APT Basilicata

APT Basilicata

Basilicata turistica

Tataranni Onofrio

a cura di Giovanni Caserta

After the Revolution in 1799 in Naples and the proclamation of the Neapolitan Republic, the provisional Government threw out the idea of a catechism, that is to say, an essay with questions and answers to explain people in a simple way, but always precise not ambiguous, what the Neapolitan Republic was and its principles. The winner was Onofrio Tataranni, born in Matera the 19th October 1727, priest, canon in the cathedral, student and then teacher in the seminary of his town. He had probably moved to Naples for cultural interests, being a student of philosophical, theological and mathematical problems.

During the 1799’s Revolution there were many priests who supported the Neapolitan “Jacobin” in contrast with the official Church and, during the reaction, they went up to gallows. The case of Onofrio Tataranni might be a little bit curious because in 1799 he already was 72 and also because he had already written some eulogies on the Borbonic family. Actually there are no contradictions or changing of course. In fact between 1784 and 1788 Onofrio Tataranni had written a work in 5 books, called Saggio d’un filosofo politico amico dell’uomo, in which he wrote all his ideas in favour of Reform and democracy and freedom. Tataranni also swore fidelity to the Borbonic dynasty, because, following his father (Charles III) and his Minister Tannucci’ s example, many intellectuals thought the new king Ferdinando IV would have followed the directions of the Enlightened Reformism. According to Onofrio Tataranni, and not only to him, the Enlightened Reformism could well reach an agreement about the dctrine of the Church and his politic and civil message, which, according to the Bible content, anticipated the concepts of fraternity, freedom and equality among peoples and men. So the new philosopher of reason and the theologians could perfectly be in agreement on those positions, which then would have also been the same positions of Manzoni, Gioberti, Rosmini and Lambruschini. On these premises, Tataranni thought about one humanity all united in a one big nation, where love and humanity would be like at the beginning, when man was created. It is true indeed, that “men, who live on this Earth, are all friends and brothers because they have the same Father and rights like nature’s gift”. Very interesting is that, according to Tataranni, this passage to a new great season of humanity would have happened through “a natural European Confederation”, managed by a European Congress, with the set up of a “Universal Diet”, or better known as ONU. It is clear, on these premises, Tataranni agreed with the experiment of a communist society, as started in Saint Lèucio, near Caserta, by king Charles III of Borbone.

Unfortunatly all the premises and reformed conquests achieved by Charles IV of Borbone, chiefly thanks to his wife Maria Carolina and particularly after her sister, Maria Antonietta had been beheaded in France, would have been vanished by the above mentioned Ferdinando IV of Borbone. The Royal family was terrorized, so it cancelled all the previous liberal measures. On these basis started the breaking off between the Southern enlightened intellectuals and the monarchy. For these reasons those intellectuals were all soon united in the revolution. The old Onofrio Tataranni obtained the first prize with his modest catechism, greeting the new age of “rare happiness” with Tacito’s words because finally “man was allowed to think what he wanted and say what he thought”.

We don’t know how and why Tataranni, unlike many other “revolutionaries”, escaped the borbonic reaction. Most probably, being very old and weak in health, he didn’t take part actively in the events of those months. So he was not noticed in town. In that general confusion he went back to his far off Matera, which had struggled to defend the monarchy and the borbonic family and also fought against the near Republican Altamura.

He had many friends inside the Materana Church, where he spent his last days. He died, three years later, the 22nd March 1803. His works are: Ragionamento sul carattere religioso di Carlo III (1789), Ragionamento sulle sovrane leggi della rinascente popolazione di San Lèucio (1789) and Breve memoria sull’educazione nazionale della nobile gioventù guerriera (1790).

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