Accademia dei Lincei


The Accademia dei Lincei was the first European academy devoted to the natural sciences. It was founded in Rome in 1603 by four young men: Federico Cesi, Johannes Heckius, Francesco Stelluti and Anastasio de Filiis. The Lincei adopted the emblem of the Lynx, an animal remarkable for the quickness of its sight. The Academy met at Cesi family Palazzo, opposed traditional learning and promoted a new way of investigating nature, by means of observation and experiments. The Lynceans pursued research in chemistry, natural history and physics. They were attracted by antiquarian studies too. The Academy established a network of correspondence with naturalists and savants from all Europe. Galilei joined the Academy in 1611 and was supported by Cesi and his colleagues in his endeavour to promote the heliocentric cosmology. Cesi was mainly interested in natural philosophy, gave noticeable contributions to botany and paid special attention to the investigation of fungi. Entomology played a relevant part in the research carried out by the Lincei who published two broadsheets devoted to the bees. They were also meant to revere the Barberini family, whose emblem was a trigon of bees. Academicians sought the Barberini's support, and, after Maffeo Barberini became Urban VIII, Cesi and his colleagues became part of the Barberini system of patronage. Galilei unsuccessfully tried to gain the Pope's support for his effort to have Copernicanism accepted by the Church. The Academy actually closed in 1630 when Federico Cesi died. In 1874 the Accademia dei Lincei was restored as Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. In 1939 the Fascist regime ordered the fusion of the Accademia dei Lincei with the Accademia d'Italia, which was under Benito Mussolini's control. In 1944 the Accademia d'Italia was suppressed and the Accademia dei Lincei was reestablished and was housed in the Renaissance Villa Farnesina in Rome.

Key Concepts

  • The Accademia dei Lincei contributed to the reorientation of science from individual work to a collaborative enterprise.
  • Scientific illustration and visual communication were two cornerstones of the Lynceans projects.
  • The Lynceans adopted Paracelsian medicine and paved the way to the diffusion of chemical medicine in Italy.
  • Cesi and Galilei embodied two different views of nature, i.e. vitalism and mechanism.

Keywords: academies; Galilei; natural history; entomology; fossils; iatrochemistry; mycology; microscope; astronomy; cosmology

Figure 1. Lynx. Coloured drawing. Source: From Lynceographum quo norma studiosae vitae Lynceorum philosophorum exponitur Roma, Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana Archivio Linceo 4, fol. 244.
Figure 2. Source: Lynceographum quo norma studiosae vitae Lynceorum philosophorum exponitur Roma, Biblioteca dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei e Corsiniana. Archivio Linceo 4.
Figure 3. Source: Cesi's mycological codex ≪Fungorum genera et species≫, Institut de France, Paris, Ms 968, fol. 92.
Figure 4. Source: From Francesco Stelluti, Trattato del legno fossile minerale nuovamente scoperto (Rome, 1637).
Figure 5. Source: Urbano VIII Pont. Opt. Max cum accuratior Melissographia, a Lynceorum Academia, in perpetuae devotionis symbolum ipsi offeretur (Rome 1625).


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Clericuzio A and De Renzi S (1995) Medicine, alchemy and natural philosophy in the early Accademia dei Lincei. In: Chambers D and Quiviger F (eds) Italian Academies in the Renaissance, pp. 175–195. London: Warburg Institute.

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De Renzi S (2007b) Un linceo alla Sapienza: la natura del fuoco e dei metalli in un'orazione di Johannes Faber. In: Battistini A, De Angelis G and Olmi G (eds) All'origine della scienza moderna: Federico Cesi e l'Accademia dei Lincei, pp. 271–316. Bologna: Il Mulino.

Eamon W (1994) Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Findlen P (1994) Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy. pp. 31–32. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Freedberg T (2002) The Eye of the Lynx: Galileo, His Friends, and the Beginnings of Modern Natural History. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Gabrieli G (1989) Contributi alla storia della Accademia dei Lincei, 2 vols. Roma: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.

Galluzzi P (2014) Libertà di filosofare in Naturalibus. I mondi paralleli di Cesi e Galileo. Roma: Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.

Guardo M (2013) Nell'officina del Tesoro messicano. Il ruolo misconosciuto di Marco Antonio Petilio nel sodalizio linceo. In: Cadeddu ME and Guardo M (eds) Il Tesoro Messicano. Libri e saperi tra Europa e Nuovo Mondo. Firenze: Olschki Editore.

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Further Reading

Biagioli M (1993) Galileo, Courtier: The Practice of Science in the Culture of Absolutism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Clericuzio A (2010) Chemical medicines in Rome: Pietro Castelli and the vitriol debate (1616–1626). In: Donato MP and Kraye J (eds) Conflicting Duties: Science, Medicine and Religion in Rome, 1550–1750, pp. 281–302. London: The Warburg Institute.

Olmi G (1992) L'inventario del mondo. Catalogazione della natura e luoghi del sapere nella prima età moderna. Il Mulino: Bologna.

Park K and Daston L (1998) Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150–1750. New York: Zone Books.

Redondi P (1987) Galileo Heretic. Translated by Raymond Rosenthal. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Romano A (2009) Rome et la science moderne: Entre Renaissance et Lumières. Roma: Publications de l'École française de Rome.

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Clericuzio, Antonio(Dec 2015) Accademia dei Lincei. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0024934]