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the virgin and the telescope: the moons of cigoli and galileo

  • sara elizabeth booth (a1) and albert van helden (a1)
    • Published online: 04 October 2005
Abstract

in 1612, lodovico cigoli completed a fresco in the pauline chapel of the basilica of santa maria maggiore in rome depicting apocalypse 12: “a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet.” he showed the crescent moon with spots, as his friend galileo had observed with the newly invented telescope. considerations of the orthodox view of the perfect moon as held by philosophers have led historians to ask why this clearly imperfect moon in a religious painting raised no eyebrows. we argue that when considered in the context of biblical interpretation and the rhetoric of the counter-reformation, the imperfect moon under the woman's feet was entirely consistent with traditional interpretations of apocalypse 12.

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Science in Context
  • ISSN: 0269-8897
  • EISSN: 1474-0664
  • URL: /core/journals/science-in-context
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