Book Series Etudes (Institut Historique belge de Rome), vol. 1

From ancient to modern: the myth of romanità during the ventennio fascista

The written imprint of Mussolini’s cult of the ‘Third Rome’

Jan Nelis

  • Pages: 244 p.
  • Size:160 x 240 mm
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2011

  • ISBN: 978-90-74461-74-0
  • Paperback
  • Available


This book analyses a manifestation of the use of identitarian discourse in politics, i.e the role of the concept of ‘Romanness’ or romanità under Italian fascism. The author explores a wide selection of written press published during the ventennio fascista, and evidences that romanità, conceived as a process of identification between ancient (Roman) and fascist Italy, was a nearly passe partout concept, which could be introduced whenever the most diverse aspects of fascist ideology in some way seemed to converge with Roman antiquity. Rather than focusing on romanità’s singularity under fascism, this study highlights the relative ease with which this long-existing concept was used and converted. On a more abstract level, the study touches upon the problem of consensus, as it clearly shows how intellectuals were in part responsible for the diffusion and development of one of the major and most omnipresent myths promoted by the fascist regime.

Jan Nelis obtained a doctoral degree in Classics from the University of Ghent in Spring 2006, with a doctoral thesis on the myth of ‘Romanness’ or romanità under the Italian fascist regime. He has also published on the reception of antiquity under German Nazism, as well as on the ideology and culture of Italian and generic fascism. He is currently working on a research project on the relationship between Italian fascism and Catholicism.