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The Rhetoric of Marulić's Epistolary Texts

Gorana Stepanić

Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (85 KB) str. 41-53 preuzimanja: 924* citiraj
APA 6th Edition
Stepanić, G. (2004). Retorika Marulićevih epistolarnih tekstova. Colloquia Maruliana ..., 13, 41-53. Preuzeto s
MLA 8th Edition
Stepanić, Gorana. "Retorika Marulićevih epistolarnih tekstova." Colloquia Maruliana ..., vol. 13, 2004, str. 41-53. Citirano 17.06.2021.
Chicago 17th Edition
Stepanić, Gorana. "Retorika Marulićevih epistolarnih tekstova." Colloquia Maruliana ... 13 (2004): 41-53.
Stepanić, G. (2004). 'Retorika Marulićevih epistolarnih tekstova', Colloquia Maruliana ..., 13, str. 41-53. Preuzeto s: (Datum pristupa: 17.06.2021.)
Stepanić G. Retorika Marulićevih epistolarnih tekstova. Colloquia Maruliana ... [Internet]. 2004 [pristupljeno 17.06.2021.];13:41-53. Dostupno na:
G. Stepanić, "Retorika Marulićevih epistolarnih tekstova", Colloquia Maruliana ..., vol.13, str. 41-53, 2004. [Online]. Dostupno na: [Citirano: 17.06.2021.]

Marulić’s epistolary oeuvre comprises 22 texts that can be defined as epistles. This article starts off from the definition of epistle that is provided to Marulić by contemporary epistolary manuals - those of Erasmus, Vives and Niger. An epistle is a prose text that serves for the communication of absent interlocutors, and has to satisfy the following formal requirements: at the beginning and end there must be a formulaic greeting; it bears information important for the absent addressee, and it is in its scope quite limited. This definition eliminates from Marulić’s epistolary oeuvre several texts that have been so far included among them (poetic epistles, In epigrammata priscorum commentarius).
These humanists, in their instructions for writing letters, insisted on the purity of the greeting at the beginning of the letter - the salutation or salutatio and the valediction or valedictio at the end. As models, they cite the ancient private letters of Cicero and Pliny. In the salutation, which has to be short and clear, one must first state the name of the sender and then of the recipient, irrespective of whether the recipient is hierarchically superior to the sender. The sender must unconditionally address the recipient in the second personal singular, and there must not be any apostrophe at the beginning (“The respected so and so!”). The greeting at the end must be short - “Vale” - and the author need not sign his name, because from the salutation at the beginning it is clear who is writing to whom. The tradition against which the Humanists were fighting was that of the medieval office correspondence - the dictamen - which because of the highly hierarchical structure of society, particularly of the Church, worked on and expanded these elements of the letter. In this article, Marulić’s epistolary texts are considered through the prism of Humanist formal requirements.
In the salutation of his letters Marulić on the whole put his own name after that of the recipient; and against the requirements of the Humanists, he also mentioned the titles and attributes of the recipient. Writing in Italian Marulić of courses uses the second person plural, but when in an Italian text he includes a Latin sentence, he forgets to shift to the Humanist “thou” and in the Latin too leaves the “you” - the second personal plural. As distinct from in the Latin letters, in which he mainly keeps to the humanist tradition, in the Italian and Croatian letters the tradition is medieval. The Italian letters to Jerolim Ćipiko have a flourishing superscription, apostrophe and signature. Similar in this respect are two Croatian private letters: the highly worked and flattering address, the apostrophe full of compliments; Marulić sometimes addressed the Benedictine nun Katarina Obirtić in the second person plural; there is nothing Humanist about the valediction. In the dedication to Judith, there are on the formal side more elements that derive from the medieval tradition, although in contemporary Croatian epistolary dedi-cations we can also find dedications written completely in accordance with the Humanist instructions (Hanibal Lucić).
There are six of Marulić’s formally exemplary letters; they are very likely like this because they are far from the tradition of office writing. These are mainly letters to friends and associates, Humanists. Marulić, like more or less all the Humanists, wavered between the two epistolary traditions, the medieval and the Humanist. His epistolary oeuvre is an indication that the Middle Ages and Humanism, at the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries, lived a peaceful coexistence, and that each of these traditions found room for itself in works of the same author. The practice of medieval correspondence prevailed in the area of official letters, while in private, Humanist correspondence, depending of course on the topic and importance of the letter, the Ciceronian tradition was successfully revived.

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