Giordano Bruno: His Life and Thought

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a. The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast (Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfante) [2]

WE NOW turn to the ethical works of Bruno, all bearing a false imprint of Paris, but all the product of his fruitful years in London.

The full title of the first of these may be rendered Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, Proposed by Jove, Effected by the Council, Revealed by Mercury, Reported by Wisdom, Overheard by Saulino and Registered by the Nolan. Dedicated to the Most Illustrious and Excellent Knight Sir Philip Sidney.

There are three Dialogues. The symbolical setting is given at once by the names of the speakers, Sofia (Wisdom), Saulino, and Mercury (messenger of the gods). Saulino, who appears again in the next work, is named from a small district of Bruno's native Nola. The Dialogues are thronged by mythological figures whose words are quoted by the three already mentioned. Most prominent are Jove and Momus, the latter equated with Sinderesi or Conscience, "a certain light which resides in the watch-tower, cage or poop of our soul." [3]

A general idea of the Nolan's thought is given us in the "Explanatory Epistle" to Sidney (Fig. 12). Bruno is as usual lavish in praise and gratitude for kindness shewn and for appreciation of his thought. Sidney's qualities, he declares, were shewn to him from the moment of his arrival in Britain. Before leaving that land he would express his love and gratitude both to him and to that "noble and gentle spirit Sir Fulke Greville." (Fig. 10) [4] He disclaims either exaltation of vice or dispraise of virtue, "neither having nor desiring in thought, word or gesture aught but sincerity, simplicity and truth."

Bruno calls himself here Giordano in a passage in which he speaks of the pleasure of using correct and unfeigned names.

He will present to Sidney the numbered and ordered seeds of his moral philosophy -- not that they may be admired, known and heard as something new (an accusation which we find refuted also in The Infinite Universe and Worlds) but that they may be examined, considered and judged. For from the world at large Bruno expects always only misunderstanding and abuse. He will treat of moral philosophy by virtue of the illumination afforded him by the divine sun of the intellect. But first (and not without need) he provides certain preliminary interpretation.

Jove, he announces, rules in heaven over forty-eight beasts or vices, as reflected "in the forty-eight famous pictures," [5] i.e., the constellations. These beasts or vices he would banish from heaven to certain terrestrial regions, and replace them by virtues which have been driven out and scattered. There will be, he says, many adventures and vicissitudes, for "each taketh what fruit he can, suited to his own containing form. For there is naught so vile but it can be utilized to an exalted purpose, and naught so worthy that it cannot become matter for scandal and for ignoble use." This is the implication of his view of what we have called cosmic metabolism. The basis of the whole universe is One, and the component atoms are never destroyed, but pass from one containing form to another. This applies even to Jove himself, who is not eternally the same, but is ever receiving and ever giving out particles of the cosmic infinity. Though the composition of eternal corporeal substance will change (as in Jove), itself is indestructible. Moreover:

Spiritual substance, though it hath familiar intercourse with material bodies, is never completely blended with them; -- but is rather the efficient and informative principle [6] within the body from, through and by means whereof the composition takes place; as the mariner to the boat, the father to the family, the architect to the building. And yet not without but within the fabric ... for it is the efficient power, which holds the opposed elements together and effects the composition of the animal.

It embraces the whole and every part thereof, and yet, when the time comes, it goes forth by the same door whereby it once entered. Thus the soul never dies. Indeed, Bruno is much fascinated by the doctrine of metempsychosis "which many philosophers have held to be true." Jove, he tells us elsewhere, "is not to be taken as too legitimate or true a representative of the primal and universal origin," but himself exemplifies the principle of eternal change. Again Jove represents every one of us. With the expulsion of the triumphant beast, that is, of the vices wont to overcast the divine, "the soul will purify itself from error, will deck itself with virtues through love of the beauty in goodness and natural justice, through seeking for the fruits thereof, and through hatred and fear of the grief and deformity that appertain to the misshapen contrary thereof." [7]

Bruno passes to a detailed exposition of the mythology of his Heaven. Supreme is Truth, [8] occupying the site of the Great Bear constellation, for she is the first as well as the central and the last thing, occupying the most exalted position in Heaven, filling the span of Being, Necessity, Goodness, Origin, Medium, End, Perfection. Bruno's very human impatience and troubles are revealed in the names of some of the expelled Vices, such as loquacity and "senile and bestial fables with foolish Metaphor, vain Analogy." The names of expelled Vices and of the Virtues established in their place fill several pages. Ambition and Cruelty are among the fallen; Tolerance, Kindness, Patience and Courage are among those established. On the altar are Religion, Piety and Faith. From the eastern corner there fall down Credulity, Superstition and Triviality; from the western corner Impiety and insane Atheism plunge violently down. On high is the prize of Honour, Glory and all Delight, the fruits of industrious virtues and study, true Repose and Happiness.

These themes, propounded in the "Explanatory Letter" to Sidney, are expounded in the three Dialogues of the work. The mythological form gives scope to Bruno's fantasy, and exuberant discursions are numerous. For example, Pallas suggests that

The Cardinal of Cusa shall be entrusted with the triangle ... if haply he may thereby liberate the much-cumbered geometers from that weary search for the squaring of the circle ... but I would bestow on them that infinitely greater and more precious gift for which the Nolan should offer me not one but a hundred hecatombs. For to him it was first revealed and by his hand it has been passed to the multitude. For by contemplation of the equality between maximum and minimum, between outer and inner, between origin and end, there was spread before him a life more fruitful, richer, more open and more secure, whereby was demonstrated to him not only how the square may be made equal to the circle, but the same, suddenly, of every triangle, every pentagon, hexagon or whatsoever polygonal figure you will; and also of line to line, surface to surface, field to field and content to content of solid figures. [9]

The allusions are fully explained so that the reader may be aware what vice the Nolan is castigating, what foible he is deriding and then suddenly what quality he is presenting for our aspiration. Patience, tolerance, long-suffering and generosity are virtues "most necessary to the world." [10] Animals and plants, Jove explains to Momus, are the living effects of Nature, and Nature is no other than God revealed. [11]

The work ends in the third Dialogue with an extravagant paean of praise for King Henry III, who, it will be remembered, undeterred by Bruno's talent for embroilment, had sent him to Mauvissière and to his happy sojourn in London.

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b. Cabal of the Cheval Pegasus with Appendix on the Cillenican Ass, Described by the Nolan (Cabala del Cavallo Pegaseo con l'aggiunta dell' Asino Cillenico, [12] Descritta dal Nolano)

Bruno was peculiarly ingenious and whimsical in inventing names for his works. The first word above is a pun and perhaps a double pun. The word "Cabala," Mystery or Revelation (Cabbala), is chosen because the word also suggests a horse. Moreover, it was the name of an exotic, miraculous creature that was much discussed at the time. The doctrine of the coincidence of contraries equates this miraculous Cabal, comparable to Pegasus, the steed of the Muses, with the Cillenican ass, that is none other than winged Mercury, who was born in a grotto on Mount Cillene.

The volume with this strange title has a strange dedication to "the most Reverend Don Sapatino, Abbot of San Quintino and Bishop of Casa Marciano." There was no such Abbey and no such Bishopric. The researches of Spampanato have established [13] that a certain Sabatino Savalino was in fact priest of Santa prima, close to Nola, from 1576 (the date when Bruno left the monastery). The Abbacy and Bishopric attributed to him by Bruno are entirely apocryphal. The Savolino family were relatives of the Nolan, and one of the speakers in both the Spaccio and the Cabala is named from their village, Saulino.

After satirically enumerating the hypothetical persons who have refused the gift of this work, Bruno apostrophizes Don Sapatino, saying that, of course, if the production is declined, it may be passed on to another, but that the Nolan trusts it will be accepted as no less worthy than The Ark of Noah, which he had dedicated to Pope Pius V; [14] The Shadows of Ideas dedicated to King Henry III of France; The Thirty Seals, [15] dedicated to his legate Mauvissière; and The Triumphant Beast, a gift to Sir Philip Sidney. So this donkey is an excellent beast to mould custom, institute doctrines, reform religions. Why should we not give him even academic rank?

After a sonnet on Asininity comes a long-winded "Declamation to the studious, devoted and pious Reader devoted mainly to the ass and his asininity." "The ideal and cabalistic ass of the sacred writings" is no other than "the horse Pegasus treated figuratively in poetic writings." In the First Mind, the ideal ass, the origin of the asinine species, is one with the idea of human species and of the species of earth, moon and sun and also those of intelligences, demons, gods, worlds and the universe. It is also that species from which depend not only asses but also men, stars, worlds and all mundane animals -- in which there is no difference of form or subject, of one from another, for it is utterly simple and One." [16]

The fools of the world have been those who have established religions, ceremonies, laws, faith, rule of life. The greatest asses of the world are those who, lacking all understanding and instruction, and void of all civil life and custom, rot in perpetual pedantry; those who by the grace of heaven would reform obscure and corrupted faith, salve the cruelties [17] of perverted religion and remove abuse of superstitions, mending the rents in their vesture. It is not they who indulge impious curiosity or who are ever seeking the secrets of nature, and reckoning the courses of the stars. Observe whether they have been busy with the secret causes of things, [18] or if they have condoned the destruction of kingdoms, the dispersion of peoples, fires, blood, ruin or extermination; whether they seek the destruction of the whole world that it may belong to them: in order that the poor soul may be saved, that an edifice may be raised in heaven, that treasure may be laid up in that blessed land, caring naught for fame, profit or glory in this frail and uncertain life, but only for that other most certain and eternal life.

Bruno hastens to add that the ancients have recounted these things in their myths of the gods:

Pray, O pray to God, dear friends, if you are not already asses -- that he will cause you to become asses.... There is none who praiseth not the golden age when men were asses: they knew not how to work the land. One knew not how to dominate another, one understood no more than another; caves and caverns were their refuge; they were not so well covered nor so jealous nor were they confections of lust and of greed. Everything was held in common. [19]

A second ribald sonnet is followed by the three Dialogues of the Cabal of the Cheval Pegasus. The speakers are Saulino, Sebasto and Coribante.

The work is at once connected with the Spaccio and we are told of the place of asininity in the reformed Heaven. Bruno's range of citation includes the Cabbalistic writings while his mocking invention is even more far-reaching. In the midst of buffoonery he suddenly passes to an altogether different plane. Following the Areopagite, following Augustine, [20] he would turn us from intellectual pride to humble ignorance. "Asininity" or ignorance may be the surest guide to salvation. There is a purposeful confusion between the Ass and Pegasus, noblest of horses.

In the second Dialogue, the Ass appears as Onorio, who relates how, after he had broken his neck by falling from a precipice, his owner sold his body to feed the ravens. His soul, released from its mortal prison house, was free to wander at will, and he suddenly realized that his spiritual substance differed in no wise from that of all the other spirits similarly released and "transmigrating," whether from human or from asinine bodies. He took his way to Parnassus where he was acclaimed as either a flying ass or the veritable horse Pegasus. The point is brought out that acceptance of metempsychosis forces belief in this essential unity of the "substance" of all souls, of man and beast, of fly and fish, and indeed of the plants if we allow that they too have a kind of life and soul. Thus it may happen that more of reason and of talent may reside in an animal than in a man, though the animal lacks the instruments of expression. The ass is brought to express the Nolan's conviction that efficient intelligence is One and universal; and every individual is moved and illumined by reason which pervades all, even as a flame extends to compass all combustible fuel. Thus there is a supreme agent that by sense-impression stimulates all living things [21] to action; and a supreme intelligence that rouses all through their understanding to a reasoned activity. Moreover, every individual is endowed with sense-perception and with potential intelligence, the variety of which is no less than the number of varieties of corporeal forms and dispositions. [22]

To the objection that reason is not in the lower animals, Onorio replies that if that be so, they must have some cognitive power other than either sense-perception or reason. It is immaterial whether we name this power instinct or reason, or whether we adopt the terms of Averroes, but above all we must recognize that even as a homogeneous piece of wax can take diverse and contrary forms, so a single primal corporeal substance is the substratum of all bodies and a single primal spiritual substance appertains to all souls. This doctrine is received with horror, yet Onorio constrains his audience to recognize that it was proclaimed by many of the wisest rabbis, implied in the Biblical story of Nebuchadnezzar, and exemplified in the Gospel account of the reincarnation of Elias as St. John the Baptist. [23]

In the second part of the Dialogue, the Ass Onorio explains that he is known as the Horse Pegasus on his periodic visits to Parnassus in the intervals between his mortal incarnations, of which one was in the body of Aristotle. He describes the unfortunate fate of Aristotle who wrote on "physical matters" of which he understood naught, and his books were solemnly commented. [24]

The third Part of the second Dialogue again sets out to show that next to truth there is no virtue so exalted as ignorance and asininity. For if the human mind has some access to truth, it can only be either by science and knowledge or by ignorance and asininity. There is in the rational mind no point intermediate between ignorance and knowledge -- and this is illustrated by many examples of human foolishness.

The third Dialogue is merely a few lines to close the work.

There follows a sonnet to The Cillenican Ass which introduces the appended Dialogue with the same title. The Nolan gives expression to his contempt for the academic pedants; the Ass makes good his claim to academic honour.

The speakers are the Ass, the Pythagorean Micco (i.e., the Ape), and Mercury. The Ass implores Jove who has given him talent, to give him also speech. Micco expresses his horror, but the Ass declares that he desires to be a member of a college so that he may become a doctor, a grade for which he feels fully equipped. Micco admits that God might cause asses to speak, but cannot conceive that He would secure their admission to a Pythagorean school. "Be not so proud, O Micco," retorts the Ass, "remember that thy Pythagoras teaches that naught within the bosom of nature shall be despised. Moreover I who have now the form of an ass, may have been and may presently be in the form of a great man." They exchange-quips on the subject and at length the Ass exclaims: "Tell me now, which is more worthy, that a man should become like to an ass or that an ass should become like to man? But here comes my Cillenican," and he appeals to Mercury, who now intervenes. Claiming to have bestowed many gifts and graces on the Ass, Mercury declares:

I now with plenary authority ordain, constitute and confirm thee an academician, a general dogmatic, that thou mayest enter and dwell everywhere, that none may hold the door against thee or offer thee outrage or hindrance ... nor do we desire that thou shouldst be bound by the Pythagorean rule of biennial silence.... Speak then to those who can hear, reflect and contemplate among mathematicians; discuss, enquire, teach, declare and determine among the natural philosophers, [25] mix with them all, fraternize, unite thyself and identify thyself with all things, rule all things, be all.

The work closes with Micco's dour reply to the triumphant enquiry of the Ass: "Hast thou heard?" "We are not deaf."

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c. On Heroic Frenzies [26] (De gl' Heroici Furori)

This is perhaps the most discursive of the series of Italian works that deal with moral philosophy through Bruno's eccentric and ebullient symbolism. In complicated exposition, with quotations from the classics and from the Preacher, we learn of the surpassing vision of love, or wisdom, which resolves all conflicts, abolishes suffering and vain pursuit of glory, and leads to the perfect peace of the One ultimate godhead of whom all individuals and all kinds are a partial reflection. Many sonnets are interspersed in the work. Their symbolism is explained in the prose that follows them. [27] These verses are specifically mentioned in the Arguments but they are not the happiest products of Bruno's muse.

The characters are taken from the Nolan's childhood environment. One is the poet Tansillo, an eminent Nolan often quoted by Bruno, and perhaps known at least to his parents. Another is Mount Cicada itself.

The Heroic Frenzies is, like The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney. In his Dedication, the Nolan boldly states that he would have liked to emulate King Solomon and to have entitled his work a Canticle, "since many mystic and cabalistic doctors interpret Solomon's work as similarly presenting divine and heroic frenzies under the appearance of loves and ordinary passions."

The Dedication opens with a rodomontade on the evils that ensue from allowing thoughts of love to usurp the whole of a man's mind. This passage, which is developed as an attack on the Petrarchists, was probably intended to reproach Sidney himself with too great a preoccupation with Stella. This view is none the less plausible even though Bruno, with tardy caution, concludes his Dedication with a lyrical burst of praise for some Englishwomen who must be included in any discussion of the female sex -- "not female, not women, but nymphs in the similitude thereof, divine, of celestial substance, among whom is that unique Diana," i.e., Queen Elizabeth -- a theme repeated in the sonnet, The Nolan's Apology, which is prefixed to the first Part.

The Dedication provides an Argument to each of the ten Dialogues that make up the two Parts of the work. We will give the main heads of each Argument as set forth by Bruno, supplementing occasionally from the Dialogues themselves.

Under metaphorical figures, Bruno explains, are manifested immanent causes and primal motives whereby the soul is pervaded by God, toward the one perfect and final end, which should eclipse all war and dispute. The Will is captain of the advance, and the four standard-bearers are Heroic Passion, the Power of Fate, the Appearance of the Good (as the object of Love) and Remorse of Jealous Passion, each with their varied and opposed cohorts of adherents, ministers and powers. We are then led to the contemplation of the unity of contraries through harmony and combination, the resolution of all strife in concord, of all diversity in unity.

The second Dialogue of the first Part has an analysis of the contraries whose opposition can thus be resolved. Virtue is the mean, and the further it passes toward an extreme the more will it lose its character as virtue, for virtue is the point of unity between contraries.

The third Dialogue analyses the force of will, manifested as love, and culminating in love of God that can bring to pass the happy resolution of contraries.

The final object of the soul is the divine:

Is then the body not the habitation of the soul? No, for the soul is in the body not as location but as intrinsic form, extrinsic formative influence.... The body is in the soul, soul in mind. Mind either is God or is in God, as said Plotinus; and since the mind as essence is in God which is the life thereof, similarly by the act of the mind, and by the consequent act of will, the mind turneth to his light and to his beatific object. Worthily then is the passion of heroic inspiration nourished on so exalted an enterprise. Nor is this because the object is infinite, in act most simple, and our intellect unable to apprehend the infinite save in a certain manner of thought, that is, as a potentiality, even as he who is at the edge of an immense wave pictureth to himself an end where no end is. For indeed there is no final end. [28]

Necessity, Fate, Nature, Council, Will, all are thus recognized as a single unity. Again we are reminded of the complete wheel of life wherein Jove himself passes through diverse forms, and each one of us may at last attain to the Divine.

The power of reason is the subject of the fourth Dialogue. Even as in the myth the hunter is converted into the hunted, so is the mind united with its quarry in accordance with the mode of rationality, and the will according to the mode of will; that is, with such reason as reposes therein. Tansillo recites the first of the three beautiful Italian sonnets which the Nolan had already printed, prefixed to The Infinite Universe and Worlds. But reason halts not after achieving unity with her object: she presses ever forward, prompted by her own light toward that which comprises all knowledge, all will, the fount of the whole ocean of truth and beauty. Thus a distinction is drawn between the soul of the universe, perfect, motionless, pervading infinity, and the souls of each part thereof and of each of our worlds, subject to eternal circular motion and vicissitude. [29]

The fifteen sections of the fifth Dialogue of the first Part are overlaid with symbolism and with discursions. Many writers are cited and Bruno recalls passages in his own work. We are shewn how reason governs the conflicting thoughts and passions of those who are inspired, and pervades the whole world. We again have the distinction between lower intellect, "potential, the intellect of power and of passion, uncertain, multiform," and the higher intellect which appertains to man. Again we are led yet further to contemplate the Supreme Intelligence which pervades the whole universe. [30]

The first two Dialogues of the second Part take us again to the individual life of him who is inspired by heroic frenzy. We are reminded that the pleasure of generation is impossible without also the drawback of corruption, and where they are combined in a single subject, there too joy and sadness are together. We hear of the many vicissitudes around the wheel of fate, of resulting conflicts and how they can be resolved only by lofty contemplation.

The Nolan uses his favourite similes of light and fire, sun and moon, and we are told that to see the Divine is to be seen thereby, even as to see the sun is to be within sight thereof. But intellectual power can never be still; it must seek ever further toward truth still uncomprehended, even as Will must seek ever beyond finite apprehension. And the essence of the soul is referred to inferior things even as divinity itself is communicated infinitely throughout the infinite universe, or finitely, producing only this universe accessible to our eyes and common reason. Wherefore strife arises in the soul of him who is inspired since the soul is ever drawn downward toward low and hostile country while struggling toward its natural and exalted habitation. In such a condition, the Nolan tells us, he had been for six lustres before he could reach clarity of thought, before "he could make for himself a dwelling fit for all sorts of pilgrims, that could be offered freely and equally to all who beat on the gate of the mind." At length, he being now encamped in twofold holy rays of light, love, which had on diverse occasions assailed him in vain, could now reach him, revealing divine beauty by means of the ray of truth binding the intellect and the ray of goodness warming the passions. The language of the sonnet which follows suggests almost a sudden revelation after his thirtieth year. Again we are assured, love has dominion over all and transcends and fuses all things. [31]

This is further expounded in the second Dialogue. All the diversity of different individuals is needed for the comprehensive whole. It is remarkable to find Bruno, so intolerant of the ignorant and the stupid, yet forced to this logical conclusion of his own thought. We soon have an example of his intolerant mood of biting sarcasm:

Who that is wise doth not see the advantage when Aristotle, master of Alexander in humane letters, raiseth his soul on high to resist and wage war on the Pythagorean doctrine and that of the natural philosophers ... with his logic-chopping and fantasy ... heedful of the faith of the multitude ... founded on surface appearances rather than on truth which is hidden within and is the very substance of things.

Yet the nourishment of each individual must conform to his own nature, and for the human soul are needed contemplation and reasoning as instruments in the search for truth. For this truth is sought, though hidden and most hard to reach. Again we find ourselves in the pursuit of Diana on whom but few may hope to gaze; once more we are told of the hunter transformed to the nature of his quarry: "Look then on Amphitrite, [32] the source of all numbers, of all species and arguments, the monad, the true essence of all being, very Diana herself. And if you are not permitted to gaze on her veritable essence in the absolute light, yet you will see her offspring, her image similar to herself. For from the monad which is Divinity proceedeth the monad which is Nature, our universe,..." whereby as in a mirror, man may attain to reason. [33]

The same images reappear in the third Dialogue of the second Part. This Dialogue is still occupied with the coincidence of contraries though to each thing appertains its distinct function. Being is regarded as a mode of cognition and appetitive power. Will is conditioned by cognition, cognition by will. Can then reason or cognitive power or the cognitive act be greater than will or appetite or passion? But the act expressing the will to good is boundless, just as the act expressing knowledge of truth is infinite and without limit. Thus being, truth and good are but three words all signifying the same single force.

But we learn in the fourth Dialogue the weakness and failure of humanity in apprehending the Divine. Ninefold is the blindness of man. Mysterious divine judgement has bestowed on him the will to thought and investigation, but not the power to rise beyond the consciousness of his own blindness. But at least mankind should realize his own ignorance. [34]

The "Allegory of the Fifth Dialogue" of the second Part, most of which is, like the fourth, in verse, presents two women who, "as is the custom in my country," reject the male method of reaching truth by argument, apprehending rather by intuition and the power of prophecy the spirit which resides in matter. This which they have apprehended they leave to be expounded by the talent of the male.

The Nolan would show that only the blind invoke the instrumentality of external cause. Such is the vulgar imagination of the nine spheres as responsible for the infinite diversity which informs the ultimate unity of the universe. We have a discussion on the views of "Cabbalists, Chaldeans, Magicians, Platonists and Christian theologians." Only Origen among theologians has, like all great philosophers and the much blamed Sadducees, dared to express the universe as eternal change and motion. Indeed, says the Nolan, this doctrine I share and confirm when speaking with theologians and with those who make laws and institutions for the people. But the spreading of such views has justly brought reproof, since if the multitude is with difficulty restrained from vice and impelled to virtue by belief in eternal punishment, what would ensue if they were persuaded to a different view? But for the wise, endowed with heroic frenzy toward truth, Bruno expounds an elaborate myth of Circe, daughter of the Sun. Progress, we are told, is not direct from one to another form. Rather -- by an image reminiscent of the writings of Raymond Lull -- change may be likened to motion around a wheel, so that each in turn is illuminated by the object in which converge the trinity of perfections, -- beauty, wisdom and truth; sprinkled by the waters which in the sacred books are termed waters of wisdom, rivers of water of eternal life. These are found not on our earth but on the bosom of Ocean, of the goddess Amphitrite, in whose realm is the miraculous stream that flows from Divinity, and those nymphs, those blessed and divine intelligences who minister to her sublime intelligence even as the nymphs of the desert to Diana. "Amphitrite alone by her triple virtue openeth every seal, looseth every knot, discovereth every secret." Thus is revealed to us the ultimate harmony of the whole, the true meaning of the nine spheres. We see that the beginning of one is the end of another. Beginning and end, light and darkness, infinite power, infinite action, all are One, as the Nolan has elsewhere demonstrated. Thus we contemplate eternal harmony of all spheres, intelligences, Muses and instruments.

The heaven, the motion of worlds, the works of Nature, the operation of reason, contemplation of the mind, the decrees of divine providence, all together celebrate the exalted and magnificent periodic vicissitudes whereby lower waters become upper waters, night passeth into day, and day into night, so that divinity pervadeth the whole, even as the whole is thus able to contain the whole, and infinite goodness is communicated infinitely in accordance with the capacity of all things.

The Argument presents these themes more succinctly than the prose and verse of the Dialogues. In the text of the fifth Dialogue, elaborate praise of "the lovely and gracious nymphs of the Thames" is woven into the Circe myth. After ten years of wandering, sight is restored to nine blind youths by these nymphs. (Gentile interprets the period as the interval between Bruno leaving Naples in 1576 and the publication of the Heroic Frenzies in 1585.) This diversion in praise of Sidney's countrywomen is omitted from the Argument of "The allegory of the fifth Dialogue" which closes as "the Italian" presents his discourse to Sidney as to one who can truly hear and appreciate.

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