Galileo: A Very Short Introduction

By Stillman Drake | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
The final years

While Galileo was first at Siena he had written to Sister Maria Celeste saying that his name had been removed from the book of the living, so deeply did he feel his condemnation by the Church. His letters to his daughter do not survive, but this is clear from her reply:

Do not say that your name is struck de libro viventium, for that is not so, either in the rest of the world or in your own country. Rather, it seems to me that if your name and reputation were briefly under a cloud, they are now restored to greater fame — which is astonishing, since I know that no one is accounted a prophet in his own land. (PLG 265)

His daughter's cheering words related only to the joy and relief expressed at her convent over Galileo's escape from confinement in prison at Rome. They turned out to be prophetic, however, for in 1634 Galileo's Mechanics was translated into French by the Minim friar Marin Mersenne, long before it was printed in its original Italian. The next year his ill-starred Dialogue was printed in a Latin translation by Matthias Bernegger at Strasbourg, reaching in that form a far more cosmopolitan audience than the suppressed Italian text. And in 1636 the Letter to Christina, which had circulated only in manuscript copies, was printed together with a Latin translation, apprising all Europe of Galileo's position on the introduction of scriptural passages into purely physical questions. The Latin title of the book specified such questions to be

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Galileo: A Very Short Introduction
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface *
  • Contents *
  • List of Illustrations xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Chapter 1 - The Background 1
  • Chapter 2 - Galileo's Early Years 16
  • Chapter 3 - Conflicts with Philosophers 40
  • Chapter 4 - Conflicts with Astronomers and Theologians 63
  • Chapter 5 - The Dialogue and the Inquisition 88
  • Chapter 6 - The Final Years 101
  • Further Reading 119
  • Index 123
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