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Course:: Croatian Mythology - A Comparative Approach

About This Course

The course will show how the pre-Christian Croats saw the world, by pointing to the elements of their worldview which are passed down within Croatian and other Slavic communities. In addition, we will investigate how those worldviews are connected with other Indo-European cultural transmissions by linguistic, textual and folklore analyses. We will also outline the results of the recent research, which will help in the reconstruction of the ancient Croatian (and Slavic) culture.

The course enables the participants to gain the basic knowledge of the ancient Croatia and its mythical worldview, whose traces are present in everyday life, even today, in the 21st century. Thereby, we will correct all the data which possibly appear in the media about this topic. Since it is the historical fact that Croats belong to the Slavic language group, the analysis will be made within the Slavic and also Indo-European context. Initially, the basic anthropological terms will be explained: myth, ritual, shamanism, all of which represent the basis of the ancient religiosity. The course questions the main knowledge of the Indo-European organization of society by the analysis of cultural peculiarities, such as language and so on. Concrete research is the basis for the critical review: the analysis of the old Croatian and Slavic religion, which is manifested in language and common cultural practices, and the analysis of Croatian mythical space.

Course goal

The aim of the course is to give insight into the possible reconstruction of the ancient Croats’ spiritual culture. Thereby, the relevance of the comparative approach is emphasized as the main method of the historical and cultural research.

Course-level learning objectives

At the end of this class you will be able to:

  • identify and explain the basic terms of the anthropology of ritual
  • identify and explain the Indo-European threefold sacral structure
  • list, evaluate and explain the resources for the reconstruction of the Slavic mythology
  • explain the fundamental Slavic myth
  • analyse and discuss ritual texts within the mythical context
  • analyse and discuss the organization of space within the mythical context

Assignment Overview

Course assignments and activities:

Video lectures: Most of the course content is delivered through video lectures. Discussion forums: Abillity to express your own views as well as learn from your fellow students.


No previous background needed. Reading and writing comfortably in English at the undergraduate college level will enable your more active engagement in course discussion forums.

Course Staff

Course Staff Image #1

Goran Šantek

Goran Šantek graduated philosophy and ethnology from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb in 1995, and earned his PhD in ethnology and anthropology with a dissertation ˝Neocatechumenal Way. An Anthropological Study of a Religious Community.˝

He worked at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research at the University of Zadar, where he was the department chair and the member of the Senate. Today he is an associate professor at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb at the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology.

He studied at Harvard University and the University of Oxford. Goran Šantek participated in cca. fifteen scientific assemblies, runs several international projects and is an author of a number of works in ethnology and cultural anthropology.

Suggested Readings

  • Belaj, Vitomir. ˝Hod kroz godinu. Pokušaj rekonstrukcije prahrvatskoga mitskoga svjetonazora˝. Zagreb: Golden Marketing, 2007.
  • Dumézil, Georges. ˝L' idéologie tripartie des Indo-Européens˝. Bruxelles: Latomus, 1958.
  • Иванов, Вячеслав Всеволодович – Топоров, Владимир Николаевич: Славянске языковие моделрующие семиотические системы. Moskva 1956.
  • Иванов, Вячеслав Всеволодович – Топоров, Владимир Николаевич: Исследования в области славянских древностей. Moskva 1974.
  • Katičić, Radoslav. ˝Uz početke hrvatskih početaka˝. Književni krug Split 1993.: chapter “Praslavenski pravni termini i formule u Vinodolskom zakonu”. 161-170.
  • Katičić, Radoslav. ˝Die Hauswirtin am Tor. Auf den Spuren der großen Göttin in Fragmenten slawischer und baltischer sakraler Dichtung˝. Frankfurt am Main, 2003.
  • Katičić, Radoslav. ˝Božanski boj. Tragovima svetih pjesama naše pretkršćanske starine˝. Zagreb – Mošćenička Draga: Ibis grafika, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology ; the Chakavian Assembly, 2008. 378.
  • Katičić, Radoslav. Zeleni lug. Tragovima svetih pjesama naše pretkršćanske starine. Zagreb – Mošćenička draga: Ibis grafika i Matica hrvatska, 2010.
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