Galileo Galilei

Galileo Galilei one of the most celebrated Italian writers on natural sciences, mathematics, and astronomy, was born February 18, 1564. He at first studied medicine, but soon devoted himself wholly to natural and mathematical science. In 1589 he was appointed professor of mathematics at the University of Pisa. In 1592 he was called by the republic of Venetia to the University of Padua. From 1604 Galileo devoted himself chiefly to astronomy, and soon became as celebrated by his astronomical discoveries as he had formerly been by those in mathematics and mechanics. It was especially the introduction of the telescope in 1609 which gave a powerful impulse to his genius. He was the first to notice the mountains of the moon, the satellites of Jupiter, the ring of Saturn, and the spots on the sun; and from the motion of the latter he derived an argument in favor of the motion of the sun. Galileo published his discoveries in his Sidereus nuncius (1610). Soon the grandduke of Tuscany called him as first professor of mathematics to Pisa, without obliging him to lecture, in order to give him an opportunity to devote himself wholly to scientific researches. But his reputation awakened against him a great deal of hatred and envy, and finally he was denounced to the Inquisition for defending and developing the Copernican system. The Inquisition found the views of Copernicus and Galileo irreconcilable with the letter of the Scripture. Galileo went himself to Rome to defend himself, but without effect. His astronomical views were examined by the theological qualifiers, and declared to be absurd, false in philosophy, and contrary to the Holy Scriptures. In 1616 and 1620, decrees were issued allowing to set up the system of Copernicus as a hypothesis, but forbidding it to be defended as a thesis. Galileo paid no attention to this demand, but sixteen years later published his "Dialogues on the two greatest cosmic systems, that of Ptolemy and that of Copernicus," in which the two systems are compared, and, to satisfy the Inquisition, the victory is awarded to the champion of the system of Ptolemy; but, in fact, the arguments used in its behalf are so weak, and so manifestly inferior to those adduced in favor of the Copernican system, as to leave no doubt as to the real opinions of Galileo. His enemies found it easy to cause new measures to be taken against him by the Inquisition. Galileo was in 1633 again summoned to Rome. He was at first allowed to live in the Villa Medici; subsequently he was some time detained as a prisoner in the buildings of the Inquisition; finally he was sent back to the Villa Medici. The result of the investigation was that Galileo was found guilty of having adhered to and of having supported heretical opinions; and be had to abjure his errors in a kneeling posture, and to sign the minutes of the proceedings against him. He was condemned to be imprisoned at the Inquisition during pleasure, and to recite once a week for three years the penitential Psalms. Galileo submitted to the judgment, and, kneeling and in sackcloth, swore upon the Gospels never again to teach the earth's motion and the sun's stability. When rising from the ground, he is reported to have said, in an undertone, E pur si muove ("And it does move, for all that"); but the authenticity of this report is doubted. After four days' confinement, he was allowed to remove to the residence of the Tuscan ambassador, but he was kept under surveillance during the whole remainder of his life. In 1634 he asked permission to visit Florence for medical assistance, but the permission was not granted until 1638. The severity of the Inquisition was somewhat relaxed in 1637, when he became almost totally blind. During the latter years of his life he seems to have paid less attention to astronomy, but the works of this period on other subjects show that his genius was as great. as ever. He died January 8, 1642. The city of Pisa erected a statue in his honor. The completest edition of the works of Galileo is Le Opeae di Galileo Galilei (Florence, 1842-56, 15 volumes). The most important of his works is Discorsi intorno a due nuove scienze (Leyden, 16038). Biographies of Galileo were written by Gherardini,Viviani (1654), Frisi (Livorno, 1775), Jagemann (Weimar, 1783), Nelli (Lausanne, 1793),Ventari (Milan, 1818-21), Libri (Milan, 1841), Brewster (London, 1841), Cattauro (Milan, 1843), Caspar (Stuttgardt, 1854), Chasles (Paris, 1862). On the trial of Galileo by the Inquisition, there are special works and essays by Marini (Galileo e Inquisizione, Rome, 1850); Madden (Galileo and the Isnuisitios, London, 1863); Vosen (G. und die Rom. Verurthrilung des copernicanischen Systess, Frankf. 1865); The Catholic World (January and February 1869). (A.J.S.)

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