Part 14 out of 16
A priest, making the rounds of his parish on Easter Eve, and
sprinkling holy water in the houses as is customary, came to a
painter's room, where he sprinkled the water on some of his
pictures. The painter turned round, somewhat angered, and asked him
why this sprinkling had been bestowed on his pictures; then said the
priest, that it was the custom and his duty to do so, and that he
was doing good; and that he who did good might look for good in
return, and, indeed, for better, since God had promised that every
good deed that was done on earth should be rewarded a hundred-fold
from above. Then the painter, waiting till he went out, went to an
upper window and flung a large pail of water on the priest's back,
saying: "Here is the reward a hundred-fold from above, which you
said would come from the good you had done me with your holy water,
by which you have damaged my pictures."
When wine is drunk by a drunkard, that wine is revenged on the
Wine, the divine juice of the grape, finding itself in a golden and
richly wrought cup, on the table of Mahomet, was puffed up with
pride at so much honour; when suddenly it was struck by a contrary
reflection, saying to itself: "What am I about, that I should
rejoice, and not perceive that I am now near to my death and shall
leave my golden abode in this cup to enter into the foul and fetid
caverns of the human body, and to be transmuted from a fragrant and
delicious liquor into a foul and base one. Nay, and as though so
much evil as this were not enough, I must for a long time lie in
hideous receptacles, together with other fetid and corrupt matter,
cast out from human intestines." And it cried to Heaven, imploring
vengeance for so much insult, and that an end might henceforth be
put to such contempt; and that, since that country produced the
finest and best grapes in the whole world, at least they should not
be turned into wine. Then Jove made that wine drunk by Mahomet to
rise in spirit to his brain; and that in so deleterious a manner
that it made him mad, and gave birth to so many follies that when he
had recovered himself, he made a law that no Asiatic should drink
wine, and henceforth the vine and its fruit were left free.
As soon as wine has entered the stomach it begins to ferment and
swell; then the spirit of that man begins to abandon his body,
rising as it were skywards, and the brain finds itself parting from
the body. Then it begins to degrade him, and make him rave like a
madman, and then he does irreparable evil, killing his friends.
An artizan often going to visit a great gentleman without any
definite purpose, the gentleman asked him what he did this for. The
other said that he came there to have a pleasure which his lordship
could not have; since to him it was a satisfaction to see men
greater than himself, as is the way with the populace; while the
gentleman could only see men of less consequence than himself; and
so lords and great men were deprived of that pleasure.
Franciscan begging Friars are wont, at certain times, to keep fasts,
when they do not eat meat in their convents. But on journeys, as
they live on charity, they have license to eat whatever is set
before them. Now a couple of these friars on their travels, stopped
at an inn, in company with a certain merchant, and sat down with him
at the same table, where, from the poverty of the inn, nothing was
served to them but a small roast chicken. The merchant, seeing this
to be but little even for himself, turned to the friars and said:
"If my memory serves me, you do not eat any kind of flesh in your
convents at this season." At these words the friars were compelled
by their rule to admit, without cavil, that this was the truth; so
the merchant had his wish, and eat the chicken and the friars did
the best they could. After dinner the messmates departed, all three
together, and after travelling some distance they came to a river of
some width and depth. All three being on foot--the friars by reason
of their poverty, and the other from avarice--it was necessary by
the custom of company that one of the friars, being barefoot, should
carry the merchant on his shoulders: so having given his wooden
shoes into his keeping, he took up his man. But it so happened that
when the friar had got to the middle of the river, he again
remembered a rule of his order, and stopping short, he looked up,
like Saint Christopher, to the burden on his back and said: "Tell
me, have you any money about you?"--"You know I have", answered the
other, "How do you suppose that a Merchant like me should go about
otherwise?" "Alack!" cried the friar, "our rules forbid as to carry
any money on our persons," and forthwith he dropped him into the
water, which the merchant perceived was a facetious way of being
revenged on the indignity he had done them; so, with a smiling face,
and blushing somewhat with shame, he peaceably endured the revenge.
A man wishing to prove, by the authority of Pythagoras, that he had
formerly been in the world, while another would not let him finish
his argument, the first speaker said to the second: "It is by this
token that I was formerly here, I remember that you were a miller."
The other one, feeling himself stung by these words, agreed that it
was true, and that by the same token he remembered that the speaker
had been the ass that carried the flour.
It was asked of a painter why, since he made such beautiful figures,
which were but dead things, his children were so ugly; to which the
painter replied that he made his pictures by day, and his children
A man saw a large sword which another one wore at his side. Said he
"Poor fellow, for a long time I have seen you tied to that weapon;
why do you not release yourself as your hands are untied, and set
yourself free?" To which the other replied: "This is none of yours,
on the contrary it is an old story." The former speaker, feeling
stung, replied: "I know that you are acquainted with so few things
in this world, that I thought anything I could tell you would be new
A man gave up his intimacy with one of his friends because he often
spoke ill of his other friends. The neglected friend one day
lamenting to this former friend, after much complaining, entreated
him to say what might be the cause that had made him forget so much
friendship. To which he answered: "I will no longer be intimate with
you because I love you, and I do not choose that you, by speaking
ill of me, your friend, to others, should produce in others, as in
me, a bad impression of yourself, by speaking evil to them of me,
your friend. Therefore, being no longer intimate together, it will
seem as though we had become enemies; and in speaking evil of me, as
is your wont, you will not be blamed so much as if we continued
A man was arguing and boasting that he knew many and various tricks.
Another among the bystanders said: "I know how to play a trick which
will make whomsoever I like pull off his breeches." The first man--
the boaster--said: "You won't make me pull off mine, and I bet you a
pair of hose on it." He who proposed the game, having accepted the
offer, produced breeches and drew them across the face of him who
bet the pair of hose and won the bet .
A man said to an acquaintance: "Your eyes are changed to a strange
colour." The other replied: "It often happens, but you have not
noticed it." "When does it happen?" said the former. "Every time
that my eyes see your ugly face, from the shock of so unpleasing a
sight they suddenly turn pale and change to a strange colour."
A man said to another: "Your eyes are changed to a strange colour."
The other replied: "It is because my eyes behold your strange ugly
A man said that in his country were the strangest things in the
world. Another answered: "You, who were born there, confirm this as
true, by the strangeness of your ugly face."
[Footnote: The joke turns, it appears, on two meanings of trarre and
is not easily translated.]
An old man was publicly casting contempt on a young one, and boldly
showing that he did not fear him; on which the young man replied
that his advanced age served him better as a shield than either his
tongue or his strength.
A sick man finding himself in _articulo mortis_ heard a knock at the
door, and asking one of his servants who was knocking, the servant
went out, and answered that it was a woman calling herself Madonna
Bona. Then the sick man lifting his arms to Heaven thanked God with
a loud voice, and told the servants that they were to let her come
in at once, so that he might see one good woman before he died,
since in all his life he had never yet seen one.
A man was desired to rise from bed, because the sun was already
risen. To which he replied: "If I had as far to go, and as much to
do as he has, I should be risen by now; but having but a little way
to go, I shall not rise yet."
A man, seeing a woman ready to hold up the target for a jousting
match, exclaimed, looking at the shield, and considering his spear:
"Alack! this is too small a workman for so great a business."
THE DIVISION OF THE PROPHECIES.
First, of things relating to animals; secondly, of irrational
creatures; thirdly of plants; fourthly, of ceremonies; fifthly, of
manners; sixthly, of cases or edicts or quarrels; seventhly, of
cases that are impossible in nature [paradoxes], as, for instance,
of those things which, the more is taken from them, the more they
grow. And reserve the great matters till the end, and the small
matters give at the beginning. And first show the evils and then the
punishment of philosophical things.
These creatures will form many communities, which will hide
themselves and their young ones and victuals in dark caverns, and
they will feed themselves and their families in dark places for many
months without any light, artificial or natural.
[Footnote: Lines 1--5l are in the original written in one column,
beginning with the text of line 11. At the end of the column is the
programme for the arrangement of the prophecies, placed here at the
head: Lines 56--79 form a second column, lines 80--97 a third one
(see the reproduction of the text on the facsimile PI. CXVIII).
Another suggestion for the arrangement of the prophecies is to be
found among the notes 55--57 on page 357.]
And many others will be deprived of their store and their food, and
will be cruelly submerged and drowned by folks devoid of reason. Oh
Justice of God! Why dost thou not wake and behold thy creatures thus
(Of Sheep, Cows, Goats and the like.)
Endless multitudes of these will have their little children taken
from them ripped open and flayed and most barbarously quartered.
(Of Nuts, and Olives, and Acorns, and Chesnuts, and such like.)
Many offspring shall be snatched by cruel thrashing from the very
arms of their mothers, and flung on the ground, and crushed.
(Of Children bound in Bundles.)
O cities of the Sea! In you I see your citizens--both females and
males--tightly bound, arms and legs, with strong withes by folks who
will not understand your language. And you will only be able to
assuage your sorrows and lost liberty by means of tearful complaints
and sighing and lamentation among yourselves; for those who will
bind you will not understand you, nor will you understand them.
(Of Cats that eat Rats.)
In you, O cities of Africa your children will be seen quartered in
their own houses by most cruel and rapacious beasts of your own
(Of Asses that are beaten.)
[Footnote 48: Compare No. 845.] O Nature! Wherefore art thou so
partial; being to some of thy children a tender and benign mother,
and to others a most cruel and pitiless stepmother? I see children
of thine given up to slavery to others, without any sort of
advantage, and instead of remuneration for the good they do, they
are paid with the severest suffering, and spend their whole life in
benefitting those who ill treat them.
(Of Men who sleep on boards of Trees.)
Men shall sleep, and eat, and dwell among trees, in the forests and
Men will seem to see new destructions in the sky. The flames that
fall from it will seem to rise in it and to fly from it with terror.
They will hear every kind of animals speak in human language. They
will instantaneously run in person in various parts of the world,
without motion. They will see the greatest splendour in the midst of
darkness. O! marvel of the human race! What madness has led you
thus! You will speak with animals of every species and they with you
in human speech. You will see yourself fall from great heights
without any harm and torrents will accompany you, and will mingle
with their rapid course.
Many who hold the faith of the Son only build temples in the name of
(Of Food which has been alive.)
 A great portion of bodies that have been alive will pass into
the bodies of other animals; which is as much as to say, that the
deserted tenements will pass piecemeal into the inhabited ones,
furnishing them with good things, and carrying with them their
evils. That is to say the life of man is formed from things eaten,
and these carry with them that part of man which dies . . .
(Of Funeral Rites, and Processions, and Lights, and Bells, and
The greatest honours will be paid to men, and much pomp, without
[Footnote: A facsimile of this text is on PI. CXVI below on the
right, but the writing is larger than the other notes on the same
sheet and of a somewhat different style. The ink is also of a
different hue, as may be seen on the original sheet at Milan.]
(Of the Avaricious.)
There will be many who will eagerly and with great care and
solicitude follow up a thing, which, if they only knew its
malignity, would always terrify them.
(Of those men, who, the older they grow, the more avaricious they
become, whereas, having but little time to stay, they should become
We see those who are regarded as being most experienced and
judicious, when they least need a thing, seek and cherish it with
(Of the Ditch.)
Many will be busied in taking away from a thing, which will grow in
proportion as it is diminished.
(Of a Weight placed on a Feather-pillow.)
And it will be seen in many bodies that by raising the head they
swell visibly; and by laying the raised head down again, their size
will immediately be diminished.
(Of catching Lice.)
And many will be hunters of animals, which, the fewer there are the
more will be taken; and conversely, the more there are, the fewer
will be taken.
(Of Drawing Water in two Buckets with a single Rope.)
And many will be busily occupied, though the more of the thing they
draw up, the more will escape at the other end.
(Of the Tongues of Pigs and Calves in Sausage-skins.)
Oh! how foul a thing, that we should see the tongue of one animal in
the guts of another.
(Of Sieves made of the Hair of Animals.)
We shall see the food of animals pass through their skin everyway
excepting through their mouths, and penetrate from the outside
downwards to the ground.
[Footnote 35: Lanterns were in Italy formerly made of horn.] The
cruel horns of powerful bulls will screen the lights of night
against the wild fury of the winds.
Flying creatures will give their very feathers to support men.
(Of Animals which walk on Trees--wearing wooden Shoes.)
The mire will be so great that men will walk on the trees of their
(Of the Soles of Shoes, which are made from the Ox.)
And in many parts of the country men will be seen walking on the
skins of large beasts.
(Of Sailing in Ships.)
There will be great winds by reason of which things of the East will
become things of the West; and those of the South, being involved in
the course of the winds, will follow them to distant lands.
(Of Worshipping the Pictures of Saints.)
Men will speak to men who hear not; having their eyes open, they
will not see; they will speak to these, and they will not be
answered. They will implore favours of those who have ears and hear
not; they will make light for the blind.
There will be many men who will move one against another, holding in
their hands a cutting tool. But these will not do each other any
injury beyond tiring each other; for, when one pushes forward the
other will draw back. But woe to him who comes between them! For he
will end by being cut in pieces.
Dismal cries will be heard loud, shrieking with anguish, and the
hoarse and smothered tones of those who will be despoiled, and at
last left naked and motionless; and this by reason of the mover,
which makes every thing turn round.
(Of putting Bread into the Mouth of the Oven and taking it out
In every city, land, castle and house, men shall be seen, who for
want of food will take it out of the mouths of others, who will not
be able to resist in any way.
(Of tilled Land.)
The Earth will be seen turned up side down and facing the opposite
hemispheres, uncovering the lurking holes of the fiercest animals.
(Of Sowing Seed.)
Then many of the men who will remain alive, will throw the victuals
they have preserved out of their houses, a free prey to the birds
and beasts of the earth, without taking any care of them at all.
(Of the Rains, which, by making the Rivers muddy, wash away the
[Footnote 81: Compare No. 945.] Something will fall from the sky
which will transport a large part of Africa which lies under that
sky towards Europe, and that of Europe towards Africa, and that of
the Scythian countries will meet with tremendous revolutions
[Footnote 84: Compare No. 945.].
(Of Wood that burns.)
The trees and shrubs in the great forests will be converted into
(Of Kilns for Bricks and Lime.)
Finally the earth will turn red from a conflagration of many days
and the stones will be turned to cinders.
(Of boiled Fish.)
The natives of the waters will die in the boiling flood.
(Of the Olives which fall from the Olive trees, shedding oil which
And things will fall with great force from above, which will give us
nourishment and light.
(Of Owls and screech owls and what will happen to certain birds.)
Many will perish of dashing their heads in pieces, and the eyes of
many will jump out of their heads by reason of fearful creatures
come out of the darkness.
(Of flax which works the cure of men.)
That which was at first bound, cast out and rent by many and various
beaters will be respected and honoured, and its precepts will be
listened to with reverence and love.
(Of Books which teach Precepts.)
Bodies without souls will, by their contents give us precepts by
which to die well.
Men will hide themselves under the bark of trees, and, screaming,
they will make themselves martyrs, by striking their own limbs.
(Of the Handles of Knives made of the Horns of Sheep.)
We shall see the horns of certain beasts fitted to iron tools, which
will take the lives of many of their kind.
(Of Night when no Colour can be discerned.)
There will come a time when no difference can be discerned between
colours, on the contrary, everything will be black alike.
(Of Swords and Spears which by themselves never hurt any one.)
One who by himself is mild enough and void of all offence will
become terrible and fierce by being in bad company, and will most
cruelly take the life of many men, and would kill many more if they
were not hindered by bodies having no soul, that have come out of
caverns--that is, breastplates of iron.
(Of Snares and Traps.)
Many dead things will move furiously, and will take and bind the
living, and will ensnare them for the enemies who seek their death
That shall be brought forth out of dark and obscure caves, which
will put the whole human race in great anxiety, peril and death. To
many that seek them, after many sorrows they will give delight, and
to those who are not in their company, death with want and
misfortune. This will lead to the commission of endless crimes; this
will increase and persuade bad men to assassinations, robberies and
treachery, and by reason of it each will be suspicious of his
partner. This will deprive free cities of their happy condition;
this will take away the lives of many; this will make men torment
each other with many artifices deceptions and treasons. O monstrous
creature! How much better would it be for men that every thing
should return to Hell! For this the vast forests will be devastated
of their trees; for this endless animals will lose their lives.
One shall be born from small beginnings which will rapidly become
vast. This will respect no created thing, rather will it, by its
power, transform almost every thing from its own nature into
(Of Ships which sink.)
Huge bodies will be seen, devoid of life, carrying, in fierce haste,
a multitude of men to the destruction of their lives.
(Of Oxen, which are eaten.)
The masters of estates will eat their own labourers.
(Of beating Beds to renew them.)
Men will be seen so deeply ungrateful that they will turn upon that
which has harboured them, for nothing at all; they will so load it
with blows that a great part of its inside will come out of its
place, and will be turned over and over in its body.
(Of Things which are eaten and which first are killed.)
Those who nourish them will be killed by them and afflicted by
(Of the Reflection of Walls of Cities in the Water of their
The high walls of great cities will be seen up side down in their
(Of Water, which flows turbid and mixed with Soil and Dust; and of
Mist, which is mixed with the Air; and of Fire which is mixed with
its own, and each with each.)
All the elements will be seen mixed together in a great whirling
mass, now borne towards the centre of the world, now towards the
sky; and now furiously rushing from the South towards the frozen
North, and sometimes from the East towards the West, and then again
from this hemisphere to the other.
(The World may be divided into two Hemispheres at any Point.)
All men will suddenly be transferred into opposite hemispheres.
(The division of the East from the West may be made at any point.)
All living creatures will be moved from the East to the West; and in
the same way from North to South, and vice versa.
(Of the Motion of Water which carries wood, which is dead.)
Bodies devoid of life will move by themselves and carry with them
endless generations of the dead, taking the wealth from the
(Of Eggs which being eaten cannot form Chickens.)
Oh! how many will they be that never come to the birth!
(Of Fishes which are eaten unborn.)
Endless generations will be lost by the death of the pregnant.
(Of the Lamentation on Good Friday.)
Throughout Europe there will be a lamentation of great nations over
the death of one man who died in the East.
Men will walk and not stir, they will talk to those who are not
present, and hear those who do not speak.
(Of a Man's Shadow which moves with him.)
Shapes and figures of men and animals will be seen following these
animals and men wherever they flee. And exactly as the one moves the
other moves; but what seems so wonderful is the variety of height
(Of our Shadow cast by the Sun, and our Reflection in the Water at
one and the same time.)
Many a time will one man be seen as three and all three move
together, and often the most real one quits him.
(Of wooden Chests which contain great Treasures.)
Within walnuts and trees and other plants vast treasures will be
found, which lie hidden there and well guarded.
(Of putting out the Light when going to Bed.)
Many persons puffing out a breath with too much haste, will thereby
lose their sight, and soon after all consciousness.
(Of the Bells of Mules, which are close to their Ears.)
In many parts of Europe instruments of various sizes will be heard
making divers harmonies, with great labour to those who hear them
The severest labour will be repaid with hunger and thirst, and
discomfort, and blows, and goadings, and curses, and great abuse.
(Of Soldiers on horseback.)
Many men will be seen carried by large animals, swift of pace, to
the loss of their lives and immediate death.
In the air and on earth animals will be seen of divers colours
furiously carrying men to the destruction of their lives.
(Of the Stars of Spurs.)
By the aid of the stars men will be seen who will be as swift as any
(Of a Stick, which is dead.)
The motions of a dead thing will make many living ones flee with
pain and lamentation and cries.
With a stone and with iron things will be made visible which before
were not seen.
(Of going in Ships.)
We shall see the trees of the great forests of Taurus and of Sinai
and of the Appenines and others, rush by means of the air, from East
to West and from North to South; and carry, by means of the air,
great multitudes of men. Oh! how many vows! Oh! how many deaths! Oh!
how many partings of friends and relations! Oh! how many will those
be who will never again see their own country nor their native land,
and who will die unburied, with their bones strewn in various parts
of the world!
(Of moving on All Saints' Day.)
Many will forsake their own dwellings and carry with them all their
belongings and will go to live in other parts.
(Of All Souls' Day.)
How many will they be who will bewail their deceased forefathers,
carrying lights to them.
(Of Friars, who spending nothing but words, receive great gifts and
Invisible money will procure the triumph of many who will spend it.
(Of Bows made of the Horns of Oxen.)
Many will there be who will die a painful death by means of the
horns of cattle.
(Of writing Letters from one Country to another.)
Men will speak with each other from the most remote countries, and
(Of Hemispheres, which are infinite; and which are divided by an
infinite number of Lines, so that every Man always has one of these
Lines between his Feet.)
Men standing in opposite hemispheres will converse and deride each
other and embrace each other, and understand each other's language.
(Of Priests who say Mass.)
There will be many men who, when they go to their labour will put on
the richest clothes, and these will be made after the fashion of
(Of Friars who are Confessors.)
And unhappy women will, of their own free will, reveal to men all
their sins and shameful and most secret deeds.
(Of Churches and the Habitations of Friars.)
Many will there be who will give up work and labour and poverty of
life and goods, and will go to live among wealth in splendid
buildings, declaring that this is the way to make themselves
acceptable to God.
(Of Selling Paradise.)
An infinite number of men will sell publicly and unhindered things
of the very highest price, without leave from the Master of it;
while it never was theirs nor in their power; and human justice will
not prevent it.
(Of the Dead which are carried to be buried.)
The simple folks will carry vast quantities of lights to light up
the road for those who have entirely lost the power of sight.
(Of Dowries for Maidens.)
And whereas, at first, maidens could not be protected against the
violence of Men, neither by the watchfulness of parents nor by
strong walls, the time will come when the fathers and parents of
those girls will pay a large price to a man who wants to marry them,
even if they are rich, noble and most handsome. Certainly this seems
as though nature wished to eradicate the human race as being useless
to the world, and as spoiling all created things.
(Of the Cruelty of Man.)
Animals will be seen on the earth who will always be fighting
against each other with the greatest loss and frequent deaths on
each side. And there will be no end to their malignity; by their
strong limbs we shall see a great portion of the trees of the vast
forests laid low throughout the universe; and, when they are filled
with food the satisfaction of their desires will be to deal death
and grief and labour and wars and fury to every living thing; and
from their immoderate pride they will desire to rise towards heaven,
but the too great weight of their limbs will keep them down. Nothing
will remain on earth, or under the earth or in the waters which will
not be persecuted, disturbed and spoiled, and those of one country
removed into another. And their bodies will become the sepulture and
means of transit of all they have killed.
O Earth! why dost thou not open and engulf them in the fissures of
thy vast abyss and caverns, and no longer display in the sight of
heaven such a cruel and horrible monster.
There will be many which will increase in their destruction.
(The Ball of Snow rolling over Snow.)
There will be many who, forgetting their existence and their name,
will lie as dead on the spoils of other dead creatures.
(Sleeping on the Feathers of Birds.)
The East will be seen to rush to the West and the South to the North
in confusion round and about the universe, with great noise and
trembling or fury.
(In the East wind which rushes to the West.)
The solar rays will kindle fire on the earth, by which a thing that
is under the sky will be set on fire, and, being reflected by some
obstacle, it will bend downwards.
(The Concave Mirror kindles a Fire, with which we heat the oven, and
this has its foundation beneath its roof.)
A great part of the sea will fly towards heaven and for a long time
will not return. (That is, in Clouds.)
There remains the motion which divides the mover from the thing
Those who give light for divine service will be destroyed.(The Bees
which make the Wax for Candles)
Dead things will come from underground and by their fierce movements
will send numberless human beings out of the world. (Iron, which
comes from under ground is dead but the Weapons are made of it which
kill so many Men.)
The greatest mountains, even those which are remote from the sea
shore, will drive the sea from its place.
(This is by Rivers which carry the Earth they wash away from the
Mountains and bear it to the Sea-shore; and where the Earth comes
the sea must retire.)
The water dropped from the clouds still in motion on the flanks of
mountains will lie still for a long period of time without any
motion whatever; and this will happen in many and divers lands.
(Snow, which falls in flakes and is Water.)
The great rocks of the mountains will throw out fire; so that they
will burn the timber of many vast forests, and many beasts both wild
(The Flint in the Tinder-box which makes a Fire that consumes all
the loads of Wood of which the Forests are despoiled and with this
the flesh of Beasts is cooked.)
Oh! how many great buildings will be ruined by reason of Fire.
(The Fire of great Guns.)
Oxen will be to a great extent the cause of the destruction of
cities, and in the same way horses and buffaloes.
(By drawing Guns.)
The Lion tribe will be seen tearing open the earth with their clawed
paws and in the caves thus made, burying themselves together with
the other animals that are beneath them.
Animals will come forth from the earth in gloomy vesture, which will
attack the human species with astonishing assaults, and which by
their ferocious bites will make confusion of blood among those they
Again the air will be filled with a mischievous winged race which
will assail men and beasts and feed upon them with much noise--
filling themselves with scarlet blood.
Blood will be seen issuing from the torn flesh of men, and trickling
down the surface.
Men will have such cruel maladies that they will tear their flesh
with their own nails. (The Itch.)
Plants will be seen left without leaves, and the rivers standing
still in their channels.
The waters of the sea will rise above the high peaks of the
mountains towards heaven and fall again on to the dwellings of men.
(That is, in Clouds.)
The largest trees of the forest will be seen carried by the fury of
the winds from East to West. (That is across the Sea.)
Men will cast away their own victuals. (That is, in Sowing.)
Human beings will be seen who will not understand each other's
speech; that is, a German with a Turk.
Fathers will be seen giving their daughters into the power of man
and giving up all their former care in guarding them. (When Girls
Men will come out their graves turned into flying creatures; and
they will attack other men, taking their food from their very hand
or table. (As Flies.)
Many will there be who, flaying their mother, will tear the skin
from her back. (Husbandmen tilling the Earth.)
Happy will they be who lend ear to the words of the Dead. (Who read
good works and obey them.)
Feathers will raise men, as they do birds, towards heaven (that is,
by the letters which are written with quills.)
The works of men's hands will occasion their death. (Swords and
Men out of fear will cling to the thing they most fear. (That is
they will be miserable lest they should fall into misery.)
Things that are separate shall be united and acquire such virtue
that they will restore to man his lost memory; that is papyrus
[sheets] which are made of separate strips and have preserved the
memory of the things and acts of men.
The bones of the Dead will be seen to govern the fortunes of him who
moves them. (By Dice.)
Cattle with their horns protect the Flame from its death. (In a
Lantern [Footnote 13: See note page 357.].)
The Forests will bring forth young which will be the cause of their
death. (The handle of the hatchet.)
Men will deal bitter blows to that which is the cause of their life.
(In thrashing Grain.)
The skins of animals will rouse men from their silence with great
outcries and curses. (Balls for playing Games.)
Very often a thing that is itself broken is the occasion of much
union. (That is the Comb made of split Cane which unites the threads
The wind passing through the skins of animals will make men dance.
(That is the Bag-pipe, which makes people dance.)
(Of Walnut trees, that are beaten.)
Those which have done best will be most beaten, and their offspring
taken and flayed or peeled, and their bones broken or crushed.
Alas! what do I see? The Saviour cru- cified anew.
(Of the Mouth of Man, which is a Sepulchre.)
Great noise will issue from the sepulchres of those who died evil
and violent deaths.
(Of the Skins of Animals which have the sense of feeling what is in
the things written.)
The more you converse with skins covered with sentiments, the more
wisdom will you acquire.
(Of Priests who bear the Host in their body.)
Then almost all the tabernacles in which dwells the Corpus Domini,
will be plainly seen walking about of themselves on the various
roads of the world.
And those who feed on grass will turn night into day (Tallow.)
And many creatures of land and water will go up among the stars
(that is Planets.)
The dead will be seen carrying the living (in Carts and Ships in
Food shall be taken out of the mouth of many ( the oven's mouth.)
And those which will have their food in their mouth will be deprived
of it by the hands of others (the oven.)
(Of Crucifixes which are sold.)
I see Christ sold and crucified afresh, and his Saints suffering
(Of Physicians, who live by sickness.)
Men will come into so wretched a plight that they will be glad that
others will derive profit from their sufferings or from the loss of
their real wealth, that is health.
(Of the Religion of Friars, who live by the Saints who have been
dead a great while.)
Those who are dead will, after a thou- sand years be those who will
give a livelihood to many who are living.
(Of Stones converted into Lime, with which prison walls are made.)
Many things that have been before that time destroyed by fire will
deprive many men of liberty.
(Of Children who are suckled.)
Many Franciscans, Dominicans and Benedictines will eat that which at
other times was eaten by others, who for some months to come will
not be able to speak.
(Of Cockles and Sea Snails which are thrown up by the sea and which
rot inside their shells.)
How many will there be who, after they are dead, will putrefy inside
their own houses, filling all the surrounding air with a fetid
(Of Mules which have on them rich burdens of silver and gold.)
Much treasure and great riches will be laid upon four-footed beasts,
which will convey them to divers places.
(Of the Shadow cast by a man at night with a light.)
Huge figures will appear in human shape, and the nearer you get to
them, the more will their immense size diminish.
[Footnote page 1307: It seems to me probable that this note, which
occurs in the note book used in 1502, when Leonardo, in the service
of Cesare Borgia, visited Urbino, was suggested by the famous
pillage of the riches of the palace of Guidobaldo, whose treasures
Cesare Borgia at once had carried to Cesena (see GREGOROVIUS,
_Geschichte der Stadt Rom im Mittelalter_. XIII, 5, 4). ]
(Of Snakes, carried by Storks.)
Serpents of great length will be seen at a great height in the air,
fighting with birds.
(Of great guns, which come out of a pit and a mould.)
Creatures will come from underground which with their terrific noise
will stun all who are near; and with their breath will kill men and
destroy cities and castles.
(Of Grain and other Seeds.)
Men will fling out of their houses those victuals which were
intended to sustain their life.
(Of Trees, which nourish grafted shoots.)
Fathers and mothers will be seen to take much more delight in their
step-children then in their own children.
(Of the Censer.)
Some will go about in white garments with arrogant gestures
threatening others with metal and fire which will do no harm at all
(Of drying Fodder.)
Innumerable lives will be destroyed and innumerable vacant spaces
will be made on the earth.
(Of the Life of Men, who every year change their bodily substance.)
Men, when dead, will pass through their own bowels.
Men will take pleasure in seeing their own work destroyed and
The time of Herod will come again, for the little innocent children
will be taken from their nurses, and will die of terrible wounds
inflicted by cruel men.
DRAUGHTS AND SCHEMES FOR THE HUMOROUS WRITINGS.
Schemes for fables, etc. (1314-1323).
The crab standing under the rock to catch the fish which crept under
it, it came to pass that the rock fell with a ruinous downfall of
stones, and by their fall the crab was crushed.
The spider, being among the grapes, caught the flies which were
feeding on those grapes. Then came the vintage, and the spider was
cut down with the grapes.
The vine that has grown old on an old tree falls with the ruin of
that tree, and through that bad companionship must perish with it.
The torrent carried so much earth and stones into its bed, that it
was then constrained to change its course.
The net that was wont to take the fish was seized and carried away
by the rush of fish.
The ball of snow when, as it rolls, it descends from the snowy
mountains, increases in size as it falls.
The willow, which by its long shoots hopes as it grows, to outstrip
every other plant, from having associated itself with the vine which
is pruned every year was always crippled.
Fable of the tongue bitten by the teeth.
The cedar puffed up with pride of its beauty, separated itself from
the trees around it and in so doing it turned away towards the wind,
which not being broken in its fury, flung it uprooted on the earth.
The traveller's joy, not content in its hedge, began to fling its
branches out over the high road, and cling to the opposite hedge,
and for this it was broken away by the passers by.
The goldfinch gives victuals to its caged young. Death rather than
loss of liberty. [Footnote: Above this text is another note, also
referring to liberty; see No. 694.]
Goats will convey the wine to the city.
All those things which in winter are hidden under the snow, will be
uncovered and laid bare in summer. (for Falsehood, which cannot
The lily set itself down by the shores of the Ticino, and the
current carried away bank and the lily with it.
Why Hungarian ducats have a double cross on them.
A vase of unbaked clay, when broken, may be remoulded, but not a
Seeing the paper all stained with the deep blackness of ink, it he
deeply regrets it; and this proves to the paper that the words,
composed upon it were the cause of its being preserved.
The pen must necessarily have the penknife for a companion, and it
is a useful companionship, for one is not good for much without the
Schemes for prophecies (1324-1329).
The knife, which is an artificial weapon, deprives man of his nails,
his natural weapons.
The mirror conducts itself haughtily holding mirrored in itself the
Queen. When she departs the mirror remains there ...
Flax is dedicated to death, and to the corruption of mortals. To
death, by being used for snares and nets for birds, animals and
fish; to corruption, by the flaxen sheets in which the dead are
wrapped when they are buried, and who become corrupt in these
winding sheets.-- And again, this flax does not separate its fibre
till it has begun to steep and putrefy, and this is the flower with
which garlands and decorations for funerals should be made.
(Of Peasants who work in shirts)
Shadows will come from the East which will blacken with great colour
darkness the sky that covers Italy.
(Of the Barbers.)
All men will take refuge in Africa.
The cloth which is held in the hand in the current of a running
stream, in the waters of which the cloth leaves all its foulness and
dirt, is meant to signify this &c.
By the thorn with inoculated good fruit is signified those natures
which of themselves were not disposed towards virtue, but by the aid
of their preceptors they have the repudation of it.
A COMMON THING.
A wretched person will be flattered, and these flatterers are always
the deceivers, robbers and murderers of the wretched person.
The image of the sun where it falls appears as a thing which covers
the person who attempts to cover it.
(Money and Gold.)
Out of cavernous pits a thing shall come forth which will make all
the nations of the world toil and sweat with the greatest torments,
anxiety and labour, that they may gain its aid.
(Of the Dread of Poverty.)
The malicious and terrible [monster] will cause so much terror of
itself in men that they will rush together, with a rapid motion,
like madmen, thinking they are escaping her boundless force.
The man who may be most necessary to him who needs him, will be
repaid with ingratitude, that is greatly contemned.
They live together in communities, they are destroyed that we may
take the honey from them. Many and very great nations will be
destroyed in their own dwellings.
WHY DOGS TAKE PLEASURE IN SMELLING AT EACH OTHER.
This animal has a horror of the poor, because they eat poor food,
and it loves the rich, because they have good living and especially
meat. And the excrement of animals always retains some virtue of its
origin as is shown by the faeces ...
Now dogs have so keen a smell, that they can discern by their nose
the virtue remaining in these faeces, and if they find them in the
streets, smell them and if they smell in them the virtue of meat or
of other things, they take them, and if not, they leave them: And to
return to the question, I say that if by means of this smell they
know that dog to be well fed, they respect him, because they judge
that he has a powerful and rich master; and if they discover no such
smell with the virtue of meet, they judge that dog to be of small
account and to have a poor and humble master, and therefore they
bite that dog as they would his master.
The circular plans of carrying earth are very useful, inasmuch as
men never stop in their work; and it is done in many ways. By one of
these ways men carry the earth on their shoulders, by another in
chests and others on wheelbarrows. The man who carries it on his
shoulders first fills the tub on the ground, and he loses time in
hoisting it on to his shoulders. He with the chests loses no time.
[Footnote: The subject of this text has apparently no connection
with the other texts of this section.]
If Petrarch was so fond of bay, it was because it is of a good taste
in sausages and with tunny; I cannot put any value on their foolery.
[Footnote: Conte Porro has published these lines in the _Archivio
Stor. Lombarda_ VIII, IV; he reads the concluding line thus: _I no
posso di loro gia (sic) co' far tesauro._--This is known to be by a
contemporary poet, as Senatore Morelli informs me.]
We are two brothers, each of us has a brother. Here the way of
saying it makes it appear that the two brothers have become four.
TRICKS OF DIVIDING.
Take in each hand an equal number; put 4 from the right hand into
the left; cast away the remainder; cast away an equal number from
the left hand; add 5, and now you will find 13 in this [left] hand;
that is-I made you put 4 from the right hand into the left, and cast
away the remainder; now your right hand has 4 more; then I make you
throw away as many from the right as you threw away from the left;
so, throwing from each hand a quantity of which the remainder may be
equal, you now have 4 and 4, which make 8, and that the trick may
not be detec- ted I made you put 5 more, which made 13.
TRICKS OF DIVIDING.
Take any number less than 12 that you please; then take of mine
enough to make up the number 12, and that which remains to me is the
number which you at first had; because when I said, take any number
less than 12 as you please, I took 12 into my hand, and of that 12
you took such a number as made up your number of 12; and what you
added to your number, you took from mine; that is, if you had 8 to
go as far as to 12, you took of my 12, 4; hence this 4 transferred
from me to you reduced my 12 to a remainder of 8, and your 8 became
12; so that my 8 is equal to your 8, before it was made 12.
[Footnote 1334: G. Govi _says in the_ 'Saggio' p. 22: _Si dilett
Leonarda, di giuochi di prestigi e molti (?) ne descrisse, che si
leggono poi riportati dal Paciolo nel suo libro:_ de Viribus
Quantitatis, _e che, se non tutti, sono certo in gran parte
invenzioni del Vinci._]
If you want to teach someone a subject you do not know yourself, let
him measure the length of an object unknown to you, and he will
learn the measure you did not know before;--Master Giovanni da Lodi.
_Letters. Personal Records. Dated Notes._
_When we consider how superficial and imperfect are the accounts of
Leonardo's life written some time after his death by Vasari and
others, any notes or letters which can throw more light on his
personal circumstances cannot fail to be in the highest degree
interesting. The texts here given as Nos._ 1351--1353, _set his
residence in Rome in quite a new aspect; nay, the picture which
irresistibly dwells in our minds after reading these details of his
life in the Vatican, forms a striking contrast to the contemporary
life of Raphael at Rome._
_I have placed foremost of these documents the very remarkable
letters to the Defterdar of Syria. In these Leonardo speaks of
himself as having staid among the mountains of Armenia, and as the
biographies of the master tell nothing of any such distant journeys,
it would seem most obvious to treat this passage as fiction, and so
spare ourselves the onus of proof and discussion. But on close
examination no one can doubt that these documents, with the
accompanying sketches, are the work of Leonardo's own hand. Not
merely is the character of the handwriting his, but the spelling and
the language are his also. In one respect only does the writing
betray any marked deviation from the rest of the notes, especially
those treating on scientific questions; namely, in these
observations he seems to have taken particular pains to give the
most distinct and best form of expression to all he had to say; we
find erasures and emendations in almost every line. He proceeded, as
we shall see, in the same way in the sketches for letters to
Giuliano de' Medici, and what can be more natural, I may ask, than
to find the draft of a letter thus altered and improved when it is
to contain an account of a definite subject, and when personal
interests are in the scale? The finished copies as sent off are not
known to exist; if we had these instead of the rough drafts, we
might unhesitatingly have declared that some unknown Italian
engineer must have been, at that time, engaged in Armenia in the
service of the Egyptian Sultan, and that Leonardo had copied his
documents. Under this hypothesis however we should have to state
that this unknown writer must have been so far one in mind with
Leonardo as to use the same style of language and even the same
lines of thought. This explanation might--as I say--have been
possible, if only we had the finished letters. But why should these
rough drafts of letters be regarded as anything else than what they
actually and obviously are? If Leonardo had been a man of our own
time, we might perhaps have attempted to account for the facts by
saying that Leonardo, without having been in the East himself, might
have undertaken to write a Romance of which the scene was laid in
Armenia, and at the desire of his publisher had made sketches of
landscape to illustrate the text.
I feel bound to mention this singular hypothesis as it has actually
been put forward (see No. 1336 note 5); and it would certainly seem
as though there were no other possible way of evading the conclusion
to which these letters point, and their bearing on the life of the
master,--absurd as the alternative is. But, if, on a question of
such importance, we are justified in suggesting theories that have
no foundation in probability, I could suggest another which, as
compared with that of a Fiction by Leonardo, would be neither more
nor less plausible; it is, moreover the only other hypothesis,
perhaps, which can be devised to account for these passages, if it
were possible to prove that the interpretation that the documents
themselves suggest, must be rejected a priori; viz may not Leonardo
have written them with the intention of mystifying those who, after
his death, should try to decipher these manuscripts with a view to
publishing them? But if, in fact, no objection that will stand the
test of criticism can be brought against the simple and direct
interpretation of the words as they stand, we are bound to regard
Leonardo's travels in the East as an established fact. There is, I
believe nothing in what we know of his biography to negative such a
fact, especially as the details of his life for some few years are
wholly unknown; nor need we be at a loss for evidence which may
serve to explain--at any rate to some extent--the strangeness of his
undertaking such a journey. We have no information as to Leonardo's
history between 1482 and 1486; it cannot be proved that he was
either in Milan or in Florence. On the other hand the tenor of this
letter does not require us to assume a longer absence than a year or
two. For, even if his appointment_ (offitio) _as Engineer in Syria
had been a permanent one, it might have become untenable--by the
death perhaps of the Defterdar, his patron, or by his removal from
office--, and Leonardo on his return home may have kept silence on
the subject of an episode which probably had ended in failure and
From the text of No. 1379 we can hardly doubt that Leonardo intended
to make an excursion secretly from Rome to Naples, although so far
as has hitherto been known, his biographers never allude to it. In
another place (No. 1077) he says that he had worked as an Engineer
in Friuli. Are we to doubt this statement too, merely because no
biographer has hitherto given us any information on the matter? In
the geographical notes Leonardo frequently speaks of the East, and
though such passages afford no direct proof of his having been
there, they show beyond a doubt that, next to the Nile, the
Euphrates, the Tigris and the Taurus mountains had a special
interest in his eyes. As a still further proof of the futility of
the argument that there is nothing in his drawings to show that he
had travelled in the East, we find on Pl. CXX a study of oriental
heads of Armenian type,--though of course this may have been made in
If the style of these letters were less sober, and the expressions
less strictly to the point throughout, it miglit be possible to
regard them as a romantic fiction instead of a narrative of fact.
Nay, we have only to compare them with such obviously fanciful
passages as No. 1354, Nos. 670-673, and the Fables and Prophecies.
It is unnecessary to discuss the subject any further here; such
explanations as the letter needs are given in the foot notes.
The drafts of letters to Lodovico il Moro are very remarkable.
Leonardo and this prince were certainly far less closely connected,
than has hitherto been supposed. It is impossible that Leonardo can
have remained so long in the service of this prince, because the
salary was good, as is commonly stated. On the contrary, it would
seem, that what kept him there, in spite of his sore need of the
money owed him by the prince, was the hope of some day being able to
carry out the project of casting the_ 'gran cavallo'.
Drafts of Letters and Reports referring to Armenia (1336. 1337).
To THE DEVATDAR OF SYRIA, LIEUTENANT OF THE SACRED SULTAN OF
 The recent disaster in our Northern parts which I am certain
will terrify not you alone but the whole world, which
[Footnote: Lines 1-52 are reproduced in facsimile on Pl. CXVI.
1. _Diodario._ This word is not to be found in any Italian
dictionary, and for a long time I vainly sought an explanation of
it. The youthful reminiscences of my wife afforded the desired clue.
The chief town of each Turkish Villayet, or province --such as
Broussa, for instance, in Asia Minor, is the residence of a
Defterdar, who presides over the financial affairs of the province.
_Defterdar hane_ was, in former times, the name given to the
Ministry of Finance at Constantinople; the Minister of Finance to
the Porte is now known as the _Mallie-Nazri_ and the _Defterdars_
are his subordinates. A _Defterdar_, at the present day is merely
the head of the finance department in each Provincial district. With
regard to my suggestion that Leonardo's _Diodario_ might be
identical with the Defterdar of former times, the late M. C.
DEFREMERIE, Arabic Professor, and Membre de l'Institut de France
wrote to me as follows: _Votre conjecture est parfaitement fondee;
diodario est Vequivalent de devadar ou plus exactement devatdar,
titre d'une importante dignite en Egypt'e, sous les Mamlouks._
The word however is not of Turkish, but of Perso-Arabie derivation.
[Defter written in arab?] literally _Defter_ (Arabic) meaning
_folio_; for _dar_ (Persian) Bookkeeper or holder is the English
equivalent; and the idea is that of a deputy in command. During the
Mamelook supremacy over Syria, which corresponded in date with
Leonardo's time, the office of Defterdar was the third in importance
in the State.
_Soltano di Babilonia_. The name of Babylon was commonly applied to
Cairo in the middle ages. For instance BREIDENBACH, _Itinerarium
Hierosolyma_ p. 218 says: "At last we reached Babylon. But this is
not that Babylon which stood on the further shore of the river
Chober, but that which is called the Egyptian Babylon. It is close
by Cairo and the twain are but one and not two towns; one half is
called Cairo and the other Babylon, whence they are called together
Cairo-Babylon; originally the town is said to have been named
Memphis and then Babylon, but now it is called Cairo." Compare No.
Egypt was governed from 1382 till 1517 by the Borgite or
Tcherkessian dynasty of the Mamelook Sultans. One of the most famous
of these, Sultan Kait Bey, ruled from 1468-1496 during whose reign
the Gama (or Mosque) of Kait Bey and tomb of Kait Bey near the
Okella Kait Bey were erected in Cairo, which preserve his name to
this day. Under the rule of this great and wise prince many
foreigners, particularly Italians, found occupation in Egypt, as may
be seen in the 'Viaggio di Josaphat Barbaro', among other
travellers. "Next to Leonardo (so I learn from Prof. Jac. Burckhardt
of Bale) Kait Bey's most helpful engineer was a German who in about
1487, superintended the construction of the Mole at Alexandria.
Felix Fabri knew him and mentions him in his _Historia Suevorum_,
written in 1488."
3. _Il nuovo accidente accaduto_, or as Leonardo first wrote and
then erased, _e accaduto un nuovo accidente_. From the sequel this
must refer to an earthquake, and indeed these were frequent at that
period, particularly in Asia Minor, where they caused immense
mischief. See No. 1101 note.]
shall be related to you in due order, showing first the effect and
then the cause. [Footnote 4: The text here breaks off. The following
lines are a fresh beginning of a letter, evidently addressed to the
same person, but, as it would seem, written at a later date than the
previous text. The numerous corrections and amendments amply prove
that it is not a copy from any account of a journey by some unknown
person; but, on the contrary, that Leonardo was particularly anxious
to choose such words and phrases as might best express his own
Finding myself in this part of Armenia [Footnote 5: _Parti
d'Erminia_. See No. 945, note. The extent of Armenia in Leonardo's
time is only approximately known. In the XVth century the Persians
governed the Eastern, and the Arabs the Southern portions. Arabic
authors--as, for instance Abulfeda--include Cilicia and a part of
Cappadocia in Armenia, and Greater Armenia was the tract of that
country known later as Turcomania, while Armenia Minor was the
territory between Cappadocia and the Euphrates. It was not till
1522, or even 1574 that the whole country came under the dominion of
the Ottoman Turks, in the reign of Selim I.
The Mamelook Sultans of Egypt seem to have taken a particular
interest in this, the most Northern province of their empire, which
was even then in danger of being conquered by the Turks. In the
autumn of 1477 Sultan Kait Bey made a journey of inspection,
visiting Antioch and the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates with a
numerous and brilliant escort. This tour is briefly alluded to by
_Moodshireddin_ p. 561; and by WEIL, _Geschichte der Abbasiden_ V,
p. 358. An anonymous member of the suite wrote a diary of the
expedition in Arabic, which has been published by R. V. LONZONE
(_'Viaggio in Palestina e Soria di Kaid Ba XVIII sultano della II
dinastia mamelucca, fatto nel 1477. Testo arabo. Torino 1878'_,
without notes or commentary). Compare the critique on this edition,
by J. GILDEMEISTER in _Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palaestina Vereins_
(Vol. Ill p. 246--249). Lanzone's edition seems to be no more than
an abridged copy of the original. I owe to Professor Sche'fer,
Membre de l'Institut, the information that he is in possession of a
manuscript in which the text is fuller, and more correctly given.
The Mamelook dynasty was, as is well known, of Circassian origin,
and a large proportion of the Egyptian Army was recruited in
Circassia even so late as in the XVth century. That was a period of
political storms in Syria and Asia Minor and it is easy to suppose
that the Sultan's minister, to whom Leonardo addresses his report as
his superior, had a special interest in the welfare of those
frontier provinces. Only to mention a few historical events of
Sultan Kait Bey's reign, we find that in 1488 he assisted the
Circassians to resist the encroachments of Alaeddoulet, an Asiatic
prince who had allied himself with the Osmanli to threaten the
province; the consequence was a war in Cilicia by sea and land,
which broke out in the following year between the contending powers.
Only a few years earlier the same province had been the scene of the
so-called Caramenian war in which the united Venetian, Neapolitan
and Sclavonic fleets had been engaged. (See CORIALANO CIPPICO,
_Della guerra dei Veneziani nell' Asia dal_ 1469--1474. Venezia
1796, p. 54) and we learn incidentally that a certain Leonardo
Boldo, Governor of Scutari under Sultan Mahmoud,--as his name would
indicate, one of the numerous renegades of Italian birth--played an
important part in the negotiations for peace.
_Tu mi mandasti_. The address _tu_ to a personage so high in office
is singular and suggests personal intimacy; Leonardo seems to have
been a favourite with the Diodario. Compare lines 54 and 55.
I have endeavoured to show, and I believe that I am also in a
position to prove with regard to these texts, that they are draughts
of letters actually written by Leonardo; at the same time I must not
omit to mention that shortly after I had discovered
these texts in the Codex Atlanticus and published a paper on the
subject in the _Zeitschrift fur bildende Kunst (Vol. XVI)_, Prof.
Govi put forward this hypothesis to account for their origin:
_"Quanto alle notizie sul monte Tauro, sull'Armenia e sull' Asia
minore che si contengono negli altri frammenti, esse vennero prese
da qualche geografro o viaggiatore contemporaneo. Dall'indice
imperfetto che accompagna quei frammenti, si potrebbe dedurre che
Leonardo volesse farne un libro, che poi non venne compiuto. A ogni
modo, non e possibile di trovare in questi brani nessun indizio di
un viaggio di Leonardo in oriente, ne della sua conversione alla
religione di Maometto, come qualcuno pretenderebbe. Leonardo amava
con passione gli studi geografici, e nel suoi scritti s'incontran
spesso itinerart, indicazioni, o descrizioni di luoghi, schizzi di
carte e abbozzi topografici di varie regioni, non e quindi strano
che egli, abile narratore com'era, si fosse proposto di scrivere una
specie di Romanzo in forma epistolare svolgendone Pintreccio
nell'Asia Minore, intorno alla quale i libri d'allora, e forse
qualche viaggiatore amico suo, gli avevano somministrato alcuni
elementi piu o meno_ fantastici. (See Transunti della Reale
Accademia dei Lincei Voi. V Ser. 3).
It is hardly necessary to point out that Prof. Govi omits to name
the sources from which Leonardo could be supposed to have drawn his
information, and I may leave it to the reader to pronounce judgment
on the anomaly which is involved in the hypothesis that we have here
a fragment of a Romance, cast in the form of a correspondence. At
the same time, I cannot but admit that the solution of the
difficulties proposed by Prof. Govi is, under the circumstances,
certainly the easiest way of dealing with the question. But we
should then be equally justified in supposing some more of
Leonardo's letters to be fragments of such romances; particularly
those of which the addresses can no longer be named. Still, as
regards these drafts of letters to the Diodario, if we accept the
Romance theory, as pro- posed by Prof. Govi, we are also compelled
to assume that Leonardo purposed from the first to illustrate his
tale; for it needs only a glance at the sketches on PI. CXVI to CXIX
to perceive that they are connected with the texts; and of course
the rest of Leonardo's numerous notes on matters pertaining to the
East, the greater part of which are here published for the first
time, may also be somehow connected with this strange romance.
7. _Citta de Calindra (Chalindra)_. The position of this city is so
exactly determined, between the valley of the Euphrates and the
Taurus range that it ought to be possible to identify it. But it can
hardly be the same as the sea port of Cilicia with a somewhat
similar name Celenderis, Kelandria, Celendria, Kilindria, now the
Turkish Gulnar. In two Catalonian Portulans in the Bibliotheque
Natio- nale in Paris-one dating from the XV'h century, by Wilhelm
von Soler, the other by Olivez de Majorca, in l584-I find this place
called Calandra. But Leonardo's Calindra must certainly have lain
more to the North West, probably somewhere in Kurdistan. The fact
that the geographical position is so care- fully determined by
Leonardo seems to prove that it was a place of no great importance
and little known. It is singular that the words first written in 1.
8 were divisa dal lago (Lake Van?), altered afterwards to
Nostri confini, and in 1. 6 proposito nostro. These refer to the
frontier and to the affairs of the Mamelook Sultan, Lines 65 and 66
throw some light on the purpose of Leonardo's mission.
8. _I_ corni del gra mote Tauro. Compare the sketches PI.
CXVI-CXVIII. So long as it is im- possible to identify the situation
of Calindra it is most difficult to decide with any certainty which
peak of the Taurus is here meant; and I greatly regret that I had no
foreknowledge of this puzzling topographical question when, in 1876,
I was pursuing archaeological enquiries in the Provinces of Aleppo
and Cilicia, and had to travel for some time in view of the imposing
snow-peaks of Bulghar Dagh and Ala Tepessi.
9-10. The opinion here expressed as to the height of the mountain
would be unmeaning, unless it had been written before Leonardo moved
to Milan, where Monte Rosa is so conspicuous an object in the
landscape. 4 _ore inanzi_ seems to mean, four hours before the sun's
rays penetrate to the bottom of the valleys.]
to carry into effect with due love and care the task for which you
sent me [Footnote: ]; and to make a beginning in a place which
seemed to me to be most to our purpose, I entered into the city of
Calindrafy, near to our frontiers. This city is situated at the
base of that part of the Taurus mountains which is divided from the
Euphrates and looks towards the peaks of the great Mount Taurus 
to the West . These peaks are of such a height that they seem to
touch the sky, and in all the world there is no part of the earth,
higher than its summit, and the rays of the sun always fall upon
it on its East side, four hours before day-time, and being of the
whitest stone [Footnote 11:_Pietra bianchissima_. The Taurus
Mountains consist in great part of limestone.] it shines
resplendently and fulfils the function to these Armenians which a
bright moon-light would in the midst of the darkness; and by its
great height it outreaches the utmost level of the clouds by a space
of four miles in a straight line. This peak is seen in many places
towards the West, illuminated by the sun after its setting the third
part of the night. This it is, which with you [Footnote 14:
_Appresso di voi_. Leonardo had at first written _noi_ as though his
meaning had,been: This peak appeared to us to be a comet when you
and I observed it in North Syria (at Aleppo? at Aintas?). The
description of the curious reflection in the evening, resembling the
"Alpine-glow" is certainly not an invented fiction, for in the next
lines an explanation of the phenomenon is offered, or at least
attempted.] we formerly in calm weather had supposed to be a comet,
and appears to us in the darkness of night, to change its form,
being sometimes divided in two or three parts, and sometimes long
and sometimes short. And this is caused by the clouds on the horizon
of the sky which interpose between part of this mountain and the
sun, and by cutting off some of the solar rays the light on the
mountain is intercepted by various intervals of clouds, and
therefore varies in the form of its brightness.
THE DIVISIONS OF THE BOOK [Footnote 19: The next 33 lines are
evidently the contents of a connected Report or Book, but not of one
which he had at hand; more probably, indeed, of one he purposed
The praise and confession of the faith [Footnote 20: _Persuasione di
fede_, of the Christian or the Mohammedan faith? We must suppose the
latter, at the beginning of a document addressed to so high a
Mohammedan official. _Predica_ probably stands as an abbreviation
for _predicazione_ (lat. _praedicatio_) in the sense of praise or
glorification; very probably it may mean some such initial doxology
as we find in Mohammedan works. (Comp. 1. 40.)].
The sudden inundation, to its end.
 The destruction of the city.
The death of the people and their despair.
The preacher's search, his release and benevolence [Footnote 28: The
phraseology of this is too general for any conjecture as to its
meaning to be worth hazarding.]
Description of the cause of this fall of the mountain [Footnote 30:
_Ruina del monte_. Of course by an earthquake. In a catalogue of
earthquakes, entitled _kechf aussalssaleb an auasf ezzel-zeleh_, and
written by Djelal eddin].
The mischief it did.
 Fall of snow.
The finding of the prophet .
 The inundation of the lower portion of Eastern Armenia, the
draining of which was effected by the cutting through the Taurus
How the new prophet showed [Footnote 40:_Nova profeta, 1. 33,
profeta_. Mohammed. Leonardo here refers to the Koran:
In the name of the most merciful God.--When the earth shall be
shaken by an earthquake; and the earth shall cast forth her burdens;
and a man shall say, what aileth her? On that day the earth shall
declare her tidings, for that thy Lord will inspire her. On that day
men shall go forward in distinct classes, that they may behold their
works. And whoever shall have wrought good of the weight of an ant,
shall behold the same. And whoever shall have wrought evil of the
weight of an ant, shall behold the same. (The Koran, translated by
G. Sale, Chapter XCIX, p. 452).] that this destruction would happen
as he had foretold.
Description of the Taurus Mountains  and the river Euphrates.
Why the mountain shines at the top, from half to a third of the
night, and looks like a comet to the inhabitants of the West after
the sunset, and before day to those of the East.
Why this comet appears of variable forms, so that it is now round
and now long, and now again divided into two or three parts, and now
in one piece, and when it is to be seen again.
OF THE SHAPE OF THE TAURUS MOUNTAINS [Footnote 53-94: The facsimile
of this passage is given on Pl. CXVII.].
I am not to be accused, Oh Devatdar, of idleness, as your chidings
seem to hint; but your excessive love for me, which gave rise to the
benefits you have conferred on me [Footnote 55] is that which has
also compelled me to the utmost painstaking in seeking out and
diligently investigating the cause of so great and stupendous an
effect. And this could not be done without time; now, in order to
satisfy you fully as to the cause of so great an effect, it is
requisite that I should explain to you the form of the place, and
then I will proceed to the effect, by which I believe you will be
[Footnote 36: _Tagliata di Monte Tauro_. The Euphrates flows through
the Taurus range near the influx of the Kura Shai; it rushes through
a rift in the wildest cliffs from 2000 to 3000 feet high and runs on
for 90 miles in 300 falls or rapids till it reaches Telek, near
which at a spot called Gleikash, or the Hart's leap, it measures
only 35 paces across. Compare the map on Pl. CXIX and the
explanation for it on p. 391.]
[Footnote 54: The foregoing sketch of a letter, lines 5. 18, appears
to have remained a fragment when Leonardo received pressing orders
which caused him to write immediately and fully on the subject
mentioned in line 43.]
[Footnote 59: This passage was evidently intended as an improvement
on that immediately preceding it. The purport of both is essentially
the same, but the first is pitched in a key of ill-disguised
annoyance which is absent from the second. I do not see how these
two versions can be reconciled with the romance-theory held by Prof.
Govi.] Do not be aggrieved, O Devatdar, by my delay in responding to
your pressing request, for those things which you require of me are
of such a nature that they cannot be well expressed without some
lapse of time; particularly because, in order to explain the cause
of so great an effect, it is necessary to describe with accuracy the
nature of the place; and by this means I can afterwards easily
satisfy your above-mentioned request. [Footnote 62: This passage was
evidently intended as an improvement on that immediately preceding
it. The purport of both is essentially the same, but the first is
pitched in a key of ill-disguised annoyance which is absent from the
second. I do not see how these two versions can be reconciled with
the romance-theory held by Prof. Govi.]
I will pass over any description of the form of Asia Minor, or as to
what seas or lands form the limits of its outline and extent,
because I know that by your own diligence and carefulness in your
studies you have not remained in ignorance of these matters ;
and I will go on to describe the true form of the Taurus Mountain
which is the cause of this stupendous and harmful marvel, and which
will serve to advance us in our purpose . This Taurus is that
mountain which, with many others is said to be the ridge of Mount
Caucasus; but wishing to be very clear about it, I desired to speak
to some of the inhabitants of the shores of the Caspian sea, who
give evidence that this must be the true Caucasus, and that though
their mountains bear the same name, yet these are higher; and to
confirm this in the Scythian tongue Caucasus means a very high
[Footnote 68: Caucasus; Herodot Kaoxaais; Armen. Kaukaz.] peak, and
in fact we have no information of there being, in the East or in the
West, any mountain so high. And the proof of this is that the
inhabitants of the countries to the West see the rays of the sun
illuminating a great part of its summit for as much as a quarter of
the longest night. And in the same way, in those countries which lie
to the East.
OF THE STRUCTURE AND SIZE OF MOUNT TAURUS.
[Footnote 73: The statements are of course founded on those of the
'inhabitants' spoken of in 1. 67.] The shadow of this ridge of the
Taurus is of such a height that when, in the middle of June, the Sun
is at its meridian, its shadow extends as far as the borders of
Sarmatia, twelve days off; and in the middle of December it extends
as far as the Hyperborean mountains, which are at a month's journey
to the North . And the side which faces the wind is always free
from clouds and mists, because the wind which is parted in beating
on the rock, closes again on the further side of that rock, and in
its motion carries with it the clouds from all quarters and leaves
them where it strikes. And it is always full of thunderbolts from
the great quantity of clouds which accumulate there, whence the rock
is all riven and full of huge debris [Footnote 77: Sudden storms are
equally common on the heights of Ararat. It is hardly necessary to
observe that Ararat cannot be meant here. Its summit is formed like
the crater of Vesuvius. The peaks sketched on Pl. CXVI-CXVIII are
probably views of the same mountain, taken from different sides.
Near the solitary peak, Pl. CXVIII these three names are written
_goba, arnigasar, caruda_, names most likely of different peaks. Pl.
CXVI and CXVII are in the original on a single sheet folded down the
middle, 30 centimetres high and 43 1/2 wide. On the reverse of one
half of the sheet are notes on _peso_ and _bilancia_ (weight and
balance), on the other are the 'prophecies' printed under Nos. 1293
and 1294. It is evident from the arrangement that these were written
subsequently, on the space which had been left blank. These pages
are facsimiled on Pl. CXVIII. In Pl. CXVI-CXVIII the size is smaller
than in the original; the map of Armenia, Pl. CXVIII, is on Pl. CXIX
slightly enlarged. On this map we find the following names,
beginning from the right hand at the top: _pariardes mo_ (for
Paryadres Mons, Arm. Parchar, now Barchal or Kolai Dagh; Trebizond
is on its slope).
_Aquilone_ --North, _Antitaurus Antitaurus psis mo_ (probably meant
for Thospitis = Lake Van, Arm. Dgov Vanai, Tospoi, and the Mountain
range to the South); _Gordis mo_ (Mountains of Gordyaea), the birth
place of the Tigris; _Oriente_ --East; _Tigris_, and then, to the
left, _Eufrates_. Then, above to the left _Argeo mo_ (now Erdshigas,
an extinct volcano, 12000 feet high); _Celeno mo_ (no doubt Sultan
Dagh in Pisidia). Celeno is the Greek town of KeAouvat-- see Arian
I, 29, I--now the ruins of Dineir); _oriente_ --East; _africo
libezco_ (for libeccio--South West). In the middle of the Euphrates
river on this small map we see a shaded portion surrounded by
mountains, perhaps to indicate the inundation mentioned in l. 35.
The affluent to the Euphrates shown as coming with many windings
from the high land of 'Argeo' on the West, is the Tochma Su, which
joins the main river at Malatie. I have not been able to discover
any map of Armenia of the XVth or XVIth century in which the course
of the Euphrates is laid down with any thing like the correctness
displayed in this sketch. The best I have seen is the Catalonian
Portulan of Olivez de Majorca, executed in 1584, and it is far
behind Leonardo's.]. This mountain, at its base, is inhabited by a
very rich population and is full of most beautiful springs and
rivers, and is fertile and abounding in all good produce,
particularly in those parts which face to the South. But after
mounting about three miles we begin to find forests of great fir
trees, and beech and other similar trees; after this, for a space of
three more miles, there are meadows and vast pastures; and all the
rest, as far as the beginning of the Taurus, is eternal snows which
never disappear at any time, and extend to a height of about
fourteen miles in all. From this beginning of the Taurus up to the
height of a mile the clouds never pass away; thus we have fifteen
miles, that is, a height of about five miles in a straight line; and
the summit of the peaks of the Taurus are as much, or about that.
There, half way up, we begin to find a scorching air and never feel
a breath of wind; but nothing can live long there; there nothing is
brought forth save a few birds of prey which breed in the high
fissures of Taurus and descend below the clouds to seek their prey.
Above the wooded hills all is bare rock, that is, from the clouds
upwards; and the rock is the purest white. And it is impossible to
walk to the high summit on account of the rough and perilous ascent.
[Footnote: 1337. On comparing this commencement of a letter l. 1-2
with that in l. 3 and 4 of No. 1336 it is quite evident that both
refer to the same event. (Compare also No. 1337 l. 10-l2 and 17 with
No. 1336 l. 23, 24 and 32.) But the text No. 1336, including the
fragment l. 3-4, was obviously written later than the draft here
reproduced. The _Diodario_ is not directly addressed--the person
addressed indeed is not known--and it seems to me highly probable
that it was written to some other patron and friend whose name and
position are not mentioned.]
Having often made you, by my letters, acquainted with the things
which have happened, I think I ought not to be silent as to the
events of the last few days, which--...
Having several times--
Having many times rejoiced with you by letters over your prosperous
fortunes, I know now that, as a friend you will be sad with me over
the miserable state in which I find myself; and this is, that during
the last few days I have been in so much trouble, fear, peril and
loss, besides the miseries of the people here, that we have been
envious of the dead; and certainly I do not believe that since the
elements by their separation reduced the vast chaos to order, they
have ever combined their force and fury to do so much mischief to
man. As far as regards us here, what we have seen and gone through
is such that I could not imagine that things could ever rise to such
an amount of mischief, as we experienced in the space of ten hours.
In the first place we were assailed and attacked by the violence and
fury of the winds ; to this was added the falling of great
mountains of snow which filled up all this valley, thus destroying a
great part of our city [Footnote 11: _Della nostra citta_ (Leonardo
first wrote _di questa citta_). From this we may infer that he had
at some time lived in the place in question wherever it might be.].
And not content with this the tempest sent a sudden flood of water
to submerge all the low part of this city ; added to which there
came a sudden rain, or rather a ruinous torrent and flood of water,
sand, mud, and stones, entangled with roots, and stems and fragments
of various trees; and every kind of thing flying through the air
fell upon us; finally a great fire broke out, not brought by the
wind, but carried as it would seem, by ten thousand devils, which
completely burnt up all this neighbourhood and it has not yet
ceased. And those few who remain unhurt are in such dejection and
such terror that they hardly have courage to speak to each other, as
if they were stunned. Having abandoned all our business, we stay
here together in the ruins of some churches, men and women mingled
together, small and great [Footnote 17: _Certe ruine di chiese_.
Either of Armenian churches or of Mosques, which it was not unusual
to speak of as churches.
_Maschi e femmini insieme unite_, implies an infringement of the
usually strict rule of the separation of the sexes.], just like
herds of goats. The neighbours out of pity succoured us with
victuals, and they had previously been our enemies. And if
[Footnote 18: _I vicini, nostri nimici_. The town must then have
stood quite close to the frontier of the country. Compare 1336. L.
7. _vicini ai nostri confini_. Dr. M. JORDAN has already published
lines 4-13 (see _Das Malerbuch, Leipzig_, 1873, p. 90:--his reading
differs from mine) under the title of "Description of a landscape
near Lake Como". We do in fact find, among other loose sheets in the
Codex Atlanticus, certain texts referring to valleys of the Alps
(see Nos. 1030, 1031 and note p. 237) and in the arrangement of the
loose sheets, of which the Codex Atlanticus has been formed, these
happen to be placed close to this text. The compiler stuck both on
the same folio sheet; and if this is not the reason for Dr. JORDAN'S
choosing such a title (Description &c.) I cannot imagine what it can
have been. It is, at any rate, a merely hypothetical statement. The
designation of the population of the country round a city as "the
enemy" (_nemici_) is hardly appropriate to Italy in the time of
it had not been for certain people who succoured us with victuals,
all would have died of hunger. Now you see the state we are in. And
all these evils are as nothing compared with those which are
promised to us shortly.
I know that as a friend you will grieve for my misfortunes, as I, in
former letters have shown my joy at your prosperity ...
Notes about events observed abroad (1338-1339).
BOOK 43. OF THE MOVEMENT OF AIR ENCLOSED IN WATER.