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University of Zadar
Publication Date
  • Nalješković
  • Scena
  • Ekloga
  • Pastorala
  • Nalješković
  • Stage
  • Eclogue
  • Pastoral
  • Literature
  • Mathematics
  • Religious Science


In numerous texts of different genres within older Croatian literature one can, in genre terms, recognize influences from Italian literature. As far as Nalješković’s pastoral scenes are concerned, these simple pastoral sub-species (titled in the manuscripts Comedies with the serial numbers of I to IV), literary history as their source generally mentions eclogues and the pastoral. The existence of both pastoral and eclogue elements in Nalješković’s texts offers sufficient justification for this conclusion but if one glances at the theatrical scene in neighboring Italy which, as we know, at the time, provided novelties esteemed in Croatia and cultivated in accordance with the possibilities on this side of the Adriatic, what is revealed is something new in the pastoral domain about which not enough has been said. Namely, Italy had the scenic feature of the intermezzo (intermezzi, intromessi) which was exceptionally well accepted by the audience. These were introduced between the acts of the play and in place of the prologue and the epilogue. This pastoral sub-species could have influenced Nalješković’s pastoral scenes which is corroborated by his texts: Firstly, all of Nalješković’s pastoral scenes are truly short images from the life of an Arcadian community or are short mythological scenes also imbued with a pastoral atmosphere (Paris’s judgment for example), such as those from the 15th century which the Italian audience admired and identified with. Secondly, the songs of fairies, satyrs and shepherds are an unavoidable part of each scene just as play and song. This is confirmed by the meager stage directions but also by the choice of verse: the segments that can potentially be sung are written in octosyllabic verse. Thirdly, Nalješković’s pastoral scenes have elements of the comic where we have a thinly differentiated layer of the rustic and the urban. There is evidence in Italian theatre that comic elements are not wholly left out even from pure idylls. Fourthy, the influence of the picturesqueness of the intermezzo is evinced also in the symmetry of the scenes as we can see on the painted scenes (sketches) on the stage. For example, the number of characters appearing on the scene is symmetrical and generally we are speaking of 4 fairies and four shepherds (Comedy I), three fairies and three shepherds (Comedy II) , a fairy and a judge, four shepherds, four satyrs (Comedy III), eight young men and eight fairies (in all likelihood in Comedy IV). A scene pleasing to the eye would have to be based on the harmony of symmetrical numbers. The basic objection which can be directed at the thesis about the influence of the intermezzos on the pastoral scenes is the scarcity of textual material in the intermezzos but the intermezzo of the popular story of Cupid and Psyche which is based on a text proves that this is not a regular feature. The intermezzos gained in importance throughout the 16th century to finally be submerged into the pastoral-mythological scene of Baroque melodrama in Italy. It seems that essentially the same thing happened in Croatia: if we make a comparison of the features (themes, form, atmosphere, expressive means) of Croatian shepherd scenes with Croatian Baroque melodrama, we will meet a fairly similar situation and their mutual relationship.

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