The value of food what food are you?
Some food is good for our health, and some harmful to us. The production of healthy food decreases and almost eliminates the impact on available resources and eliminates most of...
Some food is good for our health, and some harmful to us. The production of healthy food decreases and almost eliminates the impact on available resources and eliminates most of...
At the port of Livorno, no one had noticed the rustling of that bulky cloak. Blessed by the most desiring stars, the curved shape of Settimontano Squilla was embarking on a...
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The rigorous and meticulous Immanuel Kant, the milestone of modern philosophy, pleasure and pain of high school students, also had its own detailed “gastronomic...
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Since the dawn of time, man has tried to get in touch with the gods, perceived as superior intelligence, through the modified states of consciousness, both with the help of...
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At the port of Livorno, no one had noticed the rustling of that bulky cloak. Blessed by the most desiring stars, the curved shape of Settimontano Squilla was embarking on a merchant ship. On the ridge of the ending night and the rising dawn, the ship was already heading for Marseille.
However, a piercing breeze kept even more awake this traveller, who had indulged too much in forced sleep in recent years. Philosophizing at dawn, free, under an irrepressible, open sky, was the most beautiful lesson he had ever taught, yet a silent one.
“I resisted torture for 48 hours, can’t I now bear the influence of these morning stars?” he said to himself, savouring the first air of freedom, which was expanding minute by minute. The freedom he wanted to throw even beyond that zodiac, which had always oriented, yet certainly not determined, his life.
He was also recalling that distant May dinner, in his lost homeland, in which the stars were equally protagonists. Towards the vespers, Tommaso Campanella, the real person hiding under the name of Settimontano, in a secret place in the Spanish province of Calabria, brought together the noblest and most indignant souls, those who jealously longed for their freedom, and were eager to conspire against Madrid. A secret diplomatic plot had planned that the Turkish fleet, led by the legendary admiral Cicala, would move promptly towards the coasts facing the towns of Stilo and Reggio.
Fra’ Tommaso evoked one by one those words, which like spring water, he practically yelled at the diners at the end of the meal, after many courses and pouring wines: “First, one plucks up and cleans, then one builds and plants. After the appearance of the new star, a great Monarchy of law, renewed arts, prophets and transformation will rise.”
Nevertheless, the summoned stars become his misfortune. The conspiracy revealed, all the participants fled and many, including Campanella, were arrested. From prison to prison, after almost three decades, he finally reached Rome.
Suddenly, the stars changed their course. Thanks to the archbishop of Nazareth, Urban VIII brought him to Rome, not pardoned but free. Here he became the Pope’s adviser for astrological queries. If that morning in Leghorn he secretly embarked for France, it would be thanks to Cardinal Barberini, to the transalpine ambassador De Noailles and to the head of that Church that, for a long time, and perhaps still at present, considered him a heretic.
Here comes France, both welcoming and suspicious, where illustrious guests were honoured for their fame and together kept at a distance. He spent those long Parisian days inside the monastery of Saint Honorè, the Academies and, rarely, in the parlours at the court of Louis XIII, at the invitation of the Grand Chancellor. Much appreciated was the special access to the Jardin Royal, which the sovereign had built and opened to medical students in the capital.
Fra’ Tommaso willingly visited this magical place to listen to the three demonstrators, who illustrated the history and properties of plants and herbs to the future French doctors.
Many years earlier, maybe in a dream, it was a herb to prefigure his fate. They say that, as a child, a farmer made him pastor. Driven by his flock on Mount Consolino, he found a lush and very tasty herb. Thus, he ate it: it was the herb of wisdom. As legend has it, those who feed on it will penetrate all the mysteries of the world.
However, let’s go back to a hot summer afternoon in Paris. Under the generous shade of a huge linden in the Jardin Royal, many reminiscences related to his ancient passion resurfaced in the restless philosopher’s mind, such as the words written by his imprisoned friend Scioppio. From the scorching cells of Castel Nuovo prison in Naples, he recommended the correct summer diet, which started from the refusal to drink too much wine and “snowy” – chilly – water, terrible for health in the hot weather:
“…drink water with a little of vinegar and with grounded garlic, fragrant herbs and bread dipped in vinegar. All fragrant herbs have the same effect: they awake the appetite, favour digestion and make food more pleasant. […] If unable to get these herbs, take some bread, drizzle it with water, vinegar, and spread some dried oregano flowers and eat it. You will notice that the whole body will freshen up straight away, enliven the spirit, and forces will come back. […] During summer, eat frequently, three or four times a day, but use watery and soft food such as pumpkin and onion: always cook them, unless you want to eat them raw with some garlic. Eat watery vegetables, such as bugloss, chicory, borage, hops and not cauliflower or mustard, which go better in the wintertime. Meat should be veal, poultry, and fowl; avoid sparrows and pigeons. Always add to these foods some gooseberries or something acidic; sure enough, unripe grapes together with sugar can often substitute lemons. I do not like much rose preserve. Avoid fat and hot condiments, but consume light and delicate ones; blackberry and pear jams are healthy […].
In spirit, he also felt a demonstrator, like the three, envied Ciceros of the Jardin, always careful to cross and weave the plots of the universe, in complete balance. He had experienced the harmfulness of excess during his stay at Del Tufo family, Marquis of Lavello, in Campania. They ate in a princely way and drank chilled drinks. During this time, Campanella could not even heal from his sciatica. A decisive benefit came instead from the baths of Pozzuoli and Agnano. Still, the decisive turning point came from the more sober food and the “blessed tight circumstances of the monastery”. Moreover, Fra’ Tommaso never forgot to combine the words of integral health in the following litany: prayer, study, exercise, work, rest and food.
Another delight, alas a rare one, was the visit to the Cabinet de Curiosities, adjacent to the Palais gardens. Within this chamber of wonders, made of intriguing play of lights, shadows and tones of a Platonic cave, university professors, collectors and especially curious enthusiasts collected rarities from the whole globe, eccentric elements, ancient artefacts, extremely rare natural finds, incredible futuristic trinkets and many indefinable objects.
The famous physician Cureau introduced Fra’ Tommaso to this special place on the recommendation of the keeper of the seals, Pierre Seguer, who fully understood the boundless versatility of the eclectic Italian thinker.
Here, he observed and learned, halfway through Cureau’s jealous resistance, each type of unique or spurious finding, atypical mixture, natural creature, experimental concoction, bizarre amulet, artistic representation, scientific invention or mechanical device.
Like the time when, inside an oriental wooden case illuminated by a dim slanted slit, he observed, at a safe distance, a turquoise ampoule within which tiny reddish drops appeared. It was that medicinal elixir of Arab origin he had fabled his The City of the Sun. One had to assume it every seven years to slow down ageing.
On another occasion, he was enraptured from having within an arm-reach, and yet out of reach, “a telescope to see the hidden stars” of Florentine provenance. Together with the sight, Cureau also referred to the hearing, so much so that he proudly flaunted, improvising a rapid test of a mysterious object, an instrument to hear the music of the planets. Nevertheless, in this case, too, Fra’ Tommaso da Stilo had already preceded him Nevertheless, in this case, too, Fra’ Tommaso da Stilo had already preceded him. Always in The City of the Sun, he supposed the invention of a hearingscope to catch the harmony from the motions of the planets”.
He likewise reminded himself of children’s education requirements inside his marvellous city of utopia: “…they will go from the highest sciences and physics to the knowledge of herbs”. Additionally, the Solare, the authorizing centre and governor of the city, “must contemplate things, not just books”.
The most passionate discussion we can recall between the doctor and the philosopher concerned a book written by Cureau and dedicated to Richelieu: New conjectures on digestion.
In front of an amazing prototype, very similar to a grappa distiller, the court doctor explained through which stages digestion took place. After all, he ruled, “…the digestive process is the antechamber of the production of spirits. The blood circulation carries through its veins the liqueur to be refined, while the arteries distil it. In such a way, he concluded with satisfaction, “the quintessence of spirits arrives in the brain”.
Campanella, putting on the clothes of an ancient doctor of theology, resorted to the most powerful of his paraphernalia. The emerging chemistry had to give way to the real driving force of nature. Thus, a flicker of logos brought him back to Grossatesta, according to whom, with all due respect to Descartes’ modern theories, “God always continues to spread his light.” God is not a simple watchmaker who gives the charge to the cosmos and then withdraws: “The sun does not shine – the Italian Friar asserted – but God in the sun. Neither man speaks, but God in man.”
Even the talks about love did not clear the differences and mistrust. Although Fra ’Tommaso understood more l’amour d’inclination proposed by Cureau. “As the wind produces effects and is not seen – the philosopher said – we give the name of spirit to all those things that do not fall under the dominion of the senses. Hence the passion of love that is communicated to another soul is a debordament (overflow) of spirits from one’s own body”. Once again, however, chemistry and science were not enough to calm the Calabrian philosopher. According to him, “the golden chain and light that holds the whole universe together” is not only earthly but comes directly from heaven.
However, even the cultured and eccentric Italian had his undisputed glory days on French soil.
It all began with the almost miraculous birth of the heir to the throne Luigi-Diodato, long-awaited at court for more than three decades. In a dramatic milieu for France, amid the bloodthirsty Thirty Years War, with Louis XIII now old and sick, and Richelieu in his fifties, this birth was a real turning point for the future of the Bourbon dynasty.
A new prospect for the concerned family, above all for his mother, Anne of Austria. For the necessary inscription of Diodato’s individual fate within the national and European history, the family considered appropriate to officialise the birth with the preparation of a horoscope. As a result, in 1638, not long after the birth of the Dolphin of France on 5 of September, it seems that Cardinal Richelieu himself asked the sensitive prediction of a man “aussi bon philosophe que savant prédire l’avenir1“, who had shown great astrological talent. He invited Tommaso Campanella for this interpretation.
The controversial Italian philosopher appeared twice at court and, after a few days, was graced with observing the naked body of the child.
Richelieu himself had explicitly requested a non-affected and favourable prediction. Since he was a straightforward person, Fra ’Tommaso spoke clearly in an official text now lost, but whose fame spread over time between history and legend. He affirmed, “This child will be lustful and very superb. He will reign for a long time. But in a severe and yet fortunate way, he will end miserably and after that, there will be great confusion in the Church and the State”.
Nobody knows how this prediction was received. We have no account of the events. We know, instead, that the Italian philosopher-astrologer, a few months later, in December 1638, composed a genuine work dedicated to the royal birth, the Eclogue to the Dauphin.
Since the news of its forthcoming publication in the city was growing, Louis XIII, a little out of paternal curiosity and more for reasons of state, wanted to know its contents in advance.
Shortly before Christmas, the King invited Fra’ Tommaso at the winter pavilion of the Jardin Royal, away from the clamour and noise of the court.
He entered the pavilion shortly before breakfast time. A long walk through the exotic plants brought him back to the glittering colours of his Calabria and other unknown islands. The head gardener accompanied him, marking, during the walk, names as fascinating as unknown: a variety of Hamamelis with red flowers, the soft feathers of cortedaria seollana, the small maples of Japan, and the Cornelian cherry ‘winter flame’.
The King promptly invited him to sit at the table. Without any delay, he asked him,”Father, what will you say about my son Louis?”
Campanella, who had not brought any written speech with him, began to describe his prophecy quickly revealing the title of his work, Ecloga Christianissimis Regi et Reginae in portentosam Delphini, Orbis Christiani summae spei, nativitatem2.
The portentous baby was born on Sunday like him, on September 5, exactly seventy years later. To explain to his father how Louis-Diodato would achieve the palingenesis of the world in this “new century”, the Italian philosopher said of him: “The future King will be the founder of Heliaca, the city of the sun”.
To project the elderly King into the perfect world of the City of the Sun, a world he had always longed for in the skies of utopia, Campanella asked Louis XIII to convey some simple recipes used by the Solari to the cooks and court staff. He also added the best way to present foods on the table inside a sombre scenography.
That day in Paris, a month before the publication of the book and a little less than a year after his death, he would bring a piece of utopia on the earth.
“At the table, Your Majesty, we Solari have banished all rumble because the banquet means respect and love. It seeks harmony between generations”.
Immediately a young man dressed in simple white linen clothes began to read Plato, with an “elderly teacher” who inserted short comments during the breaks. Further on, among a speckled maple grove, women of various ages played sweet stringed instruments (since they prohibited loud sounds of trumpets and drums in Hiliaca). Meanwhile, an elderly man, with gentle movements, gave instructions to the young servants.
“Our kitchen – Your Majesty – distinguishes useful and useless foods, sober and excessive ones, according to medicine. It is essential to serve fish, meat and herbs alternatively, according to days and seasons. All following a cycle, so not to burden or exhaust nature.”
Therefore, Fra’ Tommaso continued: “Like the doctors, I, on your license, have told the cooks what sort of food is worth on this special day, dish and soup, fruits and cheese”.
As the soup arrived at the table, continuing to praise the sobriety of the Solari’s life and recipes, the master proudly added, “This is why people live up to a hundred years in the city of the Sun”.
It was a frugal apple soup, so out of tune and out of date in that regal setting that it appeared almost unimaginable. Louis XIII seemed to like it, perhaps because of the surprise or the good warmth this spread; more probably, because that reference to longevity restored new hope in his declining age. Campanella was quick to describe the soup before it cooled, “Your Majesty. Just apples, a sprig of wild fennel, a celery stalk and a small onion, and lastly an assorted dressing”.
Between a magnificent description of the perfect city and another, the Italian philosopher also had time to introduce the next dish: stuffed veal spit, slowly cooked, covered with “petrosello et maiorana” (parsley and marjoram), a little of grated cheese, and one last drizzle of various spices, including the mace of the Indies.
To follow, a simple conclusive preparation that better dries the winter moods, dried figs, laid on a fine crust of spiced bread, cheese mousse, honey and walnuts.
After all this, Maestro Tommaso, noticing the impatience of King Louis, got to the core of the prophecy he was about to publish.
“Diodato, your dolphin, magnificent King Louis, will bring the ancient kingdoms of Saturn back on earth. Under his authority, a century of peace and prosperity will be reborn. He will be the symbol of the Sun and will embody my great dream of a lifetime.”
Settimontano Squilla left his mortal life on May 21, 1639, a few months after the prophetic announcement of the new century unfolded to the future Louis XIV. A few weeks earlier, he had foreseen the eclipse on June 1st, sensing it would be fatal for him. They say that, in the last months of life, he returned several times to a new mission he desired to accomplish, becoming a missionary in Ethiopia and, in the meantime, seeking the mythical kingdom of Zan. Another Rex et Sacerdos would have waited for him on the throne of Utopia: Priest Gianni.
FRANCO BANCHI “Such a good philosopher who can predict the future”
Biography of Tommaso Campanella
Tommaso Campanella was born in Calabria (in Stilo) in 1568. He entered the Dominican order
when he was still very young. Because of his unorthodox ideas on religion, he soon found himself
in the sights of the Inquisition, which would accuse him of heresy and imprison him in Rome, like
He returned to Calabria in 1599. Here he attempted to organize an insurrection against the Spanish
rule and lay the foundations for a profound civil, political and religious reform.
Arrested and sentenced, he remained in prison for 27 years, never losing his hopes. During all these
years, he never stopped writing, especially on philosophy and notably, a book dedicated to Galileo,
whose work and thought he appreciated.
In 1626, he regained partial freedom. He left prison but remained in Rome, under the control of the
Holy Office. Thanks to the goodwill of Pope Urban VIII, Campanella would see his confinement
annulled. Nevertheless, in 1633, he was accused again of anti-Spanish heresy and propaganda. To
avoid getting in more troubles, he decided to take refuge in Paris, under the protection of Louis XIII
and his court. He devoted himself to the publication of his writings, including an astrological
pamphlet on the birth of Louis XIV. Among his many works, by far the most famous is The City of
He died in the French capital in 1639.