Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
*Florence. Powerful city-state in central Italy that is the site of the play’s middle scenes. The play depicts Florence as a more totalitarian state than the Venetian republic. Although Galileo despises the despotism of the Medici rulers of Florence, he nevertheless writes a groveling letter to ask for their patronage for his work. Besides Medicean control, Florence is also subject to powerful papal influence. Thus Galileo, having compromised his freedom for security, runs the risk of having his research frustrated by both state and church.
*Rome. Center of the Papal States at the time the play is set. Several pivotal scenes occur in the Vatican, which, for Brecht, represents not only spiritual but also intellectual and worldly authority. Galileo’s Copernicanism so troubles church officials that he is eventually put on trial, which leads to him to recant his belief that because the earth rotates around the Sun, the earth cannot be the center of the universe. In the earliest version of the play a cunning Galileo recants to preserve his chances for completing his scientific work. The versions that Brecht wrote after World War II treat Galileo less sympathetically because the postwar Brecht questioned the alliance between scientists and the state. In this interpretation Galileo capitulates out of cowardice and his dedication to science becomes a vice since he practices it without concern for humanity.