Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

City of the Sun

City of the Sun. Utopian society on the island of Taprobane in the Indian Ocean, on the equator. The island is entirely fictional, but Tommaso Campanella may have been thinking of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) when he wrote this dialogue. A Dominican friar with reformist ideals, Campanella hoped that some of his utopian principles would be introduced in his native Calabria, in southern Italy, and was imprisoned and tortured by the papal government for his beliefs.

The City of the Sun is two miles across, built on a hill above an extensive plain, in the form of seven concentric rings. Each ring has gates to the north, south, east and west and is heavily fortified with earthworks, ditches, towers, and cannons. Within the city are palaces, marble steps, and richly decorated rooms. At the center is a circular temple supported on columns and surmounted by a dome.

The prince who rules over the city is also the high priest, called Hoh or Metaphysic. His deputy Pon is in charge of all military matters including defense, the army, and the manufacture of armaments. Another deputy, Sin, controls the arts and sciences; much of the known detail of these is pictorially inscribed on the inner walls of the concentric rings of the city: mathematics and laws, minerals and weather, plants and fish, birds and insects, science and law, respectively. A third deputy, Mor, is responsible for the welfare of the people—breeding, education, food, and clothing.

One of the...

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The City of the Sun Bibliography

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Bonansea, Bernardino M. Tommaso Campanella: Renaissance Pioneer of Modern Thought. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1969. A generally difficult book, but the chapter on The City of the Sun is quite clear and useful. Notes, extensive bibliography.

Donno, Daniel J. Introduction to La Città del Sole. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981. The introduction gives a sketch of Campanella’s life and discusses the themes of The City of the Sun.

Eurich, Nell. Science in Utopia: A Mighty Design. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967. Examines Campanella’s interest in and defense of science. This book’s brief section on him is very helpful.

Manuel, Frank E., and Fritzie P. Manuel. Utopian Thought in the Western World. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1979. An excellent chapter on Campanella and The City of the Sun. Notes, bibliography.

Negley, Glenn, and J. Max Patrick. The Quest for Utopia: An Anthology of Imaginary Societies. New York: Henry Schuman, 1952. Includes a partial translation of The City of the Sun; short, insightful introduction.