Roman Nicknames: Rugantino

In Roman folklore exists a fictional character that does the most to capture the essence of being a citizen of the city, and its culture. I did write fictional character, so no, it's not Totti (not a bad guess though). He who represents the popularized traits, both positive and negative, is Rugantino. His origins are theatrical, and traced to the Romanized version of Commedia dell'Arte of which he was the most beloved for Romans. He is the subject of poems by G.G. Belli, one of the foremost proponents of Roman culture, and after the unification of Italy another Roman poet, Zanazzo, named a recurring newspaper column Rugantino in which he defended the merit of romanesco, in light of the oncoming movement to use standardized Italian in the new country.
           The original romano de Roma, Rugantino is a jovial and arrogant braggart but one who's always ready to protest against oppression and abuse of power. He is also generous, honest, loyal, and endlessly proud of being a Roman. Rugantino, in the 21st Century, is Phillipe Mexès.

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Being French by birth feels like a mere technicality, because Mexès is Roman. We don't have to stretch the above traits of Rugantino very thin for them to fit perfectly on Mexès; most of the time happy and jovial, he is also arrogant (a fact that unfortunately is expressed on the field at times). His clashes with Nedved before the latter's retirement are legendary, make for a good real life example of Rugantino's fight against being oppressed (ironically there was a time in history when the theatre character often protested the French occupants of the city). The honesty was visible when asked ahead of a game against Juve what he thought of Nedved, on the back of some clashes in previous games, and he couldn't help himself and finally responded that Nedved "me sta un po' sulle palle" (the sense being "he's an annoying fuck").
          Rugantino isn't a perfect character without flaws, which is one of the reasons he was one of the most appreciated. His drawbacks made him relatable, and there's nothing different when it comes to Phillipe Mexès. Can his temper get the better of him? Yes, but no matter. His drawbacks are part of what makes him human. It's what makes him Roman, it's what makes him so completely lovable.

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