Italy have many people famed around the world. From politics to music, theatre to fashion, art to cuisine Italy has led the way in producing household names that are recognized around the world. The characters that have been produced have all had certain Latin characteristics such as charm, beauty and charisma and often led colorful and controversial lives. There is no more recognized Roman Empire figure than Julius Caesar who was brought to the world’s attention with William Shakespeare writing a play about his life.
Caesar was borne in Rome 100 BC and his path to becoming the emperor of Rome was as a Roman General fighting many battles in times of great unrest for the country. He fought in many conflicts that included crossing the Rhine and the English Channel into Britain. He became so powerful that he formed an alliance with Crassus and Pompey that represented the “Populares”, the poor of the country, and gained increasing power in the Senate.
As Caesar’s tensions grew he aligned himself with Cleopatra of Egypt and went into battle with his arch rival Pompey. Whilst in Egypt Pompey was killed and Caesar produced a son with Cleopatra. He then returned to Rome at the age of 52 to be rewarded as the leader of the Empire, being appointed for a period of ten years. He never completed the full term as of a resulted of being assassinated in 44 BC at the age of 56. The story of the plot where the conspirators, led by Longinus and Brutus, ended his life, is now renowned around the world. The term “et tu Brutus” is synonymous with acts of betrayal, but the accuracy of whether it was actually uttered is open to debate.
One of the most famous Italian artists is Michelangelo who was born in 1475 in Caprses and moved to Rome in 1498. In his time in the city he sculpted and painted many figures that are still viewed by millions of tourists each year. His first work was the statute Pieta, which is housed in St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, and was carved from a single piece of Ivory. The six foot wide model was completed in less than a year and depicts Mary cradling the dying Jesus. His other projects included the painting of the Sistene Chapel which was 65 foot long and painted onto the ceiling of the chapel. In the four years it took him to complete the project he fired all of his assistants and completed the project himself.
After the painting of the chapel he then returned to sculpting and he was made the chief architect of St Peter’s Basilica in 1546. He died at the age of 89 and many of his works still remain in the city today. One of the country’s most famous characters is Giovanni Casanova who had a reputation of being a serial seducer of women. Born in 1725 he spent much of his life floating from one job to the next. He attempted to enter the priest hood and then spent time as a violinist and a stone mason.
He ended up being sentenced to 5 years in jail for witchcraft, from which he escaped and fled to Paris. After winning the lottery he then travelled extensively using the winnings for a lifestyle of reckless gambling. Eventually the money ran out and after being chased around Europe by his creditors, he returned to Venice in Italy where he then acted as a spy for the Venetian inquisitors of State for eight years. He then worked as a librarian in which time he wrote his autobiography, “Jacques Casanova the Chevalier de Seingalt”. Although at his book lacked historical accuracy, it gave an account of his romantic liaisons that would later tie the name of Casanova with passionate acts. It has also created an image of Italian men that for a number of years the country’s males have relentlessly tried to play down.