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8 Laughing at Phaeton’s Fall: A New Man

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Chapter Summary

This chapter deals with the ethical implications and consequences of Copernicus's work by considering various sources and episodes. Bruno attaches special relevance to civil values, virtues and institutions, for instance law, the application of justice, respect for the State and rebellion against tyranny. Bruno's heroic frenzy owes much to Ficino's divine frenzy. Actaeon represents the intellect seeking divine wisdom, while the greyhounds are the "operation of the intellect". Some anti-Pythagorean and anti-atomist disputations held at the University of Helmstedt bear witness to hostility toward Epicureanism, atomism and cosmological novelties. Mencius rejected the elemental composition of the celestial bodies. The followers of Copernicus's planetary system were inclined to exalt the new condition of humanity, its freedom and its divine, celestial place. Phaeton's fall lost any possible meaning, since the Earth took over the role of the heavenly vessel once represented by the chariot of Apollo.

Keywords: Actaeon; Apollo; Bruno; Copernicus; Ficino; Helmstedt; Mencius; Phaeton's fall

10.1163/9789004254503_010
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