University of Arizona

Fire in the Sky

Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora’s Libra astronomica y philosophica and the Great Comet of 1681

Libra astronomica y philosophica

The University Libraries Special Collections hosts Early Book Lecture Series IX, an annual lecture series where University of Arizona scholars explore the treasure trove of medieval texts held by the University Libraries. Professors from UA’s History, English and German Studies departments will give their audiences new insights into 15th, 16th and 17th century historic texts.

The opening lecture of the series, presented by Alexander Hidalgo, contextualizes the historical setting that led to the publication of Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora's Libra astronomica y philosophica and explores the book’s rich contents. Mexican savant Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora published the Libra astronomica y philosophica in the years following the sighting of a comet visible from different parts of the world from the fall of 1680 to the spring of 1681. Sigüenza y Góngora’s work responded to Jesuit missionary Eusebio Kino’s rationalization of the comet as a divine message contributing to an ongoing intellectual rivalry between the two learned men, but also to seventeenth-century debates over the role of science and faith.

 

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