Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Tommaso Campanella composed The City of the Sun in Italian in 1602, as La Città del Sole. It was not published until after he translated it, with significant changes, into Latin, the language of the learned during his time. The Italian version is generally regarded as truer to Campanella’s thought.
The work is very much a product of its time and Campanella’s life. The scientific worldview—that nature can be known by observing the things of this world—was developing, but the medieval view was still powerful. A member of the Dominican order and a learned man, Campanella had been trained in the medieval view that truth was largely to be sought through traditional logic and revelation, but he had reacted against too absolute a version of that view. As a result, Campanella suffered greatly for his religious and political ideas; he was imprisoned by the Inquisition. In this work, he offers a kind of order in which people like himself would have a real function.
The Englishman Thomas More had published, in 1516, his De Optimo Reipublicae Statu, deque Nova Insula Utopia(Utopia, 1551), a Renaissance version of Plato’s Politeia, 388-366 b.c.e. (Republic, 1701). Their ideas of the perfect state underlie Campanella’s. Although Campanella’s subtitle is “a poetical dialogue,” the work is a prose dialogue, in which a Genoese traveler, supposedly a sailor...
(The entire section is 1759 words.)
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