The City of Bologna's 900 Years of Rights

"The right and duty are like two palm-trees, which bear fruit only when growing side by side." (Félicité Robert de Lamennais)
Irene Schiff

If the Bolognese were asked: "What happened on May 15, 1116?" Most likely very few people could answer. Yet, it is an important date: it is the birth of the municipality of Bologna. Let's briefly review the history (don't worry, I said briefly!). The Holy Roman Empire, founded by Charlemagne in 800, at least in Italy, that famous Christmas night, had its days numbered because many northern cities claimed their independence following the development of new political, social and economic contexts. In 1116, Emperor Enrico V granted Bolognese Concives (Latin for citizens) the first rights to recognize Bologna as a local government. From that day a lot of water has flowed under the Reno and Savena bridges and significant steps have been made towards freedom, development and human society. The term 'right' expresses different concepts and has many applications: legal right, moral rights, philosophy of law... Right also means to follow the correct path, and Dante knows something about this. Unfortunately for him but fortunately for us, he produced his masterpiece of the Divine Comedy precisely because "the direct way was lost".

Some human rights are inalienable and were enshrined in various declarations such as the Bill of Rights of the American Revolution, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of the French Revolution or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations, to name some of the most famous.

But there are no rights without complementary obligations. Gandhi stated: "The true source of rights is duty."

Duty is what one should do, what others expect from us. In theory, it should be the right way to behave because the individual is not alone living in a society and, as such, decency should be an ethical obligation even before being imposed by laws. Where do our rights and duties begin and end for each one of us?




1) Peter's father has three children: Huey, Dewey, and...

1.    Louie

2.    it's not possible to know the name

3.    Peter


2) Your son in college says: why should I study if I'm to be unemployed anyway? You answer:

1.    you can always work abroad

2.    you're right; it's best to look for work right now

3.    you're right; enjoy your life while you're young


3) A young child is crying because he wants a new game; eventually the parent buys it to him

1.    he's spoiling the child

2.    the parent got a moment of peace and quiet

3.    you don't spoil a child for a new game


4) To the word "volume" you associate

1.    geometry

2.    a book

3.    TV


5) You do something nice for a friend; you think

1.    what could I ask for in return?

2.    will he offer me coffee?

3.    I'm glad I helped


6) A colleague of yours does something nice for you

1.    you immediately try to reciprocate

2.    you will do the same when you have the opportunity

3.    if the opportunity arises... you will have already forgotten


7) You want to spend some time in your usual bar but the parking spaces are all occupied

1.    you double park

2.    you give up the idea

3.    you look for a place further away


8) What tree do you choose for your garden

1.    evergreen

2.    fruit tree

3.    hardwood but not a fruit tree


9) If you were Zorro, would you spend most of your time

1.    fighting the bad guys

2.    enjoying life's luxuries because in reality you are Don Diego de la Vega

3.    establishing a school for new aspiring Zorros


10) Would you prefer that your child attends

1.    a Boy Scout group

2.    a business course

3.    he'll decide


11) During a business trip, you have the opportunity to cheat a little on your expense account

1.    why not take advantage of it

2.    once in a while, it's all right

3.    it does not seem right


12) Your partner betrayed you

1.    you leave him or her

2.    you forgive him or her

3.    tit for tat


13) You're about to fall asleep and the clock chimes the time, it's 10 o'clock

1.    you think: why on earth did I buy this clock

2.    you put your head under the pillow until the clock stops

3.    you get up and stop it


14) You have discount coupons

1.    you take the usual products

2.    you try new products

3.    you forget to use them


15) If Robin Hood lived today, he would steal from the rich to

1.    give to the poor

2.    keep it for himself

3.    share among friends


Rights and dutiesPUNTEGGIO




1) 2 1 3

2) 3 2 1

3) 3 1 2

4) 2 3 3

5) 1 2 3

6) 3 2 1

7) 1 2 3

8) 2 1 3

9) 2 1 3

10) 3 1 2

11) 1 2 3

12) 2 3 1

13) 1 2 3

14) 3 2 1

15) 3 1 2





You have developed a strong sense of respect for others and for rules, perhaps because you believe there cannot be a peaceful coexistence without the respect of moral and civil laws. This is important and noble but a little flexibility could make you feel better about yourself and enable you to accept and be accepted more by others.



Even from an acoustic point of view, the term 'duty' has a dark sound to it while the term 'right' has a happy sound. You know how to combine forcefulness and lightness. For you it's like playing with colours or musical notes and the result is a balanced composition. Fulfilling one's duties and ensuring the respect of rights is something you believe is possible for you as well as for others.



People's rights are important and fundamental. You firmly believe in this and make every effort to have them recognized. These are noble thoughts and actions, but sometimes there is the problem of the exceptions: the risk is that you can take for granted that there are rules for others and exceptions for ourselves.


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