Menčetić was born in 1458 in Republic of Ragusa, part of the aristocratic family of Menčetić, in what is today the city of Dubrovnik (today's Croatia). He spend his youth rather in a ribald and dissolute way, his name is often mentioned in law documents of the Dubrovnik archive: he was charged in court due to incidents on city streets including the harassment of the women. He served as an official in the Dubrovnik government in various positions: as a twenty-year-old he entered the Ragusan Small Council, and twice (in 1521 and 1524), he was the Duke of the Republic of Ragusa. Menčetić married in 1497 when he was 40. He died, with two of his sons, on June 25, 1527, in a major epidemic of the plague.
Menčetić belongs to the first generation of Croatian lyrical poets, and most of his poems (512) have been preserved in Ranjina's Miscellany, in which he is the most represented poet.
As opposed to Džore Držić, Menčetić's opus contains longer lyrical narratives, and lyrical subject is more immediate, vigorous, lascivious and eroticized, and the topic of and the sensuality of reciprocated love is emphasized. The most distinguished role model is Francesco Petrarca, and that makes Menčetić, beside Džore Držić, the first Croatian Petrarchist. He belonged to Strambottists, which detach themselves from certain Petrarchan ideas: noticeable is the absence of Neoplatonisms, sensuality comes to be accentuated as the poets draw more close to vernacular forms (strambotto, rispetto), and sonnet is being abandoned. Most of the opus thematically inherits Petrarchism though - beauty and the pleasures of the poet's beloved are being described, but in several poems Menčetić diverges from classical Petrarchism celebrating the happiness of a lover whose pleas have been conceded.
Beside Petrarchian elements, Menčetić's opus demonstrates clearly discernible elements of Medieval poetry, either in terms of the Provençal troubadour lyric and the motif of servitude, or in terms of lexical influences of German culture (Minnesang). In tow of Menčetić's songs lexeme frava can be found, which originates from Old High German frouwe (confer German Frau):Goraše svital raj u ličcu toj fravi and Pjesance, kad budeš na skutu toj fravi. Obvious is the influence of folk motifs well-spread in the Middle Ages, amplified by the influences of Strambottisms, such as the rhyme of the folk song Mnokrat reci u sebi rič, koja je ohola or in the usage of diminutives (kladencem vodice), such as in the song Moj Bože, Bože moj, molim te za rados and the bugaršćica-type verse, with 15 syllables per line.
Poems are usually versified in doubly rhymed dodecasyllable metre of Dubrovnik typed; dodecasyllabic with intransitive rhyme and secondary caesura after the third and the ninth syllable, with main caesure after the sixth syllable (e.g. Koji čtiš | sej pjesni ||, molim te | veselo), with the exception of three poems with 15-syllable meter, and the poem Isusu na križu written in Marulić-style dodecasyllabic with transitive rhyme.
His poems mostly contain love motifs, often in acrostic with the names of women the poems were dedicated to, but there is also a number of satirical and morally reflexive, as well as 11 religious poems dedicated to Jesus. The dominant type is of declaratory or dialogue, i.e. appellative poem, exceptions being poems such as Zoviješe zora dan a slavno prolitje where no appellative traits are found. A three poems of "woman voice" are found, in which the narrator is a woman, and are characterized by a simple poetical language, woman's lust the lover in absence, and the simulation of actually written communication.
In the first thematic unit poems like Ne mogu živjeti bez tebe are distinguished in which beloved maiden becomes a part of lyrical subject (ter tebe želeći sam sebe toj želju) or couplet poems such Bože, šta osta tebi which platonically the beauties of the poet's beloved are described.
The second thematic unit emphasizes sensuality and the perception of love (ar se mnjah u broju ne jedan nu prvi / od Grka ki Troju puštaše u krvi), such as in the poem Ljuveno uživanje, or sensuality or lust, such as in the poem Ner tko je srcem lav i kamen u sebi. This thematic unit introduces the motif of alba, a poetical form describing the dialogue of lovers, with possible presence of a third person (the guardian), separated by the dawn.
The most famous poem of the second thematic unit is the Blaženi čas i hip, paraphrasing Petrarca's LXI. sonnet (Benedetto sia 'l giorno, e 'l mese, e l'anno). It is versified in dodecasyllabic couplets, odd verses following Petrarchan principles, and even verses emphasizing sensuality. Petrarchan platonist ending of celebrating the spiritual love towards Laura, as his inspiration and muse, eroticizes and mutates elegiac tone into dithyrambic, and the central motif is no more the lyrical subject but the erotic perception of the beloved (Blažena ljepos tva, blažena tva mlados / pokli se meni sva darova za rados).
Poems not of love theme are chiefly concerned with the absence of earthly love and the turn towards spiritual, which is manifested as eleven songs dedicated to the Jesus, and one song dedicated to Virgin Mary (Uzmožna gospođe, tko milos ku žudi). Sertain satirical poems are also found, with misogynical elements of resignation (Uzdarje u ženu, Mrzim na žene), but also poems of general character, confrontation of wealth and niggardness, and similar topics (Zlo od Kotora, the first poetical trace of a traditional antagonism between Dubrovnik and Kotor).
- SPH 2/1937., br. 248, 294, 311, 415, 418, 455, 459, 460, 478
- cit. Davor Dukić
- SPH 2/1937., br. 248, verse 27
- SPH 2/1937., br. 331, verse 1
- cit. Zoran Kravar
- cit. Tomislav Bogdan
- SPH 2/1937., br. 210
- Jagić, Vatroslav: Trubaduri i najstariji hrvatski lirici; Rad JAZU, 9, Zagreb, 1869.
- Kombol, Mihovil: Povijest hrvatske književnosti do preporoda; Matica hrvatska, Zagreb, 1961.
- Tomasović, Mirko: Hrvatska renesansna književnost u europskom kontekstu, in: Hrvatska književnost u europskom kontekstu, Zagreb, 1978.
- Pjesme Šiška Menčetića Vlahovića i Gjore Držića (collected and with the introductory by Vatroslav Jagić); JAZU, Stari pisci hrvatski, knj. 2, Zagreb, 1870.
- Pjesme Šiška Menčetića i Džore Držića i ostale pjesme Ranjinina zbornika (edited by Milan Rešetar); JAZU, Stari pisci hrvatski, knj. 2, 2nd edition, Zagreb, 1937.
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