Who Is Leonardo DiCaprio?
Fellow hubber DzyMsLizzy issued the challenge as follows:
Create a Hub answering this two-part question that asks you to time travel in your mind, and project forward on behalf of another:
Part 1) "Do you think Leonardo da Vinci would be comfortable with the Internet?"
Part 2) "Why, or why not?"
To see the original hub issuing the challenge click here: "Contest on an Interesting Question"
Who Is Leonardo DiCaprio?
by John Hansen © 2015
16 January 1998
Leonardo pushed open the door and took a tentative step out of his time machine. With a look of awe and amazement on his 45 year old face, he observed his surroundings and uttered in Italian, "One small step for man, one giant step for mankind." His words were interrupted and he was nudged to one side as his two companions, first Salai (17) and then Zoro (25), jostled past him for a look at this alien environment.
The two young men spun around, eyes wide, as they tried to take in everything in their line of sight. "What is this place, Leo?" asked Zoro, as neon signs lit up the night and cars whizzed past them, impatient and horns beeping.
Although astounded by the futuristic scene himself, Leonardo tried to remain calm and replied, "This is still Milan, only 500 years in the future. By my calculations this should be around the year 1998, give or take, allowing for some slight deviation or miscalculation." He was transfixed by the city around him, especially the metallic horseless carriages which were seemingly self-propelled.
Leonardo decided that he should try to determine their exact location. He turned around and his eyes were immediately drawn to a huge illuminated sign "CINEMA" and directly beneath it the equally large flashing words "PREMIER of TITANIC starring LEONARDO DiCAPRIO."
500 Years Earlier
Leonardo Da Vinci threw down his brush. He was becoming increasingly frustrated with the painting he had been working on for the last three years. The Duke of Milan was pressuring him to complete the Last Supper in the refectory (dining hall) of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.
Leonardo was painting the mural on the northern wall of the refectory and it measured some fifteen by twenty-nine feet. It wasn't the size that was the problem though.
Leonardo's intense concentration and leisurely manner of execution was not suited to the commonly used medium for mural painting (fresco), in which the pigment had to be applied quickly before the plaster dried, precluding any changes during the course of execution. Instead of fresco, Leonardo devised his own technique for mural painting, a sort of tempera on stone.
He first coated the wall with a strong base which he hoped would absorb the tempera emulsion and also protect it against moisture. His base was a compound of gesso, pitch, and mastic, but was not proving as durable as he hoped. Even before it was finished the pigment had began to break loose from the base and it was progressively getting worse. He was a perfectionist and hated to fail at anything he attempted but was at a loss as to how to fix the problem.
The master painter tapped his asistant, Zoro on the shoulder, huffing grumpily, "Here you take over and finish off. I have a more important task to attend to."
Zoro began to protest, "Why do I have to always finish off your paintings Leo? Why not Salai? He is your apprentice but seems to do very little work."
"That one lives up to his name," Leonardo retorted, " He is a thievish, lying, obstinate, glutton, and is probably off stealing something as we speak. Besides, he doesn't have your talent Zoro."
Leonardo left Zoro at the Santa Maria delle Grazie to continue working on the painting while he returned to his residence and appointed workshop at Duke's palace, the Castello Sforzesco.
In 1482 the ruler of Florence had sent Leonardo (by then renowned as a talented musician) to Milan bearing a silver flute as a gift to the powerful and warlike ruler of Milan, Duke Lodovico Sforza. What was originally to be a short trip evolved into a stay of over fifteen years with the Duke being impressed by Leonardo's many talents, and in fact employing him to design and build a war machine to protect he and his followers from enemy attack.
Although Leonardo had agreed to the Duke's request his heart was not in it. He was a peaceful man (a pacifist in today's language). He was opposed to war and hated conflict so was racked by guilt that he had promised to create machines of death and destruction. Because of this his sketches had been erratic and he had deliberately delayed the completion of the project.
Leonardo was relieved that the Duke seemed to have second thoughts and had not actually commissioned the construction of the war machine. It had given him time to work on his study, painting and other interests and he had completed such works as the Mona Lisa and Virgin of the Rocks while in Milan.
He had however, with the help of Zoro a skilled mechanic, managed to build one of the war machines he had designed. Leonardo had however greatly modified the interior design and its intended use, while leaving the outer shell to appear for all intents and purposes to be the war machine requested by the Duke.
Climbing inside his creation, Leonardo made a few final adjustments to the control panel and when convinced that all was as intended, he went to his cabin and rested until both Zoro and Salai returned. He had something amazing to share with them.
When Leonardo awoke he saw that both Zoro and Salai had returned. Jumping up excitedly as he raced to one and then the other grabbing an arm of each of them and shouting, "Come, come, see something that will astound you!" as he dragged them towards the workshop.
They looked at each other quivically, and then at the so called war machine that Leonardo had been working on for the last ten years. Zoro had helped him with the initial construction but had become bored and disinterested when the Duke seemed reluctant to commission it.
"So what?" said Salai, "It's just that confounded contraption you have been working on for years. I am going to eat." Zoro looked at Leonardo with raised eyebrows, waiting for some explanation.
"It's finished!" exclaimed Leonardo proudly. "It is no longer a machine for war, I changed it."
"So, what's it for now?" asked Zoro a little sarcastically, "It has no wings or propeller, so is not a flying machine. Perhaps it is now a boat of some sort, if in fact it could float."
"No, no, no.....you are not even close in your assumptions," Leonardo replied. "Don't you see...it is a TIME MACHINE!" Quickly, gather your most necessary belongings and climb inside!
16 January 1998 (500 Years Later)
The time machine had materialised in the cinema car park. Reading the words on the large illuminated sign Leonardo said, "Titanic, what is that? Something of great size I suppose."
"It appears this may be a theatre, Leo," Zoro replied. "Titanic must be the name of a play..."
"And one performer has the same name as you Master," chimed in Salai excitedly, "Leonardo."
Leonardo da Vinci frowned, "Who is this upstart who calls himself Leonardo? From Caprio, no less. I have never heard of such a place in italy," then he laughed. "In fact "dicaprio" means "the goat". That performer is "Leonardo the Goat." The two younger men burst out laughing as well.
"Well, we shall see how good an actor Leonardo the Goat is," offered da Vinci, removing one gold florin from a pouch (containing about 50) on his belt, "Let us go inside and watch the play."
The Florentine florin was a coin struck from 1252 to 1533 with no significant change in its design or metal content standard during that time. It had 54 grains of nominally pure or 'fine' gold (3.5g, 0.1125 troy ounce) worth approximately 140 modern US Dollars. The "fiorino d'oro" of the Republic of Florence was the first European gold coin struck in sufficient quantities to play a significant commercial role since the seventh century.
The design of the original Florentine florins was the distinctive Fleur de lis badge of the city on one side and on the other a standing and facing figure of St. John the Baptist wearing a hair shirt.
During the 15th century (really 1350-1500), the average daily wage in Florence was about 10 soldi. A soldi was a silver coin (as opposed to the gold florin) and more commonly used in everyday interactions. There were two other silver coins the lira (more valuable) and the denari (less valuable). Over that same period a florin was worth between 65 and 140 soldi, increasing over time. In the 1400s, Medici bank staff made between 14-50 florins per year. The supervisor and architect of the Florence cathedral only made 100 florins per year.
"Michelangelo, with Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, is one of the three giants of the Florentine High Renaissance. Although their names are often cited together, Michelangelo was younger than Leonardo by 23 years, and older than Raphael by eight. Because of his reclusive nature, he had little to do with either artist and outlived both of them by more than forty years." (source: wikipedia)
Board and Lodgings
The three time travellers came out of the theatre still in awe of what they had seen over the last three hours. Leonardo was beaming with wonder like a small child. His mind was turning somersaults trying to decypher the cinematography process, not to mention special effects etc etc. That ship the Titanic was flawed," he said, "I am sure I can design a better one, and make it unsinkable. But I must admit that Leonardo the Goat is an accomplished actor."
"Yes, he was," replied Salai, "It is unfortunate that he has drowned."
"Well, it is night, so we should find some lodgings in a boarding house or Inn," suggested Zoro.
Having been accommodated in opulence by the Duke of Milan at the Castello Sforzesco for the last 15 years Leonardo was not going to accept lodgings at just any lower class establishment. He had been highly paid at 80 florins per year which he felt was commensurate with all his skills. They walked around the corner and his eye was immediately drawn to the name "Hotel Michelangelo."
In the last few years he had been hearing the name of a rising young Italian artist, painter and sculptor Michelangelo working mainly in Florence and Rome. In fact he had been commissioned to do some works that would have been given to Leonardo had he not been working full time for the Duke of Milan.
"We will take lodgings here," he said to his companions.
Discovering the World Wide Web
Although the hotel reception was surprised when Leonardo presented them with five florins as payment for two week's stay, after confirming with management, they had no problem accepting the ancient currency.(one florin is now worth approximately $140US)
The travellers were impressed by the hotel facilities and fine foods, but whereas Zoro and Salai spent most of their time investigating the wonders of the city, Leonardo preferred to stay in the room and surf the Internet.
He had intended to seek out the major place of knowledge and learning in the city, the Library, but when he found the amazing appliances that the apartment was fitted with, such as television, refrigerator and computer, his mind was made up. The hotel staff had happily given him instructions on how to use them and he was a quick learner. This thing called the World Wide Web certainly did give access to the whole world and everything in it.
It took his breath away to see that many of his inventions had been developed and were in everyday use..like his flying machines, now called aeroplanes and helicopters. There was also undersea vehicles called submarines, parachutes, and even his proposed war machine which was known as a tank. You could find information on all parts of the Earth, even get instructions on how to do almost anything.
One thing found on the Internet that upset the great master however was his epic painting of the Last Supper in the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie. It's condition had deteriorated so much and the colours so faded that the figures depicted in the painting were almost indistinguishable. Well, he was going to use this World Wide Web to find out how to develop a better pigment that would adhere to the base coating of the mural and prove more colourfast.
He knew that he would be unable to convince those in charge of the church/convent that he was in fact Leonardo da Vinci the original painter of the mural or that they would allow him to try and repair it. He would have to take whatever solution he found back to the 15th Century and correct the problem before it was even completed.
Leonardo provided housing and support for a young boy variously described as an adoptive son, protégé, companion, or servant. But Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno wasn't nicknamed Salai, meaning "Little Satan", for nothing.
Soon after Leonardo had taken the 10-year-old rascal into his home he stole the money put aside to buy him two new shirts, a pair of shoes and a doublet. In Leonardo's own words the child was, "thievish, lying, obstinate, greedy." It seemed he never improved. Leonardo recorded various disasters from the child including stealing, bad manners and gluttony. In his first year with Leonardo, Salai was given a cloak, six shirts, three doublets and at least twenty-four pairs of shoes. He continued to steal at every opportunity and when in public Leonardo kept him close by so he could watch his activities.
Salai was a handsome, almost pretty boy with long golden ringlets. He is thought to have posed for the youth in Leonardo's Portrait of an Old Man and a Youth. Salai showed some talent for painting, but did not become a painter of any note. Leonardo taught him much and often touched up his work. It has been suggested that Salai also pandered to Leonardo's homosexual instincts and, also controversially, by some experts that Salai may have been the model for Leonardo's most famous painting the Mona Lisa.
Despite the problems, and the ever-continuing stealing, the association between the two was close and he stayed with Leonardo until the artist's dying day. In total, Leonardo supported him for twenty-five years and left Salai half of his vineyard in his will.
Salai appears to have died in 1523, probably of a gunshot wound. (source: lairweb.org.nz)
Back to the Past
Leonardo had not been comfortable letting Salai have free reign to go and come as he pleased. The boy had been with him since he took him in from the streets at the age of ten and he provided him with all he needed, food, clothes, a roof over his head, but it seemed he was a habitual thief. He had stolen from Leonardo himself, and was always returning home with all manner of things that he said he had "acquired." The boy was 17 so now a young man and very attractive, if Leonardo said so himself. Even when he didn't steal things he had ways of getting what he wanted.
While they were here in the future however, Leonardo was too busy trying to learn as much as he could, taking notes and making drawings of things he found on the Internet. He requested that Zoro accompany Salai whenever possible, but that young man was an associate, not apprenticed to Leonardo, and so had no reason to be beholding. Beside he had his own interests such as the occult and magic and had been attending seances and magic acts while here also.
The two weeks he had paid for was almost up and Leonardo had gathered all the information he needed to improve the quality and durability of the Last Supper. He had actually visited an artists supply store and purchased some additives and special paints to take back with him.
He would have to break the news to Zoro and Salai when they returned that they would be returning to 1498. He didn't expect either of them to be enthusiastic, in fact Leonardo wasn't himself, but he realized they didn't belong in this time and he in particular had scores of projects to complete.
Both young men arrived seperately. Surprisingly, Zoro offered no opposition to returning to the time from whence they came. He seemed rater despondent and said, "I have seen and experienced enough of these times. It is not for me, I feel out of place here."
Salai however, was a different story. He walked into the room smiling and placed his latest acquisitions on the table. There was a considerable array of clothing, something he referred to as a cell phone, and various foodstuffs. "Have you been thieving again, you rogue?" Leonardo challenged, only to be greeted by a string of expletives and a rather unpleasant hand gesture.
"Well you have certainly obtained for yourself a few trinkets with which to remember the 20th Century. Thankfully we are returning back to our own time tonight before the local law enforcement becomes wise to you. It would have just been a matter of time." Salai attempted to protest but Leonardo held firm and the boy eventually gave in.
The three struggled with their original belongings and all they had since acquired back to the cinema car park. Fortunately the time machine was still sitting where they had left it. The public had thought it was an advertising prop to promote one of the coming feature movies, and the cinema staff did not tell them otherwise, making the most of the publicity. It was midnight when the time travellers climbed inside unobserved.
As Leonardo da Vinci pushed the levers and turned the dial setting the destination back to 1498, he realised the one thing he would miss most about the future was the Internet or World Wide Web. He had found out which of his designs and inventions to complete so they could be used in everyday life, and how to improve his painting techniques. All in all it had been a very valuable journey in time.
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Tommaso Masini, also known as Zoroaster from Peretola was a friend and collaborator of Leonardo da Vinci, who lived in the fifteenth and sixteenth century.
Not much is known about his life except that he was born in the village of Peretola and was the son of a gardener, although he claimed to be the illegitimate son of a nobleman. In fact some Historians have identified Tommaso Masini as the natural son of Bernardo Rucellai.
Zoroaster met Leonardo da Vinci in Florence in 1482 through their mutual friendship with Atalante Migliorotti (a musician). He escorted the Leonardo on many journeys, including to the Sforza court in Milan, where he was employed as a mechanic and “magician”.
In 1505 Zoro was back in Florence with da Vinci and prepared the colors for the famous painting “The Battle of Anghiari”. He also famously took part in the “testing” of a flying machine designed by Leonardo. He launched from Mount Ceceri, at Fiesole, attached to the machine designed by his friend, but the trial ended in a disastrous fall, fortunately with Zoro only suffering a broken leg.
Some historians say that Tommaso Masini either became a vegetarian because of Leonardo’s influence, or in fact convinced Leonardo to become one. Also like Leonardo, he remained a bachelor for life. It has also been said that he was an extremely plain looking individual and took little pride in his appearance. He enthusiastically studied the occult sciences (magic!) hence the name "Zoroaster" and it appears that the term "magician" may have actually referred to "occultist" or "clairvoyant" in those times. There is no further information on the man, except that he was still residing in Florence around 1530 and died in Rome at a later date of cholera. No paintings or images seem to exist of him. (source: it.wikipedia.org)
Other Responses to the Challenge
- LEONARDO IN LONDON, SURFING: How would da Vinci react to today's internet? A response to a Challenge
A light-hearted response to a challenge from hubber dzymslizzy, to put da Vinci in the present time and see how he would cope with the internet. This was fun!
© 2015 John Hansen
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