Giordano Bruno's Cabala del cavallo pegaseo (The Cabala of Pegasus) grew out of the great Italian philosopher's experiences lecturing and debating at Oxford in early 1584. Having received a cold reception there because of his viewpoints, Bruno went on in the Cabala to attack the narrow-mindedness of the university--and by extension, all universities that resisted his advocacy of intellectual freethinking. The Cabala of Pegasus consists of vernacular dialogues that turn on the identification of the noble Pegasus (the spirit of poetry) and the humble ass (the vehicle of divine revelation). In the interplay of these ideas, Bruno explores the nature of poetry, divine authority, secular learning, and Pythagorean metempsychosis, which had great influence on James Joyce and many other writers and artists from the Renaissance to the modern period. This book, the first English translation of The Cabala of Pegasus, contains both the English and Italian versions as well as helpful annotations. It will have particular appeal to all Renaissance scholars and those interested in the Renaissance cabalistic underpinnings of modern literature.
The Renaissance writers adapted the dialogue form to represent the culture they were creating, using it for numerous subjects: philosophy, ethics, politics, religion, the arts, the study of language, and literature. The dialogue was an appropriate form for works which are at once serious, ironical, and critical. Giordano Bruno's Italian dialogues are a case in point. A discussion of the relationship between the human soul and the universal soul, concluding with the negation of the absolute individuality of the former. Bruno, making use of Neoplatonic imagery, treats the attainment of union with the infinite One by the human soul and exhorts man to the conquest of virtue and truth. Giordano Bruno was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician and astronomer. His cosmological theories went beyond the Copernican model in proposing that the Sun was essentially a star, and moreover, that the universe contained an infinite number of inhabited worlds populated by other intelligent beings.