Mussolini’s Message: Buried, but Not out of Sight
Why was I not surprised to read on today’s BBC News site about a newly discovered document written in Latin that eulogizes Benito Mussolini and the rise of his fascist movement? The actual document is buried, unreachable, at the base of a still-standing obelisk in Rome, erected in 1932 as part of a sports complex, the Foro Italico. But the parchment’s 1,200-word message was recently pieced together by two classical scholars using little-known documentary sources.
I was not surprised, because after several years of studying and writing for print and video about the former leader, it’s clear to me that it fits perfectly with the man as he saw himself — God’s early 20th-century gift to the Italian people. A few years ago, I toured the Foro with eminent Mussolini scholar, Emilio Gentile, and heard all about the dictator’s delusions of grandeur.
Professor Gentile confirmed what I had written in a series about history’s false messiahs and the role that religion and its symbols have played in establishing such men, even legitimizing them in the public’s eyes.
With respect to the Latin document, one of the two classical scholars mentioned above notes, “The text presents Mussolini as a kind of new Roman emperor, but also, by using biblical language, as the saviour of the Italian people.”
This is exactly what so many false messiahs have tried to do, only to fail in spectacular and very destructive ways, ruining nations, families and lands—including their own.