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Galileo and the four moons of Jupiter

He saw the first moon
      Ganymede

bearing the fatal cup
      to Rome's lips. 

He saw the second moon
      Callisto
dancing entranced
      around a different god. 

With the third moon
       Io
the priest and people sang
      to a universe no longer listening, 

and with the fourth moon
      Europa
he knew what had enthralled a continent
      was not worth dying for.


Galileo's telescopic observations of the major moons of Jupiter in 1610 confirmed that the rest of the universe did not revolve around the Earth or the Sun, undermining the prevalent contemporary religious dogma. The  commentary here plays on the names Galileo gave them from Greek mythology: Ganymede was a cupbearer for the gods on Olympus and Callisto a nymph who entranced Zeus with her dancing; Io was another nymph seduced by Zeus, but the play here is on a line in a well-known Christmas carol, and Europa was also (seemingly inevitably) seduced by Zeus and gave her name to the continent.