Skip to the main content

Original scientific paper

Foreign Teacher and a Local Historian: Nascimbene Nascimbeni and Serafin Cerva on Rhetoric

Relja Seferović

Full text: croatian pdf 541 Kb


page 47-116

downloads: 1.240



Early acknowledgement of the practical value of rhetoric in resolving internal political issues and particularly its usefulness in foreign policy prompted the Ragusans to open a school as early as the end of the fourteenth century. Its work was formally defined in the mid-sixteenth century, when not only the duties and privileges of the foreign masters recruited to teach in Dubrovnik were regulated, but also the bursary terms for Ragusan students studying abroad. The law was passed in 1557, a few years prior to the arrival of Nascimbene Nascimbeni, scholar from Ferrara, yet another in a succession of able foreign masters who traditionally headed the Ragusan gymnasium. An elaborately drafted diplomatic letter of the Republic Secretary Giovanni Amalteo reveals that the school rector was highly esteemed in Dubrovnik. Among Italian intellectuals (physicians and clerks) whose services the Ragusan government sought, his position was particularly distinguished. Nascimbene’s short rectorship came to a sudden end when, being drawn involuntarily into a conflict between his cousin Pietro and the Ragusan patricians, he fled from Dubrovnik. Yet the early years of his idyllic relations with the Ragusan authorities were crowned with the publishing of his commentaries on Cicero’s treatise De Inventione, financially supported by the government. Having understood rhetoric but also classical Greek and Roman literature, from which he amply drew, as a political tool, Nascimbene no doubt had a profound influence upon his students, among whom Nikola Gozze was later to become an especially eminent philosopher. Yet several Ragusans who had earned their reputation in the first half of the seventeenth century as professors of rhetoric at Collegium Romanum marked a gradual shift towards the values in teaching rhetoric which, in the eighteenth century, were developed by the Jesuits. An example of this is the textbook of rhetoric by the Frenchman Martin Du Cygne, who attached far more importance to practical training than theoretical elaboration. In Dubrovnik itself, the mid-eighteenth century was to witness such a shift in the work of the Dominican Serafin Marija Cerva, who dauntlessly condemned the practice of official funeral orations delivered traditionally by no other but foreign rectors of the Dubrovnik gymnasium. Despite change in interpretation, rhetoric maintained its importance in the curriculum of the Ragusan school and remained highly valued in the eyes of the contemporaries up until the Republic’s fall.


Hrčak ID:



Publication date:


Article data in other languages: croatian

Visits: 2.746 *