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Fillipo Bruno 1548-1600 was born in Nola near Naples Taking the name Giordano upon becoming a member of the Dominican order he was educated in the Aristotelian and Thomist traditions and eventually came to espouse a mystical Neoplatonism mixed with ideas imbibed from a resurgent interest of that time in the works of the apocryphal Hermes Trismegistus His heterodox beliefs soon attracted the attention of the Inquisition first in Naples and then in Rome To avoid prosecution he renounced his Dominican vows and fled from Italy in 1576 Between 1576 and 1591 he traveled widely about Europe writing and teaching under the sponsorship of various patrons In 1591 he was invited to Venice to be tutor to a prospective patron who shortly thereafter denounced him to the Inquisition He was sent to Rome in 1592 where he was put on trial and then imprisoned and interrogated intermittently for eight years Unrepentant he was convicted of heresy by the Inquisition and executed by burning at the stake in the Piazza Campo di Fiore in Rome in 1600 Among his writings which cover a wide range of topics of only academic interest to us today chiefly Neoplatonism Hermetical philosophy and pantheism in a decidedly mystical blend was an espousal of Copernicanism and an assertion that the stars were an infinity of suns like our own each circled by worlds inhabited by intelligent beings like ourselves In popular accounts of the life of Bruno it is often said that he was condemned for his Copernicanism and his belief in life on other worlds He is portrayed as a martyr to free thought and an early prosecuted proponent of the modern view of the universe hounded across Europe by the Inquisition for his beliefs and finally paying the ultimate price for them in a fiery public death He has become a symbol of the intolerance of authority in the face of new ideas These accounts however often leave
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