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The Second Epistle of Marko Marulić to Katarina Obirtića. The World Reflected in the Figure of a Fish

Catholic Faculty of Theology, University of Zagreb;
Publication Date
  • Marulić
  • Katarina Obirtića
  • Pismo
  • Alegorija
  • Figura
  • Riba.
  • Marulić
  • Katarina Obirtića
  • Letter
  • Allegory
  • Figure
  • Fish
  • Communication
  • Linguistics


In our analysis, we intend to investigate the thematic-communicative structure semantic postulation and hermeneutical models of the Second Epistle. In the statement we follow the composition plan of the epistle, focusing on the separate thematic composition units, particularly in those places where Marulić finds hidden connections between the figure of the fish and various objects, including their numerical arrangement. The number five, for instance, is of particular significance: fish appear on the fifth day of the Creation, we have five senses, and we have the story of Joshua and the five kings. Fish are central to the story of Jonah, and are used as a metaphorical trope in the description of the apostles as »fishers of men.« Furthermore, we will focus on Marulic's role as preacher, occasionally even as an erudite exegetist, directing his messages at the broader communications community in a manner that is not characteristic of texts categorized as private letters. Although it is relatively simple to distinguish scholar examples of tenable hermeneutic models in Marulić's letter (allegoria infactis, allegoria in verbis), the rich associative network around the figure of the fish eludes strict categorization. This complexity also illustrates that, for Marulić, allegoresis is much more than a hermeneutic model applied to the selected biblical examples. It is, ultimately a framework of forma mentis - the daily nature of the mind, or the immanent conceptual framework of seeing both biblical and daily reality.

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