VIPs of Cagliari

Roman Emperor Diocletian didn’t like Christians very much, so when Saturninus refused to offer sacrifices to the god Jupiter Caligari Governor Barbarus had him beheaded in 304.

A Paleo-Christian basilica marks his burial place.

Bishop of Cagliari Lucifer Calaritanus, aka Lucifero da Cagliari, was well-known for his passionate opposition to Arianism, (a nontrinitarian belief that asserts that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, but is entirely distinct from and subordinate to the God the Father).

At the Council of Milan (354), he annoyed the Emperor Constantius II, a supporter of Arian theology, so much that he had Lucifer confined in the Imperial Palace for three days before exiling him first to Syria, then Palestine and finally Egypt.

After the death of Constantius and the accession of Emperor Julian “the Apostate”, Lucifer was allowed to return from exile in 361, but he would not be reconciled to former Arians, so the Church excommunicated him.

He returned to Cagliari and died there in 370.

Ofonius Tigellinus of Cagliari(10 – 69) was a prefect of the Roman Praetorian Guard, the Emperor’s Secret Service, who fancied himself, like his BFF Emperor Nero, to be quite the singer and musician.

In 39, he was banished from Rome for committing adultery with Nero’s mother Agrippina the Younger as well as her sister Julia Livilla.

He was recalled to Rome by Emperor Claudius in 41.

Having inherited a fortune, he bought land and devoted himself to breeding racehorses.

In this manner he gained the favour of Nero, whom he aided in his vices and cruelties.

In 62 he was promoted to the prefecture of the Praetorian Guards.

In 64 he made himself notorious for the orgies arranged by him in the Basin of Agrippa and was the primary suspect of incendiarism in connection with the Great Fire of Rome, which, after having subsided, broke out afresh in his Aemilian gardens.

In 67 Tigellinus accompanied Nero on his musical tour of Greece.

When the Emperor’s downfall seemed imminent, Tigellinus deserted Nero.

Under Nero’s successor Galba, he was obliged to give up his command, but managed to save his life by lavishing presents upon Titus Vinius, the favourite of Galba, and his daughter.

Otho, upon his accession to Emperor in January 69, was determined to remove one so universally detested by the people.

While in the baths at Sinuessa, Tigellinus received the news that he must die, and, having vainly endeavoured to gain a respite, cut his own throat with a razor.

Tigellinus appears as a villain in the 1928 opera Nero i Acte, the play and film The Sign of the Cross, in Quo Vadis, and in the six-hour mini-series Anno Domini, the play The Road to Damascus, the novel The Kingdom of the Wicked, and in John Hersey’s 1972 novel portraying Rome as a police state, The Conspiracy.

Some say it was really Tigellianus’s idea to burn Rome, or at the very least he gave Nero the idea of blaming the Fire on Christians.

Claudius Claudianus of Caligari, aka Claudian, (370 – 404) was a Latin poet.

(Think of him of as a mix of Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly and Jon Stewart (of the Comedy Channel’s Daily Show) of his day.)

The man had a way with words.

Need to praise someone?

Get Claudian.

Want to discredit your rivals?

Get Claudian.

He was well-rewarded for his efforts.

He was made the Empire’s Poet, the Senate honoured him with a statue in the Forum in 400 and a rich wife was found for him.

Giulio Angioni (born 1939) is a professor at the University of Cagliari and the author of over 20 books of fiction and a dozen volumes of essays on anthropology.

(Think of him as the Noam Chomski of Caligari.)

He views human life in a dimension of maximum amplitude of time and space.

He believes that doing, saying and feeling are interrelated aspects of the human condition, which is characterised by our culture.

He criticises the superiority of speech as a solely human feature and aesthetics being considered separate from the rest of life.

Sergio Atzeni (1952 – 1995) was a Sardinian writer and resident of Cagliari so all of his works are set in Sardinia.

He used a very original language that fused elegant literary Italian with the street slang used by the working class in Cagliari, reproducing the immediacy of speech.

His works are known for “magic realism”, where fantastic elements appear in realistic settings.

(Sounds like TV…)

Nanni Loy, born Giovanni Loi, (1925 – 1995), of Cagliari, was a film, theatre and TV director, famous for introducing in Italy the candid camera with his show Specchio segreto(secret mirror).

His 1962 film The Four Days of Naples was nominated for two Academy Awards.

He specialised in comedy films but he also shot film dealing with social themes.

Amedeo Nazzari of Cagliari, born Salvatore Amedeo Buffa, (1907 – 1979) was an actor, one of the leading figures of Italian classic cinema, a Sardinian Errol Flynn.

Although he moved to Rome, he always retained his native accent.

He entered a contest organised by Twentieth Century Fox to find an Italian actor to fill the boots of the recently deceased screen star Rudolph Valentino.

He was rejected in screen test after screen test by Italian professionals who found him too tall, too thin, too gloomy, but after three films, his breakthrough came with the 1938 film Luciano Serra, Pilot, where he played a WW1 veteran who returns to fight for Italy during the Abyssinian War.

Suddenly Nazzarini was transformed into a matinee idol, the most bankable star of Italian cinema.

Following the film, Nazzari was invited to join the Fascist Party by Benito Mussolini, but declined saying:

“Thank you, Duce! I would prefer not to concern myself with politics, occupied as I am with more pressing artistic commitments.”

(I wish more of today’s Hollywood stars felt the same.)

Finally, there is Pier Angeli (1932 – 1971), born Anna Maria Pierangeli in Cagliari, a TV and Hollywood film actress.

She won a Golden Globe Award for her starring role in the 1951 film Teresa, when she was compared favourably with Greta Garbo.

She had romantic relationships with Kirk Douglas and James Dean, starred with Lana Turner, Paul Newman, Danny Kaye and Richard Attenborough.

She was engaged to Kirk Douglas, broke it off.

Romance with James Dean…broke it off to marry singer/actor Vic Damone.

Divorce followed by very public custody battle for their son.

Married composer Armando Trovaioli.

Second son.

In 1971, she was cast to be in The Godfather, but at the age of 39, she was found dead in her Beverly Hills home of an accidental barbiturate overdose.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Even if you come from Cagliari.


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