Freud and the Magna Graecia: Metamorphoses of the ‘Exotic’ Journey between Ancient and Modern Imaginary

  • Rosalba Galvagno University of Catania
Keywords: Freud, Journey, Great Greece, Archeology, Psychoanalysis


A close relationship of interdependence exists between Freud's love for Italy and the discovery of psychoanalysis. Italy was, for him, the Other Stage on which to represent his Oedipal story in a phantasmical way.

Freud would go to Italy, following an almost compulsive itinerary: seeking the trail of his paternal identification, as well as the site and images of a mysterious femininity that would lead him to an ecstatic contemplation, not only of the many Venus and Madonnas of the great Italian masters, but of the most humble, archaic Sicilian statuettes too.

It is important to bear in mind that the stages of these journeys in southern Italy are not less meaningful than the Roman ones: as Freud felt the need, no longer deferrable, of a period in Sicily before his final trip through Rome in 1913. After visiting the ruins of Pompei and Paestum in 1902, which surely stimulated his interest in Jensen’s Gradiva, Freud was driven to travel to Sicily in 1910, accompanied by Sandor Ferenczi. This journey was stormy for the young disciple who implored the maestro for his love, yet the latter, mindful of his old passion for Fliess, declined him severely.

Author Biography

Rosalba Galvagno, University of Catania
Rosalba Galvagno is Professor of Theory of Literature at the University of Catania. In particular, she studies the relationship between literary discourse and psychoanalytic discourse. Her works include: Pizzuto e lo spazio della scrittura (Sicania, Messina, 1990); Le sacrifice du corps. Frayages du fantasme dans les “Métamorphoses d’Ovide (Paris, Panormitis, 1995); and Les voyages de Freud en Grande Grèce (Panormitis, Paris, 1998). She has edited and co-edited Carlo Levi, Prima e dopo le parole (Roma, Donzelli, 2001); Carlo Levi, Narciso e la costruzione della realtà (Olschki, Firenze, 2004) , Catania (Papiro Edizioni, Enna, 2007); and I viaggi di Freud in Sicilia e in Magna Grecia (Maimone, Catania, 2010).


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How to Cite
Galvagno, R. (2011). Freud and the Magna Graecia: Metamorphoses of the ‘Exotic’ Journey between Ancient and Modern Imaginary. Between, 1(2).