7
$\begingroup$

Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems opens with a seemingly sarcastic "Note to the discerning reader", beginning:

Several years ago there was published in Rome a salutary edict which, in order to obviate the dangerous tendencies of our present age, imposed a seasonable silence upon the Pythagorean opinion that the earth moves There were those who impudently asserted that this decree had its origin not injudicious inquire, but in passion none too well informed Complaints were to be heard that advisers who were totally unskilled at astronomical observations ought not to clip the wings of reflective intellects by means of rash prohibitions.

Upon hearing such carping insolence, my zeal could not be contained. Being thoroughly informed about that prudent determination, I decided to appear openly in the theater of the world as a witness of the sober truth. I was at that time in Rome; I was not only received by the most eminent prelates of that Court, but had their applause; indeed this decree was not published without some previous notice of it having been given to me. Therefore I propose in the present work to show to foreign nations that as much is understood of this matter in Italy, and particularly in Rome, as transalpine diligence can ever have imagined Collecting all the reflections thai properly concern the Copernican system, I shall make it known that everything was brought before the attention of the Roman censorship, and that there proceed from this clime not only dogmas for the welfare of the soul, but ingenious discoveries for the delight of the mind as well.

I can't quite tell how sarcastic Galileo is being here - in the first paragraph he seems to be facetiously praising the Vatican, but in the second he seems to drops the irony and state his opinions directly. More importantly though, I don't actually have a clear picture what events from "several years ago" he's referring to. Can someone clarify precisely what story this all fits into, and maybe assess the level of irony in Galileo's tone?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ See Galileo Galilei : 1616 – Officially warned by the Church not to hold or defend the Copernican System; 1616 – The Catholic Church places De revolutionibus orbium coelestium on the List of Prohibited Books, pending correction; 1632 – Galileo publishes Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems. $\endgroup$ – Mauro ALLEGRANZA May 21 '15 at 15:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm curious as to why he suggests that it is a Pythagorean opinion that the Earth moves; and why he had the applause of the prelates; it suggests that there were various factions which eventually resolved into official opposition. $\endgroup$ – Mozibur Ullah May 21 '15 at 19:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mozibur Ullah - the purported Pythagorean origin of the heliocentric theory is due to Copernicus. $\endgroup$ – Mauro ALLEGRANZA May 21 '15 at 19:32
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Mozibur Ullah "Pythagorean opinion that the earth moves" refers to Philolaus, who was a Pythagorean and might have been the first to suggest that the Earth moves, albeit not around the Sun, but "central fire". Copernicus mentions him in De Revolutionibus. articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/full/seri/MmSAI/0065//… $\endgroup$ – Conifold May 21 '15 at 21:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.