Excavating Modernity: The Roman Past in Fascist Italy

Excavating Modernity: The Roman Past in Fascist Italy


By (author) Joshua Arthurs

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  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Format: Hardback | 232 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 236mm x 23mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 31 July 2012
  • Publication City/Country: Ithaca
  • ISBN 10: 0801449987
  • ISBN 13: 9780801449987
  • Illustrations note: 16, 13 black & white halftones, 3 tables
  • Sales rank: 950,947

Product description

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 romanita 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, romanita 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 romanita 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. "

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Review quote

"In Excavating Modernity, Joshua Arthurs makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of Italian Fascist ideology and the centrality of the myth of Rome: romanita. He challenges the notion that romanita meant only bombast and nostalgia by dwelling on Rome's past greatness. Instead he shows that it also provided a model for modernity. Mussolini gathered classicists, archeologists, and historians in the Istituto di Studi Romani to present to the Italian people a road map to Italy s future unity and strength in a program of national regeneration. Arthurs s well-researched book is a welcome addition to the growing historical literature on Mussolini s use of Rome to mobilize Italians for his new Fascist Empire." Borden W. Painter Jr., Trinity College, author of Mussolini's Rome: Rebuilding the Eternal City"