Giordano Bruno bigraphy, stories - An Italian Dominican monk, a scientist, philosopher and poet

Giordano Bruno : biography

1548 - 07 February 1600

The exact date of Giordano Bruno’s birth is unknown, but, apparently, he was born in 1548 in a town Nola near Naples. His father, impoverished nobleman Giovanni Bruno served in the army of the Naples viceroy and gave his son a name Philippo during the christening – the Spanish dauphine’s name was the same.

Philippo spent childhood in Nola, and only in 1558 he went to Naples to his uncle, who kept a boarding school. The boy studied privately with an Augustinian monk Theophilo de Vairano. Bruno remembered this teacher in exclusive warmth, and when he made a manuscript in defense of Nola philosophy, he called one of the dialogue’s participants in his honour.

Four years later Philippo Bruno went to a Son-Domenico Madjore monastery, one of the wealthiest monasteries of Dominicans near Naples. The boy’s aim was to improve his education, and the Dominican order kept a huge amount of books about scholasticism in its libraries at that time. Phlippo Bruno made a monk vow at the age of eighteen and took the new name – Giordano. By that time with the help of erudition he had read a lot of works, starting from Aristotle and his Jewish, Christian and Arabian commentators and finishing with contemporary philosophers, poets and comedy dramatists. Giordano Bruno appreciated Thomas Aquinas from all scholastics, and preferred Averroes and Al-Ghazali from Arabian philosophers. Owing to his diligence in reading and ability to synthesize knowledge the young man, staying in monastery, understood that Christian dogmata conflicted with up-to-date ideas and ancient knowledge. But the most awful thing, in clergymen’s opinion, was the fact that Giordano Bruno doubted in the trio. Bruno’s talents and memory were so unusual, that he was brought to Rome to show him to the Pope, and even then he was called the future fame of the Dominican order.

In 1572 Giordano Bruno got a title of a priest and served in one of the provincial parishes in Campagna for some time, and then returned to the monastery to continue studying theology. But he settled outside the monastery and had a relative freedom, Giordano Bruno managed to read humanists’ works and compositions about nature of Italian philosophers. But the most important was the fact that he read Copernicus’ book “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres”. Independent statements of Giordano Bruno led to the opening of a case about heresy in 1575, and investigation began. According to accusation, Giordano Bruno broke one hundred thirty three points in the Catholic church’s doctrine.

Friends warned Giordano Bruno about possible arrest and he escaped in the Italian capital, wishing to show justifications if not to the Roman Pope, then to one of the cardinals. At the same time there was a search in his monastery room. They found works of John Chrysostom and the Saint Jerome, commented by Desiderius Erasmus. At that time books of Desiderius’ revision were included in the Pope index – keeping and reading these books were a crime against the church. Bruno’s possibility to justify himself completely vanished. He changed a monk’s clothes for worldly clothes and went to Genoa on boat. Then Bruno went to Venice from Genoa and there, feeling safely, published his book “About signs of time” – later all copies were collected and burnt.

After two months of life in Venice Giordano Bruno went to Padua, and then visited Milan and Turin. When he arrived in Geneva, he got help from countrymen, who found work for him – to be a proofreader in a local print shop. Geneva gave a possibility to study Calvinists’ doctrine, but it turned out to be very strange to Bruno. On the 20th of May in 1579 Giordano Bruno became a student of the Genevan University. This institution prepared Calvinism’s preachers, and every student had to follow the main dogmata of Calvinism and Aristotle’s doctrine. But the first Bruno’s performances during disputes aroused doubts of teachers in the student’s heretical thoughts. In spite of it Giordano wrote a pamphlet on the philosophy’s professor Antuan Delaphe’s lecture and pointed on twenty mistaken statements in his work. But the professor turned out to be a close friend and companion of the Calvinist society’s head, Theodor Bez. A booklet with the pamphlet was being published in a print shop, and informants had already told its content. Bruno was caught and sent to prison. Genevan town council decided that the pamphlet was not only a religious crime, but also a political crime, and Giordano Bruno was excommunicated, subjected to a humiliating ceremony of repentance and finally was deported from Geneva.

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Living octopus

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