Videnskabshistorisk Selskab

Volker Remmert,
Institut für Mathematik, Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz:

Visual legitimisation of astronomy in the 16th and 17th centuries:
Atlas, Hercules and Tycho's Nose


Images of the virtuous hero Hercules and the crowned King Atlas offered considerable potential for legitimising the new astronomy of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The accomplishments of Hercules, a seeker after virtue, with his exceptional learning, his role as disseminator of knowledge, his significance as an example of ideal manhood and, in addition to all, his achievement of immortality, invited comparison with the endeavours of astronomers. Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, Hercules and Atlas appear as the spiritual authorities of the discipline, and each was called into use to symbolise both the old and the new astronomy. To argue by visual means was part of the order of the day, whether in Rome, Paris or Copenhagen. Tycho Brahe played an important part in applying strategies of visual legitimisation to the science of astronomy, for he had a comprehensive understanding of the tradition and importance of the artistic legitimisation and glorification of power.

tirsdag, den 5. februar, kl. 17.00

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