Born June 16, 1770, in Palma Campania; died Nov. 19, 1799, in Naples. Italian thinker and revolutionary, representative of the radical wing of the Neapolitan Enlightenment of the late 18th century. Jurist.
Russo’s democratic and egalitarian doctrine envisioned an ideal society in the form of a republic where each citizen would own and cultivate a plot of land and where government officials would not draw salaries. There was to be no church in this republic. Russo felt that material inequality could be eliminated by abolishing the right of inheritance. His utopia was to be primitive in character, for he opposed the development of industry, trade, and the arts.
Russo was active in the patriotic movement of the Kingdom of Naples and in revolutionary clubs. Sentenced to prison in 1797, he fled Naples, returning after the overthrow of the Bourbons in 1799. He was one of the most prominent figures in the Parthenopean Republic and was a member of the legislative commission. After the fall of the republic he was executed.