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The Paduan Rebbi. A Note on Galileo’s Household and Mediterranean Science in the Seventeenth Century

Gulizia, Stefano

This essay proposes an exercise of ‘global microhistory’ centered on Joseph Solomon Delmedigo (1591-1655), an itinerant Jewish alchemist and inventor, born in Candia, who was one of the student-lodgers at Casa Galileo in Padua between 1606 and 1613. Instead of asking primarily if or why this scholar was the first Jewish Copernican, Delmedigo’s experience is framed against a stable background of trade, antiquarianism, and astronomical interests spanning from Padua to the Eastern Mediterranean. In light of this network of scholarly intermediation, which is also foreshadowed by the information system generated by Gianfrancesco Sagredo in his consular years in Syria, the managing of Galileo’s experimental household is spatially de-centered; as a main result, the lone theoretician, or homo clausus, gives way to the artisanal epistemology of a homo faber.

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