The victorious Vittoriano

Monsters are scary. They are bigger than us. They represent the greatest evil, what we fear most. They are our worst fears personified. They are our worst mistakes and illustrate how far we fear we may slip from good.

What do our heroes represent? They are what we aspire to be. What we ourselves cannot always be. They are our goals, hopes, and desires in living form. They are the antithesis of monsters, the repelling force against evil.

How can a monument to a hero be a monstrosity then? Vanity, pride, deceitfulness, and lies can easily be represented in artistic and creative forms. Such is the basis for propaganda. Usually the word propaganda brings forth overt images like those used by all sides in WWII or the style used during the Cold War to keep the American public away from the commie lies and ease the everyday fears the people of the day faced. But those are more aggressive and obvious instances of propaganda. Could something maintain that in your face quality while still being a more subtle and refined instance of progaganda? Certainly. Allow me to introduce you to the Vittoriano.

Situated in the heart of Rome, at the terminus of Via del Corso, and casting a shadow upon the Roman Forum sits the monument to Victorio Emanuele II. It is a beast of a monument. It is so big that it seems to be even bigger because a visitor cannot keep it all in their field of vision unless they cross the Piazza Venezia and even then it seems impossibly large as it stretches off into the distance and toward the heavens. What could the designers possibly have been trying to convey with this marble monster?

Power. Unbridled and unmistakable power. The country of Italy was official formed into the debacle that we know it as today in 1861, with later conflicts to take over the hold out city of Rome, after a series of civil unrests that could be called revolutions if the commentator felt so inclined. These fights were spearheaded by Giuseppe Garibaldi, a man who knew how to stir a crowd. The fighting finally lead to a small government forming and proclaiming Victorio Emanuele II king. This was the first time in the modern era that the Italian peninsula had been under the control of one form of government. It was a fantastic achievement, akin to that of successfully herding cats; an accomplishment deserving of a monument befitting the fantastic achievement.

The monument dedicated to this event is astounding. Its massive and purely white forms eclipse everything in size and in blindingly white contrast. It dominates your thoughts and controls them, but to what end? Most people don’t even really know what it is for. It is an impressive display of governmental might, but why is it there? Quite frankly, because the Italians want to show you how awesome they are and to glorify their history. That is the propaganda element of the Vittoriano. The rest is purely to boost the ego of the Italians that see it. It is a heroic image for those it represents and at the same time a gaudy monstrosity to the thousands of outsiders that visit it.

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