Orlando’s Column – Ivan Gundulic

Written by on February 24, 2013 in Heritage - No comments
Orlando's column

Learn and understand the history and much more through the eyes of Orlando. Who better to ask than Orlando? Through the centuries he has seen many comings and goings standing as he does in front of the St. Blaise Church.

Here’s what he knows about one of Dubrovnik’s favourite sons, Ivan Gundulic.

Hey mister, some money has just fallen out of your pocket, hey you, hey! Nothing…he can’t hear me. But don’t worry somebody else will find your money! Let me see, hmm, blue banknote, oh it’s a 50 Kuna banknote with my good friend Ivan on it. If you’ve already changed some money in the exchange office, you’ve probably got a banknote of 50 Kuna. It is one of my favourite Croatian banknotes because on the obverse side is the portrait of the most celebrated Croatian Baroque poet from Dubrovnik Ivan Gundulić and on the reverse side is the picture of our Old city with the facade of the Rector’s palace in the bottom. Ivan Gundulić was born in 1589 into an old and respectable aristocrat family. Nicknamed Mačica (the Kitten) he was a poet of freedom and wrote in his native language to express aspiration of Croatian people for liberation of foreign government. He wrote a large number of plays and mayor works such as his epic poem Osman (where he presented the contrast between Christianity and Islam, Europe and the Turks), the pastoral play Dubravka (where he glorifies the freedom of Dubrovnik) and the religious poem Tears of the Prodigal Son which are examples of Baroque stylistic richness and rhetorical excess.

Statue in the Green Market

During his life he also performed many state duties and was a member of the city council. But he suddenly died in the age of 49 after a two weeks illness so he never had a chance to be elected as a rector of the Dubrovnik Republic because the rector had to be at least 50 years old. Except on the banknote you can see his bronze statue on the Gundulić Square erected in 1892. You should visit the green market in the Old city and there you’ll see him standing in the centre of the market while busy housewives purchase the fruits and vegetables of fertile fields of the Dubrovnik surroundings. The poet is presented as the Dubrovnik merchant very young-looking with a long wig with numerous locks. He holds a pen in his right hand and his body is in the pose of a menuet dancer waiting for the dance to begin. The four relief panels on the monument base depict the main episodes from his most important epic Osman. Although Mačica is more handsome than me we have two things in common – I’m the symbol of freedom and he is the poet of freedom and we are both being pooped by the pigeons a lot!


ivan gundulic

Ivan Gundulić’s Statue

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