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