Selected Philosophical Poems of Tommaso Campanella
A Bilingual Edition
A contemporary of Giordano Bruno and Galileo, Tommaso Campanella (1568–1639) was a controversial philosopher, theologian, astrologer, and poet who was persecuted during the Inquisition and spent much of his adult life imprisoned because of his heterodox views. He is best known today for two works: The City of the Sun, a dialogue inspired by Plato’s Republic, in which he prophesies a vision of a unified, peaceful world governed by a theocratic monarchy; and his well-meaning Defense of Galileo, which may have done Galileo more harm than good because of Campanella’s previous conviction for heresy.
But Campanella’s philosophical poems are where his most forceful and undiluted ideas reside. His poetry is where his faith in observable and experimental sciences, his astrological and occult wisdom, his ideas about deism, his anti-Aristotelianism, and his calls for religious and secular reform most put him at odds with both civil and church authorities. For this volume, Sherry Roush has selected Campanella’s best and most idiosyncratic poems, which are masterpieces of sixteenth-century Italian lyrics, displaying a questing mind of great, if unorthodox, brilliance, and showing Campanella’s passionate belief in the intrinsic harmony between the sacred and secular.
“Campanella was a powerful, provocative, and immensely fertile Renaissance poet and thinker, most famous for his utopian City of the Sun and for his courageous defense of Galileo. He had an enormous and long-lasting influence on a wide variety of fields to the point of becoming indeed a cult figure for the Risorgimento and a lightning rod for Italian nationalists in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Truly encyclopedic in his interests, as a writer he is nonetheless often difficult and at times self-contradictory. Sherry Roush has risen to the challenging task of giving us a bilingual selection of his philosophical poems, and of his own authorial commentary on them, in prose renderings that are carefully wrought and eminently readable: she has captured much of Campanella’s voice in this, the first major engagement with his poetry in English.”
“Tommaso Campanella cast his radical philosophy in dense verse, and this is a useful, congenial translation. Sherry Roush has supplemented this bilingual edition with scholarly notes; and the Introduction presents to the English reading audience a hitherto barely known philosopher-poet.”–Paul Richard Blum, Loyola University Maryland