Thursday, February 6, 2014

Giordano Bruno -- a first site of conscience

My first walk through the city, and many subsequent ones, have taken me through one of the most popular of squares in the historic center of rome -- Campo die Fiori, the Field of Flowers.  This is a daily bustling outdoor market, ringed by popular restaurants.   It is also the home to a dark, brooding monument at its center.  The figure is Giordano Bruno, one of the great intellects of Italy in the last half of the sixteenth century.  You might know what comes next.  An intellect that great, who pushed the boundaries of thinking on a range of scientific and mathematical issues, from imagining an infinite universe, in contradiction to Church teachings, and pursuing the "dark" pursuit of mnemonics -- techniques of memory, was deemed a danger.  On February 17, 1600 he was burned on a pyre, in the center of Campo dei Fiori.  He was not the last, but he was perhaps the most famous.  Nearly 300 years later in 1889, a monument was installed.  The contrast of the crowds and explosion of color with this hooded black figure is powerful.

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