The antiquarian Scipione Maffei (1675-1755) is perhaps best remembered as the author of Merope (1713), a tragedy which gave rise to a famous querelle with Voltaire. Maffei was a prolific and versatile writer who also vigorously engaged in contemporary politics. Guido Beduschi’s presentation focuses on Maffei’s treatise Consiglio politico [Political Advice], written in 1736 and first published in 1797, on the eve of Napoleon’s occupation of Venice. The Consiglio resulted from the fusion of Maffei’s knowledge of ancient history and his experiences gathered during his travels throughout Europe. It offered the authorities of the Venetian Republic an outline project for institutional reform. Maffei was aware of the importance of expanding political participation in order to stabilise and strengthen the state, and he suggested the opening of public offices to the elites of Venice’s mainland domains, by admitting representatives to the Great Council of Venice. After its publication in the Age of Revolution, the Consiglio politico inspired some political thinkers of the Risorgimento, most notably the republican-federalist Carlo Cattaneo (1801-1896). In Maffei’s work, Beduschi argues, one finds the origins of nineteenth-century ideas of wider political participation into republican institutions – and, ultimately, of republican federalism. More generally, Beduschi suggests that one can locate the intellectual roots of the Risorgimento in the early-eighteenth century.
- about Guido Beduschi