A Short History of Little Green Men (Pt 1)

A Short History of Little Green Men (Pt 1)

“Stars are other suns with their own planets.”

So posited Giordano Bruno in his “On the Infinite Universe and Worlds” in 1584. The notion of other earths and other suns rather than a universe that spiraled in their spheres around one inhabitable planet was a dangerous notion in his time.


Even more provocatively, Bruno also wrote that these other earths “have no less virtue nor a nature different to that of our earth” and, like Earth, “contain animals and inhabitants”.

The next step in such speculation leads one to wonder what these inhabitants might be doing. From the earliest of such musings, writers projected human flaws and idiosyncrasies upon anyone who might be up there living on the moon, planets, or beyond.

white moon

Anton Maria Schyrleus of Rheita wrote in the early seventeenth century “If Jupiter has…inhabitants…they must be larger and more beautiful than the inhabitants of the Earth, in proportion to the [size] of the two spheres.” He was cautious of uttering any declaritive sentences about the actual possibility of such inhabitants lest he be prosecuted.

Also seventeenth century, Cyrano de Bergerac (the man of whom Rosand based his play) wrote in “The Other World – The Societies and Governments of the Moon” that the moon itself held moon-people with which he has theological arguements. His work has a Gulliver’s Travels fancy to its telling yet remains a worthwhile read over four hundred years later. 

We can start around here in understanding where the notion of little green men come from. It took telescopes and great minds to find the worlds in our solar system and moons around those worlds, and math and observation to know that their motion said much about our own planet. It took other writers to speculate what or who lived on those worlds.

When you read about Giordano Bruno’s fate (he couldn’t keep his mouth shut about his notions of cosmology. By the time of his execution by the Catholic Church, he had spikes driven into the roof of his mouth to silence him.) you understand why so few bothered with flights of imagination concerning other worlds and their inhabitants.

(Sources: Full text of Cyrano’s “The Other World – The Societies and Governments of the Moon.” http://www.bewilderingstories.com/special/tow.html

Wikis: Giodano Bruno https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giordano_Bruno

Anton Maria Schyrleus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anton_Maria_Schyrleus_of_Rheita

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