Death and Two New Sciences

The Holy Office was clearly accustomed to anonymous written complaints. At any rate, it took no obvious notice of the accusations against Galileo and his most venerable host, unless the decision to allow Galileo to return to Florence was motivated by a feeling that it might be advantageous to get him away from an influential aid as powerful as an archbishop. If those in the most elevated circles of the Church reckoned that Grand Duke Ferdinando II was easier to control than one of their own prelates, they were completely right.

Formally, it was on grounds of health that Galileo's punishment was commuted to house arrest in his own villa in Pian' di Gulliari near Arcetri. Butthe termsweretough-hehad tolive alone, wasnotallowedguestsexcept by permission of the local Inquisitor, nor, quite obviously, was he allowed to get involved in teaching or the discussion of cosmological subjects. By December 1633, Galileo was home again.

In practice the conditions of his house arrest were not so strict as to prevent him visiting his daughters in the nearby convent of San Marco. But a new worry awaited him there. His wise and practical daughter, Sister Maria Celeste, had informed and comforted him with her letters during the whole of his sojourn in Rome and Siena. She had diverted his thoughts to concrete, everyday problems: "... the reason the wine spoils is that you have never had [the casks] taken to pieces in order to expose the wood to the heat of the sun."102 Maria Celeste had even promised to carry out the part of his punishment that consisted of the weekly repetition of penitential psalms, and was already busy with it.

But she was not well. The worries about her father's fate had affected her, she had stomach pains and felt weak and ill. In the spring of 1634, a month after her father's seventieth birthday, Maria Celeste got dysentry. Over the next week she rapidly weakened, and died peacefully in the convent on 2 April.

The sorrow of it almost broke Galileo. He put aside his work on the new book. Archbishop Piccolomini sent his condolences: "I have long known that she was the greatest blessing you had in this world," he wrote, and added comfortingly that she was now in a different and better one. Galileo described his own condition: "... my pulse is irregular because of disturbances of the heart, [I suffer from] deep melancholy and complete lack of appetite." He also described how, in his loneliness, he heard his daughter's voice calling to him.

A well known remedy for dejection and melancholy was wine, especially good wine. Luckily his friends realised this and sent him presents. He thanked one for sending him samples of two wines from the "wooded slopes that Bacchus loved" (it is not clear which district is being referred to): "They are different in taste, but of equal goodness and quality, and they ease my throat so much that I try to enjoy them alone, without sharing them with others." "A joyful mind," he went on, "is what best preserves life and health."103

The following year he received a magnificent gift from Grand Duke Fer-dinando: more than a hundred bottles of wine from many different regions, and he mentions gifts of wine from "the Cardinal" (this may have been Francesco Barberini), the Grand Duke's younger brother and the Duke of Ghisa. Characteristically enough he had a special fondness for sira-cusano, the wine from the area around Syracuse in Sicily. Not only was this southern wine full-bodied and strong, but Galileo assumed it was the same wine which "my teacher Archimedes"104 once enjoyed - the great philosopher and practical physicist had indeed lived in the Greek colony on Sicily.

During the spring and summer Galileo managed once more to find the strength to continue his book. His working conditions were not all that inspiring. No limitations were placed on his correspondence, only on his visitors, but the problem with his eyes which had been troubling him for some years gradually worsened. He was now amazingly independent of source literature to complete his new work. (Incredibly enough, Galileo's library consisted of only about forty books at the time of his death. His wine cellar was much better supplied!) It built to a very large extent on his own work of many years, but he had to be able to read his own notes. In addition, he felt his age, his ailments and the other pressures, and had to admit that, here and there, it was hard for him to follow the subtle reasonings he had sketched out in his younger days.

But the news that reached him from outside, also brought encouragement. The Holy Office had no authority in the France of Cardinal Richelieu. A copy of the Dialogue had fallen into the hands of an Austrian admirer of Galileo's, who translated it into Latin, the lingua franca of the learned. The translator ensured that the book was printed in Strasbourg - with the help of a Dutch publisher, the famous Louis Elzevier at Leiden. This was in 1635, and the following year Elzevier also published the Letter to Christina, in its Italian original with a Latin translation.

Elzevier had nothing to fear from printing this theologically controversial work. The Dutch had thrown off Spain and Catholicism and shone out as an oasis of liberalism in Europe, though admittedly some intolerance existed amongst extreme Calvinists.

As Galileo had predicted, the Copernican system had become thoroughly accepted in northern Europe, thanks in no little measure to his Dialogue. But the Inquisition's judgement was not without ramifications. It caused the pro-Galilean René Descartes - a devout Catholic who had been part of the Emperor's army early on in the Thirty Years War - to lay aside his finished work on the new world view, even though he lived in the Netherlands and was not in danger from any direct action.

Most important, however, was the enthusiasm the Dialogue created. The Dutch mathematician, Martinius Hortensius, had obtained a copy as early as the summer of 1634 and became an eager Copernican. In an inaugural lecture that year Hortensius went into the status of mathematics as a science and called it "a queen, reigning over man's spirit and actions".105 Nor was it solely as an interpreter of Copernicus that Galileo influenced the scholars of Europe. His controversial hypothesis that "philosophy is written in this grand book (...) in the language of mathematics" also began to make headway to the great embarrassment of academic Aristotelians.

Galileo managed to get enough of his new book ready to begin to worry about the next problem: where to get it published. The judgement did not expressly say that he must refrain from publishing anything ever again; it only concerned his relationship with Copernicus. Pope Urban VIII was not finished with the matter, however. When, on Galileo's behalf, the Tuscan Ambassador asked if the old and infirm prisoner might have a dispensation from house arrest in order to visit a doctor in Florence, the retort was that unless such applications ceased, Galileo would be fetched back to Rome and put in the Inquisition's gaol there! And as for his books, the Pope decreed that no work by Galileo might be printed, not even reprints of books that had come out years ago.

At first it looked as if the Republic of Venice might be his salvation. Courageous Paolo Sarpi had been followed by a worthy heir, Father Micanzio. He had written Sarpi's biography and, on his death, had assumed the position of theological adviser to the Venetian Senate, a position that entailed many confrontations with Rome as Venice still was not especially keen to bend the knee to the dictates of the Church in matters large and small.

The fearless Micanzio had known Galileo since his Padua days and was an undisguised supporter. During the case he wrote in a letter:

"May that not disturb Your Lordship nor distract you from going ahead. The blow has been made: youhave produced one of the most singular works that have been published by philosophical genius. To forbid its circulation will not diminish the glory of the author: it will be read despite the evil jealousy, and Your Lordship will see that it will be translated into other languages."106

But when it came to doing something for Galileo, Micanzio greatly overestimated Venetian, republican independence. He raised the matter with the local Inquisitor only to learn that The Lord's Prayer would probably have been denied an imprimatur if Galileo had been the one wanting to publish it!

With the aid of the Grand Duke investigations were carried out into the possibility of publication in the German language area. But here there was a detail that caused Galileo to give up the idea: Father Christopher Scheiner had returned to Germany. Jesuit influence was indeed large, but not all pervasive, so it is not certain what kind of fuss Scheiner could have started. However, it was obvious that Galileo had been so thoroughly frightened that he would not take any chances.

Much points to the fact that Galileo never completely took in the tremendous change in Urban VIII Barberini's attitude. As a consequence, he laid much of the blame for what happened at the door of the Jesuits. Several of his friends shared this opinion. In a letter, Galileo repeated something purported to have been said by the Jesuit mathematician Grienberger:

"If Galileo had known how to keep the affection of the Fathers of this College, he would live gloriously in this world and none of his bad times would have come to pass and he would have been able to write as he wished about everything, even, I say, about the motion of the earth."107

However there is some doubt that this is a correct quotation from the otherwise cautious and discreet Grienberger.

While his friends were working on publication possibilities within Europe, Galileo got a surprising dispensation to journey more than thirty miles from his house. The probable reason for the Holy Office's tractability on this special occasion was the reason for the journey: the French Ambassador to the Papal States had expressed a desire to meet the ageing mathematician.

Such a request was difficult to oppose on purely diplomatic grounds especially now that the war in the north was entering a new phase which made Urban VIII's balancing feats even harder. Spain had beaten the Swedes and the other Protestant troops in southern Germany, and thus re-established a definite Catholic dominion. But this caused France to enter the war directly against Spain in 1635. From being a religious war, or at least a conflict with heavy denominational overtones, it had turned into a power struggle between the two leading Catholic states.

Ambassador François de Noailles had studied under Galileo in Padua, and was shocked at the treatment his old professor had received. Now he was on his wayback to Paris for consultations about the turbulent situation, and would be passing through the little town of Poggibonsi, south of Florence. Galileo was given permission to meet him there.

The talk with de Noailles was a great encouragement to the isolated Galileo, and both men naturally talked about the publication prospects for his new book - the translation of the Dialogue had, of course, been printed in French territory. But it is less certain whether Galileo had brought a copy of his new manuscript with him as a gift for the Ambassador - as he later claimed. But the meeting furnished him with an admirable explanation for how the manuscript got out of the country - as diplomatic baggage!

The solution to the publishing conundrum lay in Holland. Louis Elzevier from the publishers in Leiden visited Italy and, with or without permission, also met Galileo, at his house. At the time the manuscript was not complete. Elzevier took some of it with him, and was to have the rest forwarded via Micanzio in Venice.

To Elzevier's mild discomfiture Galileo never seemed to be finished with it. The reason was simple. The old man with his failing eyesight realised that this would be his last book, and wanted to include all his thoughts and ideas - including the new ones which, even now in his dotage, never ceased to crowd into his mind.

This book, too, was written in dialogue form. Gradually, Galileo got four "days" ready, and had definite plans for a fifth; while simultaneously sending the publisher an "appendix", which had nothing to do with the rest of it.

Understandably enough, Elzevier got rather impatient with this method of working. Finally - in 1637 - the firm announced that they would print "four days" and the appendix, and requested a preface and dedication.

The situation was rather complex. Elzevier's firm was safely outside the reach of the Inquisition, but Galileo was not. So he came up with an elegant, if not entirely truthful solution to the problem. He could clearly not "present" the book to any Italian lay or ecclesiastical potentate by means of a dedication. And so he selected Ambassador de Noailles, well aware of his powerful position in France, where such a dedication really would be regarded as an honour. At the same time it would make it harder for the Church to interfere. It was inadvisable in the prevailing delicate state of foreign policy to do anything that might offend a prominent representative of France; especially as an attack upon Galileo would inevitably be seen as papal support for Spanish conservatism.

But the dedication also provided Galileo with a chance to deny all responsibility for the book's printing. As he himself described it, de Noailles had taken away a private, handwritten copy, and then suddenly "I was notified by the Elzevirs that they had these works of mine in press and that I ought to decide upon a dedication at once."108

As it turned out the Church tacitly accepted this fiction. Galileo's last book finally came out in Holland in 1638. It was in Italian and went under the title Discorsi e dimonstrazioni matematiche intorno a due nuove scienze -"Discourses and Mathematical Demonstrations about Two New Sciences". When a few copies gradually arrived in Rome and the rest of Italy, they were sold and read without Church interference.

The title, in fact, was Elzevier's and not Galileo's, something he regretted considerably, but nobody knows his own suggested title. In one way it made very little difference. By the time he held the book in his hands, he was no longer able to read anything at all.

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