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And yet it moves

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And yet it moves
Photograph of a painting, which one of its former owners had attributed to Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, depicting Galileo gazing at the wall of a prison cell on which the words "E pur si muove" appear (not fully legible in this image).
Original forme pur si muove or eppur si muove
Coined byAttributed to Galileo Galilei

"And yet it moves" or "Although it does move" (Italian: E pur si muove or Eppur si muove [epˈpur si ˈmwɔːve]) is a phrase attributed to the Italian mathematician, physicist, and philosopher Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) in 1633 after being forced to recant his claims that the Earth moves around the Sun, rather than the converse. In this context, the implication of the phrase is: despite his recantation, the Inquisition's proclamations to the contrary, or any other conviction or doctrine of men, the Earth does, in fact, move (around the Sun, and not vice versa).


According to Stephen Hawking, some historians believe this episode might have happened upon Galileo's transfer from house arrest under the watch of Archbishop Ascanio Piccolomini to "another home, in the hills above Florence".[1] This other home was also his own, the Villa Il Gioiello, in Arcetri.[2]

The earliest biography of Galileo, written by his disciple Vincenzo Viviani in 1655–1656, does not mention this phrase, and records of his trial do not cite it. Some authors say it would have been imprudent for Galileo to have said such a thing before the Inquisition.[3][4][5]

The event was first reported in English print in 1757 by Giuseppe Baretti in his book The Italian Library:[6]: 357 

The moment he was set at liberty, he looked up to the sky and down to the ground, and, stamping with his foot, in a contemplative mood, said, Eppur si muove, that is, still it moves, meaning the Earth.[7]: 52 

The book became widely published in Querelles Littéraires in 1761.[8]

In 1911, the words E pur si muove were found on a painting which had just been acquired by an art collector, Jules van Belle, of Roeselare, Belgium.[9] This painting is dated 1643 or 1645 (the last digit is partially obscured), within a year or two of Galileo's death. The signature is unclear but van Belle attributed it to the seventeenth century Spanish painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. The painting would seem to show that some variant of the Eppur si muove anecdote was in circulation immediately after his death, when many who had known him were still alive to attest to it, and that it had been circulating for over a century before it was published.[6] However, this painting, whose whereabouts is currently unknown, was discovered to be nearly identical to one painted in 1837 by Eugene van Maldeghem, and, basing their opinions on the style, many art experts doubt that the van Belle painting was painted by Murillo, or even that it was painted before the nineteenth century.[10]

United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was said to give an "E pur si muove" award to district court judges whose opinions were overturned by appellate courts but later vindicated by the Supreme Court.[11]


  1. ^ Hawking, Stephen (2003). On the Shoulders of Giants: The Great Works of Physics and Astronomy. Running Press. pp. 396–7. ISBN 9780762416981.
  2. ^ Magrini, Graziano (1 December 2010). "Villa Il Gioiello". Translated by Victor Beard. Institute and Museum of the History of Science, Florence. Archived from the original on 21 May 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  3. ^ Simons, Jay. "Did Galileo Really Say: "And Yet It Moves"?", Retrieved on 1 January 2014.
  4. ^ Hayton, Darin. "Toward a history of "eppur si muove"", Retrieved on 28 May 2017.
  5. ^ Ouellette, Jennifer (17 May 2020). "We now have more evidence that Galileo likely never said "And yet it moves"". Ars Technica. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  6. ^ a b Drake, Stillman (2003). Galileo at Work: His Scientific Biography (Facsim. ed.). Mineola (N.Y.): Dover Publications Inc. ISBN 0486495426.
  7. ^ Baretti, Giuseppe (1757). The Italian Library. Containing An Account of the Lives and Works of the Most Valuable Authors of Italy. With a Preface, Exhibiting The Changes of the Tuscan Language, from the barbarous Ages to the present Time. London: Printed for A. Millar, in the Strand. p. 52. Text preceded by: "This is the celebrated Galileo, who was in the Inquisition for six years, and put to the torture, for saying, that the Earth moved."
  8. ^ A. Rupert Hall, "Galileo nel XVIII secolo," Rivista di filosofia, 15 (Turin, 1979), pp. 375–78, 83.
  9. ^ Fahie, J.J. (1929), Memorials of Galileo (1564–1642), Leamington and London: the Courier Press, pp. 72–4
  10. ^ Livio, Mario (6 May 2020). "Did Galileo Truly Say, 'And Yet It Moves'? A Modern Detective Story". Scientific American. Retrieved 14 Nov 2020.
  11. ^ Armour, Maureen (2009). "Remembering Judge Sanders: Judicial Pragmatism in the Court of First and Last Resort". SMU Law Review. 62 (5): 1565.