Dimitrija Demeter


July 5, 2022

Dimitrija Demeter (Zagreb, July 21, 1811 - Zagreb, June 24, 1872), Croatian poet, playwright, literary translator, publicist, theater critic, literary and theater specialist.

His life

He came from a merchant family of Greek origin (some sources also mention Cincar and Vlach origins). He graduated from the Classical High School in Zagreb in 1827. He then studied philosophy in Graz (1827–1829), medicine in Vienna (1829–1834) and Padua (1834–1836), where he wrote his doctoral thesis on meningitis in 1836. He was a poet, storyteller and dramatist, and from 1840 to the mid-60s he was the undisputed leader of theater life, thus the development of modern Croatian theater. During his studies, he engaged in literary activities, and after returning to his native land from his studies, he became involved in the Illyrian movement. Gajjal was one of the founders of the Illír Club. At first he worked as a doctor, but from 1841 he was only involved in literature. In his dramatic texts, he tried to combine the traditions of old Croatian literature with the trends of European dramatic literature. He mostly expressed his patriotic aspirations with historical themes, through which he spoke about the current social issues of his time. During his stay in Vienna in 1850, he was a participant and signatory of the Vienna Literary Treaty, later the printed Serbian-Croatian dictionary was considered the basis of Croatian and Serbian literary-linguistic unity. He was one of the founders of the Croatian National Theatre. On his initiative, the Croatian parliament founded a permanent theater, of which he was the director and dramaturg. In addition to his literary and theatrical work, it should be mentioned that Demeter replaced Ivan Mažuranić in Vienna in 1849 on the editorial board of legal and political name dictionaries (Juridisch-politische Terminologie). After the revolutionary year of 1848, based on the principle of the equality of peoples and languages, the list of German legal and political names had to be translated into all the languages ​​of the Austrian Empire. Due to the similarity of the Slavic languages, a joint committee was created with separate sections for each language. Demeter contributed the most to the Croatian language, and at the end of his work he was appointed editor-in-chief of the Croatian part of the dictionary. The dictionary was completed at the end of 1849. The German-Czech, German-Polish and German-Rusyn editions were printed first, the joint German-Croatian-Serbian-Slovene edition (Juridisch-politische Terminologie für die slavischen Sprachen Oesterreichs, Deutsch-kroatische, serbische und slovenische Separate-Ausgabe) only in 1853 was printed in He was a member of Matica ilirska. He edited the magazines Iskra, Südslavische Zeitung, Danica, Narodne novine, and the Hrvatski sokol almanac. Demeter died in Zagreb on June 24, 1872, and was buried in the Orthodox cemetery in Pantovčak, and on October 15, 1885, he was transferred to Mirogoj, the arcade of the great figures of the national revival.

His literary work

He wrote short stories, portfolios, literary and theater reviews, and librettos. He wrote librettos for Vatroslav Lisinski's operas Ljubav i zloba (Love and Evil) and Porin. Dramatička pokušenja I. (Dramatic experiments I. 1838) and Dramatička pokušenja II. (1844) he created a synthesis of literary theory and the national program in the field of theater and drama. Its role in the organization of cultural life in Zagreb and Croatia is extremely important. He wrote in modern Greek at a young age, and after returning from his studies, he actively participated in the Croatian national revival and wrote his works in Croatian from then on. The most important of his plays is his tragedy Teuta (1844, premiered in Zagreb in 1864). Its historical source is the Greek historian Polybius's History, which is about the Illyrian queen Teuta (3rd century BC).