Taking as a starting-point Lilti’s studies on celebrity, this essay explores the "making" of the political celebrity of Napoleon. While Lilti’s attention to Bonaparte is focused on the post-1821 period and French sources, this paper investigates how, starting from 1796 (and not only in France), Napoleon constructed (and had constructed around him) a new and powerful communications network. While the birth of the myth of Napoleon is a relevant case that allows us to observe the mechanisms of celebrity, it is also one that appears as a fundamental turning point for political communication. The global dimension of the Napoleonic phenomenon cautions us not to limit ourselves to the thematic description of the intellectual processes underlying the elaboration of this imaginary. Rather, it invites us to observe the phenomenon from a spatial perspective and to lay the foundations for the reconstruction of networks of power and communication, in which can be observed a "contagious" ex- change of information between the media and diverse public outlets, and the creation of a new language.
Keywords: Napoleon, communication, virtue, celebrity, leadership, charisma