Saturday, 28 January 2012

Kepler in Wells's War of the Worlds

Wells opens War of the Worlds with an epigraph:
'But who shall dwell in these Worlds if they be inhabited? ... Are we or they Lords of the World? ... And how are all things made for man?' KEPLER (quoted in 'The Anatomy of Melancholy')
Burton's citation comes in Anat. Mel. 2:2.  He cites Kepler as authority on meteors; and includes his opinion in the debate as to whether 'every star in heaven hath a soul'.
Kepler between jest and earnest ... seems in part to agree with this, and partly to contradict; for the planets, he yields them to be inhabited, he doubts of the stars. ... But who shall dwell in these vast bodies, earths, worlds, “if they be inhabited? rational creatures?” as Kepler demands, “or have they souls to be saved? Or do they inhabit a better part of the world than we do? Are we or they lords of the world? And how are all things made for man?”
Interesting that Wells omits the Copernican anxiety about souls, the uniqueness of Christ's atonement and the question about whether alien worlds could be better than ours (presumably his dramatic need for Mars to be worse-off than Earth informs that). Here's the original Latin:"Quid igitur inquires, si sunt in coelo plures globi, similes nostrae telluria an cum illis certabimus, quis meliorem mundi plagam teneat? Si nobiliores illorum globi, nos non sumus creaturarum rationalium nobilissimi: quomodo igitur omnia propter hominem? Quomodo nos domini operum Dei?"

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