GALILEI, Galileo (1564-1642). Dialogo...sopre i due massimi sistemi del mondo Tolemaico, e Copernicano. Florence: Gian Battista Landini, 1632.
4o (216 x 158 mm). Additional engraved title by Stefano della Bella, italic type, shoulder notes in roman type, printer's woodcut device on title, 31 woodcut illustrations and diagrams in the text, woodcut initial, type ornament head-and tail-pieces and factotum initials, errata leaf Ff6, with the printed correction slip pasted in margin of F6v (p.92) as usual. (Final blank leaf removed, some foxing and browning, 3 or 4 minor marginal tears.) 18th-century half sheep, spine gilt panelled, red morocco lettering-piece (upper joint split, some worming, rubbed.) Provenance: Manuscript correction adding the letter H to diagram on M8v (p.192), as in a few other copies.
FIRST EDITION of Galileo's celebrated defense of the Copernican view of the solar system. In 1624 the new pope Urban VIII granted Galileo permission to discuss the Copernican system in a book, "provided that the arguments for the Ptolemaic view were given an equal and impartial discussion" (DSB). Galileo executed this order literally in the work that occupied him for the next six years, presenting it in the form of a dialogue between three protagonists, 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 who acts as adjudicator. While his preface ostensibly supported the anti-Copernicans, the dialogue device permitted Galileo to present without disguise his true views of the cosmos. 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, wilfulness, 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). Galileo's risky portrayal of his old friend and protector Maffeo Barberini, now Urban VIII, as the simple-minded Aristotelian Simplicius was the cause of his arrest and trial by the Inquisition. His sentence of life imprisonment was immediately commuted to permanent house arrest, but the printing of any of his works was forbidden, and the Dialogo remained on the Index until 1832.
Carli and Favaro, p. 28; Cinti 89; Dibner Heralds of Science 8; Grolier/Horblit 18c; PMM 128; Welcome 2647a; Norman 858.