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Did Galileo Influence Theater?

August 31, 2011 by CPH Education Department in The Life of Galileo

Did Galileo Influence Theater?

William Shakespeare was born in 1564, just two month before the birth of Galileo. Shakespeare’s works were influenced by earlier writings such as ancient and Greek plays, but they were also heavily influenced by the world around him. Shakespeare describes the sights and sounds of London in his plays. His works include observations about current political struggles, the fear of diseases, and the popular language of the city's tradesmen and other professionals. Was Galileo one of those professionals that influenced Shakespeare’s plays? Galileo's discovery of the four brightest moons of Jupiter was reported in his 1610 publication of Sidereus Nuncius. Shakespeare’s play, Cymbeline, which first appeared about six months after Galileo’s publication, seemingly makes a strong connection to Galileo’s publication: While one character is asleep on the ground, Jupiter is hanging in the air above him, with four ghosts circling the tableau. It is possible that the ghosts represent the four moons of Jupiter that had recently been announced by Galileo in Sidereus Nuncius.

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