Galileo in Rome: The Rise and Fall of a Troublesome Genius

Galileo in Rome: The Rise and Fall of a Troublesome Genius

Galileo in Rome: The Rise and Fall of a Troublesome Genius

Galileo in Rome: The Rise and Fall of a Troublesome Genius

Synopsis

Galileo's trial by the Inquisition is one of the most dramatic incidents in the history of science and religion. Today, we tend to see this event in black and white--Galileo all white, the Church all black. Galileo in Rome presents a much more nuanced account of Galileo's relationship with Rome. The book offers a fascinating account of the six trips Galileo made to Rome, from his first visit at age 23, as an unemployed mathematician, to his final fateful journey to face the Inquisition. The authors reveal why the theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun, set forth in Galileo's Dialogue, stirred a hornet's nest of theological issues, and they argue that, despite these issues, the Church might have accepted Copernicus if there had been solid proof. More interesting, they show how Galileo dug his own grave. To get the imprimatur, he brought political pressure to bear on the Roman Censor. He disobeyed a Church order not to teach the heliocentric theory. And he had a character named Simplicio (which in Italian sounds like simpleton) raise the same objections to heliocentrism that the Pope had raised with Galileo. The authors show that throughout the trial, until the final sentence and abjuration, the Church treated Galileo with great deference, and once he was declared guilty commuted his sentence to house arrest. Here then is a unique look at the life of Galileo as well as a strikingly different view of an event that has come to epitomize the Church's supposed antagonism toward science.

Excerpt

Galileo is the father of modern science and a major figure in the history of mankind. He belongs to the small group of thinkers who transformed Western culture, and his clash with ecclesiastical authorities is one of the most dramatic incidents in the long history of the relations between science and religion.

In 1633 the Roman Inquisition condemned Galileo for teaching that the earth moves. The trial was the outcome of a series of events that are described in this book and are usually referred to as the Galileo Affair. It extended over a period of several years, during which different popes, cardinals, and civil personalities entered the scene and made their exit. We can even speak of two Galileo trials, one in 1616 and the other in 1633, although only the second was a trial in the legal sense. The new science, which today pervades our entire life, was just emerging, and very few were able to realize what was happening at the time. Most people were not ready to abandon cherished traditional ideas for daring hypotheses that had yet to be proved.

Galileo made six long visits to Rome, totaling over five hundred days, during which he met the pope, high-ranking members of the Church and the nobility, as well as leading figures of the literary and scientific establishment. His career can be seen in a novel and fascinating way when studied from the vantage point of the city where he was most anxious to be known and approved. This is what our work does for the first time. Each chapter corresponds to one trip, thereby providing a clear framework for the main events of Galileo's life and allowing a fresh insight into the nature of the problems that he faced.

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