Nicolò Bettegazzi (University of Groningen)
Nicolò Bettegazzi will discuss the use of Latin at the Mostra Augustea della Romanità (1937/38), a subject related to his ongoing PhD thesis.
Fascism and the Language of Rome’s Universality: Latin Language and Literature at the Mostra Augustea della Romanità (1937/1938)
On 23 September 1937, the Fascist regime inaugurated celebrations for the bimillenary anniversary of the birth of Emperor Augustus (Bimillenario Augusteo). Taking place just one year after the conquest of Ethiopia, the Bimillenario provided the regime with a timely occasion to promote the idea of a spiritual and historical link between Augustan Rome and Fascist Italy. In this context, the regime sponsored a range of projects and activities relating to Augustus and his reign.
In this talk, I will focus on a particularly prominent initiative, the Mostra Augustea della Romanità (“Augustan Exhibition of Romanness”) in order to explore how the Latin language and literature were used along the exhibition’s itinerary. Specifically, I will argue that the selective use of the Latin literary tradition contributed to constructing Italian Fascism as a continuation, and culmination, of the ‘universal historical mission’ that Fascist ideologues saw both for the Roman Empire and the Catholic Church. Thus, I will show that the Latin language at the Mostra Augustea was made to represent an ideological and historical mission more complex than just the ‘renewal’ of Augustan Rome under Mussolini’s regime.