Few Citizens Know Cincinnati Statue Was Gift From Mussolini

Posted: January 9, 2015 in Society and Culture

SOURCE: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/2015/01/07/dictators-gift-cincinnati/21405847/

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Eden Park statue was a dictator’s gift to Cincinnati
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Frequent visitors of Eden Park have undoubtedly come across the statue of a she-wolf feeding twin infants. Some might be privy to the fact that it’s a replica of the famous Capitoline Wolf located in Rome, and was bestowed to Cincinnati as a gift.

What might be foreign, and somewhat of a head-scratcher to observers, is the gift’s donor: Benito Mussolini.

The sculpture itself depicts the origin story of Rome. The myth states that when King Numitor was overthrown from power, the new oligarch ordered Numitor’s grandsons to be discarded in the Tiber River. Left for dead, the two were carried to safety and nursed by a female wolf. The Lupa (Latin for she-wolf) cared for the babies until rescued by a shepherd named Faustulus. Once the twins reached adulthood, the duo reclaimed their father’s throne and restored the crown. Today, we know the twins as Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome.

Yet why does a monument to Rome live in the Queen City? And how is a barbaric figure like Mussolini tied with its residence?

“The statue was given to commemorate Cincinnatus,” said Steve Schuckman, superintendent of planning and design/program services for the Cincinnati Board of Park Commissioners.

Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, our city’s namesake, is remembered as a Roman icon for his civic duty and governance. Mussolini, leader of Italy and a father of fascism, saw himself as the present-day Cincinnatus in his vision of “New Rome.” As such, the dictator wanted to spread goodwill to places around the globe with Italian ties. Similar gestures were made to the cities of Rome in New York and Georgia.

The bronze model was tendered to the Cincinnati chapter of the Order Sons of Italy in 1931, although Schuckman notes the statue was not dedicated until 1932. An engraving on the figurine reads “Anno X,” meaning “Year 10” in Latin. Schuckman said this is to indicate Mussolini’s tenth year in power.

While the statue offers a unique and aesthetic appeal, the thought of its source could provoke public outcry. Throughout various times in their history, the coinciding figures in New York and Georgia had to be taken down or moved in response to protest. According to Schuckman, however, this is not the case in Eden Park.

“As far as I know, we’ve never received a complaint.”

Located by the Twin Lakes in the park, the Capitoline Wolf sits close to another statue. Like its neighbor, the Cormorant Fisher cast was a gift from Cincinnati’s sister city in Gifu, Japan. The piece represents a humble servant performing his duties — a sentiment often associated with Cincinnatus.

Seemingly separate entities, the two pieces come together to illustrate our city’s past.

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