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

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William R. Shea / Mariano Artigas, «Galileo in Rome: The Rise and Fall of a Troublesome Genius»
Oxford University Press, USA | ISBN 0195177584 | 2004-10-21 | PDF | 1,64 Mb | 272 pages


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From Publishers Weekly:

One of the best-known episodes in the history of science is Galileo's run-in with the Catholic Church, which left him under house arrest and his Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems on the Church's Index of Prohibited Books. Though conventional wisdom dictates that the controversy was simply a clash between the traditional doctrine that the Sun revolved around Earth and Galileo's heliocentric theory, Shea, a historian of science at the University of Padua, and Artigas, a philosopher of science at the University of Navarra and an ordained Catholic priest, argue that there was a lot more going on than simply an intellectual disagreement. Drawing on a wealth of letters and archives, the authors construct a nuanced portrait of the complex web of political and religious institutional forces that constituted 17th-century Rome, showing that the trial of Galileo was as much the product of tension between the pope and the grand duke of Tuscany (Galileo's patron) and of Galileo's arrogance when dealing with Jesuit astronomers as it was a result of the oppressive Inquisition. Much like the Medici court that Mario Biagioli portrayed in Galileo, Courtier, the Rome that emerges here is one of political in-fighting, misunderstandings, deceit, closed-door machinations and greed, dominated by a church that is as much political as theological. While engaging and accessible (if at moments awkwardly written), this is less a general biography than a detailed study of Galileo's six visits to Rome and best suited to readers looking for a new understanding of an oft-told and familiar story. 40 photos and illus.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist:

Galileo's story has always been read as a cautionary tale about religious authority suffocating science. However, the epic episode seems less symbolically clear-cut when examined closely. This work (following Galileo's Mistake by Wade Rowland [BKL Ag 03]) promotes the idea that Galileo himself contributed to his fate. Because he was well connected–the pope who brought the Inquisition down on his head, Urban VIII, was a personal friend–Galileo knew how the powers-that-be felt about his championing of Copernicus. Structuring their narrative around the several journeys Galileo made from Florence to Rome, Shea and Artigas identify numerous friendly suggestions given to him by supporters to tone things down. Galileo's mockery of his opponents made enemies of them, but they did have ammunition in that, as Rowland and these authors point out, two items in Galileo's scheme (concerning tides and "circular" orbits) are not true. In recounting the actual people with whom Galileo fenced, as well as the theological doctrines involved, the authors demythologize the man. Their criticism makes Galileo as interesting a figure as ever. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description:

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
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.