This article by Julius Evola was published in February 1939 issue of La Vita Italiana. Duke Colonna di Cesaro was an Anthroposophist, with whom Evola had had a long relationship, dating back to their participation in the Ur and Krur groups. While they both sought to understand the “third dimension” of history, their approaches ultimately differed.
On various occasions, in this very journal, we insisted on the necessity of a radical revision of the methods and criteria by which history is made, in the order of common teaching and of that culture that claims to be, and it alone, “serious”. We showed that history, packaged in such environments, of true history does not grasp that the two dimensions of the surface and leaves itself completely devoid of the third dimension, that of depth, where the essential meanings and the truly determining causes of so many events are concealed. Finally, we indicated the inherent absurdity, today, in insisting so much on the Roman tradition, on its symbols, on its vision of life and, at the same time, in continuing to consider the world of Roman antiquity with the usual glances lacking erudition, archeology, philology, or criticism.
As things stand, we were brought to consider with interest, and almost with avidity, the most recent, weighty work of Duke Colonna di Cesaro [Giovanni Antonio Colonna di Cesaro, Il Mistero delle origini di Roma (The mystery of the origins of Rome), 1939] since from the first pages a different spiritual and let us even say initiatic scheme is announced, of the study of the origins of Rome and of the meaning that the rise of this fateful city had in the history of the world, Nevertheless, after the first moment of immediate interest, at the point of deepening the central thesis of the book, we were struck by a perplexity, derived from the thinking of a peculiar juncture of motives, about which it will not be useless here to say something, at the end of a clarification of the methods and otherwise of the dangers peculiar to an investigation in depth of history, as it is that, according to what we have already said, we ourselves hope for.
The work of Cesaro constitutes a valid and living contribution along the line on which the most valuable representatives of the new Italian culture should be fought, in all of its introductory part, in which the truly adequate criteria of every exploration of the origins are made precise. Cesaro justly blamed the error consisting in examining ancient history through the eyes of modern man instead of seeking to adapt to the same ways of feeling and seeing characteristic of the subjects of that history; therefore also consisting in considering as valid and positive documents only those that were encountered in the rationalistic, positivist, and contemporary secular spirit and in judging as irrelevant, fantastic and inconsistent everything that, in ancient traditions, is instead symbol, myth, legend, allegoric, where even here the center of traditional consciousness fell and the knowledge proper to the great, the wise men, and ancient priests was realized, “to those who, in modern terms, could be called the directing classes of remote antiquity”. On such a path, Cesaro, coming to so much through a broad and acute close critical examination, defines the possibility and the necessity of integrating the order of the usual historical researches with a research following new interpretative methods of a spiritualist, initiatic, and metaphysical character. In the process of the origins, myths, symbols and legends are produced not impracticable, fantastic processes, but rather of fantastic processes brought about by something spiritually real and positive.
Whether purely under dramatize form, they actually and truly represent the history of the beginnings of a nation, but the history not of events brought about materially on the earth, but rather of spiritual processes that have brought to birth, amidst other peoples, a new and different people through culture and civilization: history, so to speak, of its prenatal period,
of its “mystery”.