Celia Grillo Borromeo

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Clelia Grillo Borromeo Arese
Giuseppe Candido Agudio, Portrait of Celia Grillo Borromeo (1750)
Born1684 (1684)
Died23 August 1777(1777-08-23) (aged 92–93)
Resting placeSanta Maria Podone
  • Natural philosopher
  • Mathematician
  • Scientist
Known forDiscovering the clélie curve
SpouseGiovanni Benedetto Borromeo Arese (1707–1744)
Parent(s)Marcantonio Grillo and Maria Antonia Grillo (née Imperiali)

Clelia Grillo Borromeo Arese or Celia Grillo Borromeo (1684 – 23 August 1777[1]) was an Italian (Genoese) natural philosopher,[1] mathematician and scientist.[2]

Life and education[edit]

Clelia Borromeo was a member of one of the most important patrician families of Northern Italy. She was born in Genoa, the daughter of Marcantonio Grillo, duke of Mondragone, and Maria Antonia Imperiali.[3]

Borromeo was educated in several languages, mathematics, natural science and mechanics.[1] She spoke eight languages and was interested in geometry, natural science and mathematics.[3] She was educated first by her mother and then in a convent, but it is unknown where she received education in the subjects she became known for.[3]

In 1707, she married count Giovanni Benedetto Borromeo Arese (1707–1744), and became the mother of eight children.[3]

Borromeo died in Milan on 23 August 1777.[2] She was buried in the collegiate church of Santa Maria Podone.[2]


Borromeo was famous for her ability to solve every mathematical problem presented to her. Borromeo was described as an independent person, which was regarded as eccentric because it was not considered natural for her gender. She opened her salon to the best scientific minds of the time during those years. The most frequent visitor to the salon of the Countess was Antonio Vallisneri, physician, naturalist and Professor of medicine at the University of Padua.

In 1719 she founded the Clelian Academy (Academia Clœlia Vigilantium), whose members gathered in her palace in Milan.[2] The Academy was modeled on the Accademia del Cimento, the Royal Society and the French Academy of Sciences. Prominent members included the Abbot Luigi Guido Grandi, Jesuits and distinguished mathematicians Tommaso Ceva and Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri, the physicists Giovanni Francesco Crivelli (fellow of the Royal Society, proponent of the equal importance of theoretical physics with experimental physics) and Alessandro Volta and the scholars Francesco Saverio Quadrio and Giuseppe Antonio Sassi.[2] Vallisneri himself drew up the statutes of the Academy.[2]

The Clelian Academy played a major role in the scientific cultural debate at the time. It played a significant role in the dissemination of Newtonian physics and Leibnizian philosophy in Italy.[2]

During the war in 1746, Borromeo took the side of Spain against Austria and was therefore exiled. When she was allowed to return to Milan, she was celebrated as a heroine.[3]

Clélie curve[edit]

In 1728, Borromeo discovered the so-called Clélie curve : q = . When the longitude and colatitude of a point P on a sphere are denoted by q and ƒ and if P moves so that q = , where m is a constant, then the locus of P is called a clélie.[1]


The city of Genoa honored her with a medal with the inscription Genuensium Gloria (The Honor of Genoa).[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Borromeo Celia". 4kyws.ua.edu. Archived from the original on 31 August 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Fagioli Vercellone 2000, pp. 450–454.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Grillo Borromeo Arese Clelia – Scienza a due voci". scienzaa2voci.unibo.it. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2021.