The Tuscan Artist
In The Areopagitica, his most important work of prose, John Milton mentions Galileo as the illustrious martyr who fought for the freedom of thought. The name of the great scientist is repeated several times in the English poet's epic masterpiece: Paradise Lost. In three different passages of the poem, Milton in fact celebrates the "Tuscan Artist" and his crucial achievements in astronomy. Nevertheless, in a subsequent passage, the poet addresses the Copernican issue without openly defending the heliocentric theory confirmed by Galileo's discoveries. In fact, he neither embraces the Copernican system nor the Ptolemaic one, but instead compares them, following a dialectic method where one cannot fail to notice an echo of Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the two Chief World Systems. Milton's literary work presents images of astronomy at that time, thus offering a valuable historical example of scientific communication through art.