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Ivan Franov Gundulic was born on the 8th of January and was known affectionately by the nickname Macica. His best known works are perfect examples of rhetorical excess and Baroque-style richness of the time, they include the religious poem Tears of the Prodigal Son, the epic poem Osman and the pastoral play Dubravka.
Owing to his background and riches, the young Gundulic received an education that could be envied by many, likely studying philosophy and humanities alongside big names of the time such as Silvestro Muzio and Ridolfo Ricasoli.
Following that, he studied Roman law and went on to hold offices for the Great Council of the Republic, becoming a member of the Great Council at the tender age of nineteen. He held the temporary function of the governor of Konavle twice, in both and several years later in By the age of 30 he was married to Nicoleta Sorkocevic Sorgo with whom he had three sons, Frano, Mato and Sisko, as well as two daughters, Dziva and Mara.
He embarked on his later famed literary career by staging melodramas and writing poems which soon grew in their respective popularities in Dubrovnik. A year later in , he went on to pen one of his most famed works, Tears of the Prodigal Son Suze Sina Razmetnoga , in which Gundulic presented what he believed to be the three basic principles of Christian faith:, sin, repentance and redemption through life and death, purity and sin and the notions of Heaven and Hell.
Gundulic made himself known for his often emotive works, even writing a poem on the occasion of the wedding of Ferdinand II of Tuscany. Osman, first printed in Dubrovnik in , was arguably his greatest work. In it, Gundulic presents the contrasts between Islam and Christianity, the Europeans and the Turks, East and West, and his own personal interpretation of the difference between freedom and slavery. In Osman, Gundulic is firmly rooted in the literary traditions of the Croatian Baroque in Dubrovnik, and by presenting what he saw as an enormous contrast of struggle between Islam and Christianity, Gundulic continued the glorification and admiration of the resistance of the invading hoards of Ottomans.
Throughout this work, he continually reminds the reader of how the world is transient. Like several other writers from Dubrovnik, Gundulic wrote in Shtokavian dialect, which is distinctly different from both verbal and written modern day Croatian language. Croatian scholars and Matica Hrvatska vehemently reject any Serbian claims to Ivan Gundulic, or to any other Croatian writer.
From until his death in the December of , Gundulic held various offices within the city government, becoming a senator in , a judge in and finally, a member of the Small Council in Ivan Gundulic passed away on the 8th of December from a fever caused by an inflammation in his ribs, he was buried in the Franciscan church in Dubrovnik.
Today, Ivan Gundulic and his timeless works are celebrated, keeping his presence very much alive in Dubrovnik. He can even be found on the Croatian 50 kuna banknote.