Anchoring the Fascist Revolution

In the last few years, we have become increasingly interested in the composition and publication of Latin literature under Italian Fascism (1922–1943, a period known as the ventennio fascista). In a number of publications, we have explored what it meant to write in Latin during the ventennio fascista, arguing that Latin functioned as the language of Fascist romanità, but also as a modern and a specifically Fascist language, as a national and an international language, and as the language of Italian imperialism.

Most recently, we have published an edition, commentary, and translation of the most important of the Fascist Latin texts we have so far discovered: Aurelio Amatucci’s Codex Fori Mussolini, written on parchment and deposited under the obelisk at the Foro Italico in Rome in 1932. We argue that the Codex was intended for rediscovery in the distant future, when it would help shape the future reception of Italian Fascism. Latin, the supposedly ‘eternal’ language of Rome, was employed to help achieve this aim.

The project will now be continued and expanded as part of the research agenda Anchoring Innovation, funded by an NWO Gravitation Grant. Under our direction, a PhD candidate (from 2018) and a postdoctoral researcher (from 2021) will take further this investigation of the role of the ancient languages in Fascist regimes. We believe that the use of Latin in Fascist Italy can be fruitfully analyzed as a means of ‘anchoring’ the revolutionary ideology of Fascism in the Roman past.

The concept and mechanisms of ‘anchoring’ are currently being researched by Classical scholars at six universities across the Netherlands. ‘Anchoring’ refers to ‘the dynamic through which innovations are embedded in and attached to what is (perceived as) older, traditional, or known’ (Sluiter 2017, 32; this programmatic article is also accessible in a pre-print version here) .

Post stamp, 1930.  Verg., Aen. 3, 477.

Our project ‘Anchoring the Fascist Revolution’ will address the specific anchoring mechanisms at work in different Latin media (ranging from brief mottos on stamps to extended Latin poems), their different publics and their levels of success. The research team will also be developing a digital edition aimed at making available Fascist Latin texts both in the original language and in English translation.