Grisogono, Federico

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Grisogono, Federico

also known as Federicus De Chrysogonis

(b. Zadar, Dalmatia, Yugoslavia, 1472; d Zadar, 2 January 1538)

cosmography, astrology.

Grisogono, the son of Antonio de Grisogono and Catarina Giorgi, belonged to one of the most illustrious families of the town of Zadar (Zara). After military adventures in Italy and in France, he studied philosophy and medicine at Padua. He received a doctorate from the University of Padua (1506 or 1507) and then taught astrology and mathematics there. But the career of professor was hardly suitable for this rich aristocrat, and in 1508 he returned to Zadar. He spent the remainder of his life in his native city, administering his property, holding municipal offices, practicing medicine, and making astronomical observations. In 1512 he visited Venice and was prosecuted for his politico-astrological predictions.

In his medical publications Grisogono appears as an aggressive advocate of astrology. His chief contribution to science concerns the theory of the tides. He supposed that the tides result from the combined action of the sun and the moon and that each of these celestial bodies exerts an attraction on the waters lying not only below its zenith position but also, at the same time and with the same intensity, below its nadir. This hypothesis allowed Grisogono to construct a mathematical model which predicted high tide quite accurately, particularly its second appearance during the day.


I. Original Works. Only two books by Grisogono are known: Speculum astronomicum terminans intellectum humanum in omni scientia (Venice, 1507) and De modo collegiandi, pronosticandi et curandi febres, nec non de humana felicitate ac denique de fluxu et refluxu maris (Venice, 1528). The chapter on the tides from the latter was republished in J. P. Galluci, Theatrum mundi et temporis (Venice, 1588).

II. Secondary Literature. Grisogono’s life and medical work are described in M. D. Grmek, “Prinosi za poznavanje života i rada F. Grisogona,” in Radovi instituta Jugoslavenske akademije u Zadru, 15 (1968), 61–91. An analysis of his hypothesis on the tides is given in Ž. Dadić “Tumačcenja pojave plime i oseke mora u djelima autora s područja Hrvatske,” in Rasprave i gradja za poviyest nauka, 2 (1966), 87–143. Remarks on Grisogono’s astrological work can be found in L. Thorndike, History of Magic and Experimental Science, V (New York, 1941), 314; and in K. Sudhoff, Iatromathemotiker (Breslau, 1902), pp. 47–48.

M. D. Grmek