In my amendments I have tried to retain as much as possible of the gist of them which are indisputably accurate. However it seems to me that the result is a highly unbalanced lead which gives unnecessary weight to the Church controversy. The main reason for my amendments to the edits is that parts of them were inaccurate. Specifically: "[The geocentric view] was considered by scholars to be backed by the Scripture" This is an at least disputable over-generalisation and uses a form of wording that needs to be backed up by reliable sources. I have replaced it with a less general statement and provided a good source. I have never been able to find support for the claim in the primary or any reputable secondary literature.
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At the center of this world is a clandestine movement called the Brotherhood of the Illuminati, putatively one of the most inuential secret societies in history. The protagonist of the narrative is an internationally recognized Harvard symbologist, Robert Langdon who also appears in Browns later bestseller, The Da Vinci Code. In the earlier novel, Langdon is enlisted by an organization known as CERN Conseil Europen pour la Recherche Nuclaire to investigate the assassination of one of its most prominent physicists, Leonardo Vetra, who has discovered the means of harnessing the power of antimatter.
Responsible for the assassination, the Illuminati henchman makes off with the antimatter and its secrets. The dastardly goal of the Brotherhood is in effect to destroy the Catholic Church, along with its monuments, by placing a bomb in the form of the antimatter in a secret location in Vatican City.
To save the Church as an institution, as well as to apprehend the assassin, Langdon seeks to discover where the antimatter has been buried. Racing against time, he and Leonardo Vetras daughter Vittoria undertake a frantic search for the explosive substance. The quest draws upon all of Langdons abilities as a symbologist. Securing the antimatter requires the consummate task of decoding enigmas, which in Browns novel assume the form of messages left by the Illuminati in its wake. To that end, Langdon and his companion gain entrance into a secret Vatican vault, where they discover long-sequestered, occult documents that will provide information on the Illuminati and its practices.
Searching the secret archives, they come upon an obscure papyrus written by the great astronomer Galileo Galilei while under house arrest during the Inquisition. Titled Diagramma della Verit, this most arcane of papyri proves to be the solution to their quest.
To understand the lingua pura in which the papyrus is cast, however, University of Pittsburgh Press. All rights reserved. Brotherhood of the Illuminati Langdon and his companion must rst locate the key to its meanings. With this key, they can then gain insight into the hidden meanings of Galileos discourse.
Within the margins of the long-sequestered text, they discover that key, which appears in the form of a quatrain remarkably inscribed not in Latin nor in Italian, but in English: From Santis earthly tomb with demons hole, Cross Rome the mystic elements unfold. The path of light is laid, the sacred test, Let angels guide you on your lofty quest.
What is Santis earthly tomb with its demons hole? What are these so-called mystic elements or the path of light? To what sacred test does the quatrain allude? And what are the circumstances by which an English quatrain replete with coded signiers makes its appearance in a treatise by Galileo Galilei? The remainder of the novel represents an act of decoding the meanings implicit in this quatrain. For only by decoding the terms of the riddle will the symbologist and his companion be able to nd the location of the antimatter hidden by the Illuminati in its devilish plot to destroy the Catholic Church and all that it represents.
What makes this bit of chicanery so interesting for our purposes is the discovery that the quatrain encoded in the margins of the Diagramma della Verit is by none other than John Milton, whose signature Langdon at once recognizes. Milton, it would seem, is at long last revealed as one fully schooled in the Path of Illumination, which has been traversed by every upstanding member of the Illuminati since the founding of the order.
Clearly, the inuential English poet who wrote Paradise Lost, Langdon observes, was himself a member of the Illuminati. A contemporary of Galileos and a savant, this poet proved true to his calling. His alleged afliation with Galileos Illuminati was one legend that Langdon suspected was true.
Not only had Milton made a well-documented pilgrimage to Rome in order to commune with enlightened men, but he had held meetings with Galileo during the scientists house arrest, meetings portrayed in many Renaissance paintings, including Annibale Gattis famous Galileo and Milton, which hung even now in the IMSS Museum in Florence I invoke Dan Browns novel not to endorse the notion that either Milton or Galileo is to be numbered among the so-called Brotherhood of the Illuminati.
Nor do I wish to suggest the viability of a clandestine or conspiratorial relationship between poet and astronomer. Such is the stuff of fantasy. Nonetheless, I do invite us to engage in a willing suspension of disbelief in order to entertain even if momentarily the wisdom of Robert Langdons University of Pittsburgh Press.
Acceding to the spirit, if not the fact, of that discovery will provide the means by which we may gain insight not only into how Milton works but also into how the concept of his relationships conspiratorial or otherwise is represented by the scholarly and perhaps not so scholarly community from one generation to the next.
Specically, I wish to explore the way in which the various accounts surrounding the relationship between Milton and Galileo assume a life of their own. From the perspective of the afterlife represented by those accounts, I shall then address the kinds of interpretive issues that arise in an attempt to understand Miltons incorporation of Galileo into the fabric of his great epic, Paradise Lost. Approaching Milton from this perspective should prove fruitful in coming to terms with the complex relationship between poet and astronomer in the fashioning of Miltons epic.
At the same time, such an approach should sensitize us to the intimate connection between how we construe Milton and his world, on the one hand, and the nature of his poetic practices, on the other. What will emerge is a Milton whose works and sensibility become the focal point of speculation, of uncertainty, and of the creation of critical conundrums that at times appear to be as much the product of Miltons readers as they are the construction of the author himself.
These two modes of production that of the reader and that of the author , I shall argue, complement each other, indeed, aid and abet each other. Both author and reader are complicit in the construction of Milton as the site of relationships that are themselves conspiratorial, not simply in the sense in which the term conspiracy is customarily understoodas that which implies sedition, secrecy, and crisisbut also in the sense in which the term was likewise used during Miltons eraas that which implies the possibility of a productive union or even the idea of working in harmony.
Both senses are already present in the root conspirare, which denotes the act of breathing together, uniting in a common enterprise.
Although Milton was inclined to draw upon the darker, more threatening implications of the term throughout his works, the more positive implications appear to obtain as part of the interpretive dynamics through which his relationship with Galileo may be said to arise. What I call a poetics of conspiracy is present both in Miltons own direct and oblique references to Galileo during the poets lifetime and in the ctions that represent a crucial dimension of the afterlife through which Miltons relationship with the astronomer is construed.
As a means of exploring that relationship, we return to our brilliant symbologist, Robert Langdon. In his response to the so-called meetings that Milton held with Galileo, our symbologist no doubt has in mind Miltons claim in Areopagitica that during his trip to the Continent he found and visited the famous Galileo grown old, a prisner to the Inquisition, for thinking University of Pittsburgh Press.
As is well known, that claim has fostered no end of scholarly debate. As early as S. Liljegrens indictment of the claim along with Milton in general , scholars have debated whether or not Milton actually had such an encounter with the great astronomer.
Those who have sought to call Miltons veracity into question ask why this is the only reference to the visit that appears in his works, especially since he had the opportunity to allude to the encounter on other occasions.
One thinks, for example, of Defensio Secunda, in which he excludes any mention of Galileo in defense of his standing but does include a list of illustrious personages such as Hugo Grotius, Jacopo Gaddi, Carlo Gati, and others who welcomed him in his Continental sojourn [YP ].
More surprising still for these critics is that at the very point of describing the astronomer as the famous Galileo grown old and a prisner to the Inquisition, Milton says nothing about Galileos blindness, a condition that would most certainly have made an impression on the young visitor, even had he not had premonitions of what was to be his own blindness in the years ahead. Once again, one thinks of Defensio Secunda, this time in the context of Miltons act of defending his own blindness by reciting a list of all those illustrious gures whose blindness was a sign not of their failings but rather of their special status as true servants of God [YP ].
Although the list includes such notables as Tiresias, Phineas, Timoleus of Corinth, Appius Claudius, John Zizka, Jerome Zanchius, among others, no mention is made of Galileo Galilei, a remarkable omission, under the circumstances. Additional arguments have been advanced in the cause of those who seek to cast doubt on the veracity of Miltons claim. In short, the issue of his visit with Galileo has been transformed into a veritable conundrum. Young effectively canonizes the issue: It is generally assumed that Milton met Galileo during his Italian journey, There is, however, considerable mystery surrounding the visit.
Indeed, it cannot be proved from external evidence that Milton actually met and talked with the old astronomer. Accordingly, one must be careful not to take Milton at his word, even in a treatise such as Areopagitica, which professes so dramatically its belief that in the wars of truth, one must have faith that truth will triumph over falsehood in a free and open encounter YP The discursive context through which Milton alludes to the visit with Galileo is revealing.
Addressing the Lords and Commons throughout Areopagitica, Milton as orator argues on behalf of the Liberty of Vnlicencd Printing as the full title of his treatise indicates by distinguishing between the freedom that his own country enjoys as opposed to the tyranny tantamount to the Inquisition under which other countries labor. In the passage University of Pittsburgh Press.
There it was that I found and visited the famous Galileo grown old, a prisner to the Inquisition, for thinking in Astronomy otherwise then the Franciscan and Dominican licensers thought. YP From the perspective of one who portrays himself in his prose treatise as a gure doing battle against an oppressive institution, Milton recalls his visit with Galileo as a means of supporting his overall contention that by imposing their licensing orders, the Lords and Commons are unwittingly subjecting their own citizens to the travails that beset those seekers after truth subject to the tyrannical excesses of popery in other lands.
Rhetorically, Milton portrays himself not simply as a visitor but as a condant, that is, as one invited into the inner circles of those willing to disclose to this outsider their most secret of thoughts as he sits among them. For those who have taken this visitor into their condence, the act of disclosing such sensitive matters is itself potentially perilous in the atmosphere fostered by the Inquisition.
It is dangerous enough to bemoan even in secret ones servile condition among ones fellow citizens, but to do so in the presence of one who hails from a world that looks upon the beliefs represented by the Catholic Church as the seat of the Antichrist is another matter altogether.
Nor does one have the impression that Milton was particularly circumspect among those who received him, and perhaps his determination to be outspoken on matters of religion while abroad might have justied his fears that plots had been laid against him as one who had seen and heard matters that were best left untold. How, then, is one to understand Miltons claim to have visited Galileo? If the claim is misleading or indeed a falsehood, is there something at work in the discourse to promote our suspicions and to elicit our distrust?
Must we indeed approach Miltons discourse through what has been termed a hermeneutics of suspicion? If so, what are the repercussions of such a reading? Until the external evidence that Milton actually met and talked with the old astronomer is brought forward to clarify the matter, the mystery surrounding the visit will remain at the forefront.
However one responds to the discursive context through which Milton claims in Areopagitica to have visited Galileo, the response among those University of Pittsburgh Press. Brotherhood of the Illuminati inclined to take Milton at his word has been one of crafting accounts of various sorts in order to esh out the details of the putative encounter. These accounts provide insight into the afterlife of the encounter that has entered into the imagination of the interpretive community.
Miltons great nineteenth-century biographer, David Masson, represents a case in point. In Massons account of the visit, Milton is conceived as one who, in the company of Malatesti, or Gaddi, or Buommatei, or some one else of the Florentine group, is determined to undertake a sojourn to Galileos delightful villa at Arcetri, just beyond the walls of Florence.
There, Milton is formally introduced to the blind sage, who greets the poet cordially according to his wont in such cases. This formality is followed by a stroll perhaps, under the guidance of one of the disciples in attendance, to the adjacent observatory, a conversation afterwards with the assembled little party over some of the ne wines produced in welcome, and all the while, surely, a reverent attention by the visitor to the features and the mien of Italys most famous son, who could judge reciprocally of him only through courteous old mind and ear, unable to return his visual glance.
From this narrative, Masson proceeds to view the relationship between the poet and the astronomer as one in which Milton, even at this juncture in his early years, gains a sense of what will befall him in later life. Already in Miltons writing, Masson observes, there may have been observed a certain fascination of the fancy, as if by unconscious presentiment on the subject of blindness. How in men like Homer and Tiresias a higher and more prophetic vision had come when terrestrial vision was denied, and the eyes had to roll in a less bounded world within, was an idea.
In Galileo, frail and old, Milton had seen one of those blind illustrious of whom he had so often dreamt, and of whom he was to be himself another.
The sight was one which he could never forget Massons observation is of interest not only because of its acuity in suggesting that the visit was somehow prophetic of what would befall Milton in later life but also because of its failure to take into account the signicance of the lack of any reference to Galileos blindness in the passage from Areopagitica.
If the sight of the astronomer in his blindness was one Milton could never forget, it is, ironically, one he never acknowledged in the rst place. Had Milton in fact visited Galileo, he may well have experienced the unconscious presentiment of his own future blindness, but if he did experience this presentiment, he never took the occasion to register it in any form in his allusion to the visit.
Once again, this is not to say that Milton did not undertake the visit and, if he had, that Galileos blindness had no effect on him. Rather, I am simply suggesting that Miltons silence on the subject of Galileos blindness is remarkable, considering the poets habits of mind both University of Pittsburgh Press.
What is one to make of Miltons silence on an issue that would loom so large in his life and writings? It is impossible to say. What is not impossible to say is that, if Milton failed to acknowledge Galileos blindness in his own authentic writings, there were others more than willing to have him acknowledge it in his apocryphal writings. Not long before the publication of Massons biography, there appeared an allegedly new discovery in the form of a series of letters between Milton and Galileo, among other contemporaries, including Louis XIV, and Molire.
Although the letters are considered to be outright forgeries, they are nonetheless what J. Milton French calls an interesting ction. As such, they augment and complement the interesting ction that Masson devises in his own account of the visit.
Diagramma della verità.
The air inside the Pantheon was cool and damp, heavy with history. It has one entrance. Although there were many others attempting to make such a device, Galileo was able to construct a nine-power telescope that was better than any other. Those Egyptian things we studied last term. This made it possible to find the most efficient way to place the oars on a ship. Langdon found himself scanning the Pantheon for reporters. The cardinal hits the marble floor and dies.
Diagramma Della Verita by Galilieo
At the center of this world is a clandestine movement called the Brotherhood of the Illuminati, putatively one of the most inuential secret societies in history. The protagonist of the narrative is an internationally recognized Harvard symbologist, Robert Langdon who also appears in Browns later bestseller, The Da Vinci Code. In the earlier novel, Langdon is enlisted by an organization known as CERN Conseil Europen pour la Recherche Nuclaire to investigate the assassination of one of its most prominent physicists, Leonardo Vetra, who has discovered the means of harnessing the power of antimatter. Responsible for the assassination, the Illuminati henchman makes off with the antimatter and its secrets. The dastardly goal of the Brotherhood is in effect to destroy the Catholic Church, along with its monuments, by placing a bomb in the form of the antimatter in a secret location in Vatican City.