Author: Helen Roche

Abstract

While it is generally acknowledged that fascist movements tend to glorify the national past of the country in which they arise, sometimes, fascist regimes seek to resurrect a past even more ancient, and more glorious still; the turn towards ancient Greece and Rome. This phenomenon is particularly marked in the case of the two most powerful and indisputably ‘fascist’ regimes of all: Benito Mussolini’s Italy and Adolf Hitler’s Germany. The author suggests that this twin turn towards antiquity was no mere accident, but was rather motivated by certain commonalities in national experience. By placing these two fascist regimes alongside each other and considering their seduction by antique myths in tandem, it is argued that – without putting forward some kind of classicizing Sonderweg – we can better appreciate the historic rootedness of this particular form of ‘chronopolitics’ in a complex nexus of political and social causes, many of which lie far deeper than the traumatic events of the Great War and its aftermath.

In: Fascism
In: Brill’s Companion to the Classics, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany
In: Brill’s Companion to the Classics, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany
In: Brill’s Companion to the Classics, Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany
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.

Abstract

Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, along with other twentieth-century authoritarian regimes, have often attempted to create consensus through propagandistic reinterpretations of the classical past. The Fascist appropriation of romanità and Nazi philhellenism were not only conditioned by prior cultural receptions of antiquity, but were also a key political tool in motivating and mobilising citizens to fulfil the aims of the fascist state. Once Fascism and Nazism had fallen, the material legacies of both regimes then became the object of destruction, reinterpretation and memory work. Thus, the archaeological and architectural heritage of these regimes, now tainted by their ideology, has not only suffered the consequences of damnatio memoriae in the aftermath of regime change, but continues even today to inflame contemporary public debate. This special issue represents the product of an interdisciplinary workshop exploring these themes, which was held at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, on 8 June 2018.

In: Fascism