Campanella, Tommaso

Campanella, Tommaso

(tōm–mä`zō kämpänĕl`lä), 1568–1639, Italian Renaissance philosopher and writer. He entered the Dominican order at the age of 15, and although he was frequently in trouble with the authorities, he never left the church. Imprisoned in 1599 on the grounds that he was plotting against the Spanish rule of Naples, he was released in 1626 on the representation of Pope Urban VIII. His best-known work is Civitas solis (1623, tr. The City of the Sun), an account of a utopian society that closely follows the pattern of Plato's Republic. Although he retained much of scholasticism and insisted on the preeminence of faith in matters of theology, he emphasized perception and experiment as the media of science. His importance, like that of Francis Bacon and Bruno, depends largely on his anticipation of what came to be the scientific attitude of empiricism. For his Civitas solis, see Henry Morley, ed., Ideal Commonwealths (1890).

Campanella, Tommaso


Born Sept. 5, 1568, in Stilo, Italy; died May 21, 1639, in Paris. Italian philosopher, poet, and political figure; creator of a communist Utopia. Son of a shoemaker; Dominican friar from 1582.

In 1591, Campanella published his Philosophia sensibus demonstrata in defense of the philosophy of nature of B. Telesio and against Scholastic Aristotelianism. He was prosecuted by an ecclesiastical court on charges of heresy. In 1598–99 he led a conspiracy in Calabria against Spanish rule; captured, he was sentenced to life imprisonment. During nearly 27 years of confinement in Neapolitan prisons he wrote dozens of works on philosophy, politics, astronomy, and medicine, of which some were published in Germany and others circulated in manuscript. In 1626, through the intervention of Pope Urban VIII, who had become interested in his astrological prophecies, Campanella was put under the supervision of the Roman Inquisition; in May 1629 he was freed and acquitted. In 1634 he escaped to France, where, under the protection of Cardinal Richelieu, he was able to publish some of his writings.

In philosophy Campanella propounded the necessity of empirical knowledge and developed a doctrine of dual revelation (nature and Scripture). He defended Galileo but did not accept the idea of the infinity of the universe, although he did acknowledge the existence of a plurality of worlds.

His communist Utopia is a program for general social transformation on the basis of communal property (City of the Sun, written in the form of a mariner’s tale in 1602; published 1623; Russian translation, 1906) under a universal theocracy (The Messiah’s Monarchy). In his ideal communist community, private property and the family have been abolished and children are raised by the state; labor is honored and is equally obligatory for all; the workday has been shortened to four hours, owing to a high level of productivity and the use of machines; and much attention is given to the development of science (“magical knowledge”) and to education and vocational training. The leadership of the communist community is exercised by a caste of scholar-priests. After the collapse of the Calabrian conspiracy, Campanella rested his hopes for the realization of his program on European sovereigns (at first the Spanish king and later the French) and the pope. He strove for the spiritual unity of mankind within a Catholicism reformed in accordance with his ideals.

Campanella’s nature philosophy was one of the prerequisites for the new natural science, and his communist Utopia makes him an early precursor of scientific socialism.

His poetry (canzoni, madrigals, sonnets) affirms with great power his faith in human reason and exposes the contradictions between the individual’s unhappy fate and the perfection of the universe, as well as the tragedy of the man who has lighted the torch of knowledge in darkness.


Poesie filosofiche. Lugano, 1834.
Tutte le opere, vol. 1. Milan-Verona, 1954.
Lettere. Bari, 1927.
Opuscoli inediti. Florence, 1951.
Cosmologia. Rome, 1964.
I sacri segni, vols. 1–6. Rome, 1965–68.
In Russian translation:
In Antologiia mirovoi flosofi, vol. 2. Moscow, 1970. Pages 180–92.


Rutenburg, V. I. Kampanella. Leningrad, 1956.
Shtekli, A. E. Kampanella. Moscow, 1966.
Gorfunkel’, A. Kh. Tommazo Kampanella. Moscow, 1969. (With bibliography.)
De Sanctis, F. Istoriia ital’ianskoi literatury, vol. 2. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from Italian.)
Storia delta letteratura italiana, vol. 5: Il seicento. Milan, 1967.
Bonansea, B. M. T. Campanella. Washington, 1969.
Badaloni, N. Tommaso Campanella. Milan, 1965.
Corsano, A. Tommaso Campanella. Bari, 1961.
Firpo, L. Bibliografia degli scritti di Tommaso Campanella. Turin, 1940.
Firpo, L. Ricerche Campanelliane. Florence, 1947.