Fasti consolari dell'accademia Fiorentina [A Biographical History of the Florentine Academy]. - Containing Viviani's "Racconto istorico della Vita di Galileo Galilei" [Historical Account of the Life of Galileo Galilei].

Firenze, Nella Stamperia S.A.R. Per Gio: Gaetano, e Sant Franchi, 1717. 4to. Contemporary full vellum with handwritten title to spine. A bit of wear to capitals and a bit of minor soiling to boards, but a fine and handsome copy. Inner hinges a bit weak. Internally nice and clean, with just a bit of light minor occasional brownspotting. Large engraved pictorial vignette (heading: Accdemia Fiorentina) to title-page. Very nice woodcut vignettes and initials throughout. XXXI, (1), 676, (2, - Approvazioni) pp. [Viviani's Galilei-biography: pp. 397-431].

First edition of this extensive work of biographies of the people of the Florentine Academy. Among the dozens of biographies in the present work, we have the first printing of Viviani's seminal biography of Galilei, the first, and by far the most important biography of the great astronomer ever written. It is from this biography that we have most of the canonical stories and anecdotes about Galilei that keep being repeated and quoted - e.g. the legend of Galilei demonstrating to his students that Aristotle was wrong about speed of fall being related to the weight of an object by dropping balls of different mass off the leaning tower in Pisa; the stories of how he came up with the idea of the pendulum after having watched a suspended lamp swing back and forth in the cathedral of Pisa when he was still a student there - and furthermore also how his first experiments with pendulums were carried out (by his son due to his own failing eyesight), etc., etc.

Vincenzo Viviani (1622-1703) considered himself Galilei's last pupil and he spent most of his life reinstating the ideas of Galilei. He was merely 20 years old when his master died, and he was present at the bedside of the dying master as well as at the removal of his body. Thus, he was a direct witness to many of the events that took place in Galilei's life, and as such he is an indispensible biographer - especially seeing that no other person had attempted a biograhy of the great astronomer. After Galielei's death, Viviani was granted a pension by the King of France, in exchange for him writing a great, massive biography of his master. This planned massive work never came about, though, - probably due to both fear of retaliation, inabilty to reconcile geometry with the dogmas of faith, and finally a general fear of what such a biography could carry with it politically, etc. (he had apparantly also been warned of this). What we have left of the massive work is that which is present in Salvini's collection of biographies of the Florentine Academy. The work is written in the form of a letter addressed to Prince Leopoldo de'Medici, and it was not printed during Viviani's lifetime, but only in 1717, in the present book.
Though not as extensive as had originally been planned, and though not printed as soon as originally planned, the work is still of the greatest importance to our knowledge about Galilei and forms the foundation for all later works on the astronomer. For the student of Galilei, it is absolutely indispensible. Being the first biography of Galilei, and the only one written by a contemporary, and one who knew him very well, the work plays a greater role in the study of the master's life than any other work.

Viviani may not have been a faithful chronicler or a clear interpreter, but we will have to make do with that which he can tell us about Galilei. Though not all stories may be true, almost all of the most famous anecdotes and legends that we have about Galilei stem from the present work.

After having described the various marvels, discoveries, etc. of Galilei's life, Viviani ends by describing the last hours of Galilei's life: "il Mercoledì delli 8. de Gennaio del 1641. ab Inc. a ore 4. di notte in età di settantasette anni, mesi dieci, e giorni vent, con Filosofica, e Christiana constanza, rese l'Anima al suo Creatore, inviandosi questa a godere, e rimarar più d'apresso quelle eterne maraviglie, ch'ella con tanta avidità, & impazienza aveva procurator per mezzo di fragil artifizio d'avvicinare agli occhi di noi mortali." (p. 423) ["On the night of Jan. 8, 1641, at about 4 o'clock at night at the age of 77 years, 10 months, and 20 days, with philosophical and Christian firmness he rendered up his soul to its Creator, sending it, as he liked to believe, to enjoy and to watch from a closer vantage point those eternal and immutable marvels which he, by means of a fragile device, had brought closer to our mortal eyes with such eagerness and impatience."] - clearly showing the sense that Viviani had for Galilei's biblically inspired faith.
The work furthermore contains several hitherto unpublished treatises on men from the famous scientific academy of Florence.

Order-nr.: 43065

DKK 25.000,00