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Where is Europe going? Piero Boitani’s letter to David Cameron (debate at the Man of Roma’s cafe). 2

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David Cameron &  Jean-Claude Junker controversy over Europe

Jean-Claude Juncker (left), now president of the European Commission (voted by the European Council and recently by the European Parliament) was fiercely opposed by David Cameron. Britain and Hungary were isolated. “Instead of building alliances in Europe – said Ed Milliband, leader of the British opposition – ” he’s burned them”

I warmly thank Professor Piero Boitani for letting me publish here the letter to the British PM David Cameron he has just sent to the London’s daily The Independent.

Piero Boitani – a medievalist, Dante scholar, steeped in ancient myth as well as modern literatures – is Professor of Comparative Literature at Sapienza, University of Rome, and is also teaching at the Universities of Notre Dame, Indiana, and of Italian Switzerland.

He is also – among the rest, the list IS mind-boggling – Fellow of the British Academy and Honorary Member of the Dante Society of America (together with Umberto Eco.)

Here is Piero Boitani’s voice, loud and clear.

[a ‘Roman from Rome with ancient traits’ voice, I’d say. Wonder if he’d agree, he is not a reader of this blog, he doesn’t need to; links below are MoR’s, not Professor Piero Boitani’s]

Professor Piero Boitani is an extrovert despite his immense knowledge. Goethe wrote somewhere that  “the one who doesn’t understand 3000 years of history, lives in the dark, unaware, from day to day."

Blue-eyed, pensive, P. Boitani is an extrovert despite his deep knowledge. Goethe wrote that “the one who doesn’t understand 3000 years of history, lives in the dark, unaware, from day to day.” It is not the case of Piero Boitani, as one learns by reading his magnum opus, Il Grande Racconto delle Stelle [quote from here]

Dear PM,

I have followed the recent developments in your attitude to the EU with a growing sense of concern and irritation. Since the age of 10, I have been a strong anglophile. I have studied in England, have taught and published there. I visit it at least once a year. Quite frankly, I do not understand your opposition to Juncker, which has left Britain isolated in Europe with Orban’s Hungary (sic!).  Juncker is by no means the ideal President of the European Commission, but he is no worse than, say, Barroso. Was your opposition dictated by the fact that Junker is supposed to be a ´federalist´ and that he was indicated by the European Parliament rather than the governments? That is actually a more democratic method of indicating a new President than the old one of negotiations between national governments. Is Juncker against novelty or reforms of the EU? Well, governments can actually make Juncker do what they like, so if they want reforms he will pursue reforms.

In short, your opposition seems to me purely instrumental – dictated more by Mr Farage’s victory in the recent EU elections, i.e., by UK politics, than by the well-being of Britain. Unless at the back of it all be an unconfessed attempt at going with the presumed British feeling of annoyance with the EU. Threatening the other EU members with ‘The UK will leave the EU if Juncker is nominated’, or ‘Anti-European feelings in Britain will grow to the point that the 2017 referendum will turn out to be against Britain staying in the UK’, is quite inappropriate, and useless, blackmail.

Britain ought to examine herself very deeply on the matter of Europe. There is first and foremost a question of roots and culture. The cultural roots of Britain are European, from the 1st century AD to the present. Yes, there is also a different strain, wider and tied to the British expansion on the sea, and narrower because of its feeling of insularism and isolation from the Continent. But at the critical moments in history, Britain has always made a decidedly European choice, witness the Napoleonic wars and First and Second WW.

Secondly, there are political and economic reasons. Would the UK be better off outside the EU? Or, has Britain been worse off since it joined the then EEC? To say so would be a gross error. Has Britain been less ‘free’ since joining the EEC? You drive on the left and use miles, pounds, and pints. You have kept the pound sterling. You are out of Schengen. Is someone forcing you to eat taramasalata or sauerkraut? Or to learn ‘foreign’ languages? Or to surrender your navy to the Germans?

The European Economic Community. Courtesy of Britannica Kids

The European Economic Community. Courtesy of Britannica Kids. Source

What is there in ‘Europe’ that annoys the UK? Its bureaucratic structure? I admit it could be simplified and made more efficient, but you must yourself admit that a democratic administration for nearly thirty countries is not easy to achieve without a bureaucracy, and that the mandate of this bureaucracy is to uniform and unify, not keep the thousand tiny differences that exist within Europe. If you want free circulation of people and goods among those 30 countries, you will need laws – uniform laws all over – to protect that circulation. Didn´t the British Empire do exactly this, impose the same laws all over?

Or is it that Britain does not want a supranational European state, something many (not all) Europeans want so that Europe may count more in a globalized world? But Britain already is out of that state. It has ‘opted out’ of so many things. But to think that it can stop the others from having a tighter union if they so wish, wouldn´t that be considered presumptuous in any human relationship?

Yet the British public is annoyed by Europe (you will of course understand that the rest of Europe might be slightly annoyed with Britain). I suggest that the British public serenely and rationally examine themselves about Europe and decide once and for all whether they want to stay in or quit. Should they decide to leave, they should realize that they will give up, together with what they consider the disadvantages of being in the EU, also the advantages.

Britain’s prime minister David Cameron holds a news conference during European Union leaders summit in Brussels today after Jean-Claude Juncker was nominated for European Commission president by an overwhelming majority. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters. Source file

“Britain’s prime minister David Cameron holds a news conference during European Union leaders summit in Brussels today after Jean-Claude Juncker was nominated for European Commission president by an overwhelming majority.” Source and caption: Irish Times

One no longer is a member of a family, or a club, if one decides to leave it. They shall have to pay duty on their wines from Europe and grow resigned to selling less whisky in Europe because we will have to pay more duty on it.  But at least they will stop having headaches about being or not being European, being or not being in the EU.

I confess that I feel upset when I have to show my passport upon entering Britain. I am particularly annoyed at having to change euros into sterling (something from which only banks profit) and having to buy plug adaptors for every electrical appliance I acquire either on the Continent or in Britain (something from which only the makers of such adaptors profit).

If Britain, at the end of such self-examination process, decides it wants to leave the EU, I shall be sad, but will face the situation serenely – and will give up my strong anglophilia without any further headache.

Piero Boitani

Where is Europe going? Wide ranging dialogues at the Man of Roma’s cafe. 1

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"Le patron de la Banque centrale européenne, Mario Draghi, a convaincu les investisseurs que les taux directeurs resteraient très bas longtemps, et que les liquidités seraient abondantes pour les banques". Crédit Photo : Sébastien SORIANO/Le Figaro. Source

“Le patron de la Banque centrale européenne, Mario Draghi, a convaincu les investisseurs que les taux directeurs resteraient très bas longtemps, et que les liquidités seraient abondantes pour les banques”. Crédit Photo : Sébastien SORIANO/Le Figaro. Source

Here is the EU / Euro / Europe debate I had promised to some friends. We will start with personal dialogues from our slice of the blogosphere.

You will however notice how ideas & feelings (passionate, at times) will soon go beyond the sphere of the particolare and reach the wider area of an equally passionate debate a. within the EU etc.; b. on the other side of the Atlantic; c. much beyond that, since all economies – China, India, Japan, the gas & oil states etc.) are interwoven.

[last minute update: France & Germany, who will win? In the world cup, I mean. 🙂 I don’t know whom to cheer, folks ]

Cheri Sabraw

Cheri the faerie (writer & educator and a lot more from the SF Bay area) will lead the dance, like Madame de Staël did with romanticism.


Cheri (original post & discussion) : “I remember visiting my grandparent’s home […] On the wall […] a framed cross-stitched message in blue which read, ” To Have a Friend, Be One.”

The souls I am privileged to call friends […] would say that I have always been too busy […]

[My sister Cindy] and I have a give and take friendship. I ask about her. She asks about me […]

This week, I have been in deep contemplation and as usually happens in times like these, my friends enter my consciousness like ethereal butterflies …

Were my grandmother […] still alive and were she to ask me whether I have […] followed the imperative on the cross-stitch, I would have to say “No, Nana. I have not.” I have simply been too busy.”


Kaytisweetlandrasmussen: “I am a retired fine arts teacher, sculptor/painter, writer, and a native Californian. I love my family, dogs, horses, movies, reading and music, probably in that order. I have been married forever to a very nice man who is nice to old ladies, dogs and children.”

kaytisweetlandrasmussen83: “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy. They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ” Marcel Proust
Let’s face it, friends make life a lot more fun. You make my life more fun.
Loved the photo of Obexers! AK.”

Cherie Ladybugg: “You know, I was just up at Tahoe for one night. What a place that engenders so many memories. I slept in my parent’s room and on the wall is that large black and white picture of you and Dr. Advice, Ron’s parents, and mom and dad. You all looked so young and happy.

kaytis…83: “Weren’t we all dashing? We thought we already knew it all. Oh how wrong we were!”


MoR: “Dear Cheri, your post has hit my heart, I find it one of the most beautiful you’ve ever written. I did not have a brother, unfortunately … I do feel the same.

Our relationship, friendship, with you, Richard, Christopher, Cyberquill, Jenny, Andreas, Thomas, Douglas, Geraldine, Paul Sunstone and others from the Web it’s been non face to face, ok, but profound (of souls, as you say) and I have neglected you since I was too busy to achieve goals in my universus introversus […]

[I btw didn’t mention those met face to face: The Commentator Italo-Canadese, Paul or Pavlos le canadien du Quebec half Greek btw, Ashish the GeekWrestler (met by my daughter in Mumbai) Devinder the Sikh from Montreal, Nomad Anju from the Bangla culture, Nita from Mumbai, one of the best journalists ever etc. etc. etc.]

Id est 3 objectives that are inter alia impossible which I’m determined none the less to attain at the cost of croaking […]

So now objective num 3 [num 1 & 2 being performing 2 of Bach’s sublime masterpieces, ndr] is of course the ‘Manius Papirius Lentulus soldier trapped in Albion’ series (I’m thinking about a sequence of smaller books being published – feuiletton-like? – one after the other, like ‘Desperate Roman Soldiers’ LOL.)

So the writing has being restarted since a while (a 3-4 hundreds draft pages in both Italian and English: 3 perhaps draft small books) and […]  no less hard than the previous two Bach goals, it being a neo-Platonic-Pythagorean Dante […] these three objectives making me live like in a closed bell – with some old school mates around and other friends, who are patient – as you say, Cherie – since I none the less neglect them […]

And for that I have neglected you, Chaeri Faerie, who have been so warm, fanciful, crystal clear as only an Hyperborean Ladybugg can be […]

As for Londoner Richard, a soul I love as much as I love yours, I have not even told him my youngest daughter is working in London as an architect / civil engineer […] hired by an English engineering company busy building a skyscraper […]

Remember my friends that I love you so much, and to me, you ALL are important [those not mentioned because too many, of course, too], and perhaps you souls from the WWW are even more important, being like Platonic souls deprived of a body, you all having a place in a heart that doesn’t forget though neglects.”

Chaerie Ladybugg: “Well Giovanni, I don’t know what to make of this long emotional comment. […] Life is a journey that we are all on, most of us doing the best we can with what we have and with who are parents were. We meet the “other,” our spouse and we engage in a relationship, often times forgetting that they, indeed, are not an extension of ourselves, but an individual, at times very different from us on their own journey too. That is the magic of the “other”.

We have friends, whether in the WWW or face to face, friends with whom we connect and at times for myriad reasons, disconnect.

I’d like to believe that both fate and free will entwine in these dances that we do […]


Richard: “Dear Roma,

I am not so naïve as to imagine that the feelings you express are for me personally. I know that you speak of the brotherhood of man generally and specifically of your love for my country and its people. That you do so despite their widespread rejection of the European Union in the recent elections to the Parliament is a measure of your sincerity.

Yes, the British do feel neglected by Europe. We feel treated unfairly, as a caricature of ourselves, that our pioneering contributions to European culture, democracy, justice, law, science, industry and peace are sidelined, misunderstood or even ridiculed. Our expectations, despite our massive sacrifices and investment in Europe over the last 300 years, and particularly over the last 100 years, bear hardly a consideration, as evidenced by the fact that the recent vote will make hardly any difference to our voice in Europe.

I myself have not lost hope in the European project, but believe that nations require their identity to be returned to enable them to be heard and to retain what is familiar to them so they may prosper together. Rightly or wrongly, there are those who reckon that some in Europe hope to win some sort of long-term cultural war through the medium of the EU, when there need be no war at all. This fear is behind the current crisis in the Ukraine.

Adaptability of form and purpose is the key to a united Europe, no less in its central organisation than in its constituent parts, and a willingness to abandon obsolete “visions” and obsessive “principle”. That headlong idée fixe has acquired a separate existence detrimental to the ideal. Real lessons can be learned from the UK and how it maintained many of the practical traditions of the constituent nations. In many ways the UK can be seen as a Scottish take-over as well as an English one. I know that we face the real possibility of Scotland’s severance, but it is a union that has lasted for 300 years, not without its difficulties, for sure, but of great mutual benefit, not only to ourselves but also to Europe and the whole world, by and large. It is significant that many true Scots who play such a large part in the running of the UK have no vote in the forthcoming referendum because they live in England. Our cultures are closely intertwined and most of us in England feel as one. I myself have Scottish antecedents on both parents’ sides and I am a Presbyterian – of a most liberal and broad-minded kind, I hasten to suggest.

Bigger is not necessarily better and if an organisation is unwieldy it is more likely to lead to unfairness, authoritarianism, disruption, rejection and, in the worst analysis, bitter conflict, than it is to peace.

MoR: [writing his novel, he needs:]

“An Invocation, before a mind journey

To my belovéd Anglo Saxon friends,
And to Chaerie dearest Faerie,
Queene of the Greatest Isle, Américà.

O Goddess, Thou, so heauenly and so bright!

Shed pls thy faire beams into our feeble eyne,
And raise, our thoughts being humble and too vile,
The argument of our afflicted style.

M. P. L(entulus) Maxumus

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]


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).


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.)


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]


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

“Why we still like the Germans (and will always like them).” 3

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Germany. Cologne Cathedral. Creative Commons License

Thus Ulrich Beck concludes his article published on the Roman Daily La Repubblica
[translation by MoR; abridged; draft; see previous installments at the article foot]


“The fight against global risks is undoubtedly a herculean effort. It can even create a new world-wide ethics of justice. Climate change is an unknown risk, historically, which threatens everyone and compels us to act.”

Another piece of advice, also by [cited] Alain Finkielkraut:

“If Europe wants to get over her cohabitation crisis she must find her own identity in the great masterpieces of her history, eg in those monuments and landscapes of civilization.

Brizio Montinaro and Yves Montand on the set of IL GENIO (1976)

Brizio Montinaro and Yves Montand on the set of IL GENIO (1976). Click for credits

[which, incidentally, relates to what Brizio Montinaro – read 1 & 2 – said in his foreword to his ‘Il tesoro delle parole morte. La poesia greca del Salento“, Argo 2009]

Paraphrase with additions:

Tourists go and see ‘monuments’ such as cathedrals, temples, museums etc. There are though other ‘monuments’: spiritual, intangible, less obvious.

B. Montinaro referred to the Greek language of Magna Graecia surviving in a few peasants of Mezzogiorno; here at the MoR we refer to both tangible and intangible elements of the Greco-Roman civilization surviving in customs, religion, laws etc., and in the minds of peoples not only Italian etc]

“Rereading Shakespeare, Descartes, Dante, Goethe; to be enchanted by Mozart or Verdi – it can not but do us good,” Beck continues.

I’d go so far as to say that Goethe’s notion of world literature is fascinating.

[we may here link Ulrich Beck to our post on Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, The most unique is the most universal, MoR].

“By which notion Goethe refers to a process of world-wide ‘opening up’, eg to an openness to the world in which ‘otherness’, ‘strangers’, become a component of our own self-knowledge.”

[MoR: Autrui, that is, the Pythagorean strings in spirits opening up to other spirits who, together, vibrate harmoniously so that otherness and communion are enhanced by merging – as is the case with the different instruments of a symphony, MoR]

So, widening one’s horizon, nation, national language.

“In this regard – Beck observes – Thomas Mann speaks of ‘Germans in the world’, but one can also say ‘Italians in the world’, ‘French in the world’, ‘Spanish in the world’, ‘British in the world’, ‘Poles in the world’ etc., or speak of a Europe of cosmopolitan of nations.”

[Wow … Wow … ]

From the African coast Albert Camus, Nietzsche’s pupil, wrote :

“From where I was born is best seen the face of Europe, and, you know, it’s not nice.”

To Albert Camus beauty was a criterion of truth and of the good life.

“History – U. Beck concludes – has worn down many things: the idea of the nation, the cunning of reason, the hope in the liberating power of rationality, of market, even the idea of progress has turned into the origin of the apocalypse, poetry shines more intensely where it struggles with despair, disdain, perversity & lack of meaning. Better still, it shows its maximum power when it dispels man’s face.”


Previous installments:

“Why we still like the Germans (and will always like them).” 1
“Why we still like the Germans (and will always like them).” 2

The Strange Story of Manius, the Last Roman Soldier in Britannia

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I had planned, for tonight, “Why we still like the Germans (and will always like them)” 3.

I’ve instead re-posted the first idea germinale of “Misce stultitiam consiliis“.


Extropian: “Why on earth?”

Lo Spartito. Via Cavour (ancient Subura). Roma

Lo Spartito. Via Cavour (ancient Subura.) Roma

Massimo: “Giovanni told me it’s because of the Germans.”
Extropian: “What??”
Massimo: “He met two extremely charming German ladies at Lo Spartito in via Cavour.”

“Plus he was in that store in order to buy a real gem: The Golberg Variations BWV 988 by Johann Sebastian Bach for guitar by Hungarian genius József Eötvös

Fulvia *rolling her eyes*: “Got it. He’s delighted by Bach & by the Germans (of the female kind, surtout.) So he went home and, still under the spell of ehm German Kultur, played the Variations and all …”

They all laugh.


Man of Roma

A silly story I wrote over at The Critical Line, where Richard, a witty lawyer from London, entertains his guests with his vast knowledge and adorable English humour.

Richard though has a problem.

He’s terribly profound in mathematics and so are many of his guests who seem to share the same horrible contagion.

But, it’d be fair to say, I amthe oneto have a big problem, and, what is this tale but a burst of frustration because of my mathematical ineptitude?

The Tale of Manius

Britannia, 526 CE, in a parallel (and almost identical) universe.

The Western Roman Empire has collapsed. Angles, Saxons and Jutes are invading the Roman province of Britannia from the East. All continental Roman soldiers have gone – but the Romano-Celtic in the West are resisting bravely. Only Manius Papirius Lentulus from Roma has stayed. He lives with the barbarians but risks nothing…

View original post 602 more words

“Why we still like the Germans (and will always like them).” 1

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Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern Bridge. Germany

Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern bridge, Germany (Source . Courtesy of

[draft, in progress]

Note. This post regards the Germans and other folks from the point of view of South Europe and of Germany

The Mediterranean & the Germans

There may be problems with the Germans (the Euro crisis, the upcoming European elections, etc.)

Transient problems, in truth.

Since so many things unite us: 2000 years ago – when they began to merge with us – and today, when the merger goes further.

Where to?

To an increasingly united Europe.

Four friends
at the Caffè Capitolino


On the caffè Capitolino‘s spectacular terrace above the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus’s foundations (on the Capitoline Hill) four friends gather and chat, sipping their lemon granita.


Fulvia: “You make it simple. 2000 years ago and today: we’ve always been colliding.”
Old Man: “You’re wrong, Fulvia. Back then: fusion not collision. And today …”
Extropian: “… today fusion too. Despite your bursting breasts  – *winking at her*; Fulvia, 64, is still a beauty – OM is right. Just this: the collapse of the Italian economy would result in a (symmetrical) collapse of half of the German industry, since we provide many of the components for Germany’s manufacturing.”
The Tobacconist: *Nodding*


[The Tobacconist pops in here for the first time. His perfectly organized store gently flooded by classical (preferably German) music, TT is steeped in Hegel, Kant & the Nichiren Buddhism. Both the highbrow and the lowbrow from his rione ask for his consilium (or wisdom advice.)

Ulrich Beck:
“Europe’s crisis is mental”

Ulrich Beck (born 1944). German sociologist

Ulrich Beck (born 1944). German sociologist, professor at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich until 2009, he holds a professorship at Munich University and at the London School of Economics [Wikimedia. Click for credits and to enlarge]

Ulrich Beck:

[full text; paraphrased, translated – draft – and abridged by MoR]

Europe’s crisis is not economical, it is mental. It is a lack of imagination as for the good life beyond consumerism.

Most critics of Europe are caught in nostalgic nationalism. French intellectual Alain Finkielkraut, for example, argues that Europe was created against the Nations.

Such criticism – Beck answers back – is based on the national illusion and presupposes a national horizon as for Europe’s present and future.

To these critics Beck retorts: open up your eyes! Europe and the whole world is going through a transition.

Two paradoxical examples:

  • All British media are full of accusations against the EU, but Eurosceptic Britain is also shaken by a wave of European public opinion never known before.
  • China, as a result of its investment policy and so on has long been an informal member of the euro-zone: should the Euro fail, China would get a hard blow.

[to be continued]

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

Next installment:

“Why we still like the Germans (and will always like them).” 2

Giulio Cesare conquista la Gallia. E l’Europa nord-occidentale ‘abbraccia’ la civiltà greco-romana (1)

Statue of Vercingetorix in Burgundy

Monumento ottocentesco a Vercingetorige (Aimé Millet) vicino a Alise-Sainte-Reine, Borgogna, Francia. © T. Clarté. Click for credits

English original

Come sarebbe oggi il mondo senza Giulio Cesare e senza il varco che egli aprì per i greco-romani verso l’Europa occidentale e settentrionale?

Analogamente, come sarebbe oggi il mondo senza Colombo, Cortés e Pizarro, senza gli insediamenti europei nel Nord e Sud America (e altrove)?

Conquista militare e culturale

Entrambi gli esempi hanno in comune il fenomeno della conquista militare e culturale. Nel primo caso abbiamo l’espansione della civiltà greco romana nell’Europa centrale e settentrionale. Nel secondo l’espansione della civiltà europea nelle due Americhe.

Entrambi gli eventi storici hanno comportato costi umani elevatissimi tra le popolazioni sottomesse e la tragica estinzione di numerose culture.

Dying Gaul. Musei Capitolini, Rome

Gallo morente (più precisamente un gallo o galata della Galazia, chiamata ‘la Gallia dell’est’). Musei Capitolini, Roma. Click for credits

Figura controversa

Quanto a Giulio Cesare, poiché questo è un blog su Roma, ci troviamo di fronte a una figura senza dubbio controversa.

Un carnefice che vide nella Gallia solo l’arena per prepararsi all’imminente guerra civile, un imperialista sia pure con un grande disegno, un genio mosso da ‘necessità storica’ (se una cosa del genere ha un senso) … si potrebbero scrivere interi libri sull’argomento (e che difatti sono stati scritti).

Varco a nord e a ovest

Considerata oggi non vi è dubbio che la conquista della Gallia (vasta e fertile zona riccamente popolata, corrispondente alla moderna Francia, al Belgio, alle terre tedesche a ovest del Reno, all’Olanda meridionale e a gran parte della Svizzera) realizzata da Giulio Cesare dal 58 a.C. al 50 a.C. abbia creato un notevole ampliamento dell’orizzonte storico del Mediterraneo.

Caesar added areas of West and North Europe to the Roman world

Estensione romana nel 40 a.C. (Wikipedia). Dal 58 al 50 a.C. regioni dell’ovest e del nord Europa vennere aggiunte da Cesare al dominio di Roma

Attraverso quel ‘passaggio’ aperto da Cesare un numero molto elevato di popoli (celtici, germanici, del mare del Nord e successivamente del Baltico) abbracceranno gradualmente la civiltà greco-romana fino a formare con essa un corpo unico anche se con anime diverse, un’apertura il cui effetto durevole andrà oltre lo spostamento del baricentro dal Mediterraneo verso il Nord Europa e poi oltre Atlantico.

“L’opera di Cesare”

Lo storico tedesco Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903), capofila degli estimatori del generale romano, così scrisse nella sua monumentale Storia di Roma che gli valse il premio Nobel nel 1902 (VII, 6, Principi dello sviluppo romano):

“Ciò che riuscì successivamente a fare il gotico Teodorico [più di 5 secoli dopo, MoR] poco mancò che già non lo facesse il germanico Ariovisto“, sconfitto da Cesare.

[Mommsen si riferisce ad Ariovisto, leader germanico degli Svevi e di altre tribù, che, penetrato nella Gallia attraverso il Reno, aveva sottomesso numerose tribù galliche a partire dal 60 a.C. Lo stesso Cesare giustificò la sua conquista come guerra preventiva]

“Se ciò fosse successo, lo nostra civiltà [germanica, nordica, MoR] si troverebbe di fronte alla civiltà romano-greca difficilmente in rapporti più intimi di quello che lo sia con la civiltà assira e indiana.

E’ opera di Cesare dunque se, dalla passata grandezza della Grecia e dell’Italia, un ponte conduce all’edificio più vasto della moderna storia del mondo, se l’Europa occidentale s’è fatta romana, se l’Europa germanica è divenuta classica; se i nomi di Temistocle e di Scipione mandano alle nostre orecchie un suono diverso da quelli di Asoka e di Salmanassar, se Omero e Sofocle non si limitano, come fanno i Veda e i Kalidasa, ad attirare il dotto botanico, ma fioriscono per noi nel nostro giardino”.

Gaius Julius Caesar, Art History Museum, Vienna, Austria

Busto di Cesare, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

Ora, nessuno storico è imparziale, riflettendo il tempo e luogo in cui è vissuto (oltre che le proprie scelte personali).

Mommsen era un liberale tedesco dell’Ottocento, intriso di cultura classica, che detestava gli Junker prussiani (nobiltà terriera conservatrice e spina dorsale dell’esercito tedesco) ed era in sintonia con la lotta di Cesare contro l’oligarchia senatoria, il che può averne influenzato il giudizio sul generale romano.

Nei prossimi post indagheremo un poco su motivazioni e conseguenze delle azioni di Cesare considerando le parole sia di ammiratori che di detrattori.

Senso di perdita

Tra questi ultimi, Goethe parlò di ripugnanza per i trionfi di Cesare; Camille Jullian, il maggiore storico francese della Gallia e capofila di chi lamenta la spoliazione della cultura gallica, sostenne che i Galli, prima di essere sottomessi, stavano per unirsi in qualcosa di superiore alle tribù sparse in competizione l’una con l’altra.

Il dolore per la perdita di una civiltà che non ha potuto esprimersi è bene espresso da Olbodala, commentatore francese (o belga?) del nostro blog:

“Certain(e)s d’entre nous (et je fais parti du lot) reprochent à l’Italie son passé belliqueux, et ce que leurs ancêtres Romains ont fait aux nôtres (Celtes et Germains).

Les Romains ont détruit notre culture (celtique et germanique) et civilisation, et l’on remplacé par la leur (greco-latine).

C’est un drame d’avoir une apparence physique celtique et germanique, mais d’avoir une langue et une culture incompatible avec nos origines septentrionales.”

Ceremonial Celtic Helmet from III century BC Gaul

Elmo cerimoniale gallico del III secolo a.C. Wikipedia. Click for credits

“Alcuni di noi (e io sono tra essi) biasimano il passato bellicoso dell’Italia e ciò che i vostri antenati romani hanno fatto ai nostri (celti e germani).

I romani hanno distrutto la nostra cultura (celtica e germanica) e civiltà, e l’hanno sostituita con la loro (greca e latina).

E’ una tragedia avere un aspetto celtico e germanico ma una lingua e una cultura incompatibili con le nostre origini settentrionali”.


Post correlati:

Stress e gioia. Conquista e dolore
France, Italy and the Legacy of Rome

Julius Caesar’s Conquest Of Gaul. When North-West Europe & The Mediterranean ‘Embraced’ (1)

Statue of Vercingetorix in Burgundy

19th century statue of Vercingétorix (by Aimé Millet) near the village of Alise-Sainte-Reine, Burgundy, France. © T. Clarté. Click for credits

Italian version

What kind of world would we live in today without Julius Caesar and the “boundless home” he created in West and North Europe for Greco-Roman conquest, migration and influence?

Similarly, what kind of world would we live in today without Columbus, Cortez and Pizarro? Without the settlements of Europeans in North and South America (plus Australia, New Zealand etc.)?

Military & Cultural Conquest

What both examples have in common is military and cultural conquest.

The former regards the expansion of the Greco-Roman civilization towards West and North Europe.

The latter the expansion of the European civilization in South and North America (etc.).

Both historical events resulted in massive human cost among the conquered and in the tragic extinction of numerous cultures.

Dying Gaul. Musei Capitolini, Rome

Dying Gaul (actually a Celt from Galatia, called ‘Gaul of the East’). Capitoline Museums on Capitoline hill, Rome. Click for attribution


With regard to Caesar, since this is a blog about Rome, the Roman general is a controversial figure without a doubt.

A butcher who regarded Gaul only “as the parade ground” on which to gain experience for the approaching civil war, an imperialist albeit with a great design in mind, a genius moved by ‘historical necessity’ (if such a thing exists) … one could write books on it (which in fact have been written.)

North & West Passage

Seen from today there is little doubt that the conquest of Gaul carried out by Julius Caesar from 58 BC to 50 BC (a vast, fertile, richly populated area, Gaul, corresponding to modern France, Belgium, the German lands west of the Rhine, South Holland and much of Switzerland) created a remarkable extension of the historical horizon of the Mediterranean.

Caesar added areas of West and North Europe to the Roman world

The extent of Roman rule in 40 BC (Wikipedia). From 58 BC to 50 BC areas of West and North Europe had been added to Rome by Caesar

Through that ‘passage’ opened up by Caesar a very large number of folks (Celtic, Germanic, from the North sea and later Baltic sea) will gradually embrace the Greco-Roman civilization up to form one body albeit with different souls, a passage or channel whose durable effect goes beyond the shifting of focal point from the Mediterranean to North Europe and elsewhere.

“The work of Caesar”

The German historian Theodor Mommsen (1817-1903), the leader of Caesar’s estimators, thus argues in his monumental History of Rome, (V,7. The Subjugation of the West) which earned him the Nobel Prize in 1902:

“What the Gothic Theodoric afterwards succeeded in [e.g. more than 5 centuries later, MoR,] came very near to being already carried out by Germanic Ariovistus,” defeated by Caesar.

[Mommsen refers to the Germanic leader of the Suevi, Ariovistus, who had entered Gaul by crossing the Rhine and had subdued many Gallic tribes in 60 BC. Caesar himself justified his conquest as preemptive action to protect Rome]

“Had it so happened, our civilization [eg Germanic, Northern, MoR] would have hardly stood in any more intimate relation to the Romano-Greek than to the Indian and Assyrian culture.”

“That there is a bridge connecting the past glory of Hellas and Rome with the prouder fabric of modern history; that Western Europe is Romanic, and Germanic Europe classic; that the names of Themistocles and Scipio have to us a very different sound from those of Ashoka and Shalmanaser; that Homer and Sophocles are not merely, like the Vedas and Kalidasa, attractive to the literary botanist, but bloom for us in our own garden—all this is the work of Caesar.”

Gaius Julius Caesar, Art History Museum, Vienna, Austria

Gaius Julius Caesar, Art History Museum, Vienna, Austria

Now, no historian is impartial, he reflecting his time, place and personal choices.

Mommsen was a 19th century German liberal, imbued with classical learning, who hated the Prussian Junkers (conservative landed nobility and backbone of the German army) and was sympathetic to Caesar’s fight against the senatorial oligarchy—which may have influenced his judgement on the Roman general.

In the next posts we will investigate a bit on Caesar’s actions, motives & consequences by listening to some of his admirers and detractors.

A Feeling Of Loss

Among the latter, Goethe spoke of repugnance for the triumphs of Caesar; Camille Jullian, the main French historian of Gaul and leader of those who lament the despoliation of Gallic culture, argued that the Gauls, before being crushed, were about to unite into something superior to the scattered tribes in competition with one another.

The feeling of loss from a Celtic civilization that could not express itself is well phrased by Olbodala, a French (or Belgian?) commentator to our blog:

“Certain(e)s d’entre nous (et je fais parti du lot) reprochent à l’Italie son passé belliqueux, et ce que leurs ancêtres Romains ont fait aux nôtres (Celtes et Germains).

Les Romains ont détruit notre culture (celtique et germanique) et civilisation, et l’on remplacé par la leur (greco-latine).

C’est un drame d’avoir une apparence physique celtique et germanique, mais d’avoir une langue et une culture incompatible avec nos origines septentrionales.”

Ceremonial Celtic Helmet from III century BC Gaul

Ceremonial Celtic Helmet from III century BC Gaul. Wikipedia

[“Some of us (I being among this number) blame Italy’s warlike past and what their Roman ancestors did to ours (Celts and Germans).

The Romans destroyed our culture (Celtic and Germanic) and civilization, and replaced it with theirs (Greek and Latin).

It is a tragedy to have a Celtic and Germanic physical appearance but to possess a language and a culture incompatible with our Northern origins.”]


Related posts:

Conquest Of Gaul. Debate On Julius Caesar’s Conduct, Motives, Achievements (2)
“Caesar was like the wind. Can we condemn the wind? And yet what scourge can it bring forth!” (3)
The ‘Black Book’ Of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Campaign (4)

France, Italy and the Legacy of Rome
Stress and Joy. Conquest and Sorrow
Caesar, Great Man (and Don Juan)