Galileo Galilei, Better Known as Galileo

You'd look like this too if you spent house arrest without any electronic devices.

You’d look this happy too, if you spent the remaining years of your life under house arrest without any electronic devices.

Astronomer, astrologer, musician, mathematician, physicist, philosopher, engineer, and heretic. This man knew how to live.

Born in Pisa, February 15, 1564. He could have said, “Hi ladies, I’m an Aquarius, the sign of the scientist,” but he didn’t.

Instead he said, “You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.”

The first of six children. Three of his siblings survived infancy.

His father, Vincenzo Galilei—a famous lutenist and composer and music theorist—taught Galileo to play a lute, a healthy skepticism of established authority, and a relationship between music and mathematics.

In his youth he considered becoming a priest. His father encourage him to become a physician. And something that would never happen nowadays—one day he went to the wrong class. Probably on a Thursday morning at 8 a.m. after celebrating hump night with his fellow classmates at a local watering hole.

The lecture—geometry.

Afterwards, he talked his dad into letting him study mathematics, even though it offered lower pay.

By 1589 he received the appointment to the chair of mathematics for the University of Pisa. He also studied fine art, later teaching it in Florence. His father died two years later, entrusting him with the care of his younger brother, Michelangelo.

Michelangelo, followed in his father’s profession as a lutenist. And as a financial burden to his older brother during his young adulthood. When he couldn’t pay his bills or his portion of his two sisters’ dowry, the brother-in-laws sued. The responsibility fell on Galileo’s shoulders. Maybe speeding up the creation of his inventions to improve his cash flow.

Galileo never married. His mistress bore three children: two daughters and a son. Because of the expensive lessons learned from his siblings, he chose the cloister for his daughters. The only acceptable alternative at the time. He legitimized his son, Vincenzo, as his legal heir and so Vincenzo could marry.

Credited with improvements to the telescope, observing and analyzing sun spots, discovering four large moons orbiting Jupiter and inventing an improved military compass, Galileo’s life took an interesting turn when he challenged the views of the Catholic Church with his theories of heliocentrism (the earth revolving around the sun).

The Roman Inquisition investigated the matter in 1615. They forced him to recant his theories, placed him under house arrest, and forced him to read the same bible verses (we’re not talking a couple pages here) each week for three years . . . his oldest daughter, Virginia, petitioned the Church to allow her to read the verses in his place relieving him of the burden.

He played it straight until 1632. Then his staunchest supporter, the newly elected, Pope Urban VIII, asked him to write a book, but include the Pope’s own theories as well. The resulting book, “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems”— perhaps his best work—made the Pope look like an idiot.

The Roman Inquisition returned for round two. They required him to “abjure, curse and detest” his former opinions, followed by a prison sentence. The next day it improved to house arrest. It pays to be popular.

Galileo’s last comment after being forced to recant his theory about the earth moving around the sun, “And yet it moves”.

He died January 8, 1642 at the age of 77.  Because he upset the Church, they buried his remains away from his family in the basilica of Santa Croce, and put him in a small room next to the novice’s chapel.

Almost 100 years later, they reburied his remains in the main body of the basilica. During the move, one of his teeth and three fingers were removed—relics.

Seems fitting they displayed his right middle finger in the Museo Galileo, Florence, Italy.

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

About Fannie Cranium

Writing since she could first hold a pen, Tracy Perkins formed her alter ego, "Fannie Cranium" at the suggestion of her husband. Tracy understands smiling makes people wonder what she’s been up to.
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17 Responses to Galileo Galilei, Better Known as Galileo

  1. ksbeth says:

    lessons learned: 1) maybe diversify a bit if your dream is to be a lutenist. 2) be careful when writing about others. (both lessons that we, as bloggers, should adhere to) i’m thinking of trading in my lute for an apple laptop upgrade.

  2. Reblogged this on Fannie Cranium's and commented:

    This month’s contribution to the Blog of Funny Names. How well do you know Galileo. He wasn’t a Leo. . .

  3. kerbey says:

    Those were some mean Catholics. What a way to learn a Bible verse! The Roman Inquisition didn’t seem to be fighting Prostestantism so much as forcing curious minds to undiscover their discoveries. How do you unsee the truth? It does seem self-centered to think the sun revolves around the earth, but a new perspective changed all that and we still know his name today, however repetitive. Kind of like that singer Phillip Phillips. It had not occurred to me that there would be more than one Michelangelo. Makes sense now, of course. I guess I have to recant that.

    • Dave says:

      I totally agree with your thoughts on the Inquisition. I feel like it’s almost a constant historical fact that you’ll find some small, reactionary group vehemently (perhaps violently) opposing curiosity and discoveries. But progress marches on.

      I agree it seems self-centered to think the sun revolves around the earth, but it’s also really weird to think that we’re actually spinning super fast on this gigantic sphere hurtling through space, when my broom looks like it hasn’t moved in ages, and my sandwich stays firmly planted on the table. Until I eat it.

      I think we’ve written about Phillip Phillips in a FNITN way back when.

      And yay for old words like recant, curse, abjure and detest – those are so fun!

    • Love that you recanted on Michelangelo. Maybe it was a popular baby name back in the day.

      What I find fun about Galileo, he was named after a famous ancestor from the early 1400’s named Galileo Bonaiuti. Then for some reason, the family changed their surname, giving our Galileo the needed alliteration to make this blog post happen. 😀

  4. Dave says:

    Good job fitting so many highlights into one post. There are a lot of good little anecdotes here. I love that quote “and yet, it moves.” Someday I want people to remember me through something pithy like that.

    This sentence may have been my favorite: “The resulting book, “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems”— perhaps his best work—made the Pope look like an idiot.” Starts out sounding so professional, ends up sounding so casual. Very well done!

    I hope I’m never told to “abjure, curse and detest” my former opinions on this blog. That would be a lot of cursing and detesting – not that I mind a good cursing session 🙂

    All in all, not too shabby for the son of a lutenist!

    • Son of a lutenist, sounds like you’ve started cursing already. 😉

      Distilling the tidbits of Galileo’s life into a few short paragraphs was challenging. There is so much rich material from his life. From today’s perspective, what he went through seems ludicrous. We should thank him for breaking the ground.

      I hope you never have to “abjure, curse and detest” this blog either, but with your wit, I’d bet it’d be a fun read.

  5. Liz says:

    wow–no idea there was so much going on in his life. Could make a movie out of the drama. Trouble with sex, money, career choice, family. Appreciate you shining light on someone I had believed to be only a scientist. Who knew?

    And lol, lutenist. That’s awesome. Great end to the story, too!

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