Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Giordano Bruno

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Giordano Bruno Campo dei Fiori.jpg
Bronze statue of Giordano Bruno by Ettore Ferrari (1845–1929), Campo de' Fiori, Rome
Born1548 (date not known)
Nola, Kingdom of Naples, in present-day Italy
DiedFebruary 17, 1600 (aged 51–52)
Rome, Papal States, in present-day Italy
ParentsGiovanni Bruno
Fraulissa Savolino
Giordano Bruno (Italian pronunciation: [dʒorˈdano ˈbruno]; 1548 – February 17, 1600) (Latin: Iordanus Brunus Nolanus), born Filippo Bruno, was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, astrologer and astronomer. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican model: while supporting its heliocentrism, he also correctly proposed that the Sun was just another star moving in space, and claimed as well that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds populated by other intelligent beings.[2] The Roman Inquisition found him guilty of heresy, and consequentially he was handed over to the secular authorities and burned at the stake.[3] After his death he gained considerable fame, particularly among 19th- and early 20th-century commentators who, focusing on his astronomical beliefs, regarded him as a martyr for free thought and modern scientific ideas.
Some assessments suggest that Bruno's ideas about the universe played a smaller role in his trial than his pantheist beliefs, which differed from the interpretations and scope of God held by the Catholic Church.[4][5] In addition to his cosmological writings, Bruno also wrote extensively on the art of memory, a loosely organized group of mnemonic techniques and principles. The historian Frances Yates argues that Bruno was deeply influenced by Arab astrology, Neoplatonism and Renaissance Hermeticism.[6] Other studies of Bruno have focused on his qualitative approach to mathematics and his application of the spatial paradigms of geometry to language.[7]


Early years, 1548–1576[edit]

Born Filippo Bruno in Nola (in Campania, then part of the Kingdom of Naples) in 1548, he was the son of Giovanni Bruno, a soldier, and Fraulissa Savolino. In his youth he was sent to Naples for education. He was tutored privately at the Augustinian monastery there, and attended public lectures at the Studium Generale.[8] At the age of 17, he entered the Dominican Order at the monastery of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples, taking the name Giordano, after Giordano Crispo, his metaphysics tutor. He continued his studies there, completing his novitiate, and became an ordained priest in 1572 at age 24. During his time in Naples he became known for his skill with the art of memory and on one occasion traveled to Rome to demonstrate his mnemonic system before Pope Pius V and Cardinal Rebiba. In his later years Bruno claimed that the Pope accepted his dedication to him of the lost work On The Ark of Noah at this time.[9]
While Bruno was distinguished for outstanding ability, his taste for free thinking and forbidden books soon caused him difficulties. Given the controversy he caused in later life it is surprising that he was able to remain within the monastic system for eleven years. In his testimony to Venetian inquisitors during his trial, many years later, he indicates that proceedings were twice taken against him for having cast away images of the saints, retaining only a crucifix, and for having made controversial reading recommendations to a novice.[10] Such behavior could perhaps be overlooked, but Bruno's situation became much more serious when he was reported to have defended the Arian heresy, and when a copy of the banned writings of Erasmus, annotated by him, was discovered hidden in the convent privy. When he learned that an indictment was being prepared against him in Naples he fled, shedding his religious habit, at least for a time.[11]

First years of wandering, 1576–1583[edit]

Bruno first went to the Genoese port of Noli, then to Savona, Turin and finally to Venice, where he published his lost work On The Signs of the Times with the permission (so he claimed at his trial) of the Dominican Remigio Nannini Fiorentino. From Venice he went to Padua where he met fellow Dominicans who convinced him to wear his religious habit again. From Padua he went to Bergamo and then across the Alps to Chambéry and Lyon. His movements after this time are obscure.[12]

The earliest depiction of Bruno is an engraving published in 1715 in Germany, presumed based on a lost contemporary portrait.[citation needed]
In 1579 he arrived in Geneva. As D.W. Singer, a Bruno biographer, notes, "The question has sometimes been raised as to whether Bruno became a Protestant, but it is intrinsically most unlikely that he accepted membership in Calvin's communion"[13] During his Venetian trial he told inquisitors that while in Geneva he told the Marchese de Vico of Naples, who was notable for helping Italian refugees in Geneva, "I did not intend to adopt the religion of the city. I desired to stay there only that I might live at liberty and in security." Bruno had a pair of breeches made for himself, and the Marchese and others apparently made Bruno a gift of a sword, hat, cape and other necessities for dressing himself; in such clothing Bruno could no longer be recognized as a priest. Things apparently went well for Bruno for a time, as he entered his name in the Rector's Book of the University of Geneva in May 1579. But in keeping with his personality he could not long remain silent. In August he published an attack on the work of Antoine de la Faye, a distinguished professor. He and the printer were promptly arrested. Rather than apologizing, Bruno insisted on continuing to defend his publication. He was refused the right to take sacrament. Though this was eventually reversed, he left Geneva.
He left for France, arriving first in Lyon, and thereafter settling for a time (1580–1581) in Toulouse, where he took his doctorate in theology and was elected by students to lecture in philosophy. It seems he also attempted at this time to return to the Catholic fold, but was denied absolution by the Jesuit priest he approached. When religious strife broke out in the summer of 1581, he relocated to Paris. There he held a cycle of thirty lectures on theological topics, and he also began to gain fame for his prodigious memory. Bruno's feats of memory were based, at least in part, on his elaborate system of mnemonics, but some of his contemporaries found it easier to attribute them to magical powers. His talents attracted the benevolent attention of the king Henry III. The king summoned him to the court. Bruno subsequently reported "I got me such a name that King Henry III summoned me one day to discover from me if the memory which I possessed was natural or acquired by magic art. I satisfied him that it did not come from sorcery but from organised knowledge; and, following this, I got a book on memory printed, entitled The Shadows of Ideas, which I dedicated to His Majesty. Forthwith he gave me an Extraordinary Lectureship with a salary."[14]
In Paris Bruno enjoyed the protection of his powerful French patrons. During this period, he published several works on mnemonics, including De umbris idearum (On The Shadows of Ideas, 1582), Ars Memoriae (The Art of Memory, 1582), and Cantus Circaeus (Circe's Song, 1582). All of these were based on his mnemonic models of organised knowledge and experience, as opposed to the simplistic logic-based mnemonic techniques of Petrus Ramus then becoming popular. Bruno also published a comedy summarizing some of his philosophical positions, titled Il Candelaio (The Torchbearer, 1582). On The Shadows of Ideas was dedicated to King Henry III. In the 16th century dedications were, as a rule, approved beforehand, and hence were a way of placing a work under the protection of an individual. Given that Bruno dedicated various works to the likes of King Henry III, Sir Philip Sidney, Michel de Castelnau (French Ambassador to England), and possibly Pope Pius V, it is apparent that this wanderer had experienced a meteoric rise and moved in powerful circles.

England, 1583–1585[edit]

Woodcut illustration of one of Giordano Bruno's less complex mnemonic devices
In April 1583, Bruno went to England with letters of recommendation from Henry III as a guest of the French ambassador, Michel de Castelnau. There he became acquainted with the poet Philip Sidney (to whom he dedicated two books) and other members of the Hermetic circle around John Dee, though there is no evidence that Bruno ever met Dee himself. He also lectured at Oxford, and unsuccessfully sought a teaching position there. His views spurred controversy, notably with John Underhill, Rector of Lincoln College and subsequently bishop of Oxford, and George Abbot, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury. Abbot poked fun at Bruno for supporting “the opinion of Copernicus that the earth did go round, and the heavens did stand still; whereas in truth it was his own head which rather did run round, and his brains did not stand still,”[15] and reports accusations that Bruno plagiarized Ficino's work.
Still, the English period was a fruitful one. During that time Bruno completed and published some of his most important works, the six "Italian Dialogues," including the cosmological tracts La Cena de le Ceneri (The Ash Wednesday Supper, 1584), De la Causa, Principio et Uno (On Cause, Principle and Unity, 1584), De l'Infinito Universo et Mondi (On the Infinite Universe and Worlds, 1584) as well as Lo Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfante (The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, 1584) and De gl' Heroici Furori (On Heroic Frenzies, 1585). Some of these were printed by John Charlewood. Some of the works that Bruno published in London, notably The Ash Wednesday Supper, appear to have given offense. It was not the first time, nor was it to be the last, that Bruno's controversial views coupled with his abrasive sarcasm lost him the support of his friends. John Bossy has advanced the theory that, while staying in the French Embassy in London, Bruno was also spying on Catholic conspirators, under the pseudonym 'Fagot', for Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth's Secretary of State.[16]

Last years of wandering, 1585–1592[edit]

In October 1585, after the French embassy in London was attacked by a mob, Bruno returned to Paris with Castelnau, finding a tense political situation. Moreover, his 120 theses against Aristotelian natural science and his pamphlets against the mathematician Fabrizio Mordente soon put him in ill favor. In 1586, following a violent quarrel about Mordente's invention, the differential compass, he left France for Germany.

Woodcut from "Articuli centum et sexaginta adversus huius tempestatis mathematicos atque philosophos," Prague 1588
In Germany he failed to obtain a teaching position at Marburg, but was granted permission to teach at Wittenberg, where he lectured on Aristotle for two years. However, with a change of intellectual climate there, he was no longer welcome, and went in 1588 to Prague, where he obtained 300 taler from Rudolf II, but no teaching position. He went on to serve briefly as a professor in Helmstedt, but had to flee again when he was excommunicated by the Lutherans.
During this period he produced several Latin works, dictated to his friend and secretary Girolamo Besler, including De Magia (On Magic), Theses De Magia (Theses On Magic) and De Vinculis In Genere (A General Account of Bonding). All these were apparently transcribed or recorded by Besler (or Bisler) between 1589 and 1590.[17] He also published De Imaginum, Signorum, Et Idearum Compositione (On The Composition of Images, Signs and Ideas, 1591).
The year 1591 found him in Frankfurt. Apparently, during the Frankfurt Book Fair, he received an invitation to Venice from the patrician Giovanni Mocenigo, who wished to be instructed in the art of memory, and also heard of a vacant chair in mathematics at the University of Padua. Apparently believing that the Inquisition might have lost some of its impetus, he returned to Italy.
He went first to Padua, where he taught briefly, and applied unsuccessfully for the chair of mathematics, which was assigned instead to Galileo Galilei one year later. Bruno accepted Mocenigo's invitation and moved to Venice in March 1592. For about two months he functioned as an in-house tutor to Mocenigo. When Bruno announced his plan to leave Venice to his host, the latter, who was unhappy with the teachings he had received and had apparently developed a personal rancour towards Bruno, denounced him to the Venetian Inquisition, which had Bruno arrested on May 22, 1592. Among the numerous charges of blasphemy and heresy brought against him in Venice, based on Mocenigo's denunciation, was his belief in the plurality of worlds, as well as accusations of personal misconduct. Bruno defended himself skillfully, stressing the philosophical character of some of his positions, denying others and admitting that he had had doubts on some matters of dogma. The Roman Inquisition, however, asked for his transferral to Rome. After several months and some quibbling the Venetian authorities reluctantly consented and Bruno was sent to Rome in February 1593.

Imprisonment, trial and execution, 1593–1600[edit]

In Rome, Bruno's trial lasted seven years during which time he was imprisoned, lastly in the Tower of Nona. Some important documents about the trial are lost, but others have been preserved, among them a summary of the proceedings that was rediscovered in 1940.[18] The numerous charges against Bruno, based on some of his books as well as on witness accounts, included blasphemy, immoral conduct, and heresy in matters of dogmatic theology, and involved some of the basic doctrines of his philosophy and cosmology. Luigi Firpo lists these charges made against Bruno by the Roman Inquisition:[19]
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith and speaking against it and its ministers;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about the Trinity, divinity of Christ, and Incarnation;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith pertaining to Jesus as Christ;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith regarding the virginity of Mary, mother of Jesus;
  • holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about both Transubstantiation and Mass;
  • claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity;
  • believing in metempsychosis and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes;
  • dealing in magics and divination.

The trial of Giordano Bruno by the Roman Inquisition. Bronze relief by Ettore Ferrari, Campo de' Fiori, Rome.
Bruno continued his Venetian defensive strategy, which consisted in bowing to the Church's dogmatic teachings, while trying to preserve the basis of his philosophy. In particular Bruno held firm to his belief in the plurality of worlds, although he was admonished to abandon it. His trial was overseen by the Inquisitor Cardinal Bellarmine, who demanded a full recantation, which Bruno eventually refused. On January 20, 1600, Pope Clement VIII declared Bruno a heretic and the Inquisition issued a sentence of death. According to the correspondence of Gaspar Schopp of Breslau, he is said to have made a threatening gesture towards his judges and to have replied:
"Maiori forsan cum timore sententiam in me fertis quam ego accipiam (Perhaps you pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it)."[20] He was turned over to the secular authorities and, on February 17, 1600 in the Campo de' Fiori, a central Roman market square, "his tongue imprisoned because of his wicked words" he was burned at the stake.[21] His ashes were dumped into the Tiber river. All of Bruno's works were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum in 1603. Inquisition Cardinals who judged Giordano Bruno were: Cardinal Bellarmino (Bellarmine), Cardinal Madruzzo (Madruzzi), Cardinal Camillo Borghese (later Pope Paul V), Domenico Cardinal Pinelli, Pompeio Cardinal Arrigoni, Cardinal Sfondrati, Pedro Cardinal De Deza Manuel, Cardinal Santorio (Archbishop of Santa Severina, Cardinal-Bishop of Palestrina).

Physical appearance[edit]

The earliest likeness of Bruno is an engraving published in 1715[22] and cited by Salvestrini as "the only known portrait of Bruno". Salvestrini suggests that it is a re-engraving made from a now lost original.[23] This engraving has provided the source for later images.
The records of Bruno's imprisonment by the Venetian inquisition in May 1592 describe him as a man "of average height, with a hazel coloured beard and the appearance of being about forty years of age". Alternately, a passage in a work by George Abbot indicates that Bruno was of diminutive stature: "When that Italian Didapper, who intituled himselfe Philotheus Iordanus Brunus Nolanus, magis elaborata Theologia Doctor, &c with a name longer than his body...".[24] The word "didapper" used by Abbot is the derisive term which in period meant "a small diving waterfowl".[25]


Cosmology before Bruno[edit]

Illuminated illustration of the Ptolemaic geocentric conception of the Universe.
Despite Copernicus' recent publication of his heliocentric work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, during Bruno's time most educated Catholics subscribed to the Aristotelian geocentric view that the earth was the center of the universe, and that all heavenly bodies revolved around it.[26] The ultimate limit of the universe was the primum mobile, whose diurnal rotation was conferred upon it by a transcendental God, not part of the universe, a motionless prime mover and first cause. The fixed stars were part of this celestial sphere, all at the same fixed distance from the immobile earth at the center of the sphere. Ptolemy had numbered these at 1,022, grouped into 48 constellations. The planets were each fixed to a transparent sphere.
In the first half of the 15th century Nicolaus Cusanus (not to be confused with Copernicus a century later) reissued the ideas formulated in Antiquity by Democritus and Lucretius and dropped the Aristotelean cosmos. He envisioned an infinite universe, whose center was everywhere and circumference nowhere, with countless rotating stars, the Earth being one of them, of equal importance. He also considered that neither were the rotational orbits circular, nor was the movement uniform.
In the second half of the 16th century, the theories of Copernicus (1473–1543) began diffusing through Europe. Copernicus conserved the idea of planets fixed to solid spheres, but considered the apparent motion of the stars to be an illusion caused by the rotation of the Earth on its axis; he also preserved the notion of an immobile center, but it was the Sun rather than the Earth. Copernicus also argued the Earth was a planet orbiting the Sun once every year. However he maintained the Ptolemaic hypothesis that the orbits of the planets were composed of perfect circles—deferents and epicycles—and that the stars were fixed on a stationary outer sphere.
Few astronomers of Bruno's time accepted Copernicus's heliocentric model. Among those who did were the Germans Michael Maestlin (1550–1631), Christoph Rothmann, Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), the Englishman Thomas Digges, author of A Perfit Description of the Caelestial Orbes, and the Italian Galileo Galilei (1564–1642). Curiously, Bruno's Nolan compatriot, Nicola Antonio Stigliola, born just two years before Bruno himself, believed in the Copernican model. The two, however, probably never met after their youth.

Bruno's cosmology[edit]

Bruno believed (and praised Copernicus for establishing a scientific explanation for the fact) that the Earth revolves around the sun, and that the apparent diurnal rotation of the heavens is an illusion caused by the rotation of the Earth around its axis. Bruno also held (following Nicholas of Cusa) that because God is infinite the universe would reflect this fact in boundless immensity.
The universe is then one, infinite, immobile.... It is not capable of comprehension and therefore is endless and limitless, and to that extent infinite and indeterminable, and consequently immobile.[27]
Bruno also asserted that the stars in the sky were really other suns like our own, around which orbited other planets. He indicated that support for such beliefs in no way contradicted scripture or true religion.
In 1584, Bruno published two important philosophical dialogues in which he argued against the planetary spheres (Christoph Rothmann did the same in 1586 as did Tycho Brahe in 1587). Bruno's infinite universe was filled with a substance—a "pure air," aether, or spiritus—that offered no resistance to the heavenly bodies which, in Bruno's view, rather than being fixed, moved under their own impetus (momentum). Most dramatically, he completely abandoned the idea of a hierarchical universe. The Earth was just one more heavenly body, as was the Sun. God had no particular relation to one part of the infinite universe more than any other. God, according to Bruno, was as present on Earth as in the Heavens, an immanent God, the One subsuming in itself the multiplicity of existence, rather than a remote heavenly deity.
Bruno also affirmed that the universe was homogeneous, made up everywhere of the four elements (water, earth, fire, and air), rather than having the stars be composed of a separate quintessence. Essentially, the same physical laws would operate everywhere, although the use of that term is anachronistic. Space and time were both infinite. There was no room in his stable and permanent universe for the Christian notions of divine creation and Last Judgement.
In Bruno's model, the Sun was simply one more star, and the stars all suns, each with its own planets. Bruno saw a solar system of a sun/star with planets as the fundamental unit of the universe. According to Bruno, an infinite God necessarily created an infinite universe, formed of an infinite number of solar systems, separated by vast regions full of aether, because empty space could not exist (Bruno did not arrive at the concept of a galaxy). Comets were part of a synodus ex mundis of stars, and not—as other authors maintained at the time—ephemeral creations, divine instruments, or heavenly messengers. Each comet was a world, a permanent celestial body, formed of the four elements. Bruno's cosmology is marked by infinitude, homogeneity, and isotropy, with planetary systems distributed evenly throughout. Matter follows an active animistic principle: it is intelligent and discontinuous in structure, made up of discrete atoms. This animism (and a corresponding disdain for mathematics as a means to understanding) is the most dramatic respect in which Bruno's cosmology differs from a modern scientific understanding of the universe.
During the late 16th century, and throughout the 17th century, Bruno's ideas were held up for ridicule, debate, or inspiration. Margaret Cavendish, for example, wrote an entire series of poems against "atoms" and "infinite worlds" in Poems and Fancies in 1664. Bruno's true, if partial, vindication would have to wait for the implications and impact of Newtonian cosmology.
Bruno's overall contribution to the birth of modern science is still controversial. Some scholars follow Frances Yates stressing the importance of Bruno's ideas about the universe being infinite and lacking geocentric structure as a crucial crosspoint between the old and the new. Others see in Bruno's idea of multiple worlds instantiating the infinite possibilities of a pristine, indivisible One, a forerunner of Everett's many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.[28]

Retrospective views of Bruno[edit]

The monument to Bruno in the place he was executed, Campo de' Fiori in Rome.
41°50′44.1″N 12°28′19.9″E / 41.845583°N 12.472194°E / 41.845583; 12.472194

Late Vatican position[edit]

The Vatican has published few official statements about Bruno's trial and execution. In 1942, Cardinal Giovanni Mercati, who discovered a number of lost documents relating to Bruno's trial, stated that the Church was perfectly justified in condemning him. On the 400th anniversary of Bruno's death, in 2000, Cardinal Angelo Sodano declared Bruno's death to be a "sad episode" but, despite his regret, he defended Bruno's prosecutors, maintaining that the Inquisitors "had the desire to serve freedom and promote the common good and did everything possible to save his life."[29]

A martyr of science[edit]

Some authors have characterized Bruno as a "martyr of science," suggesting parallels with the Galileo affair which began around 1610.[30] They assert that, even though Bruno's theological beliefs, or perceptions of them by others, were an important factor in his heresy trial, his Copernicanism and cosmological beliefs played a significant role in the outcome.
"It should not be supposed", writes A. M. Paterson of Bruno and his "heliocentric solar system," that he "reached his conclusions via some mystical revelation....His work is an essential part of the scientific and philosophical developments that he initiated."[31] Paterson echoes Hegel in writing that Bruno "ushers in a modern theory of knowledge that understands all natural things in the universe to be known by the human mind through the mind’s dialectical structure."[32]
Ingegno writes that Bruno embraced the philosophy of Lucretius, "aimed at liberating man from the fear of death and the gods."[33] Characters in Bruno's Cause, Principle and Unity desire "to improve speculative science and knowledge of natural things," and to achieve a philosophy "which brings about the perfection of the human intellect most easily and eminently, and most closely corresponds to the truth of nature"
Other scholars oppose such views, and claim Bruno's martyrdom to science to be exaggerated, or outright false. For Yates, while "nineteenth century liberals" were thrown "into ecstasies" over Bruno's Copernicanism, "Bruno pushes Copernicus’ scientific work back into a prescientific stage, back into Hermetism, interpreting the Copernican diagram as a hieroglyph of divine mysteries."[34]

Theological heresy[edit]

In his Lectures on the History of Philosophy Hegel writes that Bruno's life represented "a bold rejection of all Catholic beliefs resting on mere authority."[35]
Alfonso Ingegno states that Bruno's philosophy "challenges the developments of the Reformation, calls into question the truth-value of the whole of Christianity, and claims that Christ perpetrated a deceit on mankind... Bruno suggests that we can now recognize the universal law which controls the perpetual becoming of all things in an infinite universe."[36] A. M. Paterson says that, while we no longer have a copy of the official papal condemnation of Bruno, his heresies included "the doctrine of the infinite universe and the innumerable worlds" and his beliefs "on the movement of the earth".[37]
Michael White notes that the Inquisition may have pursued Bruno early in his life on the basis of his opposition to Aristotle, interest in Arianism, reading of Erasmus, and possession of banned texts.[38] White considers that Bruno's later heresy was "multifaceted" and may have rested on his conception of infinite worlds. "This was perhaps the most dangerous notion of all... If other worlds existed with intelligent beings living there, did they too have their visitations? The idea was quite unthinkable."[38]
Frances Yates rejects what she describes as the "legend that Bruno was prosecuted as a philosophical thinker, was burned for his daring views on innumerable worlds or on the movement of the earth." Yates however writes that "the Church was... perfectly within its rights if it included philosophical points in its condemnation of Bruno’s heresies" because "the philosophical points were quite inseparable from the heresies."[39]
According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "in 1600 there was no official Catholic position on the Copernican system, and it was certainly not a heresy. When [...] Bruno [...] was burned at the stake as a heretic, it had nothing to do with his writings in support of Copernican cosmology."[40] Similarly, the Catholic Encyclopedia (1908) asserts that "Bruno was not condemned for his defence of the Copernican system of astronomy, nor for his doctrine of the plurality of inhabited worlds, but for his theological errors, among which were the following: that Christ was not God but merely an unusually skillful magician, that the Holy Ghost is the soul of the world, that the Devil will be saved, etc."[41]
The website of the Vatican Secret Archives, discussing a summary of legal proceedings against Bruno in Rome, states: "In the same rooms where Giordano Bruno was questioned, for the same important reasons of the relationship between science and faith, at the dawning of the new astronomy and at the decline of Aristotle’s philosophy, sixteen years later, Cardinal Bellarmino, who then contested Bruno's heretical theses, summoned Galileo Galilei, who also faced a famous inquisitorial trial, which, luckily for him, ended with a simple abjuration."[42]

Artistic depictions[edit]

Following the 1870 Capture of Rome by the newly created Kingdom of Italy and the end of the Church's temporal power over the city, the erection of a monument to Bruno on the site of his execution became feasible. The monument was sharply opposed by the clerical party, but was finally erected by the Rome Municipality and inaugurated in 1889.
A statue of a stretched human figure standing on its head designed by Alexander Polzin depicting Bruno's death at the stake was placed in Potsdamer Platz station
52°30′35.4″N 13°22′33.5″E / 52.509833°N 13.375972°E / 52.509833; 13.375972 in Berlin on March 2, 2008.[43] [44]
Retrospective 'scientific' iconography of Bruno shows him with a Dominican cowl but not tonsured. Edward Gosselin has suggested that it is likely Bruno kept his tonsure at least until 1579, and it is possible that he wore it again thereafter.

In fiction[edit]

Bruno and his theories play a role in James Joyce's novel Finnegans Wake.
Bruno Giordano features as the hero in a series of historical crime novels by S.J. Parris (pseudonym of Stephanie Merritt).
The Last Confession by Morris West (posthumously published) is a fictional autobiography of Bruno, ostensibly written shortly before his execution.
The computer game In Memoriam features a lead character who claims to be Bruno, returned from the dead to seek vengeance.
Bruno features as a main character in the historical segments of John Crowley's mystical Ægypt tetralogy of novels. The story covers his education as a Dominican and his investigation for heresy, and presents multiple versions of his execution on the Campo de' Fiori.
His name appears and he is recognized in the novel Children of God by Mary Doria Russell. The quote "Desire urges me on, as fear bridles me" is mentioned together with the name of Giordano Bruno in Deborah Harkness' Shadow of Night.


  • De umbris idearum (Paris, 1582)
  • Cantus Circaeus (1582)
  • De compendiosa architectura (1582)
  • Candelaio (1582)
  • Ars reminiscendi (1583)
  • Explicatio triginta sigillorum (1583)
  • Sigillus sigillorum (1583)
  • La Cena de le Ceneri (Le Banquet des Cendres) (1584)
  • De la causa, principio, et Uno (1584)
  • De l'infinito universo et Mondi (1584)
  • Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfante (L'expulsion de la bête triomphante) (London, 1584), allégorie où il combat la superstition
  • Cabala del cavallo Pegaseo- Asino Cillenico(1585)
  • De gl' heroici furori (1585)
  • Figuratio Aristotelici Physici auditus (1585)
  • Dialogi duo de Fabricii Mordentis Salernitani (1586)
  • Idiota triumphans (1586)
  • De somni interpretatione (1586)
  • Animadversiones circa lampadem lullianam (1586)
  • Lampas triginta statuarum (1586)
  • Centum et viginti articuli de natura et mundo adversus peripateticos (1586)
  • Delampade combinatoria Lulliana (1587)
  • De progressu et lampade venatoria logicorum (1587)
  • Oratio valedictoria (1588)
  • Camoeracensis Acrotismus (1588)
  • De specierum scrutinio (1588)
  • Articuli centum et sexaginta adversus huius tempestatismathematicos atque Philosophos (1588)
  • Oratio consolatoria (1589)
  • De vinculis in genere (1591)
  • De triplici minimo et mensura (1591)
  • De monade numero et figura (Francfort, 1591)
  • De innumerabilibus, immenso, et infigurabili (1591)
  • De imaginum, signorum et idearum compositione (1591)
  • Summa terminorum metaphisicorum (1595)
  • Artificium perorandi (1612)
  • Jordani Bruni Nolani opera latine conscripta, Dritter Band (1962) / curantibus F. Tocco et H. Vitelli

See also[edit]


  1. Jump up ^ Bouvet, Molière ; avec une notice sur le théâtre au XVIIe siècle, une biographie chronologique de Molière, une étude générale de son oeuvre, une analyse méthodique du "Malade", des notes, des questions par Alphonse (1973). Le malade imaginaire ; L'amour médecin. Paris: Bordas. p. 23. ISBN 2-04-006776-0. 
  2. Jump up ^ The Harbinger. Giordano Bruno
  3. Jump up ^ Mooney, John A. "Giordano Bruno," American Catholic Quarterly Review, Vol. XIV, 1889.
  4. Jump up ^ See for example, Michel, Paul Henri. The Cosmology of Giordano Bruno. Translated by R.E.W. Maddison. Paris: Hermann; London: Methuen; Ithaca, New York: Cornell, 1962; Birx, Jams H.. "Giordano Bruno". The Harbinger, Mobile, AL, November 11, 1997.; Turner, William. "Giordano Bruno". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 3. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. January 13, 2009; http://www.history.com/encyclopedia.do?articleId=203945; and http://www.pantheism.net/paul/brunphil.htm.
  5. Jump up ^ 19th and early 20th century portrayals of Bruno often focus on his role as a 'martyr' for free thought, or intellectual freedom. In this regard McIntyre, J. L., Giordano Bruno: Mystic Martyr, London, 1903 is one representative example among the many available. He is portrayed by some as a martyr for science (e.g. Griggs, E.H., Great Leaders in Human Progress, Ayer Publishing, 1969, Ch. 9 "Giordano Bruno, The Martyr of Science"). Saiber notes: Kepler admitted to accepting Bruno's theory of infinite worlds (but not an infinite universe); Leibniz drew from Bruno's monadology, and Spinoza from Bruno's ideas of an infinite, pantheistic universe. In 1926, in Sydney, Australia, the Theosophical Society chose 2GB (2 for the State, New South Wales, G for Giordano and B for Bruno) as its call sign as a tribute to Bruno. In 1960 Soviet astronomers named a crater of the moon after Bruno. Also in 1960, the Dutch astronomers Cornelius Johannes van Houten and Ingrid van Houten-Groeneveld discovered an asteroid which they subsequently designated 5148, a permutation of Bruno's birth year (Saiber 2005: 43-45). However, today, many feel that any characterization of Bruno's thought as 'scientific' (and hence any attempt to position him as a martyr for 'science') is hard to accept. e.g. "Ever since Domenico Berti revived him as the hero who died rather than renounce his scientific conviction of the truth of the Copernican theory, the martyr for modern science, the philosopher who broke with medieval Aristotelianism and ushered in the modern world, Bruno has been in a false position. The popular view of Bruno is still roughly as just stated. If I have not finally proved its falsity, I have written this book in vain" Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964, p450; see also: Adam Frank, The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate, University of California Press, 2009, p24
  6. Jump up ^ The primary work on the relationship between Bruno and Hermeticism is Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and The Hermetic Tradition, 1964; for an alternative assessment, placing more emphasis on the Kabbalah, and less on Hermeticism, see Karen Silvia De Leon-Jones, Giordano Bruno and the Kabbalah, Yale, 1997; for a return to emphasis on Bruno's role in the development of Science, and criticism of Yates' emphasis on magical and Hermetic themes, see Hillary Gatti, Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science, Cornell, 1999
  7. Jump up ^ Alessandro G. Farinella and Carole Preston, "Giordano Bruno: Neoplatonism and the Wheel of Memory in the 'De Umbris Idearum'", in Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 2, (Summer, 2002), pp. 596-624; Arielle Saiber, Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language, Ashgate, 2005
  8. Jump up ^ Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950.
  9. Jump up ^ This is recorded in the diary of one Guillaume Cotin, librarian of the Abbey of St. Victor, who recorded recollections of a number of personal conversations he had with Bruno. Bruno also mentions this dedication in the Dedicatory Epistle of The Cabala of Pegasus (Cabala del Cavallo Pegaseo, 1585).
  10. Jump up ^ Gargano (2007), p.11
  11. Jump up ^ Gosselin has argued that Bruno's report that he returned to Dominican garb in Padua suggests that he kept his tonsure at least until his arrival in Geneva in 1579. He also suggests it is likely that Bruno kept the tonsure even after this point, showing a continued and deep religious attachment contrary to the way in which Bruno has been portrayed as a martyr for modern science. Instead, Gosselin argues, Bruno should be understood in the context of reformist Catholic dissenters. Edward A. Gosselin, "A Dominican Head in Layman's Garb? A Correction to the Scientific Iconography of Giordano Bruno", in The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 673–78.
  12. Jump up ^ Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950 "Following the northern route back through Brescia, Bruno came to Bergamo where he resumed the monastic habit. He perhaps visited Milan, and then leaving Italy he crossed the Alps by the Mont Cenis pass, and came to Chambéry. He describes his hospitable reception there by the Dominican Convent, but again he received no encouragement to remain, and he journeyed on to Lyons. Bruno's next movements are obscure. In 1579 he reached Geneva."
  13. Jump up ^ Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950; Singer points out in a footnote that Bruno's name appears in a list, compiled one hundred years later, of Italian refugees who had belonged to the Protestant church of Geneva. However, she does not find this evidence convincing.
  14. Jump up ^ William Boulting, Giordano Bruno: His Life, Thought, and Martyrdom, 1916, p58
  15. Jump up ^ Weiner, Andrew D. (1980). "Expelling the Beast: Bruno's Adventures in England". Modern Philology 78 (1): 1–13. JSTOR 437245. 
  16. Jump up ^ Bossy, John (1991). Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-04993-5. 
  17. Jump up ^ Giordano Bruno, Cause Principle and Unity, and Essays on Magic, Edited by Richard J. Blackwell and Robert de Lucca, Cambridge, 1998, xxxvi
  18. Jump up ^ "II Sommario del Processo di Giordano Bruno, con appendice di Documenti sull'eresia e l'inquisizione a Modena nel secolo XVI", edited by Angelo Mercati, in Studi e Testi, vol. 101.
  19. Jump up ^ Luigi Firpo, Il processo di Giordano Bruno, 1993.
  20. Jump up ^ This is discussed in Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950, ch. 7, "A gloating account of the whole ritual is given in a letter written on the very day by a youth named Gaspar Schopp of Breslau, a recent convert to Catholicism to whom Pope Clement VIII had shown great favour, creating him Knight of St. Peter and Count of the Sacred Palace. Schopp was addressing Conrad Rittershausen. He recounts that because of his heresy Bruno had been publicly burned that day in the Square of Flowers in front of the Theatre of Pompey. He makes merry over the belief of the Italians that every heretic is a Lutheran. It is evident that he had been present at the interrogations, for he relates in detail the life of Bruno and the works and doctrines for which he had been arraigned, and he gives a vivid account of Bruno's final appearance before his judges on 8th February. To Schopp we owe the knowledge of Bruno's bearing under judgement. When the verdict had been declared, records Schopp, Bruno with a threatening gesture addressed his judges: "Perchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it." Thus he was dismissed to the prison, gloats the convert, "and was given eight days to recant, but in vain. So today he was led to the funeral pyre. When the image of our Saviour was shown to him before his death he angrily rejected it with averted face. Thus my dear Rittershausen is it our custom to proceed against such men or rather indeed such monsters."
  21. Jump up ^ "Il Sommario del Processo di Giordano Bruno, con appendice di Documenti sull'eresia e l'inquisizione a Modena nel secolo XVI", edited by Angelo Mercati, in Studi e Testi, vol. 101; the precise terminology for the tool used to silence Bruno before burning is recorded as una morsa di legno, or "a vise of wood", and not an iron spike as sometimes claimed by other sources.
  22. Jump up ^ Edward A. Gosselin, "A Dominican Head in Layman's Garb? A Correction to the Scientific Iconography of Giordano Bruno", in The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Autumn, 1996), p 674
  23. Jump up ^ Virgilio Salvestrini, Bibliografia di Giordano Bruno, Firenze, 1958
  24. Jump up ^ Robert McNulty, "Bruno at Oxford", in Renaissance News, 1960 (XIII), pp 300-305
  25. Jump up ^ The apparent contradiction is possibly due to different perceptions of "average height" between Oxford and Venice.
  26. Jump up ^ Blackwell, Richard (1991). Galileo, Bellarmine, and the Bible. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. p. 25. ISBN 0268010242. 
  27. Jump up ^ Giordano Bruno, Teofilo, in Cause, Principle, and Unity, "Fifth Dialogue," (1588), ed. and trans. by Jack Lindsay (1962).
  28. Jump up ^ Max Tegmark, Parallel Universes, 2003
  29. Jump up ^ Seife, Charles (March 1, 2000). "Vatican Regrets Burning Cosmologist". Science Now. Retrieved June 24, 2012. 
  30. Jump up ^ "Giordano Bruno and Galileo Galilei," The Popular Science Monthly, Supplement, 1878.
  31. Jump up ^ Antoinette Mann Paterson (1970). The Infinite Worlds of Giordano Bruno. Charles C. Thomas, Springfield, Illinois, 1970, p. 16.
  32. Jump up ^ Paterson, p. 61.
  33. Jump up ^ Cause, Principle and Unity, by Giordano Bruno. Edited by R.J. Blackwell and Robert de Lucca, with an Introduction by Alfonso Ingegno. Cambridge University Press, 1998
  34. Jump up ^ Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, by Frances Yates. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1964, p.225
  35. Jump up ^ Hegel’s lectures on the history of philosophy, translated by E.S. Haldane and F.H. Simson, in three volumes. Volume III, p.119. The Humanities Press, 1974, New York.
  36. Jump up ^ Cause, Principle and Unity, by Giordano Bruno. Edited by R.J. Blackwell and Robert de Lucca, with an Introduction by Alfonso Ingegno. p.x. Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  37. Jump up ^ Paterson, p. 198.
  38. ^ Jump up to: a b White, Michael. The Pope and the Heretic: The True Story of Giordano Bruno, the Man who Dared to Defy the Roman Inquisition, p.7. Perennial, New York, 2002.
  39. Jump up ^ Yates, Frances, Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, pp.354-356. Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1964.
  40. Jump up ^ Sheila Rabin, "Nicolaus Copernicus" in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (online, accessed November 19, 2005).
  41. Jump up ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Giordano Bruno". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  42. Jump up ^ "Summary of the trial against Giordano Bruno: Rome, 1597". Vatican Secret Archives. Archived from the original on 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2010-09-18. 
  43. Jump up ^ Bhattacharjee, Yudhiijit (March 13, 2008). "Think About It". Science 319: 1467. doi:10.1126/science.319.5869.1467b. 
  44. Jump up ^ Bruno-Denkmal website in German


  • Blackwell, Richard J.; de Lucca, Robert (1998). Cause, Principle and Unity: And Essays on Magic by Giordano Bruno. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-59658-0. 
  • Blum, Paul Richard (1999). Giordano Bruno. Munich: Beck Verlag. ISBN 3-406-41951-8. 
  • Blum, Paul Richard (2012). Giordano Bruno: An Introduction. Amsterdam/New York, NY: Rodopi. ISBN 978-90-420-3555-3. 
  • Bombassaro, Luiz Carlos (2002). Im Schatten der Diana. Die Jagdmetapher im Werk von Giordano Bruno. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag. 
  • Culianu, Ioan P. (1987). Eros and Magic in the Renaissance. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-12315-4. 
  • Aquilecchia, Giovanni; montano, aniello; bertrando, spaventa (2007). Gargano, Antonio, ed. Le deposizioni davanti al tribunale dell'Inquisizione. La Citta del Sol. 
  • Gatti, Hilary (2002). Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-8785-4. 
  • Kessler, John (1900). Giordano Bruno: The Forgotten Philosopher. Rationalist Association. 
  • McIntyre, J. Lewis (1997). Giordano Bruno. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 1-56459-141-7. 
  • Mendoza, Ramon G. (1995). The Acentric Labyrinth. Giordano Bruno's Prelude to Contemporary Cosmology. Element Books Ltd. ISBN 1-85230-640-8. 
  • Rowland, Ingrid D. (2008). Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 0-8090-9524-6. 
  • Saiber, Arielle (2005). Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language. Ashgate. ISBN 0-7546-3321-7. 
  • Singer, Dorothea (1950). Giordano Bruno: His Life and Thought, With Annotated Translation of His Work - On the Infinite Universe and Worlds. Schuman. ISBN 1-117-31419-7. 
  • White, Michael (2002). The Pope & the Heretic. New York: William Morrow. ISBN 0-06-018626-7. 
  • Yates, Frances (1964). Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-95007-7. 
  • Michel, Paul Henri (1962) The Cosmology of Giordano Bruno. Translated by R.E.W. Maddison. Paris: Hermann; London: Methuen; Ithaca, New York: Cornell. ISBN 0-8014-0509-2
  • The Cabala of Pegasus by Giordano Bruno, ISBN 0-300-09217-2
  • Giordano Bruno, Paul Oskar Kristeller, Collier's Encyclopedia, Vol 4, 1987 ed., pg. 634
  • Il processo di Giordano Bruno, Luigi Firpo, 1993
  • Giordano Bruno,Il primo libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, Il trattato sull'intelligenza artificiale, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore.
  • Giordano Bruno,Il secondo libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, Il Sigillo dei Sigilli, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore.
  • Giordano Bruno, Il terzo libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, La logica per immagini, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
  • Giordano Bruno, Il quarto libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, L'arte di inventare con Trenta Statue, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
  • Giordano Bruno L'incantesimo di Circe, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
  • Guido del Giudice, WWW Giordano Bruno, Marotta & Cafiero Editori, 2001 ISBN 88-88234-01-2
  • Giordano Bruno, De Umbris Idearum, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
  • Guido del Giudice, La coincidenza degli opposti, Di Renzo Editore, ISBN 88-8323-110-4, 2005 (seconda edizione accresciuta con il saggio Bruno, Rabelais e Apollonio di Tiana, Di Renzo Editore, Roma 2006 ISBN 88-8323-148-1)
  • Giordano Bruno, Due Orazioni: Oratio Valedictoria - Oratio Consolatoria, a cura di Guido del Giudice, Di Renzo Editore, 2007 ISBN 88-8323-174-0
  • Giordano Bruno, La disputa di Cambrai. Camoeracensis Acrotismus, a cura di Guido del Giudice, Di Renzo Editore, 2008 ISBN 88-8323-199-6
  • Somma dei termini metafisici, a cura di Guido del Giudice, Di Renzo Editore, Roma, 2010

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