Galileo Galilei wrote a treatise on astronomy under a pseudonym: the historian revealed the secrets of the manuscript

(ORDO NEWS) — An investigation into the case of Galileo’s manuscripts led to a curious discovery. As it turned out, the famous Renaissance scientist wrote a treatise on astronomy, signed by a pseudonym.

In August, we wrote that a valuable manuscript from the library of the University of Michigan, the authorship of which was attributed to Galileo Galilei, turned out to be a skillful forgery.

A document in the Morgan Library in New York has also been declared fake. An Italian historian investigating this issue accidentally stumbled upon another work by a scientist.

It’s a fake

The letter from Michigan was witnessed by the Archbishop of Pisa, Cardinal Pietro Maffi. The cardinal had in his collection two more documents allegedly written by Galileo, which he used for comparison.

But later it was proved that they are also false. Interestingly, one of these forgeries, a letter, accompanied the 1606 treatise “Libro della Considerazione Astronomica” by Alimberto Mauri.

In this text, among other considerations, evidence was given for the existence of mountains on the moon, and the movement of celestial bodies along uneven trajectories was explained by physical causes.

  • Speculation that the “Libro della Considerazione Astronomica” might in fact have been written by Galileo began to surface soon after the text was published. For example, according to one of Galileo’s colleagues at the University of Padua, Fortune Liceti, Mauri was a man who is a skilled mathematician but “pretends” to be an astronomer.
  • “Libro della Considerazione Astronomica” is in fact a commentary and response to the work of the then philosopher Lodovico delle Colombe, who is called Galileo’s “rival”. Delle Colombe was a supporter of the outdated doctrine, which claimed that the Earth is at the center of the universe, the Sun revolves around it, and the stars in the sky are motionless. In his discourses on questions of the universe called “Risposte piacevoli e curiose”, he criticizes the views of Galileo, but does not point to him directly, calling his competitor “Mr. Mask” and “the professor who teaches in Padua”.
  • At the same time, one of the students at the University of Padua wrote Galileo Galilei next to the subtitle of his copy of Risposte, which mentioned Mr. Mask.
    – It is also confirmed that Galileo did indeed use pseudonyms. For example, he participated in the debate on the supernova of 1604 under the name of Cecco da Ronchitti.

The strongest evidence for Galileo’s authorship is the list he compiled from specific passages in delle Colombe’s text where he “speaks of me with contempt.”

However, when Matteo Koschi, a historian at the Ca’Foscari University of Venice, reviewed these references, he found that they all led to passages that were attacks on the pseudonym of Alimberto Mauri.

Koski says that Galileo would not have felt personally attacked by these statements if he himself had not been Mauri.

The study also uncovered a handwritten note from Galileo indicating that the astronomer was preparing another response to delle Colombe, but decided that it was simply not worth his time.

They continued to argue through the years – about the movement of the Earth, the surface of the Moon and so on, but by that time Galileo was already known and no longer needed a pseudonym.


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