August 25, 2020

The Science and Prophecies of Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac

Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac was born in Paris on March 6th, 1619. He was the son of Abel de Cyrano, whose father had arrived from Bergamo, Italy.

He grew to fame as an author, exploring the universe through his works on science-fiction which also later served as the basis of inspiration for other writers.

Cyrano was immortalized in a play by Edmond Rostand. In the play Cyrano is an ugly man, with an abnormally large nose, but at the same time gallant in battle and possesses outstanding swordsmanship. Though largely remembered by his portrayal in Rostand’s play, Cyrano was no doubt an extremely talented man – a curious scholar, playwright, satirist, science-fiction writer, and maybe even a prophet. Though Rostand highlights the ugliness of Cyrano in his play, Cyrano de Bergerac (1897), Rostand deeply respected the French author, and held him in high regard as his favorite writer.

Adding to his long list of talents, Cyrano also appears to have had an incredible sense of humour, admitting that his nose was so large, it preceded him by a quarter of an hour.

Building on his reputation as an impressive swordsman, when he was aged 19, Cyrano joined the company of guards. He would fight in the Siege of Arras in 1640, only to be badly wounded, which led him to leave his career in the military behind him, and follow a more academical route under the tuition of the philosopher and mathematician Pierre Gassendi.

While studying under the tuition of Gassendi, Cyrano wrote his two most famous works, entitled Histoire comique des états et empires de la lune and Histoire comique des états et empires du soleil. His works are based on travels to the Moon and Sun, and were published in 1656 and 1662.

Around the time of Galilieo’s imprisonment, Cyrano also described how the Earth, as well as the other planets of the Solar System, orbit around the Sun. He is also regarded as the first science-fiction writer to propose the idea of Rocket propulsion as a means of interplanetary travel. Not only does his fictional character use a rocket to ascend to the Moon, but he also writes about the gods and mythological beings of old, as being visitors from the Moon who could shapeshift at will. A proposal made well before other famous authors came up with the same theory, like Erich von Däniken.

Cyrano’s stories detail a range of futuristic advancements which are incredibly fascinating. He had ideas for various technological breakthroughs, like devices which could record and play back speech, the light bulb, rocket propulsion, and even houses that could retract into the surface of the Moon like screws, or become mobile through flight, with the aid of sails.

Though he inspired great works, he also made a lot of enemies through his political writings. He wrote a political pamphlet staunchly against the men of the Fronde, while defending Mazarin. His enemies in some stories are responsible for his death, as some think he was murdered.

Though his death remains a mystery, there are numerous theories that have gained interest over the years. These theories range from Cyrano dying of disease, to being hit on the head by a falling stone, that was dropped by one of his enemies. 

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