The Roman Past in Fascist Italy
Publication Year: 2012
The cultural and material legacies of the Roman Republic and Empire in evidence throughout Rome have made it the "Eternal City." Too often, however, this patrimony has caused Rome to be seen as static and antique, insulated from the transformations of the modern world. In Excavating Modernity, Joshua Arthurs dramatically revises this perception, arguing that as both place and idea, Rome was strongly shaped by a radical vision of modernity imposed by Mussolini's regime between the two world wars.
Italian Fascism's appropriation of the Roman past-the idea of Rome, or romanità- encapsulated the Fascist virtues of discipline, hierarchy, and order; the Fascist "new man" was modeled on the Roman legionary, the epitome of the virile citizen-soldier. This vision of modernity also transcended Italy's borders, with the Roman Empire providing a foundation for Fascism's own vision of Mediterranean domination and a European New Order. At the same time, romanità also served as a vocabulary of anxiety about modernity. Fears of population decline, racial degeneration and revolution were mapped onto the barbarian invasions and the fall of Rome. Offering a critical assessment of romanità and its effects, Arthurs explores the ways in which academics, officials, and ideologues approached Rome not as a site of distant glories but as a blueprint for contemporary life, a source of dynamic values to shape the present and future.
Published by: Cornell University Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Illustrations
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...also not the work of the author alone. It was only made possible by support from mentors, colleagues, friends, and loved ones too numerous to name here. My first mentor on this project was Andrew Szegedy-Maszak of the Classics Department at Wesleyan University. Thanks to him, I embarked on the long and rewarding journey of studying the classical tradition. This path took me to ...
List of Abbreviations
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...the 2,675th anniversary of the legendary founding of Rome. The Eternal point of departure and our point of reference; it is our symbol or, if you prefer, our myth. We dream of a Roman Italy, wise and strong, disciplined and imperial. Much of what was once the immortal spirit of Rome has risen again in Fascism: our Littorio is Roman, our military ...
1. The Third Rome and Its Discontents, 1848–1922
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Romagna called for his party’s newspaper to move from the “provincial city” of Rome to Italy’s “moral capital,” Milan. For the young Benito Mussolini, the political capital was not worthy of representing the nation. Unlike Milan or Turin, Rome lacked an industrial economy and consequently a revolu-tionary working class. Instead, it subsisted on a bloated state bureaucracy ...
2. Science and Faith: The Istituto di Studi Romani, 1922–1929
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...the March on Rome and Mussolini’s accession to power, a group of local scholars established a new journal, titled simply Roma . The publication would be devoted to “illustrating our city . . . in every facet of its life, its his-tory, its memories and its modern affairs.” 1 In its first issue, of January 1923, the editors announced that Roma would transcend the confines of the ivory ...
3. History and Hygiene in Mussolini’s Rome, 1925–1938
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...and classical scholars had come together to recast the relationship between the Roman past and the Fascist present. This new “historic imaginary” (in the words of Claudio Fogu) was not confined to intellectual production; it was also meant to be actuated materially, through the transformation of the Roman landscape. 1 The classic statement of the regime’s ambitions for the ...
4. The Totalitarian Museum: The Mostra Augustea della Romanità, 1937–19
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...of Rome had uncovered the traces of several different historical periods, it focused especially on one phase of the city’s development: the reign of Augustus, the founder of the empire. In his 1937 essay L’Italia di Augusto e l’Italia di oggi (The Italy of Augustus and the Italy of Today), published by the ISR, Giuseppe Bottai explained why Rome’s first emperor remained such an ...
5. Empire, Race, and the Decline of Romanità , 1936–1945
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...gee of romanità and the culmination of currents—institutional, intellectual, ideological—present since the earliest days of Fascism (and indeed well be-fore). At the same time, this event must also be situated in its historical context, as an expression of dramatic developments in the mid- to late thir-ties. On May 9, 1936, Benito Mussolini announced Italy’s defeat of Haile ...
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...tuto di Studi Romani responded to recent dramatic events. 1 The Allies had landed in Sicily in early July, and soon thereafter Mussolini was deposed and the Fascist regime dissolved. To Carlo Galassi Paluzzi, the Duce’s downfall How many times have the words “Rome” and “ romanità ” been invoked in proclamations, speeches, announcements, articles, notes, columns ...
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Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2012
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth