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Classics and National Cultures$
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Susan A. Stephens and Phiroze Vasunia

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199212989

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212989.001.0001

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Classical Culture for a Classical Country: Scholarship and the Past in Vincenzo Cuoco's Plato in Italy

Classical Culture for a Classical Country: Scholarship and the Past in Vincenzo Cuoco's Plato in Italy

Chapter:
(p.59) 3 Classical Culture for a Classical Country: Scholarship and the Past in Vincenzo Cuoco's Plato in Italy
Source:
Classics and National Cultures
Author(s):

Giovanna Ceserani

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212989.003.0004

What is the place of the classical past and its study in Italy, a classical country whose roots reach back to antiquity but which has existed as an independent nation only since 1860? This essay explores this question through analysis of a historical novel set in ancient Greek south Italy and written by a founder of Italian Risorgimento. Aimed explicitly at building Italian national identity, Cuoco's turn to the past shows the investment in classical antiquity balanced between engaging wider European Hellenism and alternative ancient pasts of Italy. Moreover, as Cuoco co‐opted Italian scholarship to bestow authority on his vision, a new relationship between classical scholars and the national past emerged, one of lasting influence. Scholars study, shape and preserve the nation's antiquity, but become at the same time, to an extent, themselves cultural patrimony, while tensions build at the boundary between popular and academic culture.

Keywords:   Vincenzo Cuoco, historical novel, archaeology, monuments, Magna Graecia, Risorgimento, antiquarianism

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