The Mussolini Myth

Mussolini’s legend remains comparatively shrouded alongside Stalin and Hitler in the context of understanding the evolution of dictatorship and the perception of state leaders throughout interwar Europe. Historians consistently credit these leaders with having tremendous amounts of charisma favorably coupled with an appeal that the masses embraced with certainty. Mussolini’s mythic status, however, proves increasingly “hollow” in its analysis relative to his German and Russian counterparts. (60) Why?

B.J.B Bosworth, author of “Mussolini the Duce,” claims Mussolini’s status as Italy’s padreterno or eternal father merely reflected the superficial nature of the original Fascist regime; that the spirit of Mussolini materialized from the desires of Italians themselves and his self-perpetuated image manifested as a Ceasar esque figure. (65) Bosworth attempts to disillusion his audience by using primary sources to clarify that the process of Mussolini’s ascension to deific status mostly lended itself to self-promoting propaganda and not his realistic influence.

Although Bosworth criticizes Mussolini’s legitimacy regarding his reputation, he concludes the article by inserting the historiographical element that not enough is known about Mussolini’s direct relationship to Fascism to truly understand how the soul of Mussolini came to be. (81)


B.J.B Bosworth, “Mussolini the Duce; Sawdust Caesar, Roman Statesman or Dictator Minor?” The Italian Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives in the Interpretation of Mussolini and Fascism, London: Arnold, 1998.