In Memoriam: Nuccio Ordine (1958–2023)

The great humanist, literary scholar, historian of ideas and philosopher Nuccio Ordine died unexpectedly on June, 10, 2023. With him, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science loses a prominent colleague, guest scholar, energetic collaborator in many projects, and a good friend. Nuccio Ordine was a world-renowned expert on Giordano Bruno and Renaissance philosophy and literature. Together with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the University of Calabria and many other institutions, he created a European network for the study of the Renaissance.

The first meeting of the Network "Rinascimento" took place ten years ago at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, on 7th May 2013, exactly. Among the participants were: Luiz Carlos Bombassaro, Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Paolo Galluzzi, Museo Galileo, Firenze, Johannes Helmrath, Humboldt Universität, Berlin, Yves Hersant, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, Howard Hotson, St Anne’s College, University of Oxford, Eleftherios Ikonomou, Griechische Kulturstiftung, Berlin, Peter Mack, Warburg Institute, London, Isabelle Pantin, École Normale Supérieure, Paris, Lino Pertile, Villa I Tatti (Harvard University), Firenze, Maria José Vega, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, and Philippe Vendrix, Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance, Tours.

Nuccio Ordine‘s conception of the “Renaissance” had its deep roots in Calabria, in the middle of the Mediterranean sea. He was born in Diamante and, while being a convinced European and a citizen of the world, Southern Italy, the Magna Grecia between Europe and Africa with its rich cultural heritage, always remained close to his heart. In Cosenza, Nuccio Ordine founded the Centro Internazionale di Studi telesiani, bruniani e campanelliani ( His publications on the Renaissance have become standard references and were translated into many languages. His editions of classical texts with the French publishing house “Les belles lettres” have become legendary. His thinking was deeply influenced by the intense friendship with George Steiner, to which he dedicated an elegant essay.

His book “The Usefulness of the Useless,” a fervent plea for the indispensability of culture in the face of an increasing commercialization of education and research, is a masterpiece and became an international bestseller, translated into dozens of languages. It was in part written while Nuccio Ordine was a guest scholar at the Max Planck Institute. With his lively talks and conferences he inspired hundreds of thousands of students all over the world. He received numerous honorary doctorates and prestigious awards, among them the Légion d’Honneur, the Grande Ufficiale dell'Ordine al merito della Repubblica Italiana, and the 2023 Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities. We are stunned and saddened by this incredible loss of a friend, who, with his inexhaustible energy, has been an inspiration for all of us.

Photo of Nuccio Ordine