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  • Tommaso Speccher

Traces of Humanism

Among the many surprising sights in Berlin, there is one in particular that always fascinates me: "He who cries out" is the bronze ensemble resulting from the work of artist Gerhard Marcks, who donated this work to the city in 1966 and had it installed right in front of the Berlin Wall, which passed just a few meters away exactly in front of the Brandenburg Gate, on the 17th June Road (Straße des 17. Juni). 

"I' vo gridando Pace, Pace, Pace" is the quotation that accompanies the work, and it is a famous passage from the Rerum Vulgarium Fragmenta (better known as the Canzoniere) in which the great humanist Petrarch confronts the bleak political conditions of the Italian states crushed by Wars and conflicts, giving a unique insight of political sensitivity and culture.

While accompanying Italian classes, I often hear the reference to the great 'Italian Culture' evoked by teachers and students, whose magnificent fortunes I cannot but share; at the same time, however, I can’t help but think that this work conceals much more. What the sculpture is witnessing, in fact, goes beyond a simple sight of Italian language and culture. That character, stretched in a liberating gesture on one of the most tragically significant axes of the 20th century, bears witness to the influence of humanistic culture, once born in the regions of Italy and becoming a stimulus and reference point for all European culture. Without the transmission of the humanist values, without their dissemination through the centuries on the roads of Europe, without the Grand Tour of the great humanists and scholars and philosophers from the north, such as Goethe or Mozart, today we would not have this invaluable reference of 'libertarian' (philologists will forgive me) and humanist culture at the center of the Great European Metropolis that is Berlin. 

This is what fascinates me about Berlin: its being fertile ground for a growth and sharing of culture, from Humanism to contemporaneity.


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