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Caesar, Augustus and the cult della romanità during the fascist ventennio: historicity, memory and writing of history

Grant number: 21/11694-0
Support type:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2022
Effective date (End): February 28, 2023
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - Ancient and Medieval History
Principal researcher:Glaydson José da Silva
Grantee:Glaydson José da Silva
Host: Andrea Zorzi
Home Institution: Escola de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (EFLCH). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus Guarulhos. Guarulhos , SP, Brazil
Research place: Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy  

Abstract

It can be said, today, that there is a well-established bibliography on the cult della Romanità during fascism, particularly concerning its more general character, as an instrumentalization of the Roman past to legitimize ideas and values that were in evidence during the fascist ventennio. However, from a thematic perspective, different fronts of study have only recently begun to be better explored, such as: 1. The idea that Romanity itself would serve as a project of modernity in fascist Italy and 2. The place occupied by the "myth of Rome" in the collective imagination and the role of institutions (and of historians and archaeologists). It is in this domain that the main scientific and intellectual contributions intended with the submitted proposal are inserted. The aim is to investigate the cult of della Romanità on the mentioned fronts in one of its defining aspects: the mobilization of the images of Caesar and Augustus. This mobilization took place, throughout the regime, in very different ways. The systematic association of the figure of Caesar with that of Mussolini, and the association between Caesarist Rome and the Rome of fascism, were very often carried out throughout the regime, on different fronts that crossed the daily life of Italians. The destruction of historical and archaeological heritage sites and the construction of neoclassical monuments guided the desire to establish constant parallels between the ancient city and the modern, fascist city. An important part of the urban fabric of Rome with which Fascism did not recognize itself (especially from the period of Republican Rome or the medieval period) was destroyed, while new buildings in "Roman style" were built and statues and monuments were moved from the most different locations in Italy to the city of Rome. The old, de-characterized (by physical interventions), de-contextualized (out of its place of origin), or the new "clad in classical" gives today's passers-by who walk through the city the understanding that it has always existed in the forms and places in which it is found today. A concrete illustration of this is the Via dei Fori Imperiali, which is not from the Roman period but rather built during fascism. Caesar was, throughout the fascist ventennio, the great figure upon whom Mussolini wanted to recognize himself. An inflection regarding this that brings the figure of Augustus to the pinnacle happens, however, on the occasion of the celebrations of the bimillenary of the birth of the princeps (1937), a fact that orbits the Mostra Augustea della Romanità and the whole historical and archaeological plot surrounding the release of the Mausoleum of Augustus and the displacement, restoration and establishment of the Ara Pacis. To dwell on these choices and motivations around the cult della romanità, directed towards Caesar or Augustus, thinking of them in isolation, but also in an inalienably comparative dimension, is a defining aspect of this proposal.

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