The first ever guide to the manifold uses and reinterpretations of the classical tradition in Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany, Brill’s Companion to the Classics, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany explores how political propaganda manipulated and reinvented the legacy of ancient Greece and Rome in order to create consensus and historical legitimation for the Fascist and National Socialist dictatorships.
The memory of the past is a powerful tool to justify policy and create consensus, and, under the Fascist and Nazi regimes, the legacy of classical antiquity was often evoked to promote thorough transformations of Italian and German culture, society, and even landscape. At the same time, the classical past was constantly recreated to fit the ideology of each regime.
Helen Roche, Ph.D. (2012), University of Cambridge, is an Affiliated Lecturer in History at Cambridge University. She has published extensively on the classical tradition in Germany, and on Nazism. Her first monograph, Sparta’s German Children (2013), charted Spartan influences on German 19th-20th-century elite education.
Kyriakos Demetriou, Ph.D. (1993), University College London, is Professor of Intellectual History at the University of Cyprus. He is editor of Polis, the Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought. He is the author and editor of several articles and books on classical reception and the history of political thought.
Contributors are: Stefan Altekamp, Joshua Arthurs, James J. Fortuna, Alan Kim, Flavia Marcello, Jan Nelis, Dino Piovan, Arthur J. Pomeroy, James I. Porter, Stefan Rebenich, Helen Roche, Iain Boyd Whyte, Felix Wiedemann, and Daniel Wildmann.
"The editors, Helen Roche and Kyriakos N. Demetriou, are to be commended for so successfully juxtaposing the totalitarian Classicism of Fascist Italy with that of National Socialist Germany, as there is much to be gained by examining these two approaches to “totalitarian Classicism” together. (...) This Companion is also a disturbing reminder of how often scholars and teachers have instigated and conspired in the dissemination of a particular version of history that aligns with a corrupt leader’s own identification with an idealized past." Susan A. Curry, University of New Hampshire, in: CJ-Online Review 2021.03.08.
“The sixteen chapters by fourteen contributors are all well-written, relevant and carefully edited. Some offer useful overviews of broader themes (e.g. the fine chapters by Nelis and Arthurs), whereas other contributions discuss more specific topics in detail (e.g. interesting chapters by Wildmann, Piovan, and Porter). (…) One of the merits of this excellent concluding chapter is the fact that Fortuna’s contribution actively seeks a dialogue with the previous chapters, offering reflections that underline the high quality of this last section, and of the companion as a whole.” -Nathalie de Haan, in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2020.03.30
"It may be tempting to mine an edited volume simply for the individual chapters that pertain to a researcher’s area of interest, but a complete reading here provides considerable additional rewards. To begin with, the Companion is masterfully edited, with not only numerous cross-references, but actual dialogue across chapters dealing with similar or parallel issues. As I hope to have described above, the volume, while organized thematically, is also constructed to introduce concepts and interpretations with increasing complexity." - Genevieve S. Gessert, in: History of Humanities, Fall 2018, pp. 456-459
"[I]n Brill’s Companion to the Classics, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany fourteen authors (in sixteen contributions) give an excellent introduction to the role and position of the classical tradition in Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany. (...) The classical past, so this companion brilliantly teaches its readers, was not only an ornamental, a rhetorical or aesthetic propaganda instrument, but an integral part of Fascist and National Socialist reality. (...) This rich and much-needed companion not only stimulates discussion on a factual and theoretical level, but also inspires additional research. After all, during the first part of the twentieth century, the classics were part and parcel of European society as a whole." - Martijn Eickhoff, in: Fascism vol. 7, no. 2 (2018)
List of Illustrations Notes on Contributors
1 “Distant Models”? Italian Fascism, National Socialism and the Lure of the Classics Helen Roche
2 The Aryans: Ideology and Historiographical Narrative Types in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries Felix Wiedemann
3 Desired Bodies: Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia, Aryan Masculinity and the Classical Body Daniel Wildmann
4 Ancient Historians and Fascism: How to React Intellectually to Totalitarianism (or Not) Dino Piovan
5 Philology in Exile: Adorno, Auerbach, and Klemperer James I. Porter
6 Fascist Modernity, Religion, and the Myth of Rome Jan Nelis
7 Bathing in the Spirit of Eternal Rome: The Mostra Augustea della Romanità Joshua Arthurs
8 “May a Ray from Hellas Shine upon Us”: Plato in the George-Circle Stefan Rebenich
9 An Antique Echo: Plato and the Nazis Alan Kim
10 Classics and Education in the Third Reich: Die Alten Sprachen and the Nazification of Latin- and Greek-Teaching in Secondary Schools Helen Roche
11 Classical Antiquity, Cinema and Propaganda Arthur J. Pomeroy
12 Classical Archaeology in Nazi Germany Stefan Altekamp
13 Building the Image of Power: Images of Romanità in the Civic Architecture of Fascist Italy Flavia Marcello
14 Forma urbis Mussolinii: Vision and Rhetoric in the Designs for Fascist Rome Flavia Marcello
15 National Socialism, Classicism, and Architecture Iain Boyd Whyte
16 Neoclassical Form and the Construction of Power in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany James J. Fortuna
Anyone interested in the classical tradition, Fascism, Nazism, totalitarian culture and aesthetics, and in twentieth-century history more generally, from undergraduate students and educated laymen to professional academics.