Monday, March 11, 2013

Galileo, loyal Catholic?

“To the Protestants he was yet another image of the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, which was not a role that he liked to play; he felt he was a victim not of the Church but of corruption within the Church, as he tried to make clear if he got the chance." 

     Kim Stanley Robinson, Galileo's dream, chap. 20.4 ((New York:  Ballantine Books, 2009), 511).
     Presumably this is accurate?  The historical portions of the novel do seem remarkably fair.
     "The italicized passages in this novel are mostly from Galileo's writing or that of his contemporaries, with a few visitors from other times.  I made some changes in these texts, and many elisions that I did not mark, but I was always relying on the translators" (531).
     Robinson continues as follows:  "I do not hope for any relief, [Galileo] wrote to a supporter named Peiresc, and that is because I have committed no crime.  I might hope for a pardon if I had erred.  With the guilty a prince can show forbearance, but against one wrongly sentenced when he is innocent, it is expedient to uphold rigor, so as to put up a show of strict lawfulness.  This was like something out of Machiavelli, a writer Galileo knew well.  Galileo had met his prince, too, and suffered the consequent tortures, just as Machiavelli had."
     Galileo's conversation with the young John Milton continues in the same vein, which is to say that he refuses to take the Protestant bait (512-514).