The Oath

“Heads can be cut or counted”

In 1931 the Italian fascist regime chose both solutions and forced all university professors to swear an oath of allegiance to the Duce.

1,238 took the oath. Only twelve refused. This is the story of one of those twelve, freely inspired by the figure of Mario Carrara (1866 – 1937), one of the fathers of Italian legal medicine and a leading expert in forensic medicine.

While the university celebrated the concept of race, careers were made with the party card, students wore black shirts even in the lecture halls. Carrara sensed the ignominious agony of the country and when the rector announced the date and the terms of the oath, that is, loyalty to the king and to Mussolini, he realised he could not do it. Not for any ideological obstinacy on his part but due to a sense of decency. Because that oath was above all ridicu- lous, grotesque, a fake, in a word – indecent. The story of Mario Carrara, who was arrested and died in prison, is a metaphor for our modern times, pervaded as they are by new conformisms and old acquiescences.”