Giordano Bruno


Bruno, Giordano (Nola 1548 - Rome 1600).

Burnt at the stake by the Christians.

"Giordano Bruno, Double Agent, hiding from his Protestant and Catholic tormenters  - why did they have such a problem with the Tree of Gnosis? The Art of Memory?  - in the house of the French Ambassador, on the site of the 11th Century church (associated with the cult of St Bridget), which became a Tudor palace, a prison demolished in 1864, the Bridewell Institute, the Bridewell theatre. Basements flooded nowadays by the River Fleet." Ghislaine St. Clair.

"Double Agent?"


1.   Italian Philosopher. At the age of 15, he entered the monastery of S. Domenico at Naples, but in 1576 his intellectually rebellious temperament brought him into conflict with his superiors and he fled. Thus his rupture with the church began, and much of the rest of his life was spent in wandering throughout Europe, publishing his Latin and Italian writings as he went. At Calvinist Geneva he again aroused opposition and passed on to Paris, where he published a comedy for the theatre, Il Candelaio (1582; tr. J. R. Hale in The Genius of the Italian Theatre, ed. E. Bentley, 1964), and London, where his most famous cosmological and ethical treatises in Italian appeared - La cena de le ceneri, De la causa principio et uno, De l'infinito universo et mondi, Spaccio de la bestia trionfante (all of 1584), and De gl'heroici furori (1585; tr. P.E. Memo, 1964).

In England, where he came into contact with Sidney and Grevlie??, he made a considerable impact - and as usual, enemies. In 1585 he went back to Paris, made short stays in various German cities and finally, in 1591, he returned to Italy. Falling into the hands of the Inquisition at Venice in 1592, he was interrogated in Rome over a period of years, and when he refused to retract, he was burnt in 1600.

Conceiving in pantheistic terms an infinite universe informed by immanent, all-encompassing Mind, with which the human soul strives to achieve mystical union, Bruno regards uncritical acceptance of dogma and authority in any field as an invalid intellectual or cultural procedure. He is thus anti-Aristotelian in philosophy and anti-Petrarchan in literature. His importance and attractiveness lie not so much an any particular aspects of his teachings, such as his confused exposition of Copernican theory, as in his unswerving insistence on the freedom of the human mind and his belief that the quest for truth must be forward-looking not backward-looking. 


2. Italian philosopher (who saw God as the unity reconciling spirit and matter), born at Nola. He was in early life a Dominican friar, but broke from his order and wandered about Europe teaching his philosophical doctrines or embodying them in dialogues and verse (some of them dedicated to Sidney, under whose auspices he visited Oxford). He finally quarrelled with one of the Mocenigos, by whom he was employed at Venice, was denounced to the Inquisition, condemned to death, and burnt.


His writings were much admired by James Joyce, who mystified his friends by enigmatic references to 'the Nolan'.



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