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"Eppur, si muove!"

September 5, 2011

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“And yet it does move”-according to the story, those were the words Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)mumbled to himself after being found guilty by the Inquisition for “grave suspicion of heresy”. The “heresy” was in connection with his publication of a book, “Dialogue on the Tides” in which he made the mistake of expressing his belief in the Copernican notion that the Earth is the one circling the Sun, and not the other way around. How dare he?-thought the Inquisitor- When there could be no doubt that WE are the CENTER of the Universe!

Well, this was clearly a dramatization on my part, and here are some facts: there is no real evidence (that is-a written record) that Galileo actually said this-and having just admitted his “mistake” under threat of burning at the stake, you must recognize the foolishness of this statement.

The legend is first recorded by Giuseppe Baretti in his work Italian Library in 1757 (124 years after the supposed utterance) and became widely published in Querelles Littéraires (1761). In 1911, the line was found on a Spanish painting owned by a Belgian family, dated 1643 or 1645. The painting is obviously ahistorical, because it depicts Galileo in a dungeon, but nonetheless proves that some variants of the “Eppur si muove” legend had been circulating for over a century before it was published.

And Galileo Galilei wasn’t the only one who was in a bit of a pickle with the Inquisition.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2011 04:29

    Very interesting!

  2. November 9, 2011 04:40

    I just want to say that the Galileo affair is mixed with misinterpretations of both sides.
    I recommend you the following link:
    Your explanation of the phrase “E pur si muove!” is very interesting. Greetings.

    • Maja permalink
      November 9, 2011 10:27

      Thanks for the input! We appreciate it!

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