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Category Archives: Carthage

Dionisiaco e Apollineo. Lettera a un compagno di scuola. Croce Roma Gramsci (e gli antichi)

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[The songs below are from our school-days; sotto, alcune canzoni degli anni '60]

ψ

Caro ****,

ti scrivo da un piccolo caffè da cui si intravede il Colosseo, tappando sullo smartphone. Qualche goccia d’acqua cade.

Outdoor cafe. Via dei Fori Imperiali. Colosseo

Outdoor cafe. Via dei Fori Imperiali, Colosseo

Pure tu se gajardo a more’ (che poi eri biondo), sennò te cassavo (come il mio povero papà ecc).

Bella scuola di vita, le difficoltà (sono ripetitivo).

ψ

Pensa che Benedetto Croce (Pescasseroli, 1866 – Napoli 1952) ….

[citato sempre da quella vecchia prof di filosofia coi senoni che se glieli fissavamo (specie tu, il più bello della scuola:  quando ti interrogava era turbata, era evidente) lei ti / ci dava un bel voto ... ]

… Croce, dicevo, della haute abruzzese, perse 17enne i genitori e la sorella sola che aveva, morti il 28 luglio 1883 nel terremoto di Casamicciola nell’isola d’Ischia dove i Croce si trovavano in vacanza … la casa, sdraiata dal terremoto, lasciò quest’adolescente con le ossa rotte che lo credevano morto anche lui, e invece era vivo, per miracolo.

Sciroccato, il 17enne fu portato a riprendersi in campagna in una villa vicino a Salerno, di proprietà della facoltosa famiglia ormai sterminata.

Non ricordo bene – quello che dico di Croce è frutto della mente vagante -, ma ho l’immagine di lui che se ne sta forse anni sdraiato su una panchina sotto gli alberi, preso dal dolore e dall’angoscia.

Poi andò a vivere in un bel palazzo forse a Roma, dallo zio Silvio Spaventa (che diffuse Hegel in Italia ecc.)

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Passò il tempo.

Il dolore rimaneva ma la casa di Spaventa a Roma era un via vai di intellettuali. Croce però non stava forse ancora bene. Provò con l’università, giurisprudenza, dove apprese un po’ di marxismo da Labriola, ma credo fallì, non volle laurearsi.

 

Si stabilì pertanto a Napoli, ricco e solo, comprando la casa di G.B. Vico (altro filosofo sempre citato dalla prof mentre, una carezza a noi qua, una là, incedeva per l’aula (1967?) con le mani dietro infilate sotto il cappottone, per cui – le zinne protuberanti e le mani sollevate dietro – sembrava (e forse era, nell’intimo del suo cuore, una gallina, poveretta).

Finalmente Benedetto un bel giorno, toltisi i rospi dal cuore, cominciò a riparlare con la gente, frequentò, uscì, rientrò.

Napoli era vivace, meravigliosa. La casa di Vico si trovava forse nei quartieri spagnoli e mi piace immaginarla con il giardino interno – tipo casa romana che era volta dentro e non fuori perché i tempi antichi erano pericolosi: e forse pure al tempo del giovane i quartieri spagnoli erano tosti, come lo sono oggi, ma lui era un signore intoccabile.

E allora Benedetto si mise a scrivere scrivere pensare inviare ricevere lettere.

Forse i servitori a dì:

“Che cazzo scrive sto tonto”.

Beh, non sapevano che era diventato Benedetto Croce, il più olimpico e armonioso dei filosofi di qui, la cui prosa e pensiero danno pace, incantano (e istruiscono, potentemente).

Pensatore non accademico

Non accademico, con contatti sempre più estesi, il suo pensiero pian piano si irrobustì e per gradi divenne il più grande pensatore italiano della prima metà del 900, filosofo di influenza abbastanza mondiale (scrisse per es la voce ‘Estetica’ della Britannica (poi pubblicata in italiano come Aesthetica in nuce; inglesi, americani francesi lo amavano; gli italiani pure; lui ha sempre però preferito la Kultur tedesca, e quella italiana, alla culture francese: vedi qui). Per Croce vedi anche qui.

[En passant, il suo allievo Antonio Gramsci – sardo, legato anche alla Francia e mentor spirituale di chi scrive – fu la stessa cosa: intellettuale cioè mondiale massimo nostro – più di Croce – nella 2a metà del 900 e ben oltre.

Le sue opere scritte negli anni ’30 furono rese note dal finto amico Togliatti nell’immediato dopoguerra e fermentano ancora oggi 2014 e vanno oltre.

Gramsci paradossalmente è esploso dopo la caduta del muro, quando si è detto:

Il comunismo è morto, A. Gramsci sarà pure un comunista ma in realtà è un liberale, come Croce, ed è utilissimo per gli strumenti di antropologia che offre.

Capire la destra e la sinistra anglo-sassoni

Per esempio A.G. è stato utilizzato (per capire)

a. la destra reaganiana, i neocons e i Tea Parties (destra religiosa e protestante – ora cambia: si volge a tutti, è più secolare, meno bianca, sennò scompare).

Come sarà andata? Magari per combattere questo comunista sempre più noto (opere integralmente tradotte in innumerevoli lingue) i repubblicani USA hanno giocato con G come avrebbe potuto fare la Chiesa con Giordano Bruno facendo la machiavellica (invece l’ha fatto fuori).

Cioè la destra USA ha scoperto suo malgrado che l’anti-Cristo Gramsci gli era entrato nel sangue;

b. la destra thatcheriana per capire e combattere l’egemonia culturale della sinistra nei rispettivi paesi

c. USA e UK insieme per – gli USA – leccarsi le ferite del Vietnam, e (both) per imporre la deregulation come pratica e ideologia economica del liberismo anglo-sassone

“Diamo al diavolo quel che è del diavolo: this Gramsci is a genius!”…

… ha forse detto un predicatore del sud USA (area Bible belt). Non mi ricordo chi era (I will check all this article) ma dà un’idea di quello che è successo nelle culture wars.

I digress, my friend.

Apollineo e dionisiaco:
Quale è meglio?

Vediamo meglio come Croce si risollevò, alla luce della sapienza dei millenni.

  1. Croce immagino si sollevò l’anima scegliendo la via apollinea (Orfeo  –>Pitagora—> Platone —>Hegel): liberarsi cioè dai travagli dell’anima attraverso la conoscenza-scienza (sofìa: wisdom: conoscenza sapienziale: intrisa di matematica & e musica: uno sballo mentale senza droga).
  2. L’altra via, quella dionisiaca, decantata da Nietzsche (che ha rovinato i tedeschi e l’Europa con essi) id est purificare i travagli dell’anima attraverso vino e sesso, misticismo privo di ragione, droghe ecc., densa di tragicità (legata probabilmente alla nascita della tragedia greca) ha anche il suo fascino e può avere i suoi vantaggi, non lo nego.

Ma alla lunga ti distrugge: i Romani, popolo saggio (non folle come i Greci) proibirono Bacco Dioniso – Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibusche dilagò comunque con la vittoria romana su Cartagine: i giovani reclamavano il piacere, il lusso dei greci.

Dioniso-Bacco è il più rappresentato degli dei: mosaici statue dipinti graffiti ecc. Uno sballo mistico non solo col vino e sesso di gruppo ma includente cose che oggi fanno un poco ribrezzo ma soprattutto lasciano stupefatti se consideriamo che si trattava di riti sacri: gli antichi erano veramente diversi da noi: più rigidi – rigidissimi – e più aperti, allo stesso tempo.

E Croce e la Prof?

Tornando a B. Croce, forse anche lui, prima di scegliere la via della Filo-Sofia, si congiunse alla Prof allora giovanissima, che magari (senza magari) era una gran fresca pugliaccona.

A me sembrava brutta, dai.

Una donna veramente bella la vedi anche da anziana, come tua madre, donna sublime e forte. Forse la prof aveva la bellezza del somaro, che è meglio comunque di niente … ;-)

Autocensura …

… i vasi raccoglitori delle donne, del resto, essendo 3: numero non per caso importante nella numerologia pitagorico platonica cristiana tomista dantesca hegeliana: il triangolo, la regola aurea … censura…, le terzine, le tre cantiche, la trinità cristiana pitagorica platonica, il trio Venere Urania – spirituale – Venere carnale o demotica e Amore.

Dunque … prima di purificarsi con σοφία … autocensura … la prof e poi Sofia, la prof e poi Sofia, infine solo Sofia, Venere spirituale di Plato e non più la Venere carnale.

O la Madonna, amore meraviglioso e sognante, solo spirituale: ha addirittura concepito vergine (vedi questa bella canzone dei bei tempi nostri, di Charles Aznavour).

O la donna angelicata del dolce Stil Novo di Dante: Beatrice. Gli occhi di Beatrice descritti centinaia di volte in modo diverso nella Commedia sono la cosa più bella e dolce di questo capolavoro.

Inoltre, molte divinità antiche erano vergini, Diana, Minerva ecc ecc (qui espandi), ma Giunone no, amava molto, pur essendo gelosa di Giove, e aveva tanti amori unendosi a umani non umani.

Dal suo seno superabbondante – bellezza giunonica, si dice ancora – è nata la via Lattea, immagine poeticissima.

Dalla via Lattea noi proveniamo e poi ritorneremo. Vedi il Sogno di Scipione di Cicero.

Poesia amore sesso negli antichi vanno insieme in modo sublime: mi piace da morire il mondo antico.

[se vai qui e qui  esplori la knowledge base che sottende a tutta la e-mail]

ψ

Sto per smettere, ma prima …

Dobbiamo dedicarci all’apollineo (Ἀπόλλων), non al dionisiaco (Διόνυσος), il che implica un’etica, l’amore dedicato, non itinerante, per la nostra donna, l’amore disinteressato per i figli di sangue e non ecc., la conoscenza come gioco e passione visione scienza.

MA, siccome semel in anno licet in-savire [forse, oggi, bis, ter, quater in anno] un pizzico di dionisiaco ci può pure sta’, ma non più di tanto.

Tuo Jonny

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

14 Places in Egypt You Must Visit in 2014

14 Places in Egypt You Must Visit in 2014

Man of Roma:

Il Cairo. From Ansa. Fair use

Il Cairo. From Ansa. Fair use

[Needs some pruning perhaps and related posts and links at the end. After this blog's new graphical clothing is up and running. Too many WordPress pages tangled with posts: custom menus  may be the solution]

ψ

An excellent blog about Egypt. I will hunt for others.

Mario: “Why Egypt?”

MoR: “Everybody liking Antiquity must have Egypt in his / her mind.”

Fulvia: “I thought Greece and Rome shaped what became later the ‘proud West’ that conquered the world”

Extropian: “C’mon, Fulvia, that I can’t take my eyes away from your bazookas doesn’t mean you haven’t said ‘na stronzata!”
*they all laughing & winking at her*

The Tobacconist: “Allow me, Fulvia, friends. That the Greco-Romans of any time went, for their Grand Tour, to Egypt and to other Semitic lands – and beyond, with links to Mesopotamia & India – is a historical fact.”

ψ

A conversation actually occurring at an outdoors cafe in Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, clouds looming all over.

Campo dei Fiori a Roma. Cielo nuvoloso

Campo de’ Fiori a Roma. Cielo nuvoloso. Source. Courtesy of OtveTur.ru. Click on last link for great pictures of Rome

Clodia standing not far and overhearing our conversatioin, sits at our table in a flash.

A high-brow seductive slut of 45, Clodia. Some of us call her Lesbia, Catullus’ lascivious-refined lover).

“My dear friends – she breaks the ice – this conversation has captured my attention (and that female friend was so boring I much prefer here”
*Looking at the men furtively, her Scarlett-Johansson-like body invisibly vibrating*

“Should I remind you that in any philosophy manual for schools accurate scholars argue that philosophy and science were born in Greece? That other races, considered well not lower – on peut pas dire cela – toutefois incapable …”

ω

Everyone ignores her words, rejected in a quasi-careless way due to their absurdity, although, thing being, we are also – men and women alike – absolutely mesmerized by Clodia’s sensual magic.

It pervades the air round us since she sat down. Spring, despite the lousy weather, not helping much either.

ω

“A sensuality that could rival that of Cleopatra (had Cleopatra been less intelligent)” was the thought of a few of us.

Wrong, Clodia is refined and cultivated, but Cleopatra (Κλεοπάτρα Φιλοπάτωρ,) who seduced both Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius and (which counts much more) the last pharaoh of Ancient Egypt c’mon.

Cleopatra VII in hieroglyphs

Cleopatra VII (69 BCE – 30 BCE), last Pharaoh of Egypt, in hieroglyphs. Click for source. Wikipedia

Vénus de l'Esquilin or Venus Esquilina

Esquiline Venus, found in 1874 on the Esquiline Hill in Rome (from the Horti Lamiani possibly). Capitoline Museums, Rome. To some scholar the model for this statue was Cleopatra herself

The Samnite, 30, his brand-new Sony smartphone in his left hand, saves us all:

“Let me see … yes. In A.L. Basham introduction to Oxford’s A cultural History of India one reads:

“The four main cradles of civilizations …. moving from east to west … [were] China, the Indian subcontinent, the Fertile Crescent, and the Mediterranean, especially Greece and Italy.”

Extropian: “That the Greco-Romans (and, later, proud conquering West) were considered the high races and the Semitic and other folks the lower races (incapable of real philosophy and science – you find it in almost all European manuals of the first half of the 1900, not just those by a certain type of German historians in the 1930’s.”

The Samnite: “Which means justifying colonialism with ideology and history (of philosophy, science etc.)”

MoR: “Despite the fact that history is never neutral, yes, this is the idea.”

Egyptian jewel

Egyptian jewel

 

Enjoy Egypt’s Antiquity, readers, much more ancient than the Greeks (and deeper in wisdom & philosophy, what do you think?)

Originally posted on Egyptian Streets:

Credit: Mohamed Hakem

The White Desert Credit: Mohamed Hakem

While Egypt may be facing political and social turmoil, Egypt’s exotic, mysterious and historic locations continue to stand, receiving adventurers and explorers. If you are thinking of exploring Egypt in 2014, then here are 14 must-visit places in Egypt, along with others that you should already have planned to see!

(Note: Many of these photographs are thanks to Mohamed Hakem. Check out his blog heremhakem.com)

1. The White Desert

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Credit: Mohamed Hakem

While it may look like the moon, this photograph was taken at the White Desert near Bahareya Oasis. The white surfaced desert which resembles an alien planet has been used to film Sci-Fi movies, including Vin Diesel’s Riddick. The desert is renowned for its rock formations, safari trips, and over night camping.

2. Sultan Qalawun Mosque in Old Cairo

Sultan Qalawun Mosque in Old Cairo

Credit: Mohamed Hakem

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Credit: Mohamed Hakem

While Old Cairo is filled…

View original 986 more words

A Berber from the Monti rione makes (today) jewels. The Berber Augustine (2000 years ago) shook Antiquity & Rome. Both changed (never to change)

_public_media_croci tuareg

Italian original

[Draft. We'll stop posting for a few days, this blog crying badly for graphical renovation]

A Berber jeweler,
in today’s Subura

Not far from our house and from Rome’s ancient Subura there’s a little shop where a Berber Tuareg – a tall, dark-skinned man of a majestic beauty – makes splendid jewels that perpetuate a multimillenial tradition – married, inter alia, with an equally beautiful woman from Northern Italy.

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The Samnite: “An ‘acquired’ Roman, one might say.”
The Tobacconist *nodding, with a radiant smile*

A Berber metaphysician
2,000 years ago

Saint Augustine and Saint Monica by Ary Scheffer (1846)

Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, his mother. 1846 painting by French Ary Scheffer (Wikipedia, click for credits and larger image)

Another ‘acquired’ Roman – born almost 2000 years earlier (and Berber too from his mother’s side) was Augustine of Hippo.

More precisely, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (354 – 430 CE,) his family having been legally Roman for more than a century.

Augustinus didn’t make jewels but he almost certainly wore some very similar to those made in the small shop of the Monti rione.

The African sage ruminated, instead, his vast soul tormented.

Augustine praying in his study, by Sandro Botticelli, 1480, Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy. Credits

Augustine praying in his study, by Sandro Botticelli, 1480 (detail.) Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy. Credits and entire painting

From such torment stemmed The Confessions and most of all The City of God – two visionary works that only a Berber-Punic Algerian could conceive.

An explosion of visions, ideas, and mysticism.

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The pagan gods were shaken (but adapted themselves).

The myth of Rome was nearly destroyed – the City of God, metaphysically celestial, going way beyond the Urbs beacon of the Orb (though Rome adapted and survived, licking her wounds.)

Tomba di S. Agostino nella Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro a Pavia

Tomba di S. Agostino nella Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro a Pavia, Italia. Source (bigger picture)

 

Governess of a billion souls (of nations no more), with a Pontifex Maximus, Francesco, shepherd at last and close to the poor (like Augustine), Rome the eternal looks today at the greatest intellectual of the first millennium CE (on this side of the planet.)

With deep love and profound respect.

 

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We, in our lowest pochezza, nurture the same feelings.

Without forgetting, allow us, that our roots are, and remain, pagan.

 

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

Nota. L’idea mistico terrena di Roma, cemento ideologico dell’Impero Romano, venne indebolita, e l’impero con essa, dall’esplosione creativa di Agostino.

Ma l’idea non morì (e mai morirà).

ψ

Si pensi solo che gli ultimi due imperi del continente europeo dissoltisi con la prima guerra mondiale erano guidati da uno Zar, russo, e da un Kaiser, tedesco. Sia Zar che Kaiser significano Cesare, ovvero:

Gaius Julius Caesar, Pontifex Maximus e iniziatore dell’impero romano.

[Se uno credesse ai segni ... ma non ci crediamo]

 

 

 

Un berbero di Monti (oggi) fabbrica gioielli. Il berbero Agostino (due millenni fa) scuote l’antichità e Roma. Che cambiano (per non cambiare mai)

_public_media_croci tuareg

English translation

[We'll stop posting for a few days, this blog crying badly for graphical renovation]

Gioiellere berbero,
nella Suburra, oggi

Non lontano da casa nostra e dalla Suburra c’è un negozietto dove un berbero Tuareg – uomo alto, dalla pelle scura e di maestosa bellezza – fa gioielli meravigliosi che continuano una tradizione plurimillenaria (tra l’altro essendosi unito a una donna anch’essa molto bella, del Nord Italia).

ψ

The Samnite: “Un romano ‘acquisito’, si potrebbe dire”.
The Tobacconist *annuendo, un sorriso luminoso*

Pensatore Berbero,
2000 anni fa

Saint Augustine and Saint Monica by Ary Scheffer (1846)

Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, his mother. 1846 painting by French Ary Scheffer (Wikipedia, click for credits and larger image)

‘Acquisito’ lo fu un altro romano di quasi 2000 anni fa, berbero anch’egli da parte di madre, Agostino d’Ippona.  Per la precisione, Aurelius Augustinus Hipponensis (354 – 430 d.C), di famiglia legalmente romana, appunto, da più di un secolo.

Augustinus non faceva gioielli (ne avrà solo indossati di simili a quelli del Tuareg di Monti).

Augustinus in verità pensava. E si travagliava.

Augustine praying in his study, by Sandro Botticelli, 1480, Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy. Credits

Augustine praying in his study, by Sandro Botticelli, 1480 (detail.) Chiesa di Ognissanti, Florence, Italy. Credits and entire painting

Da tale travaglio nacquero Le Confessioni e soprattutto La Città di Dio, due libri geniali che solo un punico berbero algerino poteva scrivere.

Un’esplosione di visioni, idee e misticismo.

ψ

Gli dei pagani ne furono scossi (ma si adattarono).

ll mito di Roma ne fu quasi distrutto – la Città di Dio metafisicamente celeste andava oltre l’urbe faro terreno dell’orbe (ma Roma si adattò e sopravvisse, leccandosi le ferite).

Tomba di S. Agostino nella Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d'Oro a Pavia

Tomba di S. Agostino nella Basilica di San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro a Pavia, Italia. Source (bigger picture)

 

Governatrice di un miliardo di anime (non più di popoli), con un Pontifex Maximus, Francesco, finalmente pastore e vicino alla povera gente (come Augustinus), Roma l’eterna guarda oggi al più grande intellettuale del primo millennio d.C.

Con amore profondo, e con rispetto.

ψ

Noi, nella nostra infima pochezza, proviamo gli stessi sentimenti.

Pur non dimenticando, ci sia concesso, che le nostre radici sono e restano pagane.

Capitoline She-Wolf. Rome, Musei Capitolini. Public domain

Nota. L’idea mistico terrena di Roma, cemento ideologico dell’Impero Romano, venne indebolita, e l’impero con essa, dall’esplosione creativa di Agostino.

Ma l’idea non morì (e mai morirà).

ψ

Si pensi solo che gli ultimi due imperi del continente europeo dissoltisi con la prima guerra mondiale erano guidati da uno Zar, russo, e da un Kaiser, tedesco. Sia Zar che Kaiser significano Cesare:

Giulio Cesare, Pontifex Maximus e iniziatore dell’impero.

[Se uno credesse ai segni ... ma non ci crediamo]

 

 

 

Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Syria etc. Arab Spring Revolutions seen from Rome (1)

Berlusconi and Gaddafi

Berlusconi and Gaddafi. What on earth do they have in common? They were supposed to be ‘friends’. Click for attribution and to to enlarge

It is weeks I wanted to write something about the Arab spring revolutions. It all started in Tunisia, separated from Italy by only 44 miles (Pantelleria) and by 68 miles (Sicily.)

This being not totally fortuitous in my opinion – we will see in any case.

This is a thoughtful Roman blog, not a newspaper, so we’ll talk over such political (and military) crises in our own Roman way :-)

Talk over literally, since I recently discovered how convenient a microphone can be.

Waves of Revolution.
“Who the Hell Cares”

Image drawn when Gaddafi arrived to Rome (on june 2009?). Our PM welcomed him as a leader and as a personal friend. Click for credits and to enlarge

Disturbance; want of values in new generations; so-close-to-Italy Muslim countries exploding like bombs; the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India & China) about to make our Western asses black & blue.

France, the UK, Germany, the US etc. not being on better grounds than we are; our ineffable PM Berlusconi glued to his chair not giving a damn about his country’s future and claiming ‘communist’ magistrates are the only ones to blame for his HUGE legal problems (read the Guardian, among the rest, any political colour saying the same worldwide) and btw only half-heartedly admitting his friend Muammar Gaddafi is a cruel dictator butchering dissenters with fighters missiles.

By the way, did the two Big Men have fun ensemble with chicks? No evidence that I posses but it’s a given that when Gaddafi arrived to Rome (June 2009?) hundreds of Italian babes flocked to his tent placed in a Roman public (and luscious) garden and, well, rumours say quite a few converted to Islam for 80 Euros (100 USD)!

When asked by journalists (see picture below) – who were staring at their stunning faces boobs (and legs) – why on earth had they converted, they replied:

“Well, ya know, it is so interesting, exploring different religions, really so interesting, isn’t it interesting? Ah ah ah ah ..”

[I am using my words but I heard those chicks' words on TV; they were no different, at times even worse]

A young Italian showing the Qur’an after meeting Muammar Gaddafi in his tent placed in a luscious Roman public garden. Click for attribution

Let me tell you this whole thing is allarmante, alarming.

And it’s all the more when we realise we are so few to be alarmed – as a Milan’s blogger wittingly put it.

While strolling about Rome I actually notice that in cafés shops and bars no one really gives a damn, with Milan teaming up with us (the two major Italian cities – not to mention the provinces, that probably care even less.)

Instead, Libya and the Rest ‘Do Affect’ Us

Libya with Italy on top. Giolitti in 1911 and later Mussolini deemed its conquest as a natural expansion of Italy in ‘Mare Nostrum’.

Libya and the Arab spring upheavals do affect us instead. We all have Greco-Roman and Mediterranean roots, so South and East shores mattered (and matter) to us.

In 1911 the Italian PM Giovanni Giolitti launched the progressive conquest of Libya, later continued by Benito Mussolini until 1931.

Libya became ‘ours’ because our newly-founded Nation desired to invent her own empire at a time when the real thing, ie the British and the French empires, were soon to fall apart (as Lucio Caracciolo, director of Limes, yesterday observed in the Roman daily La Repubblica.)

Libya's regions, and Cyrenaica

Libya 1911-1931, we were saying. A bloody phase of battles and unrelenting anti-Italian guerilla at the end of which our technologically superior country (morally too?) made use of chemical weapons and poisoned the farmers’ wells to the extent it wiped out 1/10 of the Libyan population (100,000 casualties) – according to the Italian Wikipedia.

Κυρήνη or Cyrene.
Mussolini Amoral
(and Forgetful) Conqueror

One of the toughest & unyielding Libyan regions was Cyrenaica, Eastern Libya (see map above.)

It was so named since 2641 years earlier the Greek colony of Cyrene (Κυρήνη) was there founded and there later flourished. Cyrene soon became a glowing centre of Greek culture. Suffice it to mention:

Callimachus (Καλλίμαχος: 310–240 BCE), of Libyan Greek origin, poet and scholar

Aristippus (Ἀρίστιππος), Socrates’ disciple, who there preached how to enjoy life pleasures “from all circumstances and how to control adversity and prosperity alike;”

Callimachus (Καλλίμαχος) who there had his birth and without whom the greatest Roman poets of the Latin golden age would never have existed (Catullus, Virgil, Tibullus and Propertius;)

Eratosthene
(Έρατοσθένης), also from Cyrene, the first scientist ever capable of exactly measuring the size and circumference of our planet.

Libya’s National Hero:
Omar Mukhtar, a Pious Man

Omar Mukhtar, Libya's great national hero

Omar Mukhtar, Libya’s great national hero, hanged by the Italians in 1931. “For nearly 20 years he led native resistance to Italian colonization.” Wikipedia. Also image via Wikipedia. Click to enlarge

In 1862 CE Omar al-Mukhtar had his birth in Cyrenaica as well (see picture above.)

Omar al-Mukhtar is Libya’s great national hero, a religious and pious man.

For 20 years he led an unrelenting anti-Italian resistance and when captured in 1931 (see picture below) his deep personality “had an impact on his Italian jailers, who later remarked upon his steadfastness” (English Wiki.)

Omar Mokhtar arrested by Italian Fascists

Omar Mokhtar arrested by the Italians in 1931. Click for file source

A sort of Nelson Mandela, one could say, with the difference that deep sage Omar didn’t make it.

It seems the Italians arrested Mukhtar’s court appointed defence lawyer, capitano Roberto Lontano, who took ‘too honestly’ his defence job, which suggests unfairness in Mukhtar’s trial.

“On September 16, 1931, Mukhtar, at the age of 73 years, was hanged before his followers” who were ALL prisoners in the concentration camp of Solluqon. The Italians hopes were that Libyan resistance would end with him.

Omar Mukhtar's hanging in the concentration camp of Solluqon

Omar Mukhtar’s hanging in the concentration camp of Solluqon

Before dying Omar uttered this Qur’anic verse:

“To God we belong. To Him we shall return.”

“His final years – Wikipedia – were depicted in the movie Lion of the Desert (1981), starring Anthony Quinn, Oliver Reed, and Irene Papas. It was based on the struggles of Mukhtar against Italian commander Rodolfo Graziani‘s forces [Graziani born close to Rome was called 'the pacifier' by the Italians; the 'Butcher of Fezzan' by the Arabs.]

Italians were able to watch this film only a few years ago.

[The film may perhaps be watched here.]

Lion of the Desert DVD Cover. Click for attribution

PS. I don’t mean here that Italians were worse than any colonizer. I believe instead that every country follows the principles of Realpolitik which “focuses on considerations of power, not ideals, morals, or principles.”

Machiavelli laid the first rules of Realpolitik. It is high time I dedicate a post to this Renaissance Florentine btw, since too many people say: Realpolitik, ok, but Machiavelli, THAT is amoral stuff.

Which needs some clarifying I guess.

Benito Mussolini thought Mukhtar, the Desert Lion, was an obstacle to his colonial conquest. So he got rid of him.

I am not criticizing this [like I'm not criticizing Americans who stopped, no matter how, communism in Greece, Italy or Chile.]

I am criticizing colonialism.

ψ

Who is no sinner may start casting stones.

[to be continued: see next chapter]

PS. Rome and Italy are Mediterranean. Nothing like a wider picture on the South and East shores of such a sea may throw light in our opinion on the Arab Spring.

From this blog:

The Southern Shores of the Mediterranean

Mare Nostrum, Patriarchy, Omertà. 1

Mare Nostrum, Patriarchy, Omertà. 2

Permanences. Rome and Carthage

Love Words from Egypt

Echoes from the Mediterranean. Part 1


Echoes from the Mediterranean. Part 2

Folks of the Mediterranean Sea

Mare Nostrum, Patriarchy, Omertà. 1

Sicilian old men. 2008

Secrecy & Omertà

At the end of an earlier post we had invited Naguib Mahfouz (see picture below), the Nobel-prize Egyptian writer, to help us to understand the ancient world of the Mediterranean. Let’s consider today how the charming characters in his Cairo trilogy do tons of forbidden things: they drink alcohol, they cheat and eat pork, but all is done in secret and keeping up the appearances.

Two daughters of Ahmed Abd el-Gawwad – this Egyptian patriarch par excellence and main character of the trilogy – quarrel and one of them angrily denounces her sister’s husband to her mother: “He drinks wine at home without hiding!”

Which reminds us of some Tunisian people who were drinking beer in a coffee house in Tunis and who confessed: “Nous on fait tout, mais en cachette” (we do everything, though in secret).

It is irresistible not to think about Sicily, where doing things in secret is well ingrained (Sicily was under Tunisian rule for 400 years). And what about omertà, which makes defeating Mafia so difficult?

Omertà is a code of silence that seals the lips of men even when innocent and protects mafiosi in Italian southern regions like Sicily, Calabria and Campania. We’re sure there is some connection between the said secrecy behaviour and Mafia’s omertà.

[By the way, is all this so remote from that omertà that protects Osama bin Laden in territories where everybody is so capable of keeping secrets? A weird association? Hard to say. Back to Mahfouz and to the Mediterranean]

The Power of Man on Woman

Naguib MahfouzAnother element is the power a husband exerts on his wife. That same angry sister tells her mother about the other sister’s misdemeanours: “She drinks and smokes, acting against God and with Satan.”
Her disconsolate mother replies: “What can we do? She is a married woman, and the judgement of her conduct is now in the hands of her husband…” (I am freely summing up the text).

This is Islamic society, one could say. Ok, but this patriarchal power is much older than Islam and was present both in ancient Greece and Rome (although from the late Republic onwards Roman women – especially within the upper classes – gained a wider freedom). So it is a misconception to think of all this as Islamic. Many Muslim societies (not all of them) simply stick to ancient traditions widespread in the Mediterranean and elsewhere much before Islam arrived, which doesn’t mean we like women to be submitted to man’s power, no, no. And this is certainly not Italy’s contemporary life, even though in the South something of a more ancient patriarchy still seems to survive.

The honour of the family

Speaking of patriarchy, the honour and dishonour of the family falls upon the father or husband. Ahmed Abd el-Gawwad, called by his daughter’s mother-in-law because of his daughter’s misconduct, thus reproaches her: “Nothing that was raised in my house should be stained by such behaviours! Don’t you realise that the whole evil you are doing brings dishonour to me?”.

Again it is tempting to think about Neapolitan Eduardo De Filippo‘s Natale in casa Cupiello, a delightful comedy in which Luca Cupiello (Eduardo), exasperated with is wife Concetta, cries aloud: “La nemica mia! La nemica della casa!” (This enemy of mine! This enemy of the house!), where he clearly considers himself to be THE house, in such a funny and masterly way, because Eduardo and the Neapolitans are so refined and adorable (the Greek cousins of Rome) despite all the problems now Naples is facing.

Naples. The castle and the Volcano

And again it is clear that patriarchy is prior to Islam, Naples, Sicily etc. It was previously present in Rome, Greece, Carthage etc. And it existed in Mare Nostrum and elsewhere long before these civilisations arrived. Records of it seem to be as far back as the 4th millennium BC.

We have tried to explore some Mediterranean traditions with the help of Naguib Mahfouz, and we have mused about some possible influences between the North and South shores of this sea. It seems clear to us that every study of present ways of thinking (European, Islamic, Sicilian, Neapolitan etc.) is not wholly understandable without looking at the endless past of the civilizations (see also the concept of the mind like a museum in the last section of our post Knowing Thyself).

(to be continued)

Ψ

Other related posts:

Permanences I
The Southern Shores of the Mediterranean
Love Words from Egypt
Echoes from the Mediterranean. Part 1
Echoes from the Mediterranean. Part 2

The Southern Shores of the Mediterranean

Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia. Gnu Free documentation License

Italian version

The Greco-Roman soul is intimately tied to Egypt and North Africa.

We are all Mediterranean. Food, plants and plenty of traditions are similar. On a long-period perspective we belong to the same historical stream, to the same sea from which some of the first civilizations have germinated on this side of the planet.

Of course there are differences though we are not so dissimilar as someone might (or liked) to think plus our same religions, apparently dividing us, are in reality loving the same God.

It is not by chance that these north-African regions are considered diverse and almost European by Sub-Saharan black people. They are in fact very different from Sub-Saharan Africa.

Another interesting point is that during the whole Middle Ages north Africans were the most powerful, civilised and wealthy among all Mediterranean (and European) folks.

Wealth has move to the North

Wealth has now moved to the North shore.

The Northern and Southern shores of the Mediterranean tend to exchange their roles.

Tunisia conquered Sicily for 400 years. Today it looks at Sicily (and Italy) as a beloved guiding light and its greatest inspiring model (“les Italiens pour nous sont comme des dieux”, “Italians are like gods to us”, a Tunisian manager once told me). While we, in our narrow-mindedness, do not even notice it.

Italians (especially those who travel little) do not know how much they are loved within the entire Mediterranean area.

Even when we landed on its islands as occupants, together with the Nazis, we were accepted with affection by the local populations because they felt us as close relatives. How many memories, traditions and bonds we do share with them.

Many villages in Southern Italy – or in so many Greek islands, not to mention Spain, who was under Arabic rule for so long – look Arabic or belonging in any case to the deep South Mediterranean: take Ostuni, in Apulia, or Sperlonga, in the south of Latium; then cast a glance at Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia (see picture above:)

They are almost identical, belonging to a very similar culture, whether we like it or not, because during the Middle Ages the winning model came from the South Mediterranean coasts, where civilization (and power) lay.

Needless to say, when a Roman – even more a Neapolitan (not to mention a Sicilian) – hears an Arabic melody he feels hidden strings vibrating in his soul.

Death of Dido, by Augustin Cayot (French, 1667-1772). Public domain

Going further back in time let us conjure up the war to the death between Rome and Carthage immortal Tunisia, again) whose legendary origin – narrated by Virgil’s classical (and beautiful) poem Aeneid – sprang from Dido’s desperate love for Aeneas, our Trojan ancestor of Rome.

This Carthage’s queen, forsaken by the Trojan hero, stabbed herself after predicting eternal hate between Rome and Carthage.

So from love sprang hate; from hate tremendous war (thus says the legend): a moment of history – the historical, not legendary war, this time – that decided whether the Mediterranean was to be dominated by its North or its South shores.

The North (and Rome) won – by a hair’s breadth it’d be fair to say.

Meeting Tunisians
à La Goulette

I was in Tunisia for work and in La Goulette coffee houses – La Goulette is a picturesque district in Tunis, close to the harbour, where incidentally the beautiful Italian-Tunisian actress Claudia Cardinale was born – people still discuss the battles of Roman Scipio and of Carthaginian Hannibal, and they line up beans on tables thus drawing up troops of both armies in order to celebrate Hannibal’s brilliant victories over the Romans, still trying also to understand where Hannibal went wrong in the last fatal battle of Zama.

One of the guys I met there had worked with several Italian movie directors in the innumerable films the Italians shot in Tunisia.

I clearly felt they were all kind and warm to this Italian who showed interest in them. They were drinking beer so I asked them:

“Isn’t alcohol forbidden by the Koran?”.

One of them replied:

Eh bien, nous on fait tout, mais en cachette”, “well, we do everything, though in secret”. And my mind went to Sicily, where secrecy, doing things en chachette, is typical and well ingrained.

Anthony, Cleopatra
(and Octavian)

Getting back to Egypt, let us consider Alexander the Great and his relationship with Egypt and the city of Alexandria, which he founded. And let us consider Cleopatra, descendant of one of Alexander’s generals, as well as her love affair with Julius Caesar, first, and with Mark Anthony, Caesar’s relative, later.

Caesar and Anthony, united by both kinship and their love for Egypt’s splendid civilization. Was Caesar’s love for Egypt sincere, or was it the result of mere political calculations? Hard to fathom, Caesar’s mind, but we are inclined to believe Anthony’s interest for Egypt was not only political.

 

lupaottimigut1.jpg

The conflict between Anthony and Octavian was again a moment in history that decided whether the Mediterranean had to be dominated by its Northern or South-eastern shores, this time. Again Rome (and the North) won but later, after the fall of the Roman empire, the South and Near East took their revenge, with triumphant Islam and the survival of Greek Constantinople.

Mahfouz, as a conclusion

As a conclusion, the eternal Roman and Mediterranean soul vibrates when in contact with relatives to whom it is tied by both common history and traditions.

Who better than Naguib Mahfouz, the great Egyptian writer (and future virtual guest), can guide us and help us to understand?

In our next post dedicated to the Southern shores of the Mediterranean we will in fact listen to the love words of young Kamal, the main character from the second volume of Mahfouz’s Cairo trilogy.

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