One of my favourite moments of Leonardian light relief concerns dogs. On a page of Paris MS F, a mid-sized notebook he was using in about 1508, occurs a short text which has the look of one of his scientific ‘demonstrations’ or ‘conclusions’, but the title of the text actually reads, ‘Perche li cani oderan volentieri il culo l’uno all’altro’ – ‘Why dogs willingly sniff one another’s bottoms’. (I like that ‘willingly’.) The explanation he gives is that they are establishing how much ‘essence of meat’ (virtù di carne) can be discerned there:
The excrement of animals always retains some essence of its origin… and dogs have such a keen sense of smell that they can discern with their nose the essence remaining in the faeces. If by means of the smell they know a dog to be well-fed, they respect him, because they judge that he has a powerful and rich master; and if they discern no such smell of that essence [i.e. of meat] they judge the dog to be of small account, and to have a poor and humble master, and therefore they bite him.49
This is balanced between accuracy – dogs do indeed get olfactory information in this way – and humorous exaggeration of the sociological niceties involved.
while the horse goes over the sheep, back and forth, the wood
returns a mellifluous sound
So take a look at me all who wish: how ugly a man looks when he
has no money
Don’t despise me because I am poor: a man is poor when he
desires many things
Only love makes me remember, it alone fires me up
in the seventh circle, I saw a virgin I might have loved.
Dantes inferno burns deeply within.
Dressed in Black just 17, and not ashamed to say
A sculptures muse, jokes of salt and honey.
The virtue of a wolfs diet the scent of success attracts.
your actions belie what you said
fights of fancy, swooping Kites.
— RogerGLewis (@PMotels) July 26, 2019