Duracotus studies with the students of the astronomer Tycho Brahe at the Uraniborg observatory on the island of Hven
After studying at Uraniborg for years, Duracotus returns to Iceland and his mother Fiolxhilde, who thought him dead
Fiolxhilde reveals the occult art of conversing & travelling with certain ‘wise spirits’ encountered in Iceland
by guest contributor Nicholas Bellinson
One Bohemian night in 1608, the Imperial Mathematician gazed up at the moon and the stars. In the seven years since he had received that title, Johannes Kepler had discovered many things about these celestial bodies, some true and some (as Hesiod said) like the truth: that planets moved around the sun, not the earth; that they moved in ellipses, not perfect circles; that they were enormous magnets – to name a few. The following year, he would publish these discoveries as his New Astronomy, a book which would make his name a fixed star in the firmament of science. On this particular night, however, a different book was on Kepler’s mind. His curiosity had been aroused by popular historical comparisons to the current troubles between Emperor Rudolph and his brother, the Archduke Matthias; while investigating Bohemian legends, Kepler had come across the story…
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from the Frederick III Ordway Collection, US Space & Rocket Center:
The first two notes prepared by Kepler for his Somnium, which was published posthumously in 1634. In the first note he referred to the name Duracrotus (the book’s hero) and to the fact that “The sound of this word came to me from a recollection of names of a similar sound in the history of Scotland, a land that looks out over the Icelandic Ocean.” In the sec¬ond note he begins by explaining that Iceland, Duracrotus’s home, “means ‘land of ice1 in our German language. I saw in this truly remote island a place where I might sleep and dream and thus imitate the philosophers in this kind of writing. . . .”
Duracrotus is usually given as Duracotus (with no second ‘r’) by most translators of Somnium to English.
The notes on this page by Kepler also notes the legend related by Plutarch (46 – 120 AD) in a discussion of the moon and other matters, that distant and mysterious Iceland was said to be a gateway to other worlds.