The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, Volume 2
Leonardo Da Vinci
Part 7 out of 10
THE PANTHER IN AFRICA.
This has the form of the lioness but it is taller on its legs and
slimmer and long bodied; and it is all white and marked with black
spots after the manner of rosettes; and all animals delight to look
upon these rosettes, and they would always be standing round it if
it were not for the terror of its face;
therefore knowing this, it hides its face, and the surrounding
animals grow bold and come close, the better to enjoy the sight of
so much beauty; when suddenly it seizes the nearest and at once
The Bactrian have two humps; the Arabian one only. They are swift in
battle and most useful to carry burdens. This animal is extremely
observant of rule and measure, for it will not move if it has a
greater weight than it is used to, and if it is taken too far it
does the same, and suddenly stops and so the merchants are obliged
to lodge there.
This beast is a native of Hyrcania, and it is something like the
panther from the various spots on its skin. It is an animal of
terrible swiftness; the hunter when he finds its young ones carries
them off hastily, placing mirrors in the place whence he takes them,
and at once escapes on a swift horse. The panther returning finds
the mirrors fixed on the ground and looking into them believes it
sees its young; then scratching with its paws it discovers the
cheat. Forthwith, by means of the scent of its young, it follows the
hunter, and when this hunter sees the tigress he drops one of the
young ones and she takes it, and having carried it to the den she
immediately returns to the hunter and does
the same till he gets into his boat.
It is found in Ethiopia near to the source Nigricapo. It is not a
very large animal, is sluggish in all its parts, and its head is so
large that it carries it with difficulty, in such wise that it
always droops towards the ground; otherwise it would be a great pest
to man, for any one on whom it fixes its eyes dies immediately.
[Footnote: Leonardo undoubtedly derived these remarks as to the
Catoblepas from Pliny, Hist. Nat. VIII. 21 (al. 32): _Apud Hesperios
Aethiopas fons est Nigris_ (different readings), _ut plerique
existimavere, Nili caput.-----Juxta hunc fera appellatur catoblepas,
modica alioquin, ceterisque membris iners, caput tantum praegrave
aegre ferens; alias internecio humani generis, omnibus qui oculos
ejus videre, confestim morientibus._ Aelian, _Hist. An._ gives a far
more minute description of the creature, but he says that it poisons
beasts not by its gaze, but by its venomous breath. Athenaeus 221 B,
mentions both. If Leonardo had known of these two passages, he would
scarcely have omitted the poisonous breath. (H. MULLER-STRUBING.)]
This is found in the province of Cyrenaica and is not more than 12
fingers long. It has on its head a white spot after the fashion of a
diadem. It scares all serpents with its whistling. It resembles a
snake, but does not move by wriggling but from the centre forwards
to the right. It is said that one
of these, being killed with a spear by one who was on horse-back,
and its venom flowing on the spear, not only the man but the horse
also died. It spoils the wheat and not only that which it touches,
but where it breathes the grass dries and the stones are split.
This beast finding the lair of the basilisk kills it with the smell
of its urine, and this smell, indeed, often kills the weasel itself.
This has four movable little horns; so, when it wants to feed, it
hides under leaves all of its body except these little horns which,
as they move, seem to the birds to be some small worms at play. Then
they immediately swoop down to pick them and the Cerastes suddenly
twines round them and encircles and devours them.
This has two heads, one in its proper place the other at the tail;
as if one place were not enough from which to fling its venom.
This lies on trees, and flings itself down like a dart, and pierces
through the wild beast and kills them.
The bite of this animal cannot be cured unless by immediately
cutting out the bitten part. This pestilential animal has such a
love for its mate that they always go in company. And if, by mishap,
one of them is killed the other, with incredible swiftness, follows
him who has killed it; and it is so determined and eager for
vengeance that it overcomes every difficulty, and passing by every
troop it seeks to hurt none but its enemy. And it will travel any
distance, and it is impossible to avoid it unless by crossing water
and by very swift flight. It has its eyes turned inwards, and large
ears and it hears better than it sees.
This animal is the mortal enemy of the asp. It is a native of Egypt
and when it sees an asp near its place, it runs at once to the bed
or mud of the Nile and with this makes itself muddy all over, then
it dries itself in the sun, smears itself again with mud, and thus,
drying one after the other, it makes itself three or four coatings
like a coat of mail. Then it attacks the asp, and fights well with
him, so that, taking its time it catches him in the throat and
This is found in the Nile, it has four feet and lives on land and in
water. No other terrestrial creature but this is found to have no
tongue, and it only bites by moving its upper jaw. It grows to a
length of forty feet and has claws and is armed with a hide that
will take any blow. By day it is on land and at night in the water.
It feeds on fishes, and going to sleep on the bank of the Nile with
its mouth open, a bird called
trochilus, a very small bird, runs at once to its mouth and hops
among its teeth and goes pecking out the remains of the food, and so
inciting it with voluptuous delight tempts it to open the whole of
its mouth, and so it sleeps. This being observed by the ichneumon it
flings itself into its mouth and perforates its stomach and bowels,
and finally kills it.
Nature has given such knowledge to animals, that besides the
consciousness of their own advantages they know the disadvantages of
their foes. Thus the dolphin understands what strength lies in a cut
from the fins placed on his chine, and how tender is the belly of
the crocodile; hence in fighting with him it thrusts at him from
beneath and rips up his belly and so kills him.
The crocodile is a terror to those that flee, and a base coward to
those that pursue him.
This beast when it feels itself over-full goes about seeking thorns,
or where there may be the remains of canes that have been split, and
it rubs against them till a vein is opened; then when the blood has
flowed as much as he needs, he plasters himself with mud and heals
the wound. In form he is something like a horse with long haunches,
a twisted tail and the teeth of a wild boar, his neck has a mane;
the skin cannot be pierced, unless when he is bathing; he feeds on
plants in the fields and goes into them backwards so that it may
seem, as though he had come out.
This bird resembles a crane, and when it feels itself ill it fills
its craw with water, and with its beak makes an injection of it.
These creatures when they feel themselves bitten by the spider
called father-long-legs, eat crabs and free themselves of the venom.
This, when fighting with serpents eats the sow-thistle and is free.
This [bird] gives sight to its blind young ones, with the juice of
This, when chasing rats first eats of rue.
THE WILD BOAR.
This beast cures its sickness by eating of ivy.
This creature when it wants to renew itself casts its old skin,
beginning with the head, and changing in one day and one night.
This beast after its bowels have fallen out will still fight with
the dogs and hunters.
This creature always takes the colour of the thing on which it is
resting, whence it is often devoured together with the leaves on
which the elephant feeds.
When it has killed the Chameleon it takes laurel as a purge.
Moderation checks all the vices. The ermine will die rather than
The cock does not crow till it has thrice flapped its wings; the
parrot in moving among boughs never puts its feet excepting where it
has first put its beak. Vows are not made till Hope is dead.
Motion tends towards the centre of gravity.
The falcon never seizes any but large birds and will sooner die than
eat [tainted] meat of bad savour.
Fables on animals (1265-1270).
An oyster being turned out together with other fish in the house of
a fisherman near the sea, he entreated a rat to take him to the sea.
The rat purposing to eat him bid him open; but as he bit him the
oyster squeezed his head and closed; and the cat came and killed
The thrushes rejoiced greatly at seeing a man take the owl and
deprive her of liberty, tying her feet with strong bonds. But this
owl was afterwards by means of bird-lime the cause of the thrushes
losing not only their liberty, but their life. This is said for
those countries which rejoice in seeing their governors lose their
liberty, when by that means they themselves lose all succour, and
remain in bondage in the power of their enemies, losing their
liberty and often their life.
A dog, lying asleep on the fur of a sheep, one of his fleas,
perceiving the odour of the greasy wool, judged that this must be a
land of better living, and also more secure from the teeth and nails
of the dog than where he fed on the dog; and without farther
reflection he left the dog and went into the thick wool. There he
began with great labour to try to pass among the roots of the hairs;
but after much sweating had to give up the task as vain, because
these hairs were so close that they almost touched each other, and
there was no space where fleas could taste the skin. Hence, after
much labour and fatigue, he began to wish to return to his dog, who
however had already departed; so he was constrained after long
repentance and bitter tears, to die of hunger.
The vain and wandering butterfly, not content with being able to fly
at its ease through the air, overcome by the tempting flame of the
candle, decided to fly into it; but its sportive impulse was the
cause of a sudden fall, for its delicate wings were burnt in the
flame. And the hapless butterfly having dropped, all scorched, at
the foot of the candlestick, after much lamentation and repentance,
dried the tears from its swimming eyes, and raising its face
exclaimed: O false light! how many must thou have miserably deceived
in the past, like me; or if I must indeed see light so near, ought I
not to have known the sun from the false glare of dirty tallow?
The monkey, finding a nest of small birds, went up to it greatly
delighted. But they, being already fledged, he could only succeed in
taking the smallest; greatly delighted he took it in his hand and
went to his abode; and having begun to look at the little bird he
took to kissing it, and from excess of love he kissed it so much and
turned it about and squeezed it till he killed it. This is said for
those who by not punishing their children let them come to mischief.
A rat was besieged in his little dwelling by a weasel, which with
unwearied vigilance awaited his surrender, while watching his
imminent peril through a little hole. Meanwhile the cat came by and
suddenly seized the weasel and forthwith devoured it. Then the rat
offered up a sacrifice to Jove of some of his store of nuts, humbly
thanking His providence, and came out of his hole to enjoy his
lately lost liberty. But he was instantly deprived of it, together
with his life, by the cruel claws and teeth of the lurking cat.
The ant found a grain of millet. The seed feeling itself taken
prisoner cried out to her: "If you will do me the kindness to allow
me accomplish my function of reproduction, I will give you a hundred
such as I am." And so it was.
A Spider found a bunch of grapes which for its sweetness was much
resorted to by bees and divers kinds of flies. It seemed to her that
she had found a most convenient spot to spread her snare, and having
settled herself on it with her delicate web, and entered into her
new habitation, there, every day placing herself in the openings
made by the spaces between the grapes, she fell like a thief on the
wretched creatures which were not aware of her. But, after a few
days had passed, the vintager came, and cut away the bunch of grapes
and put it with others, with which it was trodden; and thus the
grapes were a snare and pitfall both for the treacherous spider and
the betrayed flies.
An ass having gone to sleep on the ice over a deep lake, his heat
dissolved the ice and the ass awoke under water to his great grief,
and was forthwith drowned.
A falcon, unable to endure with patience the disappearance of a
duck, which, flying before him had plunged under water, wished to
follow it under water, and having soaked his feathers had to remain
in the water while the duck rising to the air mocked at the falcon
as he drowned.
The spider wishing to take flies in her treacherous net, was cruelly
killed in it by the hornet.
An eagle wanting to mock at the owl was caught by the wings in
bird-lime and was taken and killed by a man.
Fables on lifeless objects (1271--1274).
The water finding that its element was the lordly ocean, was seized
with a desire to rise above the air, and being encouraged by the
element of fire and rising as a very subtle vapour, it seemed as
though it were really as thin as air. But having risen very high, it
reached the air that was still more rare and cold, where the fire
forsook it, and the minute particles, being brought together, united
and became heavy; whence its haughtiness deserting it, it betook
itself to flight and it fell from the sky, and was drunk up by the
dry earth, where, being imprisoned for a long time, it did penance
for its sin.
The razor having one day come forth from the handle which serves as
its sheath and having placed himself in the sun, saw the sun
reflected in his body, which filled him with great pride. And
turning it over in his thoughts he began to say to himself: "And
shall I return again to that shop from which I have just come?
Certainly not; such splendid beauty shall not, please God, be turned
to such base uses. What folly it would be that could lead me to
shave the lathered beards of rustic peasants and perform such menial
service! Is this body destined for such work? Certainly not. I will
hide myself in some retired spot and there pass my life in tranquil
repose." And having thus remained hidden for some months, one day he
came out into the air, and issuing from his sheath, saw himself
turned to the similitude of a rusty saw while his surface no longer
reflected the resplendent sun. With useless repentance he vainly
deplored the irreparable mischief saying to himself: "Oh! how far
better was it to employ at the barbers my lost edge of such
exquisite keenness! Where is that lustrous surface? It has been
consumed by this vexatious and unsightly rust."
The same thing happens to those minds which instead of exercise give
themselves up to sloth. They are like the razor here spoken of, and
lose the keenness of their edge, while the rust of ignorance spoils
A stone of some size recently uncovered by the water lay on a
certain spot somewhat raised, and just where a delightful grove
ended by a stony road; here it was surrounded by plants decorated by
various flowers of divers colours. And as it saw the great quantity
of stones collected together in the roadway below, it began to wish
it could let itself fall down there, saying to itself: "What have I
to do here with these plants? I want to live in the company of
those, my sisters." And letting itself fall, its rapid course ended
among these longed for companions. When it had been there sometime
it began to find itself constantly toiling under the wheels of the
carts the iron-shoed feet of horses and of travellers. This one
rolled it over, that one trod upon it; sometimes it lifted itself a
little and then it was covered with mud or the dung of some animal,
and it was in vain that it looked at the spot whence it had come as
a place of solitude and tranquil place.
Thus it happens to those who choose to leave a life of solitary
comtemplation, and come to live in cities among people full of
Some flames had already lasted in the furnace of a glass-blower,
when they saw a candle approaching in a beautiful and glittering
candlestick. With ardent longing they strove to reach it; and one of
them, quitting its natural course, writhed up to an unburnt brand on
which it fed and passed at the opposite end out by a narrow chink to
the candle which was near. It flung itself upon it, and with fierce
jealousy and greediness it devoured it, having reduced it almost to
death, and, wishing to procure the prolongation of its life, it
tried to return to the furnace whence it had come. But in vain, for
it was compelled to die, the wood perishing together with the
candle, being at last converted, with lamentation and repentance,
into foul smoke, while leaving all its sisters in brilliant and
enduring life and beauty.
A small patch of snow finding itself clinging to the top of a rock
which was lying on the topmost height of a very high mountain and
being left to its own imaginings, it began to reflect in this way,
saying to itself: "Now, shall not I be thought vain and proud for
having placed myself--such a small patch of snow--in so lofty a
spot, and for allowing that so large a quantity of snow as I have
seen here around me, should take a place lower than mine? Certainly
my small dimensions by no means merit this elevation. How easily may
I, in proof of my insignificance, experience the same fate as that
which the sun brought about yesterday to my companions, who were
all, in a few hours, destroyed by the sun. And this happened from
their having placed themselves higher than became them. I will flee
from the wrath of the sun, and humble myself and find a place
befitting my small importance." Thus, flinging itself down, it began
to descend, hurrying from its high home on to the other snow; but
the more it sought a low place the more its bulk increased, so that
when at last its course was ended on a hill, it found itself no less
in size than the hill which supported it; and it was the last of the
snow which was destroyed that summer by the sun. This is said for
those who, humbling themselves, become exalted.
Fables on plants (1275-1279).
The cedar, being desirous of producing a fine and noble fruit at its
summit, set to work to form it with all the strength of its sap. But
this fruit, when grown, was the cause of the tall and upright
tree-top being bent over.
The peach, being envious of the vast quantity of fruit which she saw
borne on the nut-tree, her neighbour, determined to do the same, and
loaded herself with her own in such a way that the weight of the
fruit pulled her up by the roots and broke her down to the ground.
The nut-tree stood always by a road side displaying the wealth of
its fruit to the passers by, and every one cast stones at it.
The fig-tree, having no fruit, no one looked at it; then, wishing to
produce fruits that it might be praised by men, it was bent and
broken down by them.
The fig-tree, standing by the side of the elm and seeing that its
boughs were bare of fruit, yet that it had the audacity to keep the
Sun from its own unripe figs with its branches, said to it: "Oh elm!
art thou not ashamed to stand in front of me. But wait till my
offspring are fully grown and you will see where you are!" But when
her offspring were mature, a troop of soldiers coming by fell upon
the fig-tree and her figs were all torn off her, and her boughs cut
away and broken. Then, when she was thus maimed in all her limbs,
the elm asked her, saying: "O fig-tree! which was best, to be
without offspring, or to be brought by them into so miserable a
The plant complains of the old and dry stick which stands by its
side and of the dry stakes that surround it.
One keeps it upright, the other keeps it from low company.
A nut, having been carried by a crow to the top of a tall campanile
and released by falling into a chink from the mortal grip of its
beak, it prayed the wall by the grace bestowed on it by God in
allowing it to be so high and thick, and to own such fine bells and
of so noble a tone, that it would succour it, and that, as it had
not been able to fall under the verdurous boughs of its venerable
father and lie in the fat earth covered up by his fallen leaves it
would not abandon it; because, finding itself in the beak of the
cruel crow, it had there made a vow that if it escaped from her it
would end its life in a little hole. At these words the wall, moved
to compassion, was content to shelter it in the spot where it had
fallen; and after a short time the nut began to split open and put
forth roots between the rifts of the stones and push them apart, and
to throw out shoots from its hollow shell; and, to be brief, these
rose above the building and the twisted roots, growing thicker,
began to thrust the walls apart, and tear out the ancient stones
from their old places. Then the wall too late and in vain bewailed
the cause of its destruction and in a short time, it wrought the
ruin of a great part of it.
The privet feeling its tender boughs loaded with young fruit,
pricked by the sharp claws and beak of the insolent blackbird,
complained to the blackbird with pitious remonstrance entreating her
that since she stole its delicious fruits she should not deprive it
of the leaves with which it preserved them from the burning rays of
the sun, and that she should not divest it of its tender bark by
scratching it with her sharp claws. To which the blackbird replied
with angry upbraiding: "O, be silent, uncultured shrub! Do you not
know that Nature made you produce these fruits for my nourishment;
do you not see that you are in the world [only] to serve me as food;
do you not know, base creature, that next winter you will be food
and prey for the Fire?" To which words the tree listened patiently,
and not without tears. After a short time the blackbird was taken in
a net and boughs were cut to make a cage, in which to imprison her.
Branches were cut, among others from the pliant privet, to serve for
the small rods of the cage; and seeing herself to be the cause of
the Blackbird's loss of liberty it rejoiced and spoke as follows: "O
Blackbird, I am here, and not yet burnt by fire as you said. I shall
see you in prison before you see me burnt."
The laurel and the myrtle seeing the pear tree cut down cried out
with a loud voice: "O pear-tree! whither are you going? Where is the
pride you had when you were covered with ripe fruits? Now you will
no longer shade us with your mass of leaves." Then the pear-tree
replied: "I am going with the husbandman who has cut me down and who
will take me to the workshop of a good sculptor who by his art will
make me take the form of Jove the god; and I shall be dedicated in a
temple and adored by men in the place of Jove, while you are bound
always to remain maimed and stripped of your boughs, which will be
placed round me to do me honour.
The chesnut, seeing a man upon the fig-tree, bending its boughs down
and pulling off the ripe fruits, which he put into his open mouth
destroying and crushing them with his hard teeth, it tossed its long
boughs and with a noisy rustle exclaimed: "O fig! how much less are
you protected by nature than I. See how in me my sweet offspring are
set in close array; first clothed in soft wrappers over which is the
hard but softly lined husk; and not content with taking this care of
me, and having given them so strong a shelter, on this she has
placed sharp and close-set spines so that the hand of man cannot
hurt me." Then the fig-tree and her offspring began to laugh and
having laughed she said: "I know man to be of such ingenuity that
with rods and stones and stakes flung up among your branches he will
bereave you of your fruits; and when they are fallen, he will
trample them with his feet or with stones, so that your offspring
will come out of their armour, crushed and maimed; while I am
touched carefully by their hands, and not like you with sticks and
The hapless willow, finding that she could not enjoy the pleasure of
seeing her slender branches grow or attain to the height she wished,
or point to the sky, by reason of the vine and whatever other trees
that grew near, but was always maimed and lopped and spoiled,
brought all her spirits together and gave and devoted itself
entirely to imagination, standing plunged in long meditation and
seeking, in all the world of plants, with which of them she might
ally herself and which could not need the help of her withes. Having
stood for some time in this prolific imagination, with a sudden
flash the gourd presented itself to her thoughts and tossing all her
branches with extreme delight, it seemed to her that she had found
the companion suited to her purpose, because the gourd is more apt
to bind others than to need binding; having come to this conclusion
she awaited eagerly some friendly bird who should be the mediator of
her wishes. Presently seeing near her the magpie she said to him: "O
gentle bird! by the memory of the refuge which you found this
morning among my branches, when the hungry cruel, and rapacious
falcon wanted to devour you, and by that repose which you have
always found in me when your wings craved rest, and by the pleasure
you have enjoyed among my boughs, when playing with your companions
or making love--I entreat you find the gourd and obtain from her
some of her seeds, and tell her that those that are born of them I
will treat exactly as though they were my own flesh and blood; and
in this way use all the words you can think of, which are of the
same persuasive purport; though, indeed, since you are a master of
language, I need not teach you. And if you will do me this service I
shall be happy to have your nest in the fork of my boughs, and all
your family without payment of any rent." Then the magpie, having
made and confirmed certain new stipulations with the willow,--and
principally that she should never admit upon her any snake or
polecat, cocked his tail, and put down his head, and flung himself
from the bough, throwing his weight upon his wings; and these,
beating the fleeting air, now here, now there, bearing about
inquisitively, while his tail served as a rudder to steer him, he
came to a gourd; then with a handsome bow and a few polite words, he
obtained the required seeds, and carried them to the willow, who
received him with a cheerful face. And when he had scraped away with
his foot a small quantity of the earth near the willow, describing a
circle, with his beak he planted the grains, which in a short time
began to grow, and by their growth and the branches to take up all
the boughs of the willow, while their broad leaves deprived it of
the beauty of the sun and sky. And not content with so much evil,
the gourds next began, by their rude hold, to drag the ends of the
tender shoots down towards the earth, with strange twisting and
Then, being much annoyed, it shook itself in vain to throw off the
gourd. After raving for some days in such plans vainly, because the
firm union forbade it, seeing the wind come by it commended itself
to him. The wind flew hard and opened the old and hollow stem of the
willow in two down to the roots, so that it fell into two parts. In
vain did it bewail itself recognising that it was born to no good
JESTS AND TALES.
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
Back to Full Books