Slavophilism as a Renaissance Humanist Myth in Mauro Orbini’s “Il Regno Degli Slavi”

By Olga Nedeljkovic.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

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Published online: March 13, 2014 $US5.00

After introducing Mauro Orbini’s extensive history of the Slavs, I try to describe how he represents the Slavic past and how such representation evidences the culture and politics of the time of its writing. That is, I argue that Orbini instituted Slavic genealogy using a rich arsenal of Renaissance myths to create Slavic ethnicity. The main purpose of the entire Renaissance mythology was to establish new ethnicities in premodern Europe. Orbini’s book was prompted by the internal national or, more precisely, ethnic and cultural sentiments of the Slavic peoples, but also by external political and economic factors stemming from the Ottoman occupation of the Balkans. Orbini hoped to create an ethnic Slavic consciousness and collective self-identity as part of a political strategy to put Slavic groups on the political stage. I compare his presentation of Slavic origins and ethnicities as a Renaissance humanist myth with similar ideas in Vinko Pribojević’s treatise On the Origins and Glory of the Slavs, which Orbini most likely never consulted. My research methodology is to follow the postmodern emphasis on the linguistic dimensions of historical discourse, which means historiography and myth are forms of narrative that seek to disclose the mediation inherent in the textualization of the past. Since the Illyrian Renaissance historiographers, including Orbini, modeled themselves on the ancients, I have applied classical methods of writing rhetorical history in the spirit of Cicero and Quintilian, illustrating abundantly that in the process of establishing the Slavic past, Orbini relies heavily on both Roman and early Christian traditions.

Keywords: Renaissance, Historiography, Slavic, Ethnicities, Genealogy, Renaissance Humanist Myth

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 11, Issue 2, March 2014, pp.1-16. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 13, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 777.447KB)).

Dr. Olga Nedeljkovic

Department of Slavic and Baltic Languages and Literatures, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL, USA

I taught primarily linguistic courses in the area of Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, and Serbian studies, including the both aspects: contemporary languages and their historical developments. I used to be a philologist who has been interested in the formation of these languages. Also, I taught literary courses and even film. However, since the demise of former Yugoslavia, my interest has been focused on slavophilism as an effective political force which permeated Croatian literature and culture from the late Renaissance all way down to the Croatian National Revival in the middle of the 19th century. It also influenced the major developments of the South Slavs in the first decades the 20th century. In addition to my chapter on Orbini, I have three additional chapters describing the other best-known exponents in the 15th and 16th centuries of the Croatian renaissance. It is an outline of possibilities for further studies of slavophilism in the history of ideas.