Veselin Cajkanovic (Serbian Cyrillic: Veselin CHaјkanoviћ; 1881 in Belgrade – 1946) was a Serbian classical scholar, religious history scholar, and Greek and Latin translator.
Cajkanovic studied classical philology at Belgrade's Grande ecole (Velika skola), and later at the University of Leipzig and University of Munich (where he took his Master of Arts degree). In 1908 he became a Latin lecturer at the Belgrade University School of Philosophy and published his MA dissertation, Quaestionum paroemiographicarum capita selecta, in Tubingen.
Cajkanovic fought in both Balkan Wars and in World War I. He retreated with the Serbian Army through Albania in face of the 1915 anti-Serbian offensive of the Central Powers. Later he was at the Thessaloniki Front, where he described his activities in his Autobiography as "defending, together with other Balkan Christians, his country from foreign conquerors." Cajkanovic was awarded the Order of the White Eagle with Swords and the Legion d'honneur.
From 1921 on he taught the comparative history of religion at the Faculty of Theology in Belgrade.
Said Marko Zivkovic in the Anthropology of East Europe Review, "Cajkanovic was one who brought the latest philosophical, historical, ethnographic and comparative methodologies of inter war Europe to bear on his life project of reconstructing from the pre-Christian, pagan Serbian mythology and religions. Cajkanovic did most of his work between the wars in Belgrade where he was a professor at the University and a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts.
"He did not leave a line of successors, as he might have done, being in many respects a figure comparable to what Mircea Eliade was in Romania."
The communists who took over after the war did not approve of Cajkanovic's scholarship, and even to this day, most of his work is still in manuscript form. Veselin Cajkanovic taught at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Belgrade throughout German occupation of Yugoslavia, and when the provisional government of the so-called Democratic Federal Yugoslavia put Communists in power, he was so engrossed with his work that he did not notice what went around him. Consequently, life during the anarchistic upheaval, which turned the existence of a non-proletarian into hell on earth, was comparatively easy for him.Template:Said who? He may not have been himself troubled about gunfire in the streets, but he began to fear for the safety of his family in such uncertain conditions.
Above all a professor who was relatively uninterested in politics and causes, Cajkanovic certainly realized, as did his compatriots and fellow-professors, Slobodan Jovanovic, Dimitrije Najdanovic, Milos Mladenovic, Doko Slijepcevic and others, who left the country in time, that an environment of occupation, revolution and civil war was—as Cajkanovic put it "hardly the time for teaching." Yet he taught privately just the same since the University of Belgrade was forced to close down in 1941. And so, it was not long before he was dismissed by the Communists as "an undesirable war criminal" for teaching while under Nazi occupation. It came as an unbearable shock to a sensitive scholar like himself. He fell ill never to recover his health again. He died a year later, in 1946.
He authored several books, while numerous studies and articles remained scattered in various publications. His texts were published mainly in Serbian, Latin, and German and include:The folklore and religion studies (1924)
Vergil and his contemporaries (1930)
A survey of Roman literature (1932)
Florilegium latinum in usum schoiarfum (1940)
On Serbian Highest Deity (1941)
Cajkanovic's collected works, edited by Vojislav Duric, were published in five volumes in 1994 in Belgrade.