The Academy of the Lynx

Galileo's World at a Glance
Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016).

A new phenomenon characterized science in the 17th century: the scientific society. One of the earliest and most important was the Academy of the Lynx (Accademia dei Lincei). Federigo Cesi, Duke of Aquasparta, founded the Lynx in 1603. Galileo soon became the best-known member. For the rest of his life, Cesi provided Galileo and other Lynx with crucial intellectual, financial, and moral support. The works of the Lynx spanned all fields of science, including the most important early natural history of America.

In founding the Lynx, Cesi was inspired by another society, the Academy of the Secrets of Nature (Accademia Secretorum Naturae), established by Giambattista della Porta in Naples. Della Porta in turn became an early member of the Lynx. Della Porta’s works and his relationship with Cesi throw light on the Lynx’s formative years.



Section 1: The Academy of the Lynx

1. Giambattista della Porta, Phytognomonica (Naples, 1588), "Plant Anatomy"
2. Giambattista della Porta, Natural Magick (London, 1658), "Natural Magic"
3. Giambattista della Porta, De furtivis literarum notis (Naples, 1563), "On Secret Writing"
4. Lettere di Galileo Galilei al Principe Federigo Cesi (1629?), "Letters from Galileo to Prince Federigo Cesi"
5. Giambattista della Porta, Della Fisonomia di Tutto il Corpo Humano (Rome, 1637), "Human Anatomy"
6. Francesco Stelluti and Federigo Cesi, Trattato del Legno Fossile Minerale (Rome, 1637), "Treatise on Fossil Mineral Wood"
7. Giambattista della Porta, De aeris transmutationibus (Rome, 1610), "On the Transformations of the Atmosphere"  

Further reading:
  • Federigo Cesi and Francesco Stelluti, Apiarium (Rome, 1625); trans. Clara Sue Kidwell, 1970
  • Dava Sobel, Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love (Walker, 1999)
  • David Freedberg, The Eye of the Lynx (Chicago, 2002)
  • Clara Pinto-Coreia, The Ovary of Eve: Egg and Sperm and Preformation (Stanford, 2002)
Curators: Kerry Magruder, James Burnes, Tom Luczycki, Katrina Menard, Brent Purkaple.