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Original scientific paper

Mnogo lipo i divoto govorenje svarhu muke Gospodina Isukarsta slatkoga. A Passion prose in Firentinski zbornik

Josip Vučković ; Staroslavenski institut, Zagreb

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Mnogo lipo i divoto govorenje svarhu muke gospodina Isukarsta slatkoga [A Most Beautiful and Pious Treatise upon the Passsion of the Sweet Lord Jesus Christ] is an elaborate treatise on the Passion written in Old Croatian language (frequently intertwined with the Latin citations, mostly attributed to the authors of the Scripture and the most reverent of Christian authorities).
The treatise came to us in a single manuscript – an Old Croatian late medieval Latinic codex known as the Firentinski zbornik [Florentine miscellany], nowadays identifiable by shelfmark Ashb. 1582 and stored in Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. This article is an attempt to arrive at a better understanding of the function of the treatise and some of the projected characteristics of its intended audience. It has already been suggested that the codex in which the treatise is preserved was most probably crafted as a companion for the religious edification of women, but so far the means used to achieve this end have not received sufficient scholarly attention. Aside from bringing an ample information on various aspects of Jesus’ redemptive suffering, the treatise on the Passion from the Firentinski zbornik exhibits many features of the medieval meditative texts created for the female devotees and intended to serve as a means of evoking and structuring their compassionate love towards the Heavenly Bridegroom. At the same time, the arrangment of the Old Croatian treatise shares many structural features with the late medieval thematic sermons. This research has shown that the content and the arrangement of the treatise were largely derived from the Latin sermon written by Gabriel de Barletta, an Italian Dominican friar who was a popular preacher in the fifteenth century. The comparisons of the Old Croatian treatise with its hitherto unrecognized Latin source were helpful in uncovering some of the strategies which seem to be deliberately used by the Croatian writer in order to amplify the emotional potential of the text and to enhance its meditative efficiency. The most important departures from the source can be summarized as follows: the Old Croatian treatise is adressed to a female naratee and the female characters were given more attention than in de Barletta’s sermon; Mary’s laments were considerably enlarged and it seems that occassionally they might draw on the repertoire of formulas and other stylistic conventions that are a characteristic of the contemporary oral lamentations; the sermon sometimes presents the Latin citations from the Bible and other Christian authorities in the abbreviated or partial form whereas the Old Croatian treatise regularly uses the full Latin form with the translation in Old Croatian; an Old Croatian poem adressing the Cross was inserted into the treatise, while the Italian vernacular verses found in de Barletta’s sermon were omitted. It can be hypothesized that these transformations provide us with a glimpse into the expected level of education, interests, literary culture and aesthetic taste of the female readers (as envisaged by an Old Croatian writer) and into ways in which the writer sought to adjust the material to the projected »horizon of expectations« of his intended audience.


Florentine miscellany, Croatian medieval literature, Passion devotion, Passion meditation, compassion, horizon of expectations, adaptation, medieval thematic sermon, Gabriel de Barletta

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