Wednesday, March 08, 2006

(44) Veni, vidi ... da Vinci?

On the afternoon of May 24th 1989 I was reading from a biography of Leonardo da Vinci by Ludwig Goldschneider published by Phaidon in 1959.
It is a commentary upon a biography of Leonardo by Giorgio Vasari from 1568, which is included in Goldschneider’s book.

On page 23 there was a note, a reference to a play on words:

Here follows in the original text an epigram by Messer Giovan Battista Strozzi in praise of Leonardo: Vince costui pur solo Tutti altri, e vince Fidia e vince Apelle E tutto il lor vittorioso stuolo.
This play upon words — vincere, to vanquish, and Vinci — cannot be translated into English.
The meaning of the epigram is roughly:
"Single-handed he vanquished all the others, Phidias, Apelles, and their whole victorious troop."
I wondered whether the verb for to conquer was precisely the same in mediaeval Italian as in the Latin from which that language must have developed.
The only usage in Latin that came to mind was Caesar’s famous comment, "Veni, vidi, vici."

I found myself playing around with Strozzi’s epigram to produce "Veni, vidi, Vinci."

The following evening I was watching Channel 4 News.
An item was broadcast about the restoration of a Leonardo cartoon of The virgin with child and St Anne and St John the Baptist which had been blasted in the National Gallery twenty-three months earlier by someone with a shotgun, and which was now being put back on display for the first time.

The presenter announced that they would be showing this item after the commercial break, and then they went into that break with an introductory caption showing across the screen.

It ran: Veni, vidi,… da Vinci?

I might add that in The Sunday Times of August 19th 2001 there was the headline Veni, Vidi, Vinci apropos some takeovers initiated by a firm called Vinci.

A da vinci codicil of 23 years later is this -


At about 14:10 or so June 2nd 2012 I returned to watching this Youtube clip, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2qYvDlKm4U

which I had definitely NEVER seen nor heard before. 
A few minutes earlier I had pictured myself on the show and had even spoken out loud on the Just A Minute subject of ´Leonardo da Vinci´ and had imagined myself pronouncing upon how he was held back by his illegitimacy and thus was unable to enroll in Florence as neither a student of Law nor Medicine but instead he studied to be an artist.
A few minutes later I returned to watch the Youtube clip and heard Stephen Fry comment on the subject of ´The Portrait in my Attic´. He challenged and said "Autre temps, autre moeurs" just a few minutes after I had been fantasising about saying those very words on that show in a reference to Leonardo´s stigma of being a bastard either to him and/or to host, Nicholas Parsons.

The point being that, of course, it could hardly debar him from entering any institute of higher education these days. I also had gone on to picture myself defending the use of French as not a deviation insomuch as that phrase is used in common parlance these days.
Fry´s reference, circa 20:50, was apropos people having ´school rooms´ in their homes.

2 comments:

Jazzigator said...

This is fascinating, James, as always.

Your blog is light years ahead of the dross that freefalls through my newsfeed.

I'm a keen historian; and the subject of coincidence, together with all associated experiences, theories, and opinions I find irresistible,

Anthea

James said...

A pleasure to please, Anthea.

Blow that sax for me ant time...