José Mariano was an extraordinary person, a person that you simply admire. Another person that I had the privilege to consider a Polar star in my life was Chris Freeman at Sussex.

I had the privilege of knowing José Mariano in various roles: minister, scholar, intellectual leader. But I would like to remember his personal traits: his smile, his voice, his behavior as a husband (I have rarely seen husbands to be so in love with their wives).

Last year we – the ROARS editorial board – invited José Mariano to our annual Conference. His keynote speech was highly appreciated for his vision, and it inspired the ensuing discussion ( He described the challenges we had (and still have) in front of us and provided guidance on how to sail in the perilous waves of the European sea.

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Photo: José Mariano Gago with a part of the editorial board of ROARS and Col. R. Isabella [ITA Air Force], Rome, 21 February 2014

An anecdote. When José Mariano came to Rome for the 2014 Conference, I picked him up at the airport and drove him for a visit to Castelli Romani. He enjoyed very much the archaeological sites like the cistern, the Roman gate and other exhibits.


Photo: José Mariano Gago and Giorgio Sirilli in front of the “Santa Maria della Stella” church, Albano Laziale, 20 February 2014

I was astonished when he, in the Museo of Albano Laziale, looking at a Roman head, discovered that the figure of a young man was asymmetric. He had also a theoretical explanation of this kind of choices made by sculptors in Roman times.


Photo: Head of Tiberius Julius Cesar Gemellus, 29 A.C., Museo Civico Albano Laziale


Later I reported his observation to local archaeologists, who appreciated the finesse of the observer. This episode, along with his way of looking at and commenting on the historical sites and exhibits led me to a conclusion: José Mariano was a Renaissance man. He had the rare ability to live with joie de vivre (including love for the cuisine) putting together science and politics, philosophy and history, facing with leggerezza (in Italo Calvino’s sense) the hurdles of life.

Published in a website dedicated to sharing the memory of Jose Mariano Gago and his unique legacy and dedication to science and scientific culture

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