Codex Fori Mussolini - 1932


The Codex Fori Mussolini tells the story of Italy and Fascism, from the First World War up to the year 1932. It consists of three sections. The first section begins with the First World War and the unstable political situation in Italy that followed it. Benito Mussolini is introduced as a man of superhuman qualities and intellect who suddenly appears, determined to restore Italy to prosperity and power. The second section presents some of Mussolini’s political projects in Italy from his seizure of power (1922) up until the moment of writing (ca. 1932): the Lateran accords; the improvement of the Italian navy and air force; the introduction of the system of corporations; several building projects in Rome and elsewhere in Italy; road construction and excavations of ancient remains; achievements in agriculture and the stabilisation of the Lira. The section concludes with general praise of Mussolini’s personal qualities and an affirmation of his regime. The third and longest section deals with the Opera Nazionale Balilla (ONB: the regime’s youth organization) and its architectural prestige project, the Foro Mussolini. This section also mentions the first head of the ONB, Renato Ricci (1896–1956), and details ONB’s educational activities. Next, the text deals with the Foro Mussolini, a project Ricci conceived to promote ONB’s activities and to commemorate the achievements of Fascism. After describing the location and the buildings and facilities of the Foro, the text focuses on the marble obelisk under which the Codex was buried; it also details the discovery of the block of marble from which it was carved, its transportation to Rome and its erection. The Codex ends by praising the obelisk’s eternal commemorative power.

The Codex Fori Mussolini was written on parchment decorated by Enrico Brignoli in the workshop of Nestore Leoni (1862–1947). It was deposited in a metal box, containing a few gold coins, under the marble obelisk at the Foro Italico in Rome, erected to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Fascist regime in 1932 (on the Foro Italico, the obelisk, and the deposit itself, see Lamers and Reitz-Joosse 2017: 28-81).

The text presented here is taken from the edition by Lamers and Reitz-Joosse (2017: 84-95), as is the English translation that accompanies it. The critical notes follow the abbreviations from this edition, which follows the latest known authorized version of the text (S/C). The Codex was first printed in a rambling edition in the Bollettino dell’Opera Nazionale Balilla in 1932 (Amatucci 1932 = B), which was reprinted without substantial corrections (and new errors) in Il Foro Mussolini in 1937 (Amatucci 1937). A better and revised version of the text was published in the educational journal Scuola e cultura in 1933 (Amatucci 1933a = S), which was republished as a separate brochure in the same year (Amatucci 1933b = C). For the details of these editions and their mutual differences, see Lamers and Reitz-Joosse (2017: 8-9).


Latin texts
Amatucci, Aurelio Giuseppe.
1932. ‘Codex Fori Mussolini’. Bollettino dell’Opera Nazionale Balilla 7 (2) (15 November): 3-5.
———. 1933a. Codex Fori Mussolini. Florence: Le Monnier.
———. 1933b. ‘Codex Fori Mussolini’. 
Scuola e cultura: Annali dell'istruzione media  9 (2): 153–58.
1937. ‘[Codex Fori Mussolini]’. In Il Foro Mussolini, edited by Opera Nazionale Balilla, 103–4. Milan: Bompiani.

Secondary sources
Lamers, Han, and Bettina Reitz-Joosse. 2016a. ‘Lingua Lictoria: The Latin Literature of Italian Fascism’. Classical Receptions Journal 8 (2): 216–52.
———. 2016b. The Codex Fori Mussolini: A Latin Text of Italian Fascism. London [etc.]: Bloomsbury.

Sacré, Dirk. 2020. ‘Die neulateinische Literatur in Mussolinis Italien’. In Studies in the Latin Literature and Epigraphy of Italian Fascism, edited by Han Lamers, Bettina Reitz-Joosse, and Valerio Sanzotta, 13–50. Supplementa Humanistica Lovaniensia 46. Leuven: Leuven University Press.

Han Lamers & Bettina Reitz-Joosse

Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo.
‘The great order of the ages is born afresh.’
VERGIL, Ecl. 4.5.
Bellum maxime omnium memorabile quae unquam gesta essent1 ab anno MCMXIV ad annum MCMXVIII tota paene Europa exarsit, quod, cum et aliae gentes vel armis vel opibus pugnantes adiuvissent fereque omnes anxia mente fuissent, totius orbis terrae bellum factum atque appellatum est.
The most memorable war of all that have ever been fought raged in almost the whole of Europe from 1914 to 1918. Since other peoples also helped those who were fighting with weapons or with money, and almost all were afraid, this war became and was called a World War.
Huic quidem bello Itali, quamvis paulo ante tot post casus hostibus devictis tyrannisque expulsis denique in populi unius corpus liberi coaluissent seseque vix firmassent, cum populis qui pro rei publicae salute iure ac legitime, sed tum incerto Marte, pugnarent interesse statuerunt atque patriae fines ex aliorum dominatu vindicare. Veterum autem malorum memores et qua sunt virtute atque humanitate asperrima2 quaeque perpessi neque vitae neque impensae pepercerunt ut sibi sociisque victoriam compararent, quam ingenti hostium exercitu profligato egregiam denique sunt adepti.
Although the Italians had not long before, after so many deaths, with the enemies conquered and the tyrants expelled, finally united in the body of one free people and had barely established themselves, they nevertheless decided to participate in this war on the side of those nations that were fighting justly and legitimately for the safety of their states, though at that time with uncertain success in war, and decided to free the territory of their fatherland from the domination of others. But mindful of old wrongs and having endured, with their distinctive valour and humanity, the most grievous adversity, they spared neither life nor costs in order to win victory for themselves and their allies, which they finally excellently attained, once the enemies’ huge army had been quashed.
Sed hominum qui tum Italorum publicis rebus praeerant, alii ad civium vel exterarum gentium ambitiosas voluntates nimis pavidi, alii opinionum commentis deliri, utpote qui vel omnia civibus tribuerent nihil patriae vel patriam ipsam omnino esse negarent, pessime tam praeclara tantoque sanguine parta victoria usi Italiam in summum discrimen adduxerunt ut optimus3 quisque civis eius saluti iam desperaret.
But of the men who were then the leaders of Italian politics, some were too fearful in the face of ambitious desires of citizens and foreign peoples, others deluded because of their false convictions, inasmuch as they either gave all things to the citizens and nothing to the fatherland or denied that the fatherland itself existed at all. Making very bad use of such a famous victory that had been the result of so much bloodshed, they led Italy into the gravest danger, so that each excellent citizen already despaired of its safety.
Ea tempestate caelesti quodam nutu atque numine VIR exstitit, qui singulari acie ingeni animoque firmissimo praeditus et ad omnia fortia facienda ac patienda paratus, non solum res inclinatas eversasque4 in pristinum restituere sed etiam Italiam illam, quam veteres Romani orbis terrarum lumen effecissent, Italis reddere divina mente concepit consiliisque facta adaequare est aggressus. Qui Vir fuit
At this time by some divine command and will, a MAN appeared. He was gifted with a singular sharpness of mind and a most steadfast spirit and ready to undertake or to undergo anything bravely. In his divine mind, he formed the plan not only to restore the fallen and overthrown fortunes [of Italy] to their former state, but even to restore to the Italians that Italy which the ancient Romans had turned into a light for the entire world, and he set about making his deeds equal to his plans. This man was
Hic quidem, cum primum patriae caritate victus bellum civibus acriter suasisset, deinde miles strenue in acie pugnasset sanguinemque effudisset, victoria parta fasces, qui veterum Romanorum pristinas virtutes adumbrarent, instaurandos decrevit atque instauravit.
When this man, overcome by love for his fatherland, had first sharply urged the citizens to war and then fought strenuously as a soldier at the front and poured out his blood, he decided, after victory had been won, to restore the fasces, since they represented the original virtues of the ancient Romans, and he restored them.
Inter omnes quidem satis constat BENITVM MVSSOLINI, ex quo summam rerum suscepit,5 cum cives omnes suo sagaci subtilique sensu Italae gentis virtutum captos secum traheret, effecisse ut ii quam maximas utilitates ex belli victoria caperent atque inter ceteras gentes honestissimum locum obtinerent. Nec ullum fugit Illum diuturna controversia dirempta rei publicae Summi Romani Pontificis amicitiam iusto foedere conciliasse, patriae exercitum ornatissimum cum maritima et aeria classe quam optime instructa comparasse legemque tulisse ut qui aliquam artem6 profiterentur itemque fabricatores ac fabri omnes in collegia vel societates coirent, quae tamen cum re publica arte cohaererent ne causa esset quare odiis inter sese ac simultatibus conflictarentur et cum omnium civium detrimento in suis studiis atque operibus cessarent. Praeterea puerorum et adulescentium disciplinam novis legibus et peropportunis institutis moderatus est, artium studia atque doctrinas omnino provexit; Italiae urbes, in primis Romam, magnificis iisque utilibus aedificiis exornandas, quam plurimas vias muniendas, cum omnium temporum tum maxime antiquitatis monumenta reficienda vel effodienda curavit. Agri culturae autem prospexit atque consuluit ita ut loca diu inculta et pestifera brevi feracia ac salubria fierent; colonias armis praescriptisque firmavit; Italorum nummo stabile pretium fecit eosque quantum potuit angustiis, quibus ceterae gentes laborant, levavit.
All are indeed agreed that BENITO MUSSOLINI, from the moment that he took over the leadership of affairs, drew all citizens after him, having captured them with his acute and keen sense of the virtues of the Italian people, and achieved it that they received the greatest possible use from the victory in the war, and obtained among the other peoples the most honoured position. And everybody knows that, after the long-lasting controversy had been dissolved, He [Mussolini] acquired for the state the friendship of the highest priest of Rome with a just treaty, that he provided the country with the best-prepared army and a most excellently equipped naval and an air fleet, and that he carried a law that those who practiced a profession and likewise artisans and craftsmen should all join in corporations or societies, which were nevertheless closely linked to the state, so that there should be no reason for them to argue amongst each other because of jealousies or rivalries nor to cease in their efforts and works to the detriment of all citizens. Furthermore, he regulated the discipline of boys and young men with new laws and well-suited regulations, and he altogether furthered the study and the teaching of the arts; he took care that the cities of Italy, especially Rome, were decorated with edifices that were magnificent and useful, that as many roads as possible were built, and that monuments of all times and especially of antiquity were restored or excavated. Moreover he provided for agriculture, and he took steps so that places that had long been uncultivated and pestilential became within a short time fertile and healthy; the colonies he strengthened with arms and regulations; he stabilized the exchange rate of the currency of the Italians and he freed them, as much as he could, from the poverty under which the other peoples suffer.
Neque vero, cum tot tantaque negotia sustineat, celebrari vel tantum enumerari possunt singula quae gesserit ut res Italas omnino tutaretur, legibus emendaret, moribus ornaret utque cives omnes in officio contineret.
Since he undertakes so many and such large projects, it is indeed not possible to praise or even only enumerate one by one the things which he has carried out in order to completely protect the Italian state, improve it with laws, adorn it with customs and to retain all its citizens in obedience.
Denique tanti VIRI salubri consilio, summa prudentia, certissima voluntate, peropportuna opera rem publicam nunc demum habemus quae nulla erat a. d. V Kal. Nov. a. MCMXXII, cum regnante Victorio Emanuele III Itali sibi Italiam obtinuerunt novusque ab integro saeculorum ordo eis natus est.
Lastly, because of the sound mind, the greatest prudence, the most determined purpose and the most timely effort of so great a MAN, we now at last have a state, which was none until 28 October 1922 when under the reign of Vittorio Emanuele III, the Italians occupied Italy for themselves and a new order of the ages was born for them afresh.
Qui ut in perpetuum continuaretur pueros, puellas, adulescentes in nova luce atque fere in patriae ipsius sinu educandos esse VIR ille sensit, qui omnia considerat atque providet. Lex igitur a. MCMXXVI (IV) lata acceptaque est ut Italiae pubes, dummodo parentes consentirent, in sodalicia coiret et aetatis atque7 sexus ratione habita "Balilla", "Avanguardisti", "Piccole Italiane", "Giovani Italiane" fieret. Instituta igitur est quae "Opera Nazionale Balilla" appellatur, eique Renatum Ricci DVX praefecit.
In order that this order might last forever, this MAN, who thinks of all things and foresees them, felt that boys, girls and young men and women had to be educated in the new light and practically in the lap of the fatherland itself. Therefore, a law was carried and accepted in 1926 (IV) that the youth of Italy, provided that the parents agreed, might come together in bands and, depending on their age and sex, would become ‘Balilla’, ‘Avanguardisti,’, ‘Piccole Italiane’ or ‘Giovani Italiane’. Thus the so-called ‘Opera Nazionale Balilla’ was founded, and the LEADER made Renato Ricci its prefect.
Hic quidem Vir Carariae natus et miles voluntarius bello, quod supra memoravimus, interfuerat et in Flumentana legione postea militaverat et in re publica reficienda renovandaque cum primis BENITVM MVSSOLINI sectatus erat.
This Man was born in Carrara, had volunteered in the war which I mentioned above, later fought in the legion ‘Flumentana’, and had been one of the first to follow BENITO MUSSOLINI in remaking and renewing the state.
Tunc vero, cum tanti momenti rei sibi curam suscepisset, effecit ut quam optime perficeretur saluberrimum DVCIS consilium.
At that time, when he had taken upon himself the responsibility for a thing of such great importance, he executed it so that the beneficial decision of the LEADER might be realized in the best possible way.
Quod Itali mirati certatim liberos his Lictoriis8 sodaliciis quotannis inscribendos curaverunt ut ea iam ex multis milibus puerorum, puellarum, adulescentium constent. Quorum animi tutis praeceptis, optimis libris, musica arte, peropportunis sermonibus, terrestribus atque maritimis peregrinationibus, ceteris rebus a praeceptoribus, sacerdotibus, praefectis ad illam absolutam patriae imaginem informantur, quam DVX ante oculos Italorum cotidie non verbis sed rebus ipsis delineat adumbratque; corpora autem multa atque varia exercitatione, gymnicis ludis, sollemnibus certaminibus firmantur nec solum inter strepitus urbium celebrium, sed etiam, ut fieri potest, in remotissimis pagis et apud exteras gentes 9 ubicumque Italiae pubes est, eorumque agminum concentus patriam per DVCEM servatam canentium ad praeclara facinora optimi cuiusque animum10 excitant invidosque inimicosque Italici nominis docent Italiam futuram esse, non fuisse.
The Italians, who were amazed by this, zealously made sure to inscribe their children every year for these Fascist fellowships, so that they already consist of many thousand boys, girls and young men and women. With careful teachings, the best books, music, the most suitable speeches, travels on land and on sea and all the rest, their minds are formed by teachers, priests, and officers after that perfect image of the fatherland that the LEADER outlines and sketches every day before the eyes of the Italians not in words but by his very deeds; moreover, their bodies are strengthened by abundant and varied exercise, gymnastic games, and festive competitions, not only among the bustle of busy cities, but also, as far as possible, in the remotest regions and wherever the youth of Italy lives among foreign peoples; and choirs of these groups, who sing about the fatherland that the LEADER has saved, excite the spirit of each good man to magnificent deeds, and teach those who are jealous and hostile towards Italian glory that Italy is not a thing of the past, but of the future.
Sed ille alacer DVCIS consili effector, Renatus Ricci, dum haec parat maturatque, Romae aedificandum esse vidit operum corpus, quae cum ad tam providum consilium perficiendum essent utilia, tum in primis res a DVCE mire gestas memoriae proderent.
But while that man, the eager executor of the will of the LEADER, Renato Ricci, was preparing and advancing these projects, he realized that a complex of buildings had to be constructed at Rome, which would both be useful for the execution of such a prudent plan and, most importantly, commit to posterity the marvelous deeds of the LEADER.
Locus est amoenissimus inter Montem Marium et flumen Tiberim: ibi stadia duo, quorum alterum amplitudine, alterum candore marmorum insigne, aedificata instructaque sunt, praeterea palaestrae, piscinae, hippodromi, exedrae, bibliothecae, theatra, nemora, horti, ambulationes, in quibus mentes doctrinarum litterarumque studiis, corpora adsiduis exercitationibus educarentur, animi variis oblectationibus recrearentur solemniaque certamina ederentur.
There is a most pleasant space between the Monte Mario and the Tiber. There two stadia were built and prepared for use, one distinguished because of its size, the other because of the splendour of marble statues; furthermore wrestling schools, swimming pools, race tracks, lecture halls, libraries, theatres, groves, gardens, walks, where the minds were to be developed through the pursuit of learning and scholarship, the bodies with unremitting exercises, where the spirits were to be refreshed with different delights, and festive competitions were to be held.
Inde Forum Mussolini11exstitit:12 ibique "Lictoria Academia", in qua instituuntur illi qui iuventutis13 sodaliciis praesint quique una cum litterarum doctrinarumque praeceptoribus Italiae pubis animos ad rectum fingant atque conforment illam Mussolini praeclaram sententiam affectantes "Libro e moschetto".
From this the Foro Mussolini developed: and there is also the “Fascist Academy”, where those are educated who preside over the bands of young people, and who together with the teachers of letters and learning, form and skillfully fashion the minds of the Italian youth in the right shape, striving after the famous phrase of Mussolini: ‘Libro e mosschetto’.
Quo vero studio, quibus adsiduis conatibus, qua anxia cura Carariae montes longe lateque temptati atque pervestigati sint ut marmor reperiretur ex quo obeliscus monolithus DVCI dicaretur haud facile enarrari potest. Denique candida moles, quae in altitudinem LX, in latitudinem X fere pedes egrederetur, reperta est solisque lumine refulsit. Sed huius inventionis gaudio nova cura successit, cum moles illa ex monte in aequum, Cararia Romam transvehenda esset. Quod quidem nulla antea gens nisi Romani perfecerant; neque qua ratione Romani perfecerint satis constat. Vicit tamen architectorum nostrorum acre ingenium, fabrorum singularis peritia, omnium patriae DVCISQVE ingens amor. Quo factum est ut illa moles ferro lignoque mira arte contexto inclusa fabris molientibus viam primum ex monte in urbem atque ex urbe ad mare inter civium, qui floribus ornaverant, gratulationes precesque veheretur, deinde duobus iunctis novo artifico ratibus, quae inter se onus illud XII14fere pondo acciperent atque transveherent, quam difficillimo cursu mari Tyrrheno15 et per flumen Tiberim Romam ad divi Pauli portum16 pervenirent.
It is not an easy task to describe the genuine dedication, the unremitting attempts, the solicitous attention with which the mountains of Carrara were tested and searched far and wide, to find marble from which a monolithic obelisk might be dedicated to the LEADER. Finally a shining mass was found, which exceeded in height sixty feet, in width almost ten feet, and glittered in the sunlight. But upon the joy of discovery followed a new task, because this mass had to be transported from the mountains to the plain and from Carrara to Rome. This indeed no people except the Romans had earlier managed, and how they managed it is not sufficiently clear. But nevertheless the strong talent of our architects, the singular skill of our craftsmen, and the huge love of all for the fatherland and for the LEADER prevailed. Thus it was achieved that that mass, encased in iron and wood woven together by miraculous skill, as a result of craftsmen’s toil, travelled first the road from the mountain into the city and from the city to the sea amid the rejoicing and good wishes of the citizens who had decorated it with flowers. By means of two pontoons that had been connected to each other by a new system and which between them supported and conveyed that load of almost 400 tons, it then travelled by the most difficult route possible, over the Tyrrhenian sea and via the river Tiber, and arrived in Rome at the harbour of San Paolo.
In divi Pauli portu17 quinque fere menses stetit navigium illud, cui nomen "Apuanum" inditum erat, dum flumen augeret. Denique a.d. X Kal. Dec. a. MCMXXX18 ad Farnesinam adduxerunt atque opportunam tempestatem nacti obeliscum exposuerunt. Qui, a. d. V Kal. Nov.19 a. X. a fasc. instaur. machinis instrumentisque idoneis basi quadratae impositus, altitudine pedum fere CXXX, cuspide aurea, marmoris candore ceteros omnes vincit.
In the harbour of San Paolo, that raft, which was called ‘Apuano’, stood for almost five months, until the river swelled. Finally, on 22 November 1930 (VIII), they transported it to Farnesina, and, when excellent weather conditions had arrived, they offloaded the obelisk. On 27 October in the tenth year after the restoration of the Fasces, it was placed on its square base with suitable machines and tools, and with its height of almost 130 feet, with its gold tip, and with the shine of its marble, it surpasses all others.
Stat in ipso aditu Fori Mussolini20 et patriae fata per DVCEM renovata, DVCIS in patriam excelsum invictumque animum, civium erga DVCEM immotam fidem, res per Fasces praeclare gestas in perpetuum consecrabit.
It stands in the very entrance to the Foro Mussolini and it will immortalize for eternity the fortunes of the fatherland, restored by the LEADER, the excellent and unconquered spirit of the LEADER regarding the fatherland, the immovable loyalty of the citizens to the LEADER, and the outstanding achievements of Fascism.
A. d. V Kal. Nov. - Anno MCMXXXII p. Ch. n.,
On 27 October, 1932 years after the birth of Christ,
Hic codex membranaceus latine scriptus ab
Aurelio Iosepho Amatucci et mira arte
ab Henrico Brignoli Romae pictus
in officina Nestoris Leoni positus
est in basi obelisci monolithi
Fori Mussolini a. d. V
Kal. Nov. - Anno
p. Chr. n.22
This parchment codex was composed in Latin
by Aurelio Giuseppe Amatucci, painted with miraculous skill
by Enrico Brignoli at Rome in the workshop of Nestore Leoni, and placed
in the base of the monolithic obelisk of the Foro Mussolini on 27 October 1932.
Critical Notes
  • 1) sint BF : essent SC
  • 2) aspera BF : asperrima SC
  • 3) bonus BF : optimus SC
  • 4) euersasque se BF : euersasque SC
  • 5) susceperit BF : suscepit SC
  • 6) artem aliquam BF : aliquam artem SC
  • 7) asque BF : atque SC
  • 8) Lictoriis BF : his Lictoriis SC
  • 9) extera gentes F : exteras gentes BSC
  • 10) animam BF : animum SC
  • 11) FORUM MUSSOLINI F : Forum Mussolini BSC
  • 12) extitit F: exstitit SC
  • 13) adulescentium BF : iuuentutis SC
  • 14) F has vertical lines on both sides of the number; BSC have the same vertical lines with the addition of a horizontal line on top.
  • 15) Tirrheno BF : Tyrrheno SC
  • 16) Divi Pauli portum BF : divi Pauli portum SC
  • 17) Divi Pauli portu BF : divi Pauli portu SC
  • 19) V. Oct. BF : V Kal. Nou. SC
  • 20) FORI MUSSOLINI F : Fori Mussolini SC
  • 22) Hic codex … p. Chr. n. om. BF