20 Apr 2022


Christ Stopped at Eboli

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

Words: 749

Pages: 3

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Christ Stopped at Eboli is a memoir published by an Italian Jewish doctor. The memoir recounts the encounters by Carlo Levi in the southern province of Basilicata. The sources reveals that Levi was forced to go to the place due to internal exile instituted by the Mussolini regime. The critics were silenced by sending to exile. He particularly visited Aliano or Gagliano (Mcnamee, 2015). The place, according to the book, lies in the rugged reaches of the Apennine Mountains. It is very far from the center of Italian life. 

In fact the phrase “Christ stopped short of here” is used to symbolize how isolated the place is. In fact those living in the place admits that they are not Christians (Mcnamee, 2015). The book reveals that Levi had to stay in a crumbling house in a crumbling hill town. He encountered poverty he could scarcely imagine. In that place, Levi encountered illiteracy, obliviousness, superstition (Mcnamee, 2015). The people were very remote and primitive. In fact Levi recounts how inhuman the people were (Mcnamee, 2015). They were like the beast. In fact he admits that some beast are even better. The people he met were mere creatures of the wild (Mcnamee, 2015). 

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Principally, the phrase was used by the inhabitants of that small village to mean that they feel they have been bypassed by Christianity, by morality, by history itself. The absence of Christ is a metaphor used to indicate an absence of any consciousness of good and evil. The place was widowed of hope and redemption. The inhabitants have the notion that Christ, who is the main source of redemption, stopped at Eboli and that he did not reach where the inhabitants live. The town of Eboli is known for its gripping poverty. 

The inhabitants of the place believe on magic. In fact magic is considered the key determinant of life. Their children are named Donato (Heller, 2014). This is because this name is believed to offer the promise that the saint with supernatural powers will protect the health of the children named Donato. It will protect them from strokes of fate. The people at Eboli believes in holy sickness and that this form of sickness influence the moral codes of family life. 

They have rituals where mothers take their children to the Festival of Saint Donatus for blessings. During the event, mothers would place the children on the altar with a jolt. Women could do unbelievable acts. Some of these acts include licking the stone floor in front of his altar, walking barefoot in the procession, or making terrible confessions before the saint and then presenting the saint with their sick child with a hefty push.

It is believed that Donato can take the child up in his arms, if he wants to and let him diet or let him live and be healthy. Donato has the power of carrying out mercy killings on sick children. The book reveals that the mothers of northern Lucania stick to the martyr bishop and rejected the cult of the young brother-in-effort. In this religion, religion is considered a scandal or rather a stumbling block. The event was considered a political force by male priests and politicians. 

Banality is another key features associated with inhabitants of Eboli. The banality ceremony, as described by Levi was carried out in a throne supported by two long shafts. The memoir adds that there were dozen men who took turns in carrying. Another participant in the ceremony is Madonna. She represented the powerful and famous Madonna of Viggiano. She had Mack face full of sumptuous robes, necklaces and bracelets. Another participant during the ceremony is Don Trajelia. He had a white surplice over his cassock and displaced weary and bored expression. Other participants include the mayor and the sergeant. There was also women with flapping veils (Mcnamee, 2015). At dusk, the entire village turned out along the edge of the ravine. Some individuals could even climb at the roof of public toilet in order to get a better view. The event or the ceremony was very important. In fact even the political prisoners, as Levi puts it, were allowed to stay out an hour later than usual allowance. The event was associated with fiery and frenzied excitement.

The narratives of the people of Eboli revolves around the magic and ceremonies associated with the magic. New generation had to be told about the ceremony, the expectations during the ceremony as well as the importance of the ceremony. 

As far as medicine is concerned, it should be noted that the Eboli people did not practice any kind of contemporary medicine. There were no doctors. The medical care is nonexistent in the town and surrounding countryside (Mcnamee, 2015). People of Eboli relies on the magic in healing diseases. That is why children were taken to the Donato ceremony where their health can be destined by the Donato (Mcnamee, 2015). 


Hauschild, T., Gaines, J., & European Association of Social Anthropologists. (2011). Power and magic in Italy . New York: Berghahn Books. 

Mcnamee, G. (2015). Appreciations: Carlo Levi's Christ Stopped at Eboli at 70. Kirkus Reviews . p. 167.

Heller, J. (2014). Reader recommendation: Christ Stopped at Eboli. Christian Science Monitor . p. N.PAG.

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