Leonardo Da Vinci was cynical

Da Vinci's secrets

by Lars A. Fischinger & Thomas Ritter

Born on April 15, 1452 in the small village of Vinci as the illegitimate child of Catarina and Ser Piero, Leonardo was extraordinarily gifted. To this day, the ingenious spirit is considered a legend of the Middle Ages and a pioneer in many ways. He had phenomenal skills in a number of areas. Leonardo worked as a painter, sculptor, architect, musician and engineer, was enthusiastic about mathematics, mechanics, optics, botany, anatomy, hydraulics and geology.

He was only missing one thing that seemed unforgivable in his time, in the epoch of the Renaissance and the humanists, the rediscovery of classical antiquity. He spoke neither Greek nor Latin. It is surprising to find out what he was able to achieve. His legendary talent alone stood by his side.

Today Leonardo da Vinci is mainly known as a painter, his paintings, above all the Mona Lisa and the [LINK "/freenet/wissenschaft/mensch/philosophie/kirchbrak/index.html"] Lord's Supper, are world-famous and priceless. The extensive work that he also left behind is known only to a few.

But if you look at his life today, read his manuscripts and notes, one may wonder how he found time to paint in addition to his numerous activities and experiments. Perhaps, however, he was painting as a hobby of sorts during his limited free time.

As an engineer and inventor, Leonardo da Vinci was initially interested in the military field. He was a universal spirit when it came to weapons of war. While the Pope's troops were besieging Florence in 1470, he was developing plans for weapons and war machines. So constructed a recoilless multi-barreled gun, which anticipated the principle of modern mountain guns. The weapon had ten barrels arranged in a semicircle, so that a fan shooting was possible, which had devastating effects on the enemy troops marching in lines.

He also designed a drum with a triangular cross-section on which a total of 33 cannon barrels were mounted in three rows. Eleven could be fired at a time, while the next eleven were reloaded and the remaining eleven cooled. This made it possible to fire almost continuously. Before his inventions were ready for the front, however, peace reigned in the country. Several of Leonardo's subsequent projects suffered the same fate. They never got past the stage of meticulously executed drawings.

At the age of 30 he then offered Ludovico Sforza, the ruler of Milan, his services as a military specialist. He sent the prince a detailed memorandum with numerous drawings, in which he claimed to be able to build all kinds of war machines, as well as to accomplish architectural achievements that would secure Ludovico Sforza an unbeatable superiority in the event of an armed conflict.

The remarkable document speaks of lightweight and dismountable bridges that are very stable and easy to transport, precursors of so-called Bailey bridges, which were used in World War II.

Leonardo also designed a swing bridge, the construction of which was only realized in the 20th century. In order to conquer fortresses, he suggested creating tunnels at strategically important points and undermining them. He also mentioned diverting watercourses so as not to destroy rock foundations. Leonardo also proposed a ball "that rolls by itself and throws flames six fathoms long". Leonardo researchers are puzzling today whether he was anticipating the principle of the rocket motor.

Another projectile was a kind of gas bomb filled with powder, sulfur and bullets. It was supposed to "explode in a period of time no longer than an Ave Maria". Particularly noteworthy, however, are the plans of the first real tank that da Vinci had designed. It was a very massive conical tower. Gun ports were attached to its base through which the cannons, which were hidden inside the tank, could be fired. This armored vehicle was powered by a system of cranks, rods and turntables.

However, this invention did not find practical implementation until the introduction of the internal combustion engine several centuries later. Da Vinci also developed a weapon that was one of the first functional breech loaders.

In addition, a well-known steam cannon comes from his workshop. Here water was poured onto a pipe heated to incandescence. The projectile could be fired with the power of steam. The slim shape of the cannon, which is reminiscent of a modern anti-aircraft gun, is remarkable. In addition, Leonardo wanted to improve the catapults, hook boxes and throwing machines that were in use at the time.

We also know that Leonardo was fascinated by flying. Leonardo was an astute observer who studied bird flight for about 25 years. These studies made him reluctant to look for any other flight technique, such as rigid wings. He really wanted to fly like a bird. Until his death, he was impressed by the concept of the ornithopter, although he also made drawings that look like the forerunners of a modern helicopter.

Indeed, Leonardo also left a series of sketches on the subject of flying, which can be found in the Codex Atlanticus. According to the unanimous opinion of the experts, these represent the first European drafts of gliding flight. He could therefore have devised a functional glider, as Lawrence Hargrave and Otto Lilienthal did in later years.

The talented inventor never said a word about whether he was actually testing an aircraft. This opens the door to speculation. But a replica of his flight idea today actually works. The genius also invented a diving suit and a pyramid-shaped parachute. These inventions, copied today, also work. The history of technology would certainly have been different if da Vinci had put his ideas into practice during his lifetime.

Another cliché is attached to the person of Leonardo, namely the claim that he was homosexual. This view, which is widespread in literature, is strongly influenced by Sigmund Freud's work on his psychosexuality, especially by "A childhood memory of Leonardo da Vinci". In this work Freud projects his own state of mind onto Leonardo. The book begins with Leonardo's famous dream of the big bird, in which a kite descends from the sky and hits its face with its tail.

There is no doubt that there is an unmistakable connection between this first dream and Leonardo's lifelong enthusiasm for flying. However, Freud had read Leonardo's notes in a not very good translation that the word milan with "Geier" reproduced. Freud therefore explained in great detail that the vulture stands for the Egyptian mother goddess courage, that is, a symbol of femininity, and that the tail symbolizes the nipple.

In fact, the Milan was nibbio in Italian, a masculine symbol like the falcon or the eagle. In addition, Freud did not have access to LeonardosCodex Trivulcianuswhich contains extensive word lists that shed some light on the dark landscape of Leonardo's unconscious.

Raymond S. Stites, author of a psychoanalytic study entitled The Sublimations of Leonardo da Vinci writes that Leonardo used "the technique that Freud himself had developed to reveal unhealthy complexes, and since this crucial evidence is not included in his diagnosis, it must be regarded as obviously flawed." After a thorough examination of the Codex Trivulzianus, Stites comes to this Concludes that "Leonardo was apparently a full-blooded man with normal heterosexual needs".

An incident that occurred in 1476 gave rise to claims to the contrary. At that time, the seventeen-year-old Jacopo Saltarelli, a painter's model, accused four young Florentines of pederasty by throwing a written denunciation into the tamburo, a container in front of the Palazzo Vecchio. Leonardo was one of the suspects.

The humiliations of the following process should change his life. While his innocence on the matter turned out, the shame hung on him. He lost everything. Even his father, horrified by the scandal, broke off any connection with him. Leonardo fell from favor with one blow. The Florentine society had carried him on their hands and admired his works, but the accusations of an assertive peasant booby could overthrow him. Only his uncle and his teacher Verocchio supported him.

At the age of twenty-six, Leonardo had to start his life again - tormented, cynical and worldly. He threw himself into work. His famous caricatures were made at that time. While he got to know life on the street and its people, he wrote, drew, painted and experimented with ornithopter models that could really fly.

"There is no shortage of means and ways to share and measure these miserable days of ours, while we should not seek to waste them without leaving some fame, some lasting reminder of us in the hearts of mortals . That our pathetic walk through life was not in vain, "he noted during this time.

But one event - perhaps the most significant in his life - never appeared in his notebooks, nor in the multitude of books that have so far been written about him. This was Leonardo's greatest adventure - his journey to the Orient, which was to change his life forever.

The knowledge of these events is mainly based on letters that Leonardo wrote to the Devadar of Syria (comparable to the title of viceroy) when he was in his capacity as its war engineer in the Middle East. Most historians do not pay any attention to this correspondence, but simply refer it to the realm of legend.

In her biography Leonardo the FlorentineRachel Annand Taylor wrote: "It is impossible to believe that Leonardo entered the service of a Sultan and traveled the Orient without some oriental episode in his." Legend appears ".

But this is definitely possible. Jean Paul Richter, who wrote the two-volume standard work The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci wrote: “We have no reliable information whatsoever about Leonardo's story between 1482 and 1486. ​​There is no evidence that he stayed in Milan or Florence.

On the other hand, the tenor of his letter (what is meant here is one of the letters to Devadar) gives us no reason to believe that his absence lasted longer than two years. For even if his appointment as an engineer in Syria was intended to be permanent, it could have become untenable - perhaps as a result of the death of his patron, Devadar, or his removal from office - and after his return, Leonardo could learn about an episode that probably ended as failure and disappointment, have remained silent ".

When he wrote his letter to Ludovico Sforza, already mentioned, Leonardo drew numerous sketches of his death machines, including victims who were torn to pieces and writhed in agony. Antonina Vallentin noticed in Leonardo da Vinci - the Tragic Pursuit of Perfection on this: "There is an atmosphere of so much peace and harmony in the sketch that it seems as if the painter could not have been aware for a moment of what the scene he was drawing really meant."

So it actually appears that Leonardo was neutral, or rather technocratic, when it came to his destructive machines. It was as if they didn't exist in any real world, because when you look at how his bombs detonate and people die, these drawings are of such calm beauty that, even if they depict violence, they are almost platonic in nature.

Leonardo da Vinci - artist genius, devil or technocrat? What is certain is that Leonardo wanted to be promoted to the position of master of machines and captain of engineers, as he wrote this himself in his letter to Ludovico Sforza. But neither the Duke of Milan nor Lorenzo the Magnificent, the "first citizen" of Florence, ever showed any serious interest in Leonardo's war machines.

Perhaps that is why Leonardo da Vinci sought and received that opportunity in the Orient for which he had sought in vain in the West. The correspondence with the Devadar of Syria is an indication of this that should not be underestimated. It should be enough to search oriental sources for further evidence of Leonardo's stay in the Middle East.