Roman upheavals, Asiatic cults and the end of the first Romanity.
Since we nailed down the truly valuable and, for many, the illuminative, aspect of De Francisci’s new work in these terms, let’s allow ourselves to make some other points.
First of all, in regard to origins: It is true that, in this respect, one hears nothing said about them today. Nevertheless, whoever has eyes sufficiently trained can recognize and discern what there is of value in regards to race and spiritual forces of the world of the origins. On the Aryan problem in Italy, on the meaning of the crossing or make up of various symbols and costumes—for example the rites of burial or cremation, solar cults and telluric-maternal cults, etc.—the spiritual relations between Etruria and Rome and so on, little or nothing is found in De Francisci’s book. Now, if one does not succeed in having a, so to speak, dramatic vision of the ancient Italic world, as it concerns both race and spirit, one can in no way grasp the true meaning of Rome, her battles, her mission, her destiny.
In relation to that, what is equally missing in the work of De Francisci is any investigation of what we would call the “subterranean history” of Rome. In his book, attention remains concentrated on history in the common bi-dimensional meaning of the term, even if examined with undeniable acumen. The analysis of the most profound, spiritual aspect of certain social rifts and certain oppositions of worship in Rome is not made. What was, for example, the influence that acts, in ancient Rome, through the Sibylline Books? It is a problem, among many others, of the subterranean history of Roma, whose importance is anything but to be neglected.
De Francisci, as we said, saw clearly in the connection of the human will, and therefore of action, to a more than human significance, an element characteristic of Roman reality. And it was emphasized more particularly by others that the Roman perceived essentially the revelation of the divine not in space, as a vision, but in time and in history, like action. Now, can one recognize that, without also recognizing that a history of Romanity will always be incomplete, if it does not become, to a certain degree, a metaphysics of history, i.e., if it does not strive to grasp a symbolic content in its objective way in the more important and decisive upheavals of Romanity? The danger of digression and pure personal interpretations, here, naturally, is great. Nevertheless, it is necessary to do something in this direction, if Roman history is to truly speak to us. Does De Francisci know the famous introduction to Bachofen’s Legend of Tanaquil? In this old work, even in reference to Romanity, there are methodological ideas that still are particularly important today. [Such as the interpretation of legend as history and the use of imagination or intuition to grasp it. ~ tr]
Also, De Francisci treated various problems of the imperial period, such as the importation of “Asiatic” cults and their significance, in only an “historical” way, in the current meaning of the word. The racial moment on the level of the elements of civilization and cult, were not developed. For example: what of the Asiatic cults and forms of the same imperial cult, referring back, in spite of the degeneration of their exterior expressions, to elements of a common archaic Aryan tradition, inasmuch as, for example, certain aspects of the Augustan religious reform, in fact, call back to life some ideas forgotten or obscured by the first Romanity?
⇐ Part III Part V ⇒