Dr. Zlatan Colakovic Homerist, Philologist and Researcher

Dr. Zlatan Colakovic, homerist, philologist, and researcher of south slavic epics. Author of Three Eagles of the Tragic World, Dead Head Utters Words, and Epics of Avdo Medjedovic.

Author and Scholar

Dr. Zlatan Colakovic ( 1955-2008 ) was a specialist in ancient Greek drama and comparative literature. As a Fulbright postdoctoral fellow he collaborated with Albert B. Lord at Harvard University ( 1984-1988 ) where he transcribed over 90,000 verses of epics from the sound-recordings of the Milman Parry archive. In 1989 and in 2005, he collected circa 40 hours of Bosniac epics on film, and 50 hours of sound-recordings on field. In 1991-1993, he founded and led the project "The Essence of Bosniac Epics" sponsored by the Croatian Ministry of Science. His books include Three Eagles of the Tragic World (Tri orla tragickoga svijeta) (1989), A Dead Head Utters Words (Mrtva glava jezik progovara) (2004; co-author Marina-Rojc Colakovic) and The Epics of Avdo Mededovic, A Critical Edition in Two Volumes (Epika Avda Mededovica, Kriticko izdanje, 1-2) (2007). For his scholarly achievements Zlatan Colakovic was presented with the Government of Canada Award. He founded the theory of Post-Tradition and the Post-Traditonal Homer which significantly diverges from the generally accepted Oral-Formulaic Theory of the Lord-Parry school.


               Zlatan  Colakovic was born in Zagreb on February 13, 1955. He graduated with a degree in Comparative Literature and Philosophy (1979), finished his Masters (1982) and completed his doctorate in 1984, at the University of Zagreb Faculty of Philosophy. As a Fulbright scholar, from 1984-1988, he worked with Albert Lord at Harvard University in the Slavic division of Widener library. He lectured both at Harvard University and at Waterloo University in Ontario, Canada. While at Harvard, he worked on the Milman Parry Collection transcribing and editing texts and audio tapes of over 90,000 verses of Bosniac epic songs. At UCLA, in 1988, he held a public lecture on the basis of his comprehensive article "South Slavic Muslim Epics, Problems of Collecting, Editing and Publishing" which was later printed in California Slavic Studies, vol. XIV (Los Angeles-Berkley-Oxford, 1992), in which he proved that there are a vast number of errors in the transcriptions of Harvard editions containing South Slavic epic songs. During 1989, he collected Bosniac epics on field in Montenegro with his wife Marina Rojc-Colakovic and was the first scholar to collect full-length Bosniac epic songs on film. In 1990, He moved to Canada where he conducted research on the corpus of oral epic transcriptions, which resulted in two large volumes and in his theory of Post-Tradition and the Post-Traditional Homer. In Canada, he worked as a court interpreter and translator for many years.

              As the editor and direct heir to the literary legacy of Enver Colakovic, he published many of his father's works (Izabrane pjesme, novels Mali svijet, Lokljani, Iz Bosne o Bosni), and prepared Enver Colakovic's books for publication: Jedinac, Biblijske price XX. stoljeca, Knjiga majci. In 1989, he published his book Three Eagles of the Tragic World (Tri orla tragickoga svijeta) which encompasses all of the ancient Greek tragedies, a chapter on Aristotle and the Mythic story,and a chapter on epics. In 1991, he received the Government of Canada Award for his contribution to folklore.  He founded and was chief researcher of the project "The Essence of Bosniac Epics" which was sponsored by Matica Hrvatska and financed by the Croatian Ministry of Science. The fruits of his field work in Montenegro, resulted in a book written jointly with his wife Marina Rojc-Colakovic Mrtva Glava Jezik Progovara (transl. A Dead Head Utters Words), Almanah, Podgorica, 2004, 670 pages. This book, written in English and Croatian, contains epics from Avdo Mededovic and Murat Kurtagic, the translation of Murat Kurtagic' epic "Bristle the Chieftain", Dr. Colakovic's field diary with a commentary, a comprehensive analysis of the epics that demonstrate his theory of the Post-Traditional Homer. He was a member of the Croatian Writers' Society, PEN-a, and the Harvard Club of Croatia and Canada. In 2007,  the publisher Almanah from Podgorica, Montenegro published two of his bilingual critical editions of the poems of Avdo Mededovic.  Zlatan Colakovic passed away in Boston on December 20, 2008. He received a posthumous honorary reward "Avdo Mededovic" from Montenegro, for his scholarly work on Bosniac oral traditional epics.