The Alimena


The Alimena (Α 1836 - Ω 1902)


Francesco Alimena was born in Cosenza on 6 September 1836. As an adolescent, he attended one of those Jesuit colleges called “Schools of Humanity” and proved to be an exceptional student, becoming a teacher of young adults older than him. He refused to start his career as a Christian preacher and started studying law on his own, becoming in a few years the most heard and sought after lawyer. He left his name in all the southern Italian Courts of Assizes: a top speaker of his time, he is remembered as an excellent and illustrious figure in the history of ninenteenth-century Italian oratory. He was known as a giant of the word, and it was said that at his defender’s bench he transfigured. The reminiscent and commemorative writings of both his contemporaries and those who collected his memories remain powerful. For everyone: Nicola Serra, Nicola Misasi in a 1912 work, Adolfo Berardelli in a speech at the Forensic Academy of Rome in April 1924, Ferdinando Cassiani who wrote that ‘in that time, the formidable wing of Francesco Alimena stood above all’, Gennaro Cassiani. Enrico Pessina, a master of Law and Criminal Procedure at the University of Naples, wrote considered him as a ‘superb eagle in the great skies of eloquence’, and Enrico Ferri, from the chair of the Roman University, said that he ‘imprinted his lion’s claw on the trials’. Elected as a Member of Parliament for Cosenza for the XV, XVI and XVII legislature (1882–1892), he was never a politician in the proper sense. The parliamentary proceedings report the words spoken in May 1883 on ‘transformism’ and a memorable speech in defense of the single Cassation in Rome that won him the esteem and affection of Giuseppe Zanardelli, who still remembered his figure in writings addressed to his son Bernardino. He illustrated the Presidency of the Bar Association of Cosenza from 1897 to 1903. He died on 21 October 1902 in the hall of the Court of Assize of Cosenza at the end of a powerful harangue.



 Bernardino (Α 1861 - Ω 1915)

Bernardino Alimena was born in Cosenza on 12 September 1861, to Francesco and Maria Zumbini, a niece of Bonaventura, known literary critic, Professor of Italian Literature at the University of Naples, of which he was a Rector, and an Academician of the Lincei. In Naples, from 1881 to 1884, Bernardino Alimena studied law, completing his course in Roma, where he graduated on 2 July 1885. In the following year, he published Su la psicologia della premeditazione in the journal “Archivio di Psichiatria, Scienze penali ed Antropologia criminale”, an essay drawn from his wider work – his dissertation expanded and reworked – published in Turin in 1887: La premeditazione in rapporto alla psicologia, al diritto, alla legislazione comparata. After graduation, he spent long periods in Cosenza, where he was elected as a town councillor, and mayor in 1889, the first elected directly by the citizens. As a politician, he also became in March 1909 a Member of Parliament for the constituency of Cosenza, but resigned after two months. He was also a candidate in the 1913 elections. Although scientific and academic commitments kept him away from Cosenza, in the following years, Alimena, a criminal lawyer now nationally and internationally renowned, did not cease to be interested in the events of his hometown, personally engaging himself in an enterprise of cultural renewal and popularization, which also involved the most marginalized sections of the population. The cultural initiatives promoted by the Bernardino Alimena along with other intellectuals from Cosenza went in this direction: the “Circolo di cultura” of Cosenza founded in 1901 by Pasquale Rossi, in which Alimena participated in a series of conferences in 1902, or the “Accademia Cosentina”, which he presided in 1903, or the local editorial initiatives which Alimena supported. The importance of Alimena’s contribution to these initiatives is confirmed, among others, by the words – reported by T. Cornacchioli and G. Spadafora – which Pasquale Rossi addressed to him from the newspaper “Il Domani” in 1902: ‘Cosenza new and intellectual gathered and will gather again around the person of Bernardino Alimena, the illustrious criminologist. Certainly, the man’s shape and value greatly contributed to this result, his religious and political beliefs in tune with our milieu [...] Cosenza wanted to testify her admiration to the scientist who honours her’.Bernardino Alimena qualified as a free university teacher at the University of Naples, in Criminal Law in 1889 and in Criminal Procedure in 1890, but he started teaching only in 1894, with the prolusion entitled La scuola critica di diritto penale, published in the same year. His subsequent university career, after his appointment in 1899 as an extraordinary professor at the University of Cagliari, was linked to the Faculty of Law at the Royal University of Modena, where he was appointed as an extraordinary professor in 1899, to be promoted as a full professor on 1st December 1902. He taught there for fifteen years, until his death (30 July 1915). He also actively participated to the international scientific life, speaking at various and important conferences in Paris, Petersburg, Brussels. The legal education of Bernardino Alimena took place in the critical years of the Italian criminal law doctrine due to the advancement of the social sciences (such as anthropology and sociology), that contributed to the spreading of the positivistic method in criminal law and procedure. In Europe,after a first acknowledgment, the Italian positive school was fiercely attacked by the French, who denounced the close connection with the figure of Cesare Lombroso and his theories. He matured, therefore, among the most heated controversies of the positive school of criminal law. Bernardino Alimena soon realized that the criminal sanction, to become an effective weapon of social defense, had to be determined by a deep knowledge of the causes of the crime. He therefore turned his attention to the philosophy of law, and to complete the theory of intimidation of Impallomeni, he tried to engage positivistic theories (necessarily derived from a rigid determinist conception) with the revival of free will which is moral responsibility. Seizing the urgency of a renewal of the Italian positive school, he entered the national and international debate creating a school of criminal law with the aim of curbing the anthropological drift in which Italian positivism was slipping, and to overcome the contrast between schools that hampered the progress of legal science. Taking a clear and firm stance between the positive school and the classical school, not only he paid attention that naturalism and sociology did not overlap with law, but also that the former become a cautious theoretical direction, deep and restored to the reliable sources of positive criticism. He thus became one of the first and most effective advocates of that current which was defined “third school”; he called it “critical school”. Keeping himself away from the dogmatisms of the classical school as well as from the excesses of the anthropological school, he tried to assign the right place and due importance to criminal law in the face of biology, sociology, and public law itself, while reacting at the same time to the Germanophile current of thought. Convinced that ‘criminal law is all in the great confluent of law and psychology’, he wrote powerful works in which, in addition to the acuteness and genius of jurist and philosopher, clarity and elegance of form, depth and vastness of historical knowledge and of all the criminal laws accessible to him, he was able to instil – as De Marsico pointed out – ‘a complex and lasting life, where the theoretical postulate harmonizes with the fact, the study of national law is organically linked with that of comparative law, the law of the code is supported by the psychological document, the intuitions of art enlighten the word of the legislator, and the deep investigation of reality prevails on the exquisite subtleties of theory’.His main works are: La premeditazione in rapporto alla psicologia, al diritto, alla legislazione comparata, Torino, 1887; La scuola critica di diritto penale (Prolusione al corso di diritto e procedura penale nell’Università di Napoli), Napoli, 1894; I limiti e i modificatori dell’imputabilità, Torino, 1894-1898, 3 vols.; Il delitto nell’arte (Prolusione al corso di diritto e procedura penale nell’Università di Cagliari), Torino, 1899; “Lo studio del diritto penale nelle condizioni attuali del sapere (Prolusione al corso di diritto e procedura penale nell’Università di Modena)”, in Riv. Dir. Pen. e Soc. Crim., 1900; “Causalità, mezzo antigiuridico o prevedibilità?”, ibid., 1900; Imputabilità e causalità, Modena, 1904; Del concorso di reati e di pene, Milano, 1904; Note polemiche intorno alla teoria dell’imputabilità, Napoli, 1906; Studi di procedura penale, Torino, 1906; Dei delitti contro la persona, Milano, 1907; Princìpi di diritto penale, Napoli, 1910-12, 2 vols.; Note filosofiche d’un criminalista, Modena, 1911; Princìpi di procedura penale, Napoli, 1914, vol. I 

Further biographical details: R. Abbondanza (ed.), Dizionario Biografico degli italiani, II, entry “Alimena”, Ist. Enciclopedia, Roma, 1960; “Bernardino Alimena”, in Rivista di diritto e procedura penale, 1 (1915), pp. 513 ff.; M. Alimena Zumbini (ed.), Bernardino Alimena nel rimpianto degli italiani, Cosenza 1916; G. Amellino, “Bernardino Alimena e la «terza scuola» di diritto penale”, in Studio Giuridico napoletano, 1 (1915), pp. 171 ff.; P. Arena, Bernardino Alimena, Reggio Calabria, 1934; D.A. Cardone, Filosofi calabresi, Palmi, 1925, pp. 199 ff.; C.G. Mor, Storia dell’Università di Modena, Modena, 1952; T. Cornacchioli, G. Spadafora, Pasquale Rossi e il problema della folla. Socialismo, mezzogiorno, educazione, Roma, 2000; G.B. De Mauro, “Bernardino Alimena”, in La Cronaca penale, 3 (1915), pp. 193 ff.; L. Gullo, “Il cosentino B. Alimena e la ‘terza scuola’ di diritto penale”, in P. Falco, M. De Bonis (eds.), Per una idea di Calabria, Cosenza, 1982; A. Rocco, “Bernardino Alimena”, in La Giustizia Penale, 21 (1915) cols. 1403 ff.; P. Sabbatini, “Bernardino Alimena”, in Annali dell’Università di Modena, 1915-16, pp. 181 ss.; A. Santoro, “Bernardino Alimena”, in Scuola positiva, 25 (1915), pp. 728 ff.; “Necrologio, B. Alimena”, in Rivista Penale, 82 (1915), pp. 366 ff.; A. Sermonti, “La morte di B. Alimena”, in Rivista di discipline carcerarie e correttive, 1 (1915), pp. 409 ss.


  Francesco (A 1898 - Ω 1949)

Francesco Alimena, son of Bernardino, was born in Cosenza on 6 October 1898. After participating in the World War I as a mountain artillery officer and having been awarded the Cross for Merit in War, in 1921 he graduated in law at the Royal University of Rome. In 1929, he participated in the competition of the Fondazione Sestini organized by the Rivista Penale founded by Prof. Luigi Lucchini, obtaining the prize for the work Se l’azione penale possa concepirsi come un’attività obbligatoria dello Stato. In 1934, Francesco Alimena qualified as a free university teacher in Criminal Law and Procedure. In 1936 and 1938, he won the competition for the Chair of Criminal Law and Procedure at the Royal University of Camerino, where the board of examiners unanimously confirmed his scientific and didactic maturity. In 1939, he won the competition for the Chair of Criminal Law and Procedure at the Royal University of Sassari, but he was not appointed since he was unmarried. In 1941 he married Luigia Serra, daughter of Ludovico and Armenia Rodotà de’ Coronei, and subsequently appointed as an extraordinary professor of Criminal Law at the Royal University of Cagliari, where he taught in the academic years 1941–1942 and 1942–1943. He also taught Criminal Procedure, Administrative Law, and Italiano and Comparative Constitutional Law. In November 1942, he was appointed by the Law Faculty of the Royal University of Padova as a successor of the eminent Prof. Vincenzo Manzini to the Chair of Criminal Law, but the then Minister chose another professor. In May 1943, he was moved to the Chair of Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure in the Royal University of Trieste, unanimously confirmed by the Faculty, beginning from 29 October 1943. Being unable to reach Trieste because of the war that divided Italy, the Minister of Public Education (then in Salerno) was made temporarily available to the local director of education of Cosenza with the charge of rearranging the “Biblioteca civica cosentina”, seriously damaged by the bombing, where he did everything necessary to save the important book heritage. Once Rome was freed, the Minister of Justice appointed Francesco Alimena as a member of the commission charged with reforming the criminal procedure code, writing important legal opinions, especially the one on a draft of decree on defense participation to formal investigation. In 1945, after Northern Italy was freed, he reached Trieste. He started teaching criminal law delivering the prolusion Colpevolezza normativa, read in March 1946. In the same year, he was appointed as an expert correspondent of the Ministry of the Constituent. In 1947, he qualified as a Full Professor of Criminal Law and Procedure, remaining at the University of Trieste until 1948, when he was unanimously appointed by the Law Faculty at the University of Catania to the Chair of Ciminal Procedure, succeeding to Prof. Guglielmo Sabatini. His prolusion to the course of lectures of Criminal Procedure took place on 30 January 1949, on the topic Il problema della Corte d’Assise. Francesco Alimena was a member of both the Directory and the Syndicate of the Bar Association of Cosenza from 1935 to 1943.  He was Ordinary Fellow and Perpetual Secretary of the “Accademia cosentina”. He died prematurely in Cosenza on 15 March 1949. He left many scientific works, complex publications that represent important studies on the principles of general theory. It is worth to report the words of the eminent Prof. Filippo Grispigni, of the University of Rome, in conclusion of the study published on the prestigious journal “Scuola Positiva – Rivista di criminologia e diritto criminale”, on the fault as reconstructed by Francesco Alimena: «in the eminent young criminal lawyer we find that fine and delicate sensitivity of his father, Bernardino Alimena (a man particularly dear to us), however increased by greater penetration and vigour of argumentation». His main works: Se l’azione penale possa concepirsi come un’attività obbligatoria dello stato, Città di Castello, 1928; La questione dei mezzi inidonei nel tentativo: contributo alla teoria del conato criminoso, Roma, 1930; Osservazioni sulla distinzione del diritto in pubblico e privato, Roma, 1931; Intorno al reato d’inosservanza del regolamento collettivo di lavoro (art. 509 Cod. pen.), Rocca S. Casciano, 1932; Accertamento delle contravvenzioni per l’igiene del lavoro e competenza della polizia giudiziaria, Rocca S. Casciano, 1933; Il delitto di esercizio arbitrario delle proprie ragioni ed il taglio dei fili della conduttura elettrica, Roma, 1934; Premeditazione e vizio parziale di mente: conciliabilità, Roma, 1935; Illecita obbiettiva e punibilità, Padova, 1935; In tema di simulazione di reato di calunnia e di frode processuale, Torino, 1935; I rapporti tra la premeditazione ed il vizio parziale di mente, Roma, 1935; Il suicidio nelle assicurazioni sulla vita, Roma, 1935; L’attività esecutiva nel tentativo, Roma, 1936; Illeicità obiettiva e punibilità, Padova, 1935; Appunti di teoria generale del reato, Milano, 1938; Atti idonei nel delitto di estorsione, Roma, 1938; Le condizioni di punibilità, Milano, 1938; Il concetto unitario del reato colposo, Padova, 1939; La dichiarazione di fallimento come condizione di punibilità nei reati di bancarotta, Padova, 1939; L’elemento psicologico nelle contravvenzioni, Milano, 1939; La colpa nella teoria generale del reato, Palermo, 1947; Il problema della corte di assise, Napoli, 1949.