Nicolò Bettegazzi on the Latin literature of Italian Fascism
Mussolini Obelisk, Rome (Source: ISTOCK)
At the next Classics seminar, Nicolò Bettegazzi (PhD candidate, University of Groningen) will deliver a talk entitled "Between Political and Religious Leadership: Mussolini and Pius XI in the Latin literature of Italian Fascism (1922–1943)."
The talk analyzes a selection of Latin panegyric poems written in Fascist Italy (1922–1943) and dedicated either to Benito Mussolini, leader of the Italian nation, or to Pope Pius XI, head of the Catholic Church. While the first group of poems exalts the Fascist regime and its leader, the second praises Italy’s Christian tradition and its chief representative, the pope. My aim is to highlight the role of the Latin language and its literary tradition in promoting different models of civil and religious leadership and in defining their mutual coexistence.
The emphasis on the figure of the leader emphasizes an important point of contact between Fascism and Catholicism, namely the fact that both were hierarchical organizations based on principles of authority and obedience. At the same time, the different representations of the two leaders show that Fascist ideology and Catholic faith promoted two forms of cult which were constantly competing with each other.
An important matter of competition was the interpretation and appropriation of ancient Rome, of which the Latin language was an essential component. This talk will therefore draw attention to some of the ways in which these Latin texts, which are a very recent discovery, enable us to shed new light on the cultural debates lurking behind the diplomatic and political encounters between Church and State in Fascist Italy.