PETTAZZONI, Raffaele. San Giovanni, Persiceto, near Bologna 3.2.1883 — Rome 8.12.1959. Italian Scholar of Comparative Religion. Professor in Rome. Studies of archaeology, etc. at Bologna and Rome. From 1909 worked at Sardinian Department of Antiquities in Museo preistorico ed etnografico in Rome. PD 1913. In 1914-22 also incaricato di storia delle religioni at Bologna. In 1923-58 Professore ord. di storia delle religioni on a new chair at Rome. He joined the Fascist Party in 1933 (as a university professor had to), but did not participate in its activities. His only visit to Asia was Japan in 1958.
Pettazzoni began with classical religion, soon became interested in comparative religion. He had early lost his Catholic faith and strived for a non-confessional analysis.In the 1930s he promoted the study and teaching of ethnology in Italy. His leading idea was the original religion of one “high god”, mostly identified with the sky. However, he rejected P. W. Schmidt’s original monotheism as inadequate. His main contribution to Indian studies (1927) was a preliminary part of the more general discussion of the same topic in religions. In the 1950s he also gave some attention to Buddhism. Founder and editor of the Numen from 1954. Among his students was U. Bianchi.
Publications: La religione primitiva in Sardegna. 23+250 p. Piacenza 1912; “Le origini dei Kabiri”, MRAL 5:12, 1906-09, 655-741; La religione nella Grecia fino ad Alessandro. 416 p. Bologna 1921, 2nd ed. 1953, French 1953
– La religione di Zarathustra. 19+260 p. Bologna 1920.
– “La confessione dei peccati nell’ India antica”, Studi e mater. di storia delle relig. 3, 1927, 35-81.
– Dio: formazione e sciluppo del monoteismo. 1. 22+396 p. Rome 1922; I misteri: saggio di una teoria storico-religiosa. 19+353 p. Bologna 1924; La confessione dei peccati. 1-2:1-2. Storia delle Religioni. Bologna 1930-36, 1. in French 1931-32.
– Saggi di storia delle religioni e di mitologia. 1945, English, Essays on the History of Religions. Leiden 1954; Italia religiosa. 154 p. Bari 1952; L’omniscienza di Dio. 21+688 p. ill. Torino 1955, English 1956.
– “Pre-Āryan and Vedic Antecedents of the Polycephalous Śiva”, Saṁjñāvyākaraṇam. Studia Indologica Internationalia 1, 1954, ??-??.
– In 1925-54 editor of Studi e materiali di storia delle religioni, in which he published the translations of Papesso and Gotama Buddha of Suali.
Sources: C.J. Bleeker, A. Brelich & G. Widengren, Numen 6, 1959, 76a-d; Franci 1991, 283-290; A. Pincherle, La Nouvelle Clio 10:3, 1958-60, 167-172; *M. Raspanti, “RP e il buddhismo”, Franci 1985, 81-91; *D. Sabbatucci, Numen 10, 1963, 1-41; *H. Wagenvoort, Jaarboek K.N.A.W. 1959–60, 387-390; briefly Wikipedia (more in Italian version, with photo).
*M. Gandini has published more than 2000 pages material about RP in Strada Maestra 1989-2005; E. Ciurtin, “R.P. et Mircea Eliade. Historiens des religions généralistes devant les fascismes (1933-1945”, 333-363, and M. Stausberg, ”R.P. and the History of Religions in Fascist Italy (1928-1938)”, 365-395, both in Junginger (ed.), The Study of Religion under the Impact of Fascism. Numen Book Series 117. Leiden 2008.
*N. Spineto, Mircea Eliade, RP. L’histoire des religions a-t-elle un sens? Correspondance 1926-1959. P. 1994.
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