Type: P
The stamps have been issued in 20-stamp sheets, and the Croatian Post has also issued a First Day Cover (FDC).
Number: 667


The writer’s lively personality, his frequent journeys, writing of conspiratorial letters, together with many so far undiscovered parts of his biography – all these were the reasons for the many hypotheses and speculations in the interpretation of Držić’s mysterious life.

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Value:7,2 HRK
Design:Sabina Rešić, painter and designer, Zagreb
Size:25,56 x 35,5 mm
Paper:white 102 g, gummed
Technique:Multicolor Offset Printing
Printed by:Zrinski d.d., Čakovec
Date of issue:22.04.2008.
MARIN DRŽIĆ (1508 – 1567) Marin Držić (Dubrovnik 1508 – Venice, May 2, 1567), called Vidra [The Otter], one of the greatest Croatian dramatists, comedy writers and intellectuals of his time who, by his exceptional dramatic opus, earned his place in the treasury of the most valuable works both of the Croatian and European Renaissance literature. He was born in a middle class merchant family with eleven children. The family could already boast of an eminent writer, dramatist and our first Petrarchist Džore Držić, Marin’s uncle. There is little known about the childhood of Marin Držić; the first written record comes from the year 1526 when he was appointed rector of the Church of All Saints in Dubrovnik. Twelve years later, having received a grant of 30 ducats from the Dubrovnik authorities, he left for Siena to study Church canon law. There is a police record that contains the news about Držić acting in a so far undetermined comedy by which he violated the prohibition of public gathering that was passed at the time of the Spanish occupation of Siena. Without completing his course of study he still returned to his birthplace where he did not continue his family tradition of getting involved with trade. Instead, first as a valet and later as interpreter, he joined the escort of Count Christoph von Rogendorf with whom he travelled to Vienna and Constantinople. His acquaintance with the Count left deep traces in the later depicting of one of the recognizable dramatis personae, the landowner Ugo Tudešak [a German noble] who was created as a sketch of Rogendorf. After returning to his home town, Držić worked as a scrivener in a salt-pan and later as a church musician. He wrote his drama opus from the year 1548 to 1558, and it includes pastorals Tirena and Plakir (Grižula), farces Novela od Stanca [Story about Stanac] and Venera i Adon [Venus and Adonis], comedies Pomet, Dundo Maroje [Uncle Maroje], Skup [The Miser], Mande, Arkulin, Džuho Krpeta and Pjerin; there is also his translation of Euripides’ Hecuba. In the year 1564 Držić left for Venice where, apart from his sojourn in Florence in 1566, he remained until the end of his life. From Florence he sent to the Tuscan Duke Cosimo I Medici and his son five conspiratorial letters, asking them to help him depose the representatives of the Dubrovnik authorities, according to him incapable, Ragusan oligarch rulers whose representatives he dubbed “the twenty mad monsters”. This act was of particular interest for Croatian historians who had recently been given an opportunity for a more comprehensive explanation of the conspiratorial side of Držić’s versatile personality, owing to the recent discovery of a sixth letter in the Florentine state archives and a certain indication that there might exist a seventh letter as well. Only three months after having written those letters, our writer of comedies died under so far unexplained circumstances. He was buried in the common vault of the Church of St. John and St. Paul in Venice. A tombstone tablet to him was placed there in 1971. The writer’s lively personality, his frequent journeys, writing of conspiratorial letters, together with many so far undiscovered parts of his biography – all these were the reasons for the many hypotheses and speculations in the interpretation of Držić’s mysterious life. All this was also contributed by the scarcity of preserved editions of his works. Namely, in his lifetime only one of his books was published: the one in Venice in 1551, a book that until recently was thought as not being preserved. It was assumed that this edition was identical with the following Venetian editions from the years 1607 and 1630. These editions contained Držić’s Petrarchian lyric love poetry and three plays: Tirena, Venera i Adon [Venus and Adonis] and Novela od Stanca [Story about Stanac]. The recent discovery of the two Venetian editions of Pisni Marina [Marin’s poems] and Tirena in 1551 in the National Library in Milan has enriched the Croatian science with the perception about the existence of authentic editions. What has to be mentioned, however, is that unfortunately most of Držić’s works are preserved in incomplete form. Krpeta and Pjerin were left in copies made a hundred years later, Grižula lacks several of the final sentences. The worst fate had befallen the comedy Pomet that was completely lost and the only proof of its existence is the Prologue of Dundo Maroje. Writing about the town where ten years earlier a group of Dubrovnik authors (Džore Držić, Mavro Vetranović and Nikola Nalješković) created the Renaissance drama, in his works Držić somehow anticipated Renaissance poetry but also announced new mannerist ideas. He exchanged the conventional characters of the contemporary Italian erudite comedy for the authentic characters of the Dubrovnik society, creating a lively and genuine gallery of “our people”: gentle-folks and servants, merchants, seamen, craftsmen, peasants from the surroundings and travellers-foreigners. Celebrating laughter and cheerfulness of the Renaissance, he also revealed the flaws and vices of his contemporaries; many of them actually recognized themselves in the characters of Plautus’s misers, unjust masters, cuckolds and vagabonds. Just a reminder: Držić developed the motif of miserliness before Moliere did and thus raised our drama literature to be an equal part of the European cultural heritage. Having risen above the stereotypic genre determinations, Držić linked in his plays contrasting worlds, rural and mythological, pastoral and urban, higher and lower styles, verses and prose. He antithetically treated the motifs of extravagance and avarice, youth and old age, beauty and ugliness and many others, intensified them and gave them a general social significance. He recognized the beauty of the authentic, live folk speech and brought onto the stage his native Dubrovnik idiom, showing all the luxury and potential of the Croatian language of the mid-16th century. By skilful dramatic sketching he created the characters of Pomet, Dundo Maroje, Tripče, Bokčilo and others who in their deep-set genuineness represent real jewels of the Croatian and world literary and theatrical heritage. He reached his heights in the comedies Dundo Maroje [Uncle Maroje] and Skup [The Miser] in which he in a comic manner revealed human faults of selfishness, avarice and extravagance and thus celebrated intelligence, simultaneously rejecting its status-conditioned stereotype. Držić was a writer of high literary culture. He was familiar with the ancient tradition, particularly with Plautus, as well as the contemporary Italian erudite comedy; however he painted the characters in his plays in the “local colour” so much so that this “local colouring” had become universal. His plays were most frequently performed in the open spaces of the town where the appearance of the whole town contributed to the stage performance. They were also performed in the spacious premises of the wealthy citizen’s palaces at wedding receptions and feasts. They were performed by amateur theatrical troupes that, according to recent researches, have been proved not the have been socially conditioned by their status as it was so far believed. Držić’s actors, members of the companies Njarnasi, Gardzarija, Pomet-družina [Pomet’s troupe] and Od Bidzara [Bidzar’s] came from different social strata and belonged to different age groups. In the Croatian modern theatre Držić’s plays have been performed since the year 1895; they were performed simultaneously on stages abroad and translated into numerous European and extra-European languages. His opus is considered to be the foundation of the Croatian drama repertoire and he is nowadays one of the most performed among the Croatian playwrights, not only on domestic stages but across the world as well. Since the year 1991 the prize for a drama work that is awarded by the Ministry of culture of the Republic of Croatia meritoriously bears the name of our greatest playwright - Marin Držić.

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