Focusing on the figures of Plato, Archimedes, and Caravaggio, The Divine Spark of Syracuse discloses the role that Syracuse, a Greek cultural outpost in Sicily, played in fueling creative energies. Among the topics this book explores are Plato and the allegory of the cave, and the divine spark mentioned in his Seventh Letter. It also considers the machines of Archimedes, including his famous screw, and the variety of siege and antisiege weapons that he developed for the defense of his hometown during the siege of Syracuse during the Second Punic War, including “the hand” (a giant claw), the “burning mirror,” and the catapult. The final chapter offers a look at the artist and roustabout Caravaggio. On the run after yet another street brawl, Caravaggio traveled to Syracuse, where he painted Burial of St. Lucy (Santa Lucia) in 1608. Typical of his late works, the painting is notable for its subdued tones and emotional and psychological delicacy. This captivating book lends clear insight into the links between the sense of place and inspiration in philosophy, mathematics, and art. Rowland is the most learned tour guide we could ask for.
Ingrid D. Rowland is professor at the Rome Global Gateway of the University of Notre Dame, based in the Department of History and the School of Architecture.