Words are fragile and powerful, inventive and devastating, glorious and hateful, symbolic and diabolical, blessed and cursed. Often reduced to chatter and traded as if it were a commodity, the word seems to be identified mostly with means of communication, thus irreparably breaking its link with things. With the patience and the strength of a river – sometimes flowing invisibly, underground, and at times gushing powerfully in full view – these passionate pages dig through time, in search of the meaning of the word (both written and oral), from the Classic age to Augustine, to the present day. The book explores the word’s destiny, unveils its role as “a clinic for the soul”, re-experiences it as a sign and a logos, underscores its status as a miracle by which humans evolve from creatures to creators. Book and libraries are the journey’s final landing place, where the word, protected and defended, becomes an intimate place of memory.
Ivano Dionigi is a former rector and professor emeritus of Latin Literature at the University of Bologna, a member of the Academy of Sciences in Bologna and the Centre for Ciceronian Studies in Rome, as well as the president of the Pontifical Academy for Latin in the Vatican.