Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi

Hill, Nicholas

Born: 1570, London
Died: c.1610–1620, Rotterdam
  • Sandra PlastinaEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_507-1


Nicholas Hill was one of the most intriguing and particular personalities of England during the reign of James I. Details of his life are scarce. He is the author of Philosophia Epicurea Democritiana Theophrastica proposita simpliciter, non edocta that was first published in Paris in 1601 and appeared posthumously in a “purged” edition in Geneva in 1619 (Hill 2007).

His work was considered as one of the first modern philosophical works containing an open discussion of the theories of Democritus and Epicurus and an affirmation of the heliocentric theory. There is also a significative and direct convergence between Hill and Giordano Bruno regarding the dimensions of the universe formulated in De immenso. The topics of the Philosophia Epicurea are discussed in 509 sentences or aphorisms – as Hill defines them – in which a number of Greek philosophical terms are disseminated. The work is introduced by a preface dedicated to his son and a series of 15 questions. To a hierarchical and subordinate view of reality, he opposes an alternative image of the world that shows strong traces of the complex model of interpretation of reality developed by Paracelsus.

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Primary Literature

  1. Hill, Nicholas. 2007. Philosophia Epicurea Democritiana Theophrastica, ed. S. Plastina. Pisa-Roma: Fabrizio Serra Editore.Google Scholar
  2. Tanner, M.S. Sanctus vere Deus est Bodleian Library, 305, ff. 110 and 112.Google Scholar
  3. Plastina, Sandra and Provvidera, Tiziana. 2000. Il ‘De infinitate et aeternitate mundi’ attribuito a N. Hill (Wood, M.S. Bodleian Library 42, ff. 174–175), Bollettino Filosofico, vol. 16, 50–74. Dipartimento di Filosofia dell’Università della Calabria.Google Scholar

Secondary Literature

  1. Aubrey, John. 1949. Brief lives, ed. O.L. Dick and A. Clark, 253–260. London: Secker and Warburg.Google Scholar
  2. Clucas, Stephen. 1997. The infinite variety of formes and magnitudes: 16th-and 17th-Century English corpuscular philosophy and Aristotelian theories of matter and form. Early Science and Medicine III(3): 251–271.Google Scholar
  3. Clucas, Stephen. 2000. ‘Hill, Nicholas’ (1570-c. 1620). In The dictionary of seventeenth-century British philosophers, ed. A. Pyle, 424–426. Bristol: Thoemmes Press.Google Scholar
  4. Jonson, Ben. 1954. Conversations with William Drummond of Hawthorned. In Works, vol. 145, ed. E. Simpson, I. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Plastina, Sandra. 1998. Nicholas Hill: ‘The English Campanella?’. Bruniana & Campanelliana IV(1): 207–212.Google Scholar
  6. Plastina, Sandra. 2001. Nicholas Hill and Giordano Bruno: The new cosmology in the ‘Philosophia Epicurea’. In Giordano Bruno tra scienza e filosofia, ed. E. Canone, A. Rossi, Physis 38(1–2): 415–432.Google Scholar
  7. Trevor-Roper, Hugh. 1989. Nicholas Hill, the English atomist, in Catholics, Anglicans and Puritans: seventeenth century essays, 1–39. London: Fontana Press.Google Scholar
  8. Trevor-Roper, Hugh. 2004. Hill, Nicholas (1570–c. 1610). In Oxford dictionary of national biography, online ed., edited by David Cannadine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/13287. Accessed 11 Jan 2017.

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanistic StudiesUniversity of CalabriaArcavacata di Rende-CosenzaItaly

Section editors and affiliations

  • Marco Sgarbi
    • 1
  1. 1.University Ca' Foscari VeniceVeniceItaly