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As If God ExistedReligion and Liberty in the History of Italy$
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Maurizio Viroli

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691142357

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691142357.001.0001

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Images of the Civil Religion

Images of the Civil Religion

Chapter:
(p.21) 2 Images of the Civil Religion
Source:
As If God Existed
Author(s):

Maurizio Viroli

, Alberto Nones
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691142357.003.0003

This chapter details the spread of republican religion. The concept of civil religion spread within republican cities' culture and customs through the treatises on government. But even more effective were the images that embodied those concepts. Whereas the concepts expounded in the treatises spoke first and foremost to reason, paintings struck the eyes, and from the eyes touched the passions. The rulers of republics were aware of the images' strength, especially when they were accompanied by clear words, written in large, legible characters, preferably in the vernacular. For this reason, rulers commissioned skilled artists to produce a great number of works explaining the principles of republican good government to the magistrates and citizens. The message conveyed by the walls of the city government's most important halls was at once political and religious. That is, their imagery taught people to view civic duties as if they were real religious duties—God's and Christ's commandments, not just human advice.

Keywords:   republicanism, republican religion, Italian history, civil religion, civic duty

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