The Life of Galileo

The Life of Galileo Scene 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Galileo has been summoned to the Medici palace for a meeting with Cosimo. He and Virginia await the Grand Duke in his antechamber. Galileo sees an old acquaintance, but the man refuses to speak to him. Another acquaintance, a manufacturer, tells Galileo that there are anti-Christian pamphlets circulating, and that the Church blames Galileo for them. The man nevertheless supports Galileo, he says. As a manufacturer, he recognizes that Galileo’s questioning of the status quo will help to usher in technological advancements for Italy, which is lagging behind the rest of Europe.
Neither Brecht’s character nor the real Galileo ever intended for the “virus” of new ideas to spawn anti-Christian literature. Certainly, Galileo never wrote such tracts himself. Nevertheless, there is some truth to the rumors that Galileo is responsible for the pamphlets (as well as to Ludovico’s earlier assertion that Galileo would end up leading people to question the Pope). The idea that the Church could be wrong spread alongside his ideas about celestial motion.
Themes
Progress vs. Tradition Theme Icon
Persecution Theme Icon
Ideas as Infection Theme Icon
Greatness Theme Icon
Eventually Cosimo comes out, but only addresses Galileo in passing. Galileo offers the Grand Duke a book, but Cosimo ignores it, instead asking Galileo how his eyes are. Galileo responds that they’re not very good, and Cosimo says he was afraid of that. It shows that Galileo has been spending far too much time at his telescope. A court official appears on Cosimo’s heels to tell Galileo that a coach is waiting outside to transport him to the Inquisition in Rome.
Cosimo seems embarrassed to even speak with Galileo and he obviously wants to get away from him as quickly as possible. It’s not clear if this is because he’s an older man now and actually feels revulsion towards Galileo’s heretical views. It might simply be that he remains under the guidance of the Church and hasn’t decided Galileo’s fate yet.
Themes
Progress vs. Tradition Theme Icon
Persecution Theme Icon
Ideas as Infection Theme Icon
Greatness Theme Icon