Vol. 9 (2020)
CONDIZIONI DI POSSIBILITÀ – Tra rito e mito: il Carnevale nella cultura europea

Il Carnevale romano di Goethe come manifestazione di una "Pathosformel"

Published 2020-12-31


  • Aby Warburg, Goethe, Pathosformel, rebirth, Roman Carnival


The paper aims to analyse the Roman Carnival described by Goethe in the light of the aesthetic-cultural theories developed in the early 20th century by Aby Warburg, starting from his idea of Pathosformel. Goethe’s Roman Carnival, published in May 1789, is deeply connected to the epochal crisis which from the French Revolution will lead to the end of the Ancien Régime. The crisis that affects Europe is also reflected in Goethe’s life: his Italian Journey (1786-1788) means indeed a flight from the court of Weimar and an attempt to overcome a moment of malaise. Goethe’s Italian “rebirth” can finally be compared with Warburg’s “recovery”, starting from his Kreuzlingen lecture on the Serpent Ritual (1923), a primitive celebration in which the author took part during his journey to Mexico in 1895.


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