Talk:Lucilio Vanini

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Vanini on human descent.[edit]

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:

  1. 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)."
  2. 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.

--Episcophagus (talk) 22:11, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

I've removed the material. I could not find anything that backs this claim or describes it as a significant feature of his work. NaturaNaturans (talk) 07:49, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

if anyone is interested, here an explanation of Vanini's thinking on this topic without the need to read 500 pages of Latin:SMITH, 'Nature, Human Nature, and Human Difference: Race in Early Modern Philosophy'--188.153.133.7 (talk) 14:10, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

If anyone wants to help decode this I've found the pages where these quotes are taken from. They are p232-234 on this copy on the internet archive. Here is my attempt at the latin from these pages. Can anyone improve on google translate?

I.C. Alij somniarunt ex simiarum, porcorum & ranarum putredine genitum primum hominem, ijs enim est in carne, moribusque persimilis. Quidam vero mitiores athaei, solos Aethiopes ex simiarum genere & semine prodiisse attestantur, quia & color idem in verisque conspicitur. Alex. Miror profecto cur ex ipsa hominus rectitudine non agnoscant prae excellentiorum in homine quam in brutis originem.

I.C. Imo primaeuos homines curuos quemadmodum quadrupes ambulasse Athaei vociferantur, nam & cu consenescunt fieri vt veluti quadrupes incedant, industria igitur factum esse asserunt vt pueruli compressis brachijs colligetur. Alex. Percuperum huius rei experimentum videre, an puer recens natus inter nemora quadrupes euaderet: sed missa hoc faciamus Athaeorum deliria & fides sit penes praescripta religionis. Sed cur factus est homo. I.C. Sic olim concionando hanc quaestionem resolui, vt nempe aliquid esset quod intercessione sua summis ima coapter et. Alex. id autem quomodo sit?

Piping this into google translate suggests there is indeed mention of atheists (I presume Athaei is the plural of Atheus), monkeys, pigs, frogs, Ethiopians, etc. It would be fascinating to have this properly translated due to the claim that atheists have long believed the first man walked on all fours.Cjmonks —Preceding undated comment added 01:37, 20 February 2016 (UTC)


Expansion of article[edit]

I have expanded this page by putting the Italian language version of the page through Google Translate, correcting the translation as far as I can (as a non-Italian-speaker), and weaving the result into the pre-existing article. What do you think? Here's what I think; deficiencies:

  1. My translation from Italian needs checking; I had many problems with it.
  2. There are too few citations!
  3. There is only one picture.
  4. Please check that I have not inadvertently lost any stuff from the article as it was beforehand.
  5. More links would be desirable.
  6. There may be inconsistencies between the lede and Biography sections, despite my efforts.
  7. There is an extensive list of primary sources at the bottom of the Italian page, which I have ignored.

This Vanini guy is interesting – another Galileo or Descartes? – maybe not so important, but needs to be better understood in the English-speaking world – hence my efforts! AWhiteC (talk) 00:02, 26 November 2014 (UTC) – updated on 26 and 27 November 2014

P.S. Has anybody out there got an English-language biography of Vanini, or English translations of his two works, especially the De Admirandis? AWhiteC (talk) 10:48, 26 November 2014 (UTC)

P.P.S. There is a gap in the biography between 1606 (or maybe 1608) and 1611, which seems to have been the period when Vanini picked up his radical ideas. If you know more about this, please add it in, or discuss here. AWhiteC (talk) 13:40, 26 November 2014 (UTC)