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Cyrano de Bergerac (1619 – 1655)


French dramatist and soldier, most widely remembered because of the fictional romantic play based upon his life by Edmond Rostand.
Cyrano de Bergerac
O just ones, hear me! You cannot condemn this man, monkey or parrot for saying that the moon is the world he comes from. If he is a man, all men are free. Is he then not free to imagine what he wants, even if he does not come from the moon? Can you force him to have only your visions? Impossible! You may make him say that he believes that the moon is not a world, but still he will not believe it. To believe something, one must imagine that it is more probable than not. Unless you show him what is probable or he realizes it himself, he may tell you that he believes and yet he will not believe.
Bergerac quotes
You will say, 'How can chance assemble in one place all the things necessary to produce an oak tree?' My answer is that it would be no miracle if the matter thus arranged had not formed an oak. But it would have been a very great miracle if, once the matter was thus arranged, an oak had not been formed. A few less of some shapes, and it would have been an elm, a poplar, a willow, an elder, heather or moss. A little more of some other shapes and it might have been a sensitive plant, an oyster in its shell, a worm, a fly, a frog, a sparrow, an ape or a man.
Bergerac
His ridiculous and diabolical opinions made me shudder. I began to look a little more closely at this person and was amazed to see something frightening in his face that I had not noticed before: his eyes were small and sunken, his skin dark, his mouth big, his chin hairy and his nails black. Oh God, I thought immediately, this miserable creature is condemned already and may even be the Antichrist that people talk about so much in our world.




Bergerac Cyrano de quotes
One day, my male companion (they took me for the female) told me what had really caused him to wander about the world and finally to leave it for the Moon. He had not been able to find a single country where the imagination was free.
Bergerac Cyrano de
"I think the Moon is a world like this one, and the Earth is its moon."
My friends greeted this with a burst of laughter. "And maybe," I told them, "someone on the Moon is even now making fun of someone else who says that our globe is a world."
Cyrano de Bergerac quotes
I ran and grabbed the arm of the soldier who was lighting the fire. I tore the fuse away from him and, furious, threw myself into my machine to break down the contraption surrounding it. But I was too late. Hardly had I stepped inside when I found myself propelled into the clouds.
I was terrified, but my mind was not too upset for me to remember all that happened at that moment. I can tell you, then, that the fire burned out a bank of rockets (which had been linked together in rows of six with a hook at the edge of each set of half-dozen). Another stage ignited, then another, so that the danger in the gunpowder was left behind as it burned. When the material was used up, the scaffolding was gone. I was thinking that all I had left to do was ram my head against some mountain when I felt (without moving in the slightest) that I was still going up. My machine separated from me, and I saw it fall back to earth.
Cyrano de Bergerac
I signaled to my host to try to have the philosophers expound on some aspect of their knowledge. As a good friend he immediately rose to the occasion. I won't go into the conversation that accompanied his request, and the difference between the comic and the serious was too slight to translate.
Bergerac Cyrano de quotes
Even though they, themselves, were material beings, they could show themselves to us only by taking on bodies that our senses were able to perceive.
Bergerac
A present loses its value when it is given without the choice of the person who receives it.
Caesar was given death, and so was Cassius. However, Cassius was indebted to the slave who gave it to him, while Caesar owed nothing to his murderers, because they forced him to take it.
Bergerac Cyrano de
People were soon talking only of my bons mots, and they esteemed my wit so highly that the clergy was forced to publish a decree that forbade anyone to believe I was capable of reason, and it expressly commanded everyone of all ranks to believe no matter how intelligently I might act that I was guided by instinct.
Cyrano de Bergerac
Most men judge only by their senses and let themselves be persuaded by what they see. Just as the man whose boat sails from shore to shore thinks he is stationary and that the shore moves, men turn with the earth under the sky and have believed that the sky was turning above them. On top of that, insufferable vanity has convinced humans that nature has been made only for them, as though the sun, a huge body four hundred and thirty-four times as large as the earth, had been lit only to ripen our crab apples and cabbages.
I am not one to give in to the insolence of those brutes. I think the planets are worlds revolving around the sun and that the fixed stars are also suns that have planets revolving around them. We can't see those worlds from here because they are so small and because the light they reflect cannot reach us. How can one honestly think that such spacious globes are only large, deserted fields? And that our world was made to lord it over all of them just because a dozen or so vain wretches like us happen to be crawling around on it? Do people really think that because the sun gives us light every day and year, it was made only to keep us from bumping into walls? No, no, this visible god gives light to man by accident, as a king's torch accidentally shines upon a working man or burglar passing in the street."




Cyrano de Bergerac quotes
The great pontiff took the floor to argue the case against me. I don't remember his harangue, because I was too horrified to understand such a discordant voice, and because he made his speech with a musical instrument so loud it deafened me. He had deliberately chosen a trumpet. The violence of its martial tone was supposed to make the people call for my death and to keep them from thinking rationally, as happens in our armies, where the din of trumpets and drums prevents the soldier from thinking about the importance of his life.
Cyrano de Bergerac
With my equipment, I walked toward a thatched cottage from which I saw smoke emerging. I was scarcely within pistol-shot range when I was surrounded by a large number of savages. They were very surprised to meet me, because I think I was the first they had seen dressed in bottles. And, to confound even more all the interpretations they might have given to this attire, I walked almost without touching the ground. They could not know that any jostling of my body raised me off the ground because the dew was heated by the noonday sun and that more bottles of dew might have taken me upwards into the air.
Bergerac quotes
The apple of knowledge is not far from here. As soon as you've eaten it, you'll know as much as I do. But be careful not to make any mistakes: most of the apples hanging from that tree are enveloped in a thick skin. If you taste it, you will be brought low, beneath man; the inner part of the fruit will bring you up to the level of an angel.
Bergerac Cyrano de
The most competent physician of our world advises the patient to listen to an ignorant doctor who the patient thinks is very competent rather than to a competent doctor who the patient thinks is ignorant. He reason is that our imagination works for our good health, and as long as it is supplemented by remedies, it is capable of healing us. But the most powerful remedies are too weak when the imagination does not apply them.
Bergerac Cyrano de quotes
To tell the truth, the chariot was an astonishing sight to behold, because I had polished the steel of my flying house so carefully that it reflected the sunlight on all sides. It was so bright and dazzling that I thought, myself, that I had been carried away in a chariot of fire.
Cyrano de Bergerac
I suspect that the playwright Edmond Rostand accurately portrays his ability as a swordsman; Cyrano was something of a legend in his own time.
Cyrano de Bergerac quotes
You imagine that what you can't understand is either spiritual or does not exist. The conclusion is quite wrong; rather there are obviously a million things in the universe that we would need a million quite different organs to understand. For example, I perceive by my senses what makes a magnet point north, what makes tides rise and fall, and what becomes of an animal after death. Your people are not proportioned to perceive such miracles, just as someone blind from birth cannot imagine the beauty of a landscape, the colors of a painting or the shadings of an iris. He will imagine them as something palpable, edible, audible or olfactory. Likewise, if I were to explain to you what I perceive by the senses you do not have, you would interpret it as something that could be heard, seen, touched, smelled or tasted; but it is not like that.
Cyrano de Bergerac
How do you think a spade, sword or dagger wounds us? Because the metal is a form of matter in which the particles are closer and more tightly bound together than those of your flesh. The metal forces flesh to yield to strength, just as a galloping squadron penetrates a battle line that is of much greater extent.
And why is a piece of hot metal hotter than a piece of burning wood? Because the metal contains more heat in a smaller volume. The particles in the metal are more compact than those in the wood.
Bergerac Cyrano de
You are amazed that matter can form a man when matter is all mixed up at random and so many things go into making a person. But do you not realize that before matter forms someone it has also stopped along the way to make a stone, lead, coral, a flower, or a comet because there was too much or too little of it to make a human being? No wonder, then, that an infinite amount of incessantly moving and changing matter makes up the few animals, vegetables and minerals that we see. No wonder, either, that if you throw dice a hundred times, they will all show the same numbers at some point.
This movement of matter, then, could not fail to produce something, and whatever it is will always be admired by the unthinking person who does not realize how close it came to not being made.


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