La città del sole - wisdom

Grand Master

I pray you, worthy hero, explain to me their whole system of government; for I am anxious to hear it.

Captain

The great ruler among them is a priest whom they call by the name Hoh, though we should call him Metaphysic. He is head over all, in temporal and spiritual matters, and all business and lawsuits are settled by him, as the supreme authority. Three princes of equal power-viz., Pon, Sin and Mor - assist him, and these in our tongue we should call POWER, WISDOM and LOVE. To POWER belongs the care of all matters relating to war and peace. He attends to the military arts, and, next to Hoh, he is ruler in every affair of a warlike nature. He governs the military magistrates and the soldiers, and has the management of the munitions, the fortifications, the storming of places, the implements of war, the armories, the smiths and workmen connected with matters of this sort.

But WISDOM is the ruler of the liberal arts, of mechanics, of all sciences with their magistrates and doctors, and of the discipline of the schools.

Background

The 16th and 17th centuries were a time of geographical and intellectual voyages of exploration and discovery. The Crusaders had ventured east, but Christopher Columbus turned to the west and landed on the Venezuelan coast of South America in 1498. From then on people were eager to hear tales of life in the New World.

Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639) was Italian philosopher and writer. He entered the Dominican order at the age of 15. Campanella held radical views and regularly came up against the authorities, but never left the church.

He wrote his utopia, La città del sole (The City of the Sun) while serving a prison sentence for his radical religious and political views. He had been condemned to life imprisonment for his part in a plot to overthrow oppressive Spanish rule in Calabria. Campenella was also condemned by the Church for his views on astronomy, which supported Copernicus' theory that the earth is not the centre of the universe.

La città del sole describes imaginary conversations between a Grandmaster of the Knights Hospitallers (a religious military order) and his guest, a sea captain from Genoa. The sea captain describes the City of the Sun as a place where life is shaped by science and religion and all property is communal.

The City of the Sun is governed by men led by reason. Every man's work contributes to the good of the community. Wealth and poverty do not exist because no one is allowed more than is needed.

Campanella lists the names of the doctors (teachers) who are named after the subjects they teach:

Astrologus
Cosmographus
Arithmeticus
Geometra
Historiographus
Poeta
Logiucs
Rhetor
Grammaticus
Medicus
Physiologus
Politicus
Moralis

Despite the number of subjects that are taught, they have 'just one book, which they call Wisdom and in it all the sciences are written with conciseness and marvellous fluency of expression. This they read to the people after the custom of the pythagoreans. It is Wisdom who causes the exterior and interior, the higher and lower walls of the city to be adorned with the finest pictures, and to have all the sciences painted upon them in an admirable manner'.

Mystery and miracle have no place in More's Utopia, but in Campanella's vision nature is fully understood and recorded on the concentric walls of the city.

Image taken from: Works of Tommaso Campanella
Creator: Tommaso Campanella
Publisher: Impensis G. Tampachii
Date created:1623

Taken from: Ideal Commonwealths
Author / Creator: Tommaso Campanella (translated and edited by Henry Morley)
Publisher: George Routledge and Sons
Date: 1885
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board
Shelfmark: 12204.gg.1/23