GALILEI, Galileo (1564-1642). Dialogo... sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo Tolemaico, e Copernicano. Florence: Gian Battista Landini, 1632.
4° (220 x 155mm). Engraved frontispiece by Stefano della Bella in the usual state with the artist's signature present, printer's woodcut device on title-page, 31 woodcut illustrations and diagrams in text, woodcut initials, type ornament head- and tail-pieces and factotum initials, italic type, shoulder notes in roman type, errata leaf Ff6, with the printed correction slip pasted in margin of F6v (p. 92) as usual. (Without final blank, a very few small repairs, light scattered spotting, occasional browning, occasional dampstain in lower margin.) 19th-century blue quarter-leather and pebble-grain cloth, spine lettered and numbered in gilt, sprinkled edges (extremities lightly rubbed, spine sunned).
FIRST EDITION OF A LANDMARK OF SCIENCE, the summation of Galileo's ideas and his celebrated defence of the Copernican view of the solar system. In 1624, eight years after Pope Paul V had forbidden him to teach the Copernican theory, Galileo was given the opportunity to express these views by the new Pope, Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini, 1568-1644), his friend, admirer and patron for more than a decade. The Pope granted Galileo permission to write a book about theories of the universe, 'provided that the arguments for the Ptolemaic view were given an equal and impartial discussion' (DSB). The censors had a number of objections, which Galileo overcame largely by writing a preface casting the work as a hypothetical discussion. Galileo's formal use of the dialogue allowed him to explore his Copernican theories fully within the rubric of the 'equal and impartial discussion'. The three protagonists are Salviati, an advocate of the Copernican theory, Simplicio, an upholder of the Ptolemaic orthodoxy (and generally interpreted as representing Pope Urban VIII) and Sagredo, an impartial educated layman. The work 'was designed both as an appeal to the great public and as an escape from silence... it is a masterly polemic for the new science. It displays all the great discoveries in the heavens which the ancients had ignored; it inveighs against the sterility, willfulness, and ignorance of those who defend their systems; it revels in the simplicity of Copernican thought and, above all, it teaches that the movement of the earth makes sense in philosophy, that is, in physics... The Dialogo, more than any other work, made the heliocentric system a commonplace' (PMM). In casting the Pope as the simple-minded Aristotelian Simplicius, Galileo brought upon himself arrest, trial by the Inquisition and life imprisonment. The sentence was commuted to permanent house arrest, but the printing of any of his works was forbidden. The Dialogo remained on the Index until 1832. Carli and Favaro, p.28; Cinti 89; Dibner, Heralds of Science, 8; Grolier/Horblit 18c; Norman 858;PMM 128; Wellcome 2647a.