Leonardo da Vinci: A Universal Man

Giancarlo Pani SJ

 Giancarlo Pani SJ / Culture / 10 July 2019

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Five hundred years after the death of Leonardo da Vinci (May 2, 1519), there are still many mysteries to be unveiled related to this protagonist of the Italian Renaissance and the history of humanity. He represents the emblem of “universal man,” a formula that echoes the universalis genius of the ancient Romans.[1]

The fields in which this polymath revealed his genius are almost endless. Leonardo was a painter, sculptor, philosopher, designer, writer and above all a scientist: mathematician, optician, architect, engineer, physicist, geologist, geographer and botanist. He was also among the first to conduct research in the anatomical field and designed a set of useful and futuristic devices ranging from diving suits to flying machines, from submarines to battleships with rams, from firing mechanisms to a wind-powered roasting spit, from tanks to structures to repel assault ladders on city walls, from catapults to bombards; he knew how to play the lyre and even composed music. Leonardo is truly a genius of the modern world, the man of synthesis and unity of knowledge, precisely a “universal man,” but also a “man of analysis,” of rigorous and systematic study, who investigates the intimate relationship between the human being, nature and the cosmos.

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