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Selected Philosophical Poems of Tommaso Campanella

A Bilingual Edition

Edited, Translated, and Annotated by Sherry Roush

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.

264 pages | 1 halftone | 6 x 9 | © 2011

Literature and Literary Criticism: Romance Languages

Philosophy: Philosophy of Religion

Religion: Christianity


“Roush here shows a solid command of preexisting scholarship by fellow campanellisti. . . . The poems can be gnomic, pithy, sententious, somewhat like the work of a Nostradamus without events. They are dense, sometimes puzzling, always challenging, but generally rewarding in that they repay the study that they have finally received in English at the able hands of Sherry Roush.”

Roy Rosenstein, American University of Paris, France | Sixteenth Century Journal

“The clear translations of Roush . . . convey deep metaphysical discontent. . . . A powerful, if sometimes harsh, thinker is herein revealed.”


“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

Paul Richard Blum, Loyola University Maryland

“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.”

Michael J. B. Allen, University of California, Los Angeles

“In this precise translation, Sherry Roush recovers the idiosyncratic voice of Tommaso Campanella’s philosophical poetry, rendering it in a cutting modern idiom that catches the spirit of the original. While John Addington Symonds recast Campanella as a decorous writer for his Victorian readers, Roush provides us with a more authentic picture of the man whose poetry is probing, cantankerous, and sometimes coarse. With its helpful historical introduction and extensive notes—including Campanella’s own running commentary on his poems—this volume will introduce students, scholars, and general readers to the fullness of a daring intellectual and activist life lived in Calabria, Naples, Rome, and Paris, alongside Tasso, Bruno, Galileo, Urban VIII, and Cardinal Richelieu, among many others.”

Dennis Looney, University of Pittsburgh

Table of Contents

On the Notational System of This Volume


Scelta di alcune poesie fi losofi che di Settimontano Squilla cavate da’ suo’ libri detti “La Cantica” con l’esposizione /
Selected Philosophical Poems by Settimontano Squilla from His Books Titled “The Canticle” with His Self- Commentary

1 Proemio / Proem

2 A’ poeti / To the Poets

3 Fede naturale del vero sapiente / Natural Faith of the True Wise Man

4 Del mondo e sue parti / On the World and Its Parts

5 Anima immortale / Immortal Soul

6 Modo di filosofare / The Way to Philosophize

7 Accorgimento a tutte nazioni / Warning to All Nations

8 Delle radici de’ gran mali del mondo / On the Roots of the World’s Great Evils

9 Contra il proprio amore scoprimento stupendo / Stupendous Discovery Against Self- Love

10 Parallelo del proprio e comune amore / Parallel between Self- and Communal Love

11 Cagione, perché meno si ama Dio, Sommo Bene, che gli altri beni, è l’ignoranza / The Reason Why Loving God, Supreme Good, Less than Other Goods Is Ignorance

12 Fortuna de’ savi / Fortune of the Wise

13 Senno senza forza de’ savi delle genti antiche esser soggetto alla forza de’ pazzi / Unarmed Intellect in Ancient Wise Men Was Subjected to the Arms of Madmen

14 Gli uomini son giuoco di Dio e degli angeli / Human Beings Are the Plaything of God and the Angels

17 Non è re chi ha regno, ma chi sa reggere / One Is Not King Who Has a Kingdom, but Rather Who Knows How to Reign

18 A Cristo, Nostro Signore / To Christ, Our Lord

21 Nel sepolcro di Cristo / In Christ’s Tomb

23 Al Primo Senno: Canzone prima / To the Prime Intellect: First Song

24 Al Primo Senno: Canzone seconda / To the Prime Intellect: Second Song

25 Al Primo Senno: Canzone terza / To the Prime Intellect: Third Song

26 Introduzione ad Amore, vero Amore / Introduction to Love, True Love

27 Contra Cupido / Against Cupid

31 Del sommo bene metafisico / On the Metaphysical Highest Good

35 Che ‘l principe tristo non è mente della Repubblica sua / That the Evil Prince Is Not the Mind of His Republic

36 Agl’Italiani, che attendono a poetar con le favole greche / To the Italians Who Seek to Versify with Greek Fables

37 D’Italia / On Italy

44 De’ medesima / On the Same [Referring to poem 43, excluded from this volume and titled “Against Sophists, Hypocrites, Heretics, and False Miracle Workers”]

46 Il “Pater Noster”: Orazione di Giesù Cristo / The “Our Father”: Prayer of Jesus Christ

49 Sonetto de l’istesso / Sonnet on the Same [on the “Our Father”]

60 Al carcere / In Prison

61 Di se stesso / On Himself

62 Di se stesso, quando, ecc. / On Himself, When, etc.

63 A certi amici uficiali e baroni, che, per troppo sapere, o di poco governo o di fellonia l’inculpavano / To Certain Official Friends and Barons Who Accused Him of Too Much Knowledge or Too Little Prudence or Treachery

64 A consimili / To His Peers

65 Orazione a Dio / Prayer to God

68 Al Telesio Cosentino / To Telesio of Cosenza

71 Sonetto nel Caucaso / Sonnet from the Caucasus

72 Lamentevole orazione profetale dal profondo della fossa dove stava incarcerato / Woeful Prophetic Prayer from the Depths of the Pit Where He Was Imprisoned

73 Orazioni tre in salmodia metafisicale congiunte insieme: Canzone prima / Three Prayers in One Metaphysical Psalmody Joined Together: First Song 

74 Orazioni tre in salmodia metafi sicale congiunte insieme: Canzone seconda; Della medesima salmodia / Three Prayers in One Metaphysical Psalmody Joined Together: Second Song; On the Same Psalmody

75 Orazioni tre in salmodia metafisicale congiunte insieme: Canzone terza; Della medesima salmodia / Three Prayers in One Metaphysical Psalmody Joined Together: Third Song; On the Same Psalmody

80 Canzone a Berillo di pentimento, desideroso di confessione, ecc., fatta nel Caucaso / Song to Father Berillo in Repentence, Desiring Confession, etc., Made from the Caucasus

89 Al Sole: Nella primavera per desio di caldo / To the Sun: During Springtime Out of the Desire for Warmth

Index of First Lines
General Index

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