Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/598

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

cent de Beauvais, though he accepts the sphericity of the earth, treats the doctrine of the antipodes as utterly disproved. Yet the doctrine still lived. Just as it had been previously revived by William of Conches and then laid to rest, so now it is somewhat timidly brought out in the thirteenth century by no less a personage than Albert the Great, the most noted man of science in that time. But his utterances are perhaps purposely obscure. Again it disappears beneath the theological wave, and a hundred years later Nicolas'd'Oresme, Geographer of the King of France, a light of science, is forced to yield to the clear teaching of the Scripture as cited by St. Augustine.

Nor was this the worst. In Italy, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, the Church thought it necessary to deal with questions of this sort by rack and fagot. In 1316 Peter of Abano, famous as a physician, having promulgated this with other obnoxious doctrines in science, only escaped the Inquisition by death; and in 1327 Cecco'd'Ascoli, noted as an astronomer, was for this and similar crimes driven from his professorship at Bologna and burned alive at Florence. Nor was this all his punishment: that great painter, Orcagna, whose terrible works still exist on the walls of the Campo Santo at Pisa, immortalized Cecco by representing him in the names of hell.[1]

Years rolled on, and there comes in the fifteenth century one from whom the world had a right to expect much. Pierre d'Ailly, by force of thought and study had risen to be Provost of the College of St. Dié in Lorraine; his ability had made that little country village a center of scientific thought for all Europe, and finally made him Archbishop of Cambray and a cardinal. In 1483 was printed what Cardinal'd'Ailly had written long before as a summing up of his best thought and research—the collection of essays known as the Ymago Mundi. It gives us one of the most striking examples in history of a great man in theological fetters. As he approaches this question he states it with such clearness that we expect to hear him assert the truth; but there stands the argument of St. Augustine; there, too, stands the biblical texts on

  1. For Vincent de Beauvais and the antipodes, see his Speculum Naturales, Book VII, with citations from St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, cap. xvi. For Albert the Great's doctrine regarding the antipodes, compare Kretschmer as above with Eicken, Geschichte, etc., p. 621. Kretschmer finds that Albert supports the doctrine, and Eicken finds that he denies it—a fair proof that Albert was not inclined to state his views with dangerous clearness. For D'Oresme, see Santarem, Histoire de la Cosmographie, vol. i, p. 142. For Peter of Abano, or Apono, as he is often called, see Tiraboschi; also Ginguene, vol. ii, p. 293; also Naudé, Histoire des Grands Hommes de Magie. For Cecco'd'Ascoli, see Montucla, Histoire des Mathematiques, i, 528; also Daunou, Études Historiques, vol. vi, p. 320; also Kretschmer, p. 59. Concerning Orcagna's representation of Cecco in flames of hell, see Eenan, Averroes et l'Averroisme, Paris, 1867, p. 328.