VIDAL Silvina Paula
congresos y reuniones científicas
Giordano Bruno's metaphor of the Spanish conquest as a swallowing whale"
Otro; ERC-Early Modern Cosmology: Institutions and Metaphisics. Series of colloquia; 2019
Institución organizadora:
Università Ca'Foscari, Departamento di Filosofia e Beni Culturali
Between 1584 and 1591, Giordano Bruno developed a harsh criticism to Spanish colonization in America. Although there a few explicit references in his work, they play a major role in connecting cosmological, anthropological and religious aspects of his universal reform. Bruno's anthropological defense of pre-adamic polygenism (natural, plural and independent generation of different human groups in diverse countries) runs parallel at a cosmological level with the existence of infinite homogeneous and autonomous planetary systems. Spanish domination in America could not be justified by any kind of religious, cultural or economic superiority, but it was associated with piracy, deceit, depredation and brutal violence. In this occasion I will address the third dialogue of Spaccio della Bestia Trionfante, where Argo Navis symbolizes European colonization in its Spanish version. Saverio Ricci has related this Brunian motif with Sebastian Brant?s stultifera navis, Erasmus' Folly and the reflection on the tragic effects of European wars of religion and the conquest of the New World. Without underestimating this interesting analysis, but enriching and expanding it, I would like to focus on the transformation that operates on the same passage of Argo Navis into a whale that swallows and vomits naked bodies, with the purpose of tracing the literary and iconographical sources of this metaphor. I will argue that despite the fact that Bruno, in his attempt to invert a Biblical methapor, relates whales to monsters following an old cultural tradition (present in the Physiologus and Medieval Bestiaries), he was also aware of natural histories and cosmographies, which impulsed by Renaissance maritime discoveries and new modes of observation and description of nature, pretended to give the more updated and accurate information on cetaceans.