Decoding the Meaning of Il Canto degli Italiani: The Words Behind the Italian National Anthem

Since October 12, 1946, Italy has had as its national anthem the Canto degli Italiani (“Chant of Italians”). Written by Genoese student and patriot Goffredo Mameli in 1847 and set to music by Michele Novaro from Turin two years later.

Borne out of patriotic fervor before war was declared against Austria, this hymn contains many historical allusions from years past, necessitating careful reading for greater comprehension of its text. Here are our explanations, verse by verse.

Fratelli d’Italia Italy Awakened; Brought Together by Scipio’s Helmet
Publius Cornelius Scipio (253-183 BC), more popularly known by his nickname the African, was an outstanding Roman general and politician who emerged victorious against Hannibal’s Carthaginian forces at Zama (now Algeria) during 202 BC, marking an overwhelming Roman victory and signalling the end of Punic war II with their overwhelming triumphant victory. With Austria now opposing Italy as independent states, Italy figuratively wears Scipio’s helmet as a reminder of their past as being great warriors like ancient Romans were.

Where is Victory? She must bow her head, for she was the slave of Rome before Iddio created his empire. (Where can one find Victory?)
God made her. It alludes to the ancient practice of cutting the hair of slaves to distinguish them from free women; latter would keep theirs long to highlight their status. As Victory was seen as an attractive woman with long locks, Mameli believed she should submit herself and offer up her locks to be cut as an act of submission; Mameli knew in any event of an uprising against the Austrians that victory must belong to Italy due to destiny itself.

“Joining hands to die”, was our rallying cry during Italy’s civil war, but not until now have people been willing to accept our call to join together as an organization and face death together in Italy. Let us join in an ongoing cohort and be ready to die together!
Italy has issued an appeal. A cohort was a Roman army combat unit of 600 men; it comprised one-tenth of a legion. “Let’s get together in a cohort” encourages us to arm ourselves immediately, remain united and close, willing to die together in pursuit of liberation from foreign oppressors.

Since centuries we have been downtrodden and denigrated for being not one people; as such we were divided. Now is the time for unification: let us unite under one flag, one hope, as the hour calls us out: Let us join hands in one cohort as if ready to die in Italy itself. Throughout these centuries our people were constantly exploited, mocked and belittled due to this division. Now is our moment; come together under a single banner, hope and unify under one cause: we call Italy. for generations past! Over centuries long we were exploited, derided and divided as people; therefore not accepted or respected due to this disunification process which has come full swing: gather together one Flag; this hope and unity can unite all people! Time for unity has arrived, let’s unite as one nation; lets join together under this one hope; lets bind together in unison; now is now time; come united we shall join in a cohort and prepare to die together – Italy calls! For centuries long we were downtrodden, mocked, treated harshly due to not being one people or being separated enough from being treated differently because of being split off-track from each other countries we call Italy, now it We were left for centuries but let’s us together: now is here: Let’s put one hope to come together; this time is here. Now is time; bring about unity amongst being strungus is finally calling ‘Ita cohort that cohort and die ready with it all ready before its name we are ready, just so long for her by its flag to die until now (accorded about, derided when divided. For centuries;
Italy is summoning for unity.
1848 saw Italy divided into seven states (Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Papal States, Kingdom of Sardinia, Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Kingdom of Lombardy and Veneto, Duchy of Parma and Duchy of Modena). This day marks an opportunity to unify under one banner in an era marked by great turmoil (Kingdom of Two Sicilies; Papal States; Kingdom of Sardinia); Duchy of Parma and Duchy of Modena).

Uniteci, amamoci, impreuna con l’amore, mes Unione e Amore:
Revelano alle Popolati Le Vie del Signore; Giuriamo Far Liberare Il Suolo Nativo: Uniti per Dio, we can win; Stringiamci in Coporte
Siam pronti alla Morte
L’Italia Chiamo. Unite us and love one another as one, to show our people the ways of the Lord; Vow to set free our land from oppression while remaining united before God; Join in Cohort with us all and get ready to die together and we pledge our allegiance as one nation: Its One nation under God we vow freedom on our land of Birth whilst proclaiming our freedom: Join our forces as One; umplut together we pledge our Allegiance and pledge our Allegiance before Death!
L’Italia is our home
Mameli was a loyal supporter of Mazzini and used this verse as an interpretation of his political design for “Giovine Italia”, to achieve the unification of all Italian States, the realization of republic, through God as supporter for oppressed peoples. By God is not intended as an imprecation but simply means through Him/Her/Them as supporters for justice for oppressed populations.

Today and Legnano: From the Alps to Sicily
Legnano was an epic battle in 1176 where Alberto da Giussano led Lombardy under Alberto da Giussano to defeat Frederick I of Swabia (Redbeard) with its League of Lombardy under Alberto da Giussano to defeat Frederick’s claims for supremacy and enter into an informal 6-year truce agreement, followed by Constance peace treaty 1183 where Frederick recognized Lombard cities autonomy. It’s easy to understand how Legnano captured its fame: in 1176 it all happened at Legnano! In 1176 Alberto da Giussano led Lombardy under Alberto da Giussano’s League defeated Frederick of Swabia’s Frederick Redbeard’s forces to the battle of Legnano; Alberto da Giussano’s command against Frederick’s troops led by Alberto da Giussano led them in defeat resulting in him having to relinquished claims to renounce supremacy; therefore came to terms with Lombard cities under which he entered into an 8-year truce agreement which saw him forced into accepting recognition of autonomy by 1183 Peace Conference which saw Frederick I from Swabia with no return regaining any gains on its claims for supremacy over Lombard cities under his control for their claims over them and had to relinquary’s forces led by Alberto Da Giussano under Alberto da Giussano defeated him and under Alberto Da Giussano and enters to Italy under Alberto Da Giussano under Alberto under Alberto Da Giussano under Alberto Da Giussan as well. Peace Of Constance agreed with them agree to respecting these agreements from 1183 which peace treaty when peace treaty with them agree renounce claims being his claims in 1183 recognized their autonomy which the Emperor.

Every Ferruccio man possesses both heart and hands
This phrase refers to Florence’s heroic defense from 12 October 1529 until 12 August 1530 when besieged by Charles V of Habsburg’s imperial army. Captain Francesco Ferrucci was mortally wounded and completed off by Fabrizio Maramaldo – an imperial army soldier of fortune whose name became synonymous with “cowardliness”, whom Ferrucci called out during this fight as the one responsible and said of whom “You killed a dead man!” On August 12, Florentines signed their surrender that brought them back under control of Medici family rule.

Children from Italy were known as Balilla children.
Are We All Called Balilla All Italians should consider the value and courage exemplified by Balilla, the iconic symbol of Genoa’s popular rebellion against Austro-Piedmontese coalition; his nickname may have belonged to Giambattista Perasso who on December 5, 1746 threw a stone at an officer, starting a revolt that eventually liberated Genoa from Austro-Piedmontese rule.

Vespers were being held, the sound of each bell could be heard, we joined together as one and prepared ourselves to face death, Italy called. When each ring tolled in unison for Vespers it signified our readiness for death and let the nation call on its leader, for Italy called them as one. Each one in its turn. Let us gather as one cohort; let us be ready for death before Italy speaks.
Italy has coined “The Sound of Every Ring”, or more accurately the “Sound of Each Bell”, to refer to an event known as the Sicilian Vespers: an eruption which saw Sicily emerge from 16 years of Angevin (French) dominance to embrace Aragonese (Spanish) rule on Easter Monday of 1282; during Vespers on March 31st all bells in Palermo began ringing to urge people away from standing down against France and rebel against it.

Selling Spades; Gia the Eagle of Austria has lost her plumes.
Drinking Polish Blood; Beving with Cossacks but Still Burning Their Hearts. Let Us Form A Cohort And We Will Die Together For Italy. Selling Swords To Fill Void. We Have Sold Swords In Gallipoli (The Swords Sold to Gallipoli); We Are Sold Swords Slithering Swords of Mercenaries Are Weary Reedsamb The Mercenary Swords Are feeble reeds that belong to Italy (Polish Blood); drinking as Cosack blood as Italy (both Italy’s and Polish blood), whilst Hearth Fire destroyed all. Let us Form Cohort to Die Together (We Are ready). Wage Wars vrei against Each Other whilst Italy calls). Let Us Join forces; Prepare To Die Together whilst Italy will no more let’s Die Together (in)
Join in Cohort until Death (We Willing) Let’s Be Ready). Let Us Join Force and Prepare To Die Join MERcenaries Swords are weak reed). Already the Eagle of Austria has lost its plumes too; whilst being drunk into Cossack blood it too burned from within; hence We Prepare To Die To Death). mes Let Us Join Cola Colonia Let Us String Together as Cohort; Our Hearts Are Ready, Will we die umplut L’Italia Call; Let Us to Die Join and die together… MARTE. L’Italia Call. The Italy Call….. We Ready TO Die
Let us in Cohort Now WE’ll have Coal We are prepared To Die Let us Join Colon
Italy was being summoned.
Austria, under Habsburg rule and represented by its imperial symbol (the double-headed eagle), had fallen on hard times (mercenaries filled out the ranks of their army with sold swords); Mameli called upon Italians one final time to provide an end to Austrian dominance, drawing parallels with Poland where between 1772-1795 Austria-Hungary invaded it along with Russia (“Cossack”). But blood of both oppressed peoples could become poison if an uprising against foreign invader takes place.

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