Monday, April 22, 2024

"They Did Not Merely Fall Over the Parapet—They Were Thrown!"

"Religious Controversy Grips University Campus." While that headline would very likely appear all over today's media, the university campus in our story reposes in 16th century Pisa. Two murders have occurred, and it looks like the only one who can solve them is . . .

"Galileo, Detective."
By Theodore Mathieson (1913-95; The Hitchcock Zone HERE; the ISFDb HERE; Buckingham Books HERE; Goodreads HERE; and FictionMags HERE).
First appearance: EQMM, October 1961.
  - Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine (Australia), December 1961
  - Once Upon a Crime II (1996).
Long short story (16 pages).
Online at The Luminist Archives (HERE; go to text page 68).

   "I knew you murdered my two students when I left your house earlier this evening."

"Cherchez la femme" ("Look for the woman"): While Alexandre Dumas is credited with coming up with the phrase, its universal applicability is beyond dispute. In today's case 
of a double murder, even though she isn't even aware of what's been done in her name 
(and therefore not guilty of any crime), the "femme" at the bottom of this situation is nevertheless an essential component . . .

Main characters:
~ Galileo Galilei:
  "I need your counsel, Signor Tarrega."
~ Jofre Tarrega:
  "You apparently have a way of making dangerous enemies, Leo."
~ Giovanni de Medici:
  "You can thank me for your predicament. I wrote those notes!"
~ Livia Tarrega:
  "The signorina is not at home, maestro. She is visiting her aunt in Lucca, but we expect her to return to-morrow."
~ Paolo Salviati:
  "It was one of the other professors. But do not ask me his name—"
~ Vincenzio Barbierini:
  ". . . the larger one . . ."
~ Pettirosso:
  ". . . little Pettirosso. . ."
~ The rector of the university:
  ". . . take care you do not see your hopes buried in the holy ground of the cemetery . . ."
~ Guiseppe [sic] Aproino:
  "It was the Devil who pushed them—the Devil!"
Typos: "lanthron"; "smugged it out".

References and resources:
- "the young professor Galileo Galilei":
  He would be 26 years of age in our story:
  "Galileo di Vincenzo Bonaiuti de' Galilei (15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642), commonly referred to as Galileo Galilei or simply Galileo, was an Italian astronomer, physicist and engineer, sometimes described as a polymath. He was born in the city of Pisa, then part of the Duchy of Florence. Galileo has been called the father of observational astronomy, modern-era classical physics, the scientific method, and modern science." (Wikipedia HERE.)
  "Between 1589 and 1592, the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei (then professor of mathematics at the University of Pisa) is said to have dropped 'unequal weights of the same material' from the Leaning Tower of Pisa to demonstrate that their time of descent was independent of their mass, according to a biography by Galileo's pupil Vincenzo Viviani, composed in 1654 and published in 1717. The basic premise had already been demonstrated by Italian experimenters a few decades earlier. According to the story, Galileo discovered through this experiment that the objects fell with the same acceleration, proving his prediction true, while at the same time disproving Aristotle's theory of gravity (which states that objects fall at speed proportional to their mass)." (Wikipedia HERE.)
He was a lot older when this portrait was made.
- Galileo's name has shown up in SFF products: WARNING! SPOILERS! Wikipedia (HERE); Wikipedia (HERE); and WARNING! SPOILERS! Wikipedia (HERE). NASA's Galileo space probe did a nosedive into Jupiter's cloud tops around twenty years ago. (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "the city of Pisa":
  "The most believed hypothesis is that the origin of the name Pisa comes from Etruscan and means 'mouth', as Pisa is at the mouth of the Arno River." 
(Wikipedia HERE.)
- "they resent my questioning their sacred Aristotle":
  It seems a major religious institution hitched its theoretical wagon to the musings of an ancient Greek philosopher; see Wikipedia (HERE) for how it reacted to Galileo's discoveries.
- "the Medici family":
  "Although none of the Medici themselves were scientists, the family is well known to have been the patrons of the famous Galileo Galilei, who tutored multiple generations of Medici children and was an important figurehead for his patron's quest for power. Galileo's patronage was eventually abandoned by Ferdinando II, when the Inquisition accused Galileo of heresy. However, the Medici family did afford the scientist a safe haven for many years. Galileo named the four largest moons of Jupiter after four Medici children he tutored, although the names Galileo used are not the names currently used." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "passed the Leaning Tower":
  "The height of the tower is 55.86 metres (183 feet 3 inches) from the ground on the low side and 56.67 m (185 ft 11 in) on the high side. The width of the walls at the base is 2.44 m (8 ft 0 in). Its weight is estimated at 14,500 tonnes (16,000 short tons). The tower has 296 or 294 steps; the seventh floor has two fewer steps on the north-facing staircase. The tower began to lean during construction in the 12th century, due to soft ground which could not properly support the structure's weight. It worsened through the completion of construction in the 14th century." (Wikipedia HERE.)
The scene of the crime
- "in the presence of her duenna":
  "By an extended usage the word duenna has come to mean a young woman's female companion from any culture, particularly one who is exceedingly strict." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "watching the Guioco [sic] del Ponte":
  "In Pisa there was a festival and game Gioco del Ponte (Game of the Bridge) which was celebrated (in some form) in Pisa from perhaps the 1200s down to 1807. From the end of the 1400s the game took the form of a mock battle fought upon Pisa's central bridge (Ponte di Mezzo)." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "whom Galileo hoped were Jesuits":
  "The Jesuits in particular have made numerous significant contributions to the development of science. For example, the Jesuits have dedicated significant study to earthquakes, and seismology has been described as 'the Jesuit science.' The Jesuits have been described as 'the single most important contributor to experimental physics in the seventeenth century'." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "To the Campo Santo":
  "The Campo Santo, also known as Camposanto Monumentale ('monumental cemetery') or Camposanto Vecchio ('old cemetery'), is a historical edifice at the northern edge of the Cathedral Square in Pisa, Italy." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- "from the Holy Land":
  "The Holy Land is an area roughly located between the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern bank of the Jordan River, traditionally synonymous both with the biblical Land of Israel and with the region of Palestine. Today, the term 'Holy Land' usually refers to a territory roughly corresponding to the modern states of Israel and Palestine. Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Bahá'ís regard it as holy." (Wikipedia HERE.)
- Theodore Mathieson was early out of the gate in the trend of having famous historical figures solve crimes, a still-popular subgenre of detective fiction called the historical mystery (Wikipedia HERE). The first ten of these stories appeared in his book collection The Great "Detectives" (1960); the others don't seem to have been collected. As you can see below, the adventures featuring Daniel Defoe, Alexander the Great, and Thomas Wolfe are available online (for now, at least):
  (1) "Captain Cook: Detective," (ss = short story) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October 1958
  (2) "Leonardo Da Vinci, Detective," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January 1959
  (3) "Daniel Defoe: Detective," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, March 1959 (online HERE)
  (4) "Hernando Cortez, Detective," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, July 1959
  (5) "Alexander the Great, Detective," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, September 1959 (online HERE)
  (6) "Don Miguel de Cervantes, Detective," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, November 1959
  (7) "Omar Khayyam, Detective," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, February 1960
  (8) "Stanley and Livingstone, Detectives," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, April 1960
  (9) "Florence Nightingale, Detective," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, July 1960
  (10) "Dan’l Boone, Detective," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, September 1960
  (11) "Alexandre Dumas, Detective," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, May 1961 (not in collection)
  (12) "Galileo, Detective," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, October 1961 (above; not in collection)
  (13) "The F. Scott Fitzgerald Murder Case," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, November 1972 (not in collection)
  (14) "John Barrymore and the Poisoned Chocolates," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, January 1973 (not in collection)
  (15) "Thomas Wolfe and the Tombstone Mystery," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, March 1973 (not in collection) (online HERE)
  (16) "W. Somerset Maugham and the Riviera Robbers," (ss) Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, June 1973 (not in collection).
- Melville Davisson Post's Uncle Abner (1911-28) and Lillian de la Torre's Johnson-Boswell pairing (1943-1990) could be regarded as the grandfathers of historical detective fiction; see Wikipedia (HERE) for more about Post and Wikisource (HERE) for the first Uncle Abner stories; go (HERE) about de la Torre and (HERE) for one of her Dr. Sam: Johnson books (still under copyright; borrow only). If you're not familiar with Dr. Sam, his fifth adventure is online at The Luminist Archives (HERE; go to text page 36.)

Unless otherwise noted, all bibliographical data are derived from The FictionMags Index created by William G. Contento & edited by Phil Stephensen-Payne.

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