Books once owned by a famous Croatian Renaissance poet discovered in a monastery

Source: Pixabay (ilustracija)

Some 30 old books from the private library of a major 16th-century Croatian poet, Marko Marulic, were discovered in a Franciscan monastery in Marulic's home city of Split, local daily Slobodna Dalmacija reported on Friday.

Marulic, also known as Marcus Marulus Spalatensis (1450-1524), wrote a number of notable works in Latin which were widely distributed around Renaissance Europe at the time. He is also considered the father of Croatian literature, primarily because of his 1501 Croatian-language poem Judita, a re-telling of the Biblical story of Judith.

The re-discovered books, including some incunabula, i.e. books printed before 1501, are thought to have come from Marulic’s private library, and were likely donated to the local Franciscan monastery after his death.

The books, published between 1471 and 1522, include several Bible editions, classical works by Ancient Roman poets, as well as books on theology, medicine, and law penned by his contemporaries.

According to Slobodna Dalmacija daily, some of the books include annotations and illustrations created by Marulic, which might help scholars gain valuable insight into the mind and the creative process of one of the greatest names in Croatian-language literature.

The discovery is attributed to an expert in classical philology, Zvonko Pandzic, who discovered the works during a project to catalogue books held in the monastery’s library.

“The marginal notes found in these books whould be published and studied in context… Works by Marko Marulic found their way into most European countries where they were read for about two centuries, either in the original form or via various translations,” Pandzic told Slobodna Dalmacija.

Perhaps the most internationally famous work by Marulic is the 16th-century Evangelistary, a seven-book theological treatise on Christian morality. One of the copies, printed in Cologne, belonged to England’s King Henry VIII, and is now kept in the library of the British Museum.

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