Ulysses: "The mad flight" - Meeting di Rimini

Ulysses: “The mad flight”


‘The exhibition centres on Ulysses, a mythological figure who has always fascinated human beings, literature, critics and art. The complexity of Homer’s character has enabled the authors of different ages to highlight the various aspects of his personality. Ulysses has forever been a symbol of mankind’s curiosity, journeying to discover things new, the thirst for knowledge within our hearts, even before the legend of this hero became associated with the legend of the Pillars of Hercules. The exhibition is split into four sections. The first section starts with Homer, the author who gave life to this character, so different from the hero of the Iliad, Achilles. By relating the Odyssey to passages of Latin authors (Horace, Cicero, Seneca), the intention is to emphasise how two conceptions of Ulysses’ voyage already existed in the ancient world, that of the Greeks and that of the Romans. The second sections will attempt to explain how the legend of the Pillars of Hercules came into being, a legend completely separate from Ulysses, before Dante: its birth is intertwined with political, economic and geographic themes. The third section centres on the author who, more than any other, has made the figure of Ulysses immortal and dramatic: Dante. Dante the traveller, who from the circles of Hell climbed up to Paradise and portrayed Ulysses in the 26th canto of Inferno. Explicit condemnation then for Homer’s hero, but also admiration for a man who risked all he had, even the persons he loved most, “to travel behind the sun of the world without people”. The Florentine poet describes Ulysses’ voyage in a dramatic way, leaving readers, and often critics, in disagreement; on the one hand, those who see the journey as a mere act of self-conceit, and on the other, those who see in it man’s unrestrainable desire to discover the sense of his own life. The last section is dedicated to modern authors: Tennyson, Pascoli, D’Annunzio, Gozzano, Saba, Ungaretti, Pavese. Ulysses as the archetype of modern man, in search of himself, or his own glory, who travels without a fixed destination. Authors closer to us have seen themselves reflected in this hero, each according to his own existential and literary position. The result is a multiform, polychrome picture, proof of a growing interest in Ulysses, a timeless character. The exhibition does not aim at being exhaustive, but rather intends representing a brief journey through literature, in search of Ulysses, providing cues for self-query on such an interesting figure and one so well represents the impetus of modern man to continue on his journey.’