|This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:|
Vanini on human descent.
This article says: "Vanini was a polygenist, who argued that Africans are descended from apes because of their skin colour, while other races are not. In his book De Admirandis Naturae Reginae Deaeque Mortalium Arcanis (1616), he wrote that only the Negro descends from the monkey and that there are lower and higher levels within humanity (a race hierarchy); he also reported in the book that other atheists supported this position as opposed to the theory of monogenism". This I can however not read from the two given references:
- Guido Bolaffi, Dictionary of race, ethnicity and culture 2003, p. 221 says: "Subsequently, in 1616, the Italian scholar Giulio Cesare Vanini stated in his De Admirandis Naturae Reginae Deaeque Mortalium Arcanis that primeval humans were not upright and that humankind was divided into lower and and higher levels. This was regarded as so provocative that the author was judged to be a heretic and condemned to the stake (EVOLUTION)."
- Richard Henry Popkin, Isaac La Peyrère (1596-1676): his life, work, and influence, 1987, p. 39 says: "Among the few items are some comments by Lucilio Vanini, Francis Bacon and, Tommaso Campanella. In Vanini's De Admirandis Naturae Reginae Deaeque Mortalium Arcanis, he offered the view that some 'have dreamed' that the first man originated from mud, putrified by monkeys, swine and frogs. Further, Vanini reported, there have been other atheists who have maintained that only the Ethiopians came from monkeys." and in the footnote to those statements it says that "This passage was apparently considered quite significant in the history of anthropology. It is quoted in Bendysche, op. cit. p.355 and Slotkin op. cit. p. 80."
Encyclopaedia Britannica (vol 27, p 894) from which most of the remaining text in the article is taken (though somewhat modified) says nothing on the subject.
In Readings In Early Anthropology p. 80 by James Sydney Slotkin (not used as reference of this article, but given by Popkin above) there is a translation:
Lucilio Vanini (1585 - 1619) put the following words into the mouth of one of the speakers in a dialogue:
Others have dreamed that the first man has taken his origin from mud, putrified by the corruption of certain monkeys, swine, and frogs, and thence (they say) proceeds the great resemblance there is betwixt our flesh and propensions, and that of those creatures. Other atheists, more mild, have thought that none but the Ethipians [sic!] are produced from a race of monkeys, because the same degree of heat is found in both... Atheists cry out to us continually, that the first men went upon all four as other beasts, and 'tis by education only they have changed this custom, which, nevertheless, in their old age, returns to them.
The original text can probably be found somewhere among the 500 pages of De Admirandis Naturae Reginae Deaeque Mortalium Arcanis, but it doesn't seem to me worth the effort to scan through 500 pages of Latin for a quote that obviously is quite insignificant, perhaps not even expresses the view of the author and doubtfully belongs in the article.