Bartol Kašić (Latin: Bartholomaeus Cassius, Italian: Bartolomeo Cassio; August 15, 1575 – December 28, 1650) was a Jesuit clergyman and grammarian during the Counter-Reformation, who wrote the first Croatian grammar and translated the Bible and the Roman Rite into Croatian.
Kašić was born on the island of Pag, in the Republic of Venice (in modern Croatia). His father died when he was a small child, so he was raised by his uncle Luka Deodati Bogdančić, a priest from Pag, who taught him to read and write. He attended the municipal school in the town of Pag. After 1590 he studied at the Illyric College in Loreto near Ancona, in the Papal States (in modern Italy), managed by the Jesuits. As a gifted and industrious pupil, he was sent to further studies in Rome in 1593, where he joined the Society of Jesus in 1595. Kašić continued propaganda activities of Aleksandar Komulović after his death, being even greater Pan-Slav then Komulović was. Kašić censored and edited Komulović's 1606 work (Zrcalo od Ispovijesti).
Kašić was made a priest in 1606 and served as a confessor in the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He lived in Dubrovnik from 1609 to 1612. In 1612/13, disguised as a merchant, he went on a mission to the Ottoman provinces of Bosnia, central Serbia and eastern Slavonia (Valpovo, Osijek, Vukovar), which he reported to the pope. From 1614 to 1618 he was the Croatian confessor in Loreto. He went on his second mission in 1618/19. In old age, he described both missions in his incomplete autobiography. His second stay in Dubrovnik lasted from 1620 to 1633. Then he returned to Rome, where he spent the rest of his life.
Already as a student, Kašić started teaching Croatian in the Illyric Academy in Rome, which awakened his interest in the Croatian language. By 1599 he made a Croatian-Italian dictionary, which has been preserved as a manuscript in Dubrovnik since the 18th century. Some experts believe it is one of three dictionaries made by Kašić and that the other two are archived in Perugia and Oxford.
Kašić's native dialect was Chakavian. In the 16th century, the Chakavian dialect was prevalent in Croatian works, though it now shifted towards the Shtokavian. Kašić opted for Shtokavian as it was the most common dialect among his South Slavic (Illyrian) people.
It qualified Kašić for further work in the area of Croatian language. Since the Jesuits took care of the Christians in the Ottoman Empire and tried to teach in the local language, they needed an adequate textbook for working among the Croats. In 1582 Marin Temperica wrote a report to general Claudio Acquaviva in which he emphasized the importance of the Slavic language understandable all over the Balkans. In this report of Temperica requested publishing of the Illyrian language dictionaries and grammars. Based on this request, Kašić provided such a textbook: he published Institutionum linguae illyricae libri duo ("The Structure of the Illyrian Language in Two Books") in Rome in 1604. It was the first Slavic language grammar.
In almost 200 pages and two parts ("books"), he provided the basic information on the Croatian language and explained the Croatian morphology in great detail. The language is basically Shtokavian with many Chakavian elements, mixing older and newer forms. For unknown reasons, the grammar was not accompanied by a dictionary, as was the practice with Jesuit dictionaries and grammars of Croatian.
In periods 1612–1613 and 1618–1620 Kašić visitied various regions of Ottoman Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia. After 1613 Kašić published several works of religious and instructive content and purpose (the lives of the saints Ignatius of Loyola and Francis Xavier, the lives of Jesus and Mary), a hagiographic collection Perivoj od djevstva (Virginal Garden; 1625 and 1628), two catechisms etc. In the late 1627 he completed the spiritual tragedy St Venefrida, subtitled triomfo od čistoće (a triumph of purity), which remained in manuscript until 1938.
In 1622, Kašić started translating the New Testament into the local Slavic vernacular – more precisely, the Shtokavian dialect of Dubrovnik. In 1625, he was in charge of translating the entire Bible. He submitted the entire translation in Rome in 1633 to obtain the approval for printing, but he encountered difficulties because some Croatians were against translations in that vernacular. The translation was eventually forbidden (non est expediens ut imprimatur).
Considering the fact that the translations of the Bible to local languages had a crucial role in the creation of the standard languages of many peoples, the ban on Kašić's translation has been described by Josip Lisac as "the greatest catastrophe in the history of Croatian language". The preserved manuscripts were used to publish the translation, with detailed expert notes, in 2000.
The great linguistic variety and invention of his translation can be seen from the comparison with the King James Version of the Bible. The King James Version, which has had a profound impact on English, was published in 1611, two decades before Kašić's translation. It has 12,143 different words. Kašić's Croatian translation, even incomplete (some parts of the Old Testament are missing), has around 20,000 different words – more than the English version and even more than the original Bible!
Ritual rimski ("Roman Rite"; 1640), covering more than 400 pages, was the most famous Kašić's work, which was used by all Croatian dioceses and archdioceses except for the one in Zagreb, which also accepted it in the 19th century.
Kašić called the language used in Ritual rimski as naški ("our language") or bosanski ("Bosnian"). He used the term "Bosnian" even though he was born in a Chakavian region: instead he decided to adopt a "common language" (lingua communis), a version of Shtokavian Ikavian, spoken by the majority the speakers of Serbo-Croatian. He used the terms dubrovački (from Dubrovnik) for the Ijekavian version used in his Bible, and dalmatinski (Dalmatian) for the Chakavian version.
After his death his propaganda activities were continued by an even greater Pan-Slav: Bartol Kasic.
Ujedno je 1606. bio cenzor i redaktor djela Aleksandra Komulovića Zarcalo od ispovijesti, koje je objavljeno u Rimu 1606. i(li) 1616, pa opet u Veneciji 1634.
Kasic hailed from the Dalmatian island of Pag and so, like Komulovic, he spoke the Croatian variant known as cakavski (or cakavian).
Osnivanje Ilirskih zavoda u Loretu i Rimu, spomenica koju će Marin Temperica, pošto je stupio u isusovački red, uputiti generalu reda Aquavivi, o potrebi jedinstvenoga slavenskog jezika koji bi mogli razumjeti »po cijelom Balkanu« (1582), ...
Tako se dogodilo da je isusovac Marin Temperica već u XVI stoljeću pisao spomenicu o potrebi zajedničkog jezika, tražeći da se napiše rječnik i gramatika.
... езуит Марин Темперица предава на генерала на езуитите в Рим, Клаудио Аквавива, предложение за възприемане на един език за славяните на Балканите. Плод на това искане е първата славянска граматика
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