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

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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 stirred a hornet's nest of theological issues, and they argue that the Church might have accepted Copernicus if there had been solid proof. More interestingly, they show how Galileo dug his own grave. He disobeyed a Church order not to teach the heliocentric theory and 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.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A brilliant book about Galileo's six epochal trips to Rome. It will remain the most accessible and authoritative account of his relations with the Church in the years of his greatest discoveries."--David Freedberg, author of The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, His Friends, and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History

"Lucid and elegantly balanced, this story of Galileo's trials edges the Church into a fairer light."--Lauro Martines, author of April Blood: Florence and the Plot Against the Medici

"Concentrates in rich detail on Galileo's many connections, interactions, and tensions with the Vatican. The dramatic story of his trial and house arrest is all too often told in terms of black and white. In contrast, Shea and Artigas paint a picture in carefully nuanced grays.... What emerges is that despite the traditional 'martyr of science' reading, and despite Galileo's anger at his treatment by the Roman authorities, there is good evidence that the Catholic Church handled him with exceptional sensitivity."--Owen Gingerich, Astronomy

"This is a lively and persuasive re-telling of the story of Galileo's life and career. It is in the details that issues of interpretation constantly arise, but the authors have navigated the subject's minefields in convincing fashion. A readable and authoritative piece of work."--Theodore K. Rabb, author of Renaissance Lives: Portraits of an Age

"Galileo in Rome represents the finest in modern Galileo scholarship."--Stephen M. Barr, First Things

"Organizing the story around Galileo's six trips to Rome, as the authors do, works very well. Their use of Galileo's correspondence gives the narrative helpful continuity. The book has a freshness that is hard to achieve in a terrain so well travelled."--Ernan McMullin, Director Emeritus, Program in History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, and editor of Galileo: Man of Science

"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."--Booklist

"Shea and Artigas have written a work exceptional for its rigor and clarity."--Investigación y Ciencia

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195177589
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/1/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,415,998
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

William R. Shea holds the "Galileo Chair" of the History of Science at the University of Padua, in Italy. He is Past President of both the International Union of the History and Philosophy of Science and the International Academy of the History of Science, and is currently Chairman of the Standing Committee for the Humanities of the European Science Foundation in Strasbourg. He is the author, co-author, or editor of 25 books, including Galileo's Intellectual Revolution and The Magic of Numbers and Motion: The Scientific Career of Rene Descartes.
Mariano Artigas is Professor of Philosophy of Science and was Dean of the Ecclesiastical Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Navarra, in Pamplona, Spain. He holds a Ph.D. both in physics and philosophy, is an ordained Catholic priest, and has written 14 books, including The Mind of the Universe, which won a Templeton Award.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii
Introduction ix
Chapter 1 Job Hunting and the Path to Rome 1
Trip 1 1587
Chapter 2 The Door of Fame Springs Open 19
Trip 2 29 March-4 June 1611
Chapter 3 Roman Clouds 49
Trip 3 10 December 1615-4 June 1616
Chapter 4 Roman Sunshine 94
Trip 4 23 April-16 June 1624
Chapter 5 Star-Crossed Heavens 123
Trip 5 3 May-26 June 1630
Chapter 6 Foul Weather in Rome 158
Trip 6 13 February-6 July 1633
References 201
Photo Credits 212
Selected Bibliography 215
Index 217
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2004


    This book is great. I really enjoyed it. I am 17 and a Huge hidtory buff. I submitted a 14 page paper to my history teacher after reading this and recieved an 'A' Thanks for the wonderful depiction of Galileo!

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