Exploring the History of Medicine, Part 4: Milan, Part 4

February 1, 2021


Statue of Leonardo da Vinci at Piazza della Scala

In front of the Opera House "La Scala," there stands a statue of Leonardo da Vinci and his four disciples in the square.

Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 in the village of Vinci in central Italy.

Since I (Hajime Katagiri) was born in 1956, he is approximately 500 years senior to me.

The name Leonardo da Vinci means "Leonardo from the village of Vinci."

Many people refer to him as "da Vinci," to the extent that even surgical robots are named "da Vinci."

Oh, there was also a movie called "The Da Vinci Code."

However, "da Vinci" means "from the village of Vinci," which is odd as a personal name.

In fact, he signed his works as "Leonardo," not "da Vinci."

Leonardo left remarkable achievements in various fields such as painting, sculpture, architecture, astronomy, music, mathematics, physics, geography, and botany.

He is considered the most versatile person in human history, therefore he is called a universal man.

Among these talents, he is most admired as a painter.

He, along with Michelangelo and Rafael, represents the artists of the Renaissance.

He is also known as a "painter with the hand of God."

There is no one who does not know "The Last Supper" or "Mona Lisa."

However, it is worth noting that he was also a great anatomist.

Since the Crusades, there had been an increasing trend of venerating the bodies of Christian saints.

People attempted to dismember the bodies of saints and bring them back as relics.

Naturally, the church prohibited this and also prohibited the dissection of bodies of non-saints.

At that time, dissection was a life-threatening adventure for those who wanted to study the human body.

In such a trend, Leonardo was the first to consider anatomy essential for the study of painting and sculpture.

Throughout his life, he conducted 32 autopsies himself.

He is the founder of modern anatomy.

For example, he examined the eyeball and elucidated the principles of light and lenses.

He also dissected the bodies of several pregnant women to investigate the principles of pregnancy and the growth process of the fetus.

Moreover, the incident where he shocked people by sketching a hanged prisoner on the wall of a courtroom at the age of 27 also shows his curiosity about the human body.

Leonardo was stubborn, with strong likes and dislikes, and a lonely person.

It is widely known that he, like Michelangelo, was homosexual.

Naturally, all his disciples were male.

This is in stark contrast to Raphael, a contemporary genius painter, who specialized in females.

By the way, I also specialize in females !

   Freud, famous for psychoanalysis, analyzed that "Leonardo's separation from his mother shortly after birth was the remote cause of his homosexuality."