Latinizing Mussolini’s Message: Nicola Festa’s Latin Translation of the ‘Proclamation of Empire’ (1936/7)
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On 24 May 1936, the Rassegna dei combattenti (Bulletin of Military Veterans) opened with a Latin translation of one of Mussolini’s most famous speeches, his ‘proclamation of empire’, given two weeks earlier at the Piazza Venezia in Rome.1 In the next year, the Latin text was published, together with translations of two other speeches, in a small but ornately executed book titled La fondazione dell’impero nei discorsi del Duce alle grandi adunate del popolo italiano (The Establishment of the Empire in the Speeches of the Duce for the Great Assemblies of the Italian People). This book, authorized by Mussolini personally,2 celebrated the resurgent national spirit of the Italians under their ‘Duce’, now climaxing in the renewed Roman Empire. The translator of these so-called ‘imperial orations’ was Nicola Festa (1866–1940), Professor of Greek Literature at the Royal University of Rome.3
As a translation, Festa’s text presents a peculiar case. We are generally accustomed to the...