardoniensis de Tragurii praeclarae Dalmatiae urbis laudibus carmen), which is not an epistle, but something similar to a speech in verse. For such a task we would expect hexameter (chosen on similar occasions by Trankvil Andreis and Frano Mužić for poems included in the MS). The reason for the different ethos of elegiacs may be later date of the Pridojević poem; it is at least forty years younger than other texts of similar content and length in the MS.
The digital model of the Varia Dalmatica proposed here presents only a very rough approximation of the actual artifact. But it was never intended to replace the artifact itself; rather, the model encouraged us to think differently of the artifact, to ask different questions, to experiment, in the process bringing forth new knowledge almost as a by-product.

Ključne riječi

poetic miscellany; manuscript miscellany; Petar Lucić; Trogir; Neo-Latin poetry; humanities computing; Croatian literature; 16th century; anonymity; translation

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