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Cesare Cremonini

1550-1631

Cesare Cremonini was one of the most illustrious Aristotelian philosophers of Galileo's day. Born in Cento in 1550, Cremonini studied in Ferrara where he formed ties of friendship with Torquato Tasso. In 1550 he was appointed by the Venetian Senate to a chair in philosophy at the University of Padua. Here he met and befriended Galileo, despite their differences of opinion on many issues. In 1604 they were reported on differing indictments to the court of the Inquisition of Padua, but both emerged from it unscathed. Galileo was accused of practicing judicial astrology, and Cremonini of believing that the human soul was mortal and interpreting Aristotle by distinct philosophical and theological approaches. Cremonini faced two more trials, one in 1608 and the other is 1611, but with no serious consequences, as he enjoyed the protection of the Venetian Republic. Cremonini belonged to those groups of Aristotelians who obstinately refused to set their eye to a telescope to verify with their senses what Galileo had set forth in Sidereus nuncius [The Starry Messenger] (Venice, 1610). As Paolo Gualdo (1553-1621) reports in a letter to Galileo, dated July 29, 1611, upon asking Cremonini his reason for opposing Galileo's astronomical observations, the other replied: "All this staring through those lenses just befuddles my brain. Enough, I don't want to hear any more of it". Up to the very end Galileo and Cremonini stuck to their divergent positions, but when Galileo left for Tuscany to take up his post as the Grand Duke's head mathematician and philosopher, Cremonini, almost prophetically, expressed his profound uneasiness for his friend: "Ah, Messer Galileo would have done better not to get swept up in such whirligigs and abandon the freedom of Padua."