Salvatore Settis, FUTURO DEL ‘CLASSICO’, 2004

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Why is the heroine of a famous Japanese manga called Nausicaa? Why, after September 11, 2001, did Mullah Omar compare America to Polyphemus, “a giant blinded by an enemy he cannot name,” by a Nobody? Do we really have to be amazed at these quotes – considering Homer more ‘ours’ than the Japanese or Muslims – or should we not rather reflect on how intense and effective quotes are that come from so far? Salvatore Settis traces back those paths of art history that from American postmodern skyscrapers run up to the Greeks and Romans, to show how the idea of ‘classic’ has changed over the centuries, in a close comparison between ancient and modern always played in function of the present: a clash between opposing interpretations, not only of the past, but of the future. No civilization can think of itself if it does not have other societies that serve as a comparison term: elsewhere in time (Greeks and Romans) as well as elsewhere in space (non-European civilizations). The more we know how to look at the ‘classic’ not as a dead legacy that belongs to us without our merit, but as something surprising to reconquer every day, as a powerful stimulus to understand the ‘different’, the more we will know how to train the new generations for the future.

Salvatore Settis – Futuro del ‘classico’
Einaudi
2004
128 pages, paperback
Italian