Beneath a Roman Obelisk, Mussolini Left a Letter to the Future
1,200-word eulogy describes Mussolini as rescuing Italy with his 'superhuman insight'
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2016 5:08 PM CDT
FILE - In this May 12, 1943 file photo, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini has finished saying goodbye to German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, unseen, as the train leaves a station in Germany after three days...   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – Like most leaders with any sort of an ego, Benito Mussolini wanted to be remembered. But the Italian fascist wasn't leaving his legacy up to chance, according to researchers who say they've found a Latin text hidden under the Mussolini Obelisk in Rome that eulogizes his feats during the rise of fascism. Two classical scholars discovered the 1,200-word transcript buried at the base of a 600,000-pound monument when it was erected in 1932, reports the BBC. "The text wasn't meant for contemporaries at the time," says one researcher. "The obelisk was a major spectacle but the existence of the text wasn't reported at all. It was meant for an audience in the remote future." Using obscure sources in Roman libraries and archives, they pieced together and translated what they believe to be an accurate version of the text.

In three parts, the document retraces the history and "achievements" of fascism and Mussolini. "The text presents Mussolini as a kind of new Roman emperor, but also, by using biblical language, as the savior of the Italian people," one researcher says, and credits the dictator with "regenerating the country through his superhuman insight and resoluteness." Researchers think the fascists stumbled upon the idea of such a tribute as they were excavating remnants of the Roman Empire and "thought about creating their own authorized account of their deeds for future generations." There are also gold coins depicting the leader, reports the Atlantic, and while medals were commonly placed under obelisks, researchers call the discovery of a long text "unparalleled." (Some of his secret bunkers are now open on Halloween.)