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Rhetorical strategies in Renaissance Latin reports from Hvar


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Jovanović, Neven. (2012). Rhetorical strategies in Renaissance Latin reports from Hvar. In: Dani Hvarskoga kazališta 38. Hvar - književnost i kazalište. Dani Hvarskoga kazališta. Građa i rasprave o hrvatskoj književnosti i kazalištu . Hrvatska akademija znanosti i umjetnosti - Književni krug, Zagreb - Split, pp. 41-55. ISBN 9789531633710

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In the Diaries of Marin Sanudo, there are two strange reports sent to Venetian authorities from Hvar, in August and September 1512. The documents are strange because they are in Latin, and not, as is the norm for Cinquecento reports from Dalmatia by Venetian officials, in the Veneto dialect of Italian. The author of these reports is Sebastiano Giustinian, the provveditore generale of Dalmatia in 1512, on a mission to supress several local revolts. Sebastiano Giustinian 1459-1543 was a successful Venetian diplomat, serving in Hungary around 1500, on the Ferrarese court of Alfonso I d'Este in 1506, in Brescia at the time of Venetian defeat at Agnadello 1509. After his Istrian and Dalmatian engagement in 1510-1512, Giustinian will go on to England, to the court of Henry VIII 1514-1519; during this period Giustinian exchanged letters with Erasmus and Thomas More, to Crete 1520-1523 and to France 1526-1531, ending his career as the procurator of St Mark's in Venice. Giustinian was obviously well suited to courts and diplomacy; however, a peace-keeping mission in Dalmatia required abilities of a different type. At first, Giustinian successfully suppressed uprisals in Zadar, Šibenik, and Split, with a simple demonstration of Venetian military power. The rebellious citizens and peasants of Hvar, however, were by this time well organised guerillas. Giustinian employed paramilitaries from nearby Poljica, Brač and Trogir to attack Vrboska, a rebel village on Hvar, but this action ended in uncontrolled looting, which was not well received in Venice. Giustinian then tried something else, an almost theatrical public performance in Stari Grad, where he offered the inhabitants a choice between war and peace, celebrating the peace they have chosen in the cathedral of the City of Hvar. But soon afterwards Giustinian suffered a defeat by guerillas in Jelsa, with rebels later taking political action against him in the Venetian Senate. The Latin reports were written from Hvar, on August 3, 1512 this is a letter Giustinian sent to his son Marino, intending it for public circulation, and on September 2, 1512. The letter to Marino reports Giustinian's successes in Zadar and Šibenik; the report to the Senate is an apology, where Giustinian tries to balance the looting of Vrboska with good news from Split and Stari Grad. The performance in Stari Grad, obviously inspired by a scene from Livy Liv. 21, 18-19, when Q. Fabius Maximus in 218 B. C., holding two ends of his toga, theatrically offered the Carthaginians a choice between war and peace, is itself reported in a high humanist style, with lexical echoes from Curtius Rufus and Paulinus Petricordiae, with a Ciceronian antithesis between mansuetudo and severitas cf. Cic. off. 1,88, and Ambrosius, Epistles 9, 64, 10. In a similar way, the report from Zadar contrasts teachings from Scripture, from Aristotle and Cicero, presented by Giustinian in a public speech, with laughable cowardice of fearful rebels, who try to escape disguised as females, or hide in holes "barely fit for mice". The rhetoric of Giustinian's reports is a characteristical Renaissance humanist strategy, based on words and wisdom of the Ancients, on a strong belief that the Antiquity can explain the present day and offer solutions for current problems. Seen in this light, Giustinian's reports from Hvar testify to a breakdown of humanist rhetoric; they are written in Latin and styled as humanist texts as long as the provveditore believed that the situation can conform to ancient models. When events get out of hand, Giustinian drops the Latin; neither the language nor its literary models are fit for reporting one's own defeats and unclean, tangled issues of impasse. Moreover, such defeats frustrate the very essence of Renaissance humanism, its idea that, if we can control words, we can control reality as well.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: novolatinska književnost, epistolografija, Hvar, renesansni humanizam, retorika
Subjects: Classical philology > Neo-Latin language and literature
Departments: Department of Classical Philology
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2012 08:25
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2013 09:52

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