Galileo’s famous phrase – the primary source

Eppur si mouve – “And yet it moves.” Where exactly does this come from, anyway? The primary literary source for Galileo’s famous phrase is, surprisingly, an English language book by Giuseppe Baretti (an Italian-born English critic), entitled The Italian library, containing an account of the lives and works of the most valuable authors of Italy (1757). Here is the corresponding passage from Baretti’s work, p. 52:

“This is the celebrated Galileo, who was in the inquisition for six years, and put to the torture, for saying, that the earth moved. The moment he was set at liberty, he looked up to the sky and down to the ground, and, stamping with his foot, in a contemplative mood, said, Eppur si move; that is, still it moves, meaing the earth.”

Indeed, the story does seem very legend like. I especially appreciate the vividness of description. Also, it is astonishing how one can maintain a contemplative mood while “stamping with his foot.” Truly, a mark of genius!

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