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“… Che i matti dicano spropositi”

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A Discussion of Cometary Theory and Superstition in Seventeenth Century Italy

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Cometary theory had remained predominantly rooted in Aristotelianism until late in the seventeenth century. Yet concurrent with the expansion of astronomical understanding there persisted a steadfast vein of astrological superstition. While the newly emerging field of experimental natural philosophy successfully discredited many traditional principles, a notable discord still existed within the academic community regards cometary superstition and prognostication. The Neapolitan mathematician, Giovanni Alfonso Borelli, sought to rectify past misconceptions regarding the nature of comets. And literary figures Carlo de’ Dottori and Ciro di Pers textually document the cometary debate in two of their poems. This paper seeks to underscore the diverging paths that the interrelated fields of astrology and astronomy took by considering letters sent by Borelli to Dionigi Guerrini and two seventeenth century poetic works.

Affiliations: 1: University of Pennsylvania Giuseppesaverio.bruno@gmail.com

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/content/journals/10.1163/18253911-03201004
2017-01-01
2018-01-19

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