Leonardo da Vinci – Not That Smart

Historians tell us that Leonardo da Vinci was a bright man. Artist, musician, inventor, botanist – Leonardo did it all. He was the renaissance man during the renaissance. No one called him a renaissance man back then, they just called him “The Right Now Man”.

Perhaps you’ll join me in considering if Leonardo, “The Right Now Man”, was all he was cracked up to be. Let’s examine a few of his inventions.

Machine For Storming Walls

Back in Leonardo’s day, cities had walls. When one city had a beef with the città at the other end of the strada, they’d head over and attack them. Defenders of the city under attack closed their gates and repelled the aggressors from behind the safety of the walls.

Leonardo considered the problem and came up with this:

Leonardo’s “siege machine”, or, “machine for getting all our soldiers killed by the other guys.” (public domain)

It looks like a good idea. A mobile solution; steps like the rolling steps used at some airports, leading to a covered bridge/tunnel that could be lowered onto the wall of a town. Soldiers could climb the steps, then traverse the bridge in relative safety.

Do you know what rhymes with tunnel? Funnel. And that is exactly what “The Right Now Man” built…a funnel for soldiers. The tunnel was practically impregnable. The defenders had no shot at the aggressors. The tunnel/bridge conveyed the attackers safely over the wall…where the defenders could methodically kill them one by one as they emerged from the funnel-like confines of the tunnel.


da Vinci devised a parachute. It was kind of silly to spend time on that, because no one had invented an airplane or those coveralls that skydivers wear.

This renaissance parachute was made out of linen, stretched over a pyramidal wooden frame. This design has been tested during modern times, presumably by someone who wears coveralls.  Those tests proved this design works.

Oh, and you have to hang by your arms until you land. (public domain)

It worked, but is it a good invention? No. Toting around a large wooden pyramid and enough fabric to cover it isn’t practical, especially if you, like Leo,  have a no shot at getting a flight out of Florence.

This idea isn’t a total loser. da Vinci’s parachute is a great way to enter a picnic. Flutter down from a cliff. Dismantle your da Vinci chute. Build a picnic table out of the pyramid frame. Use the fabric for a table-cloth and you’re ready to go.


The idea of flying fascinated da Vinci. Back in his day, birds were the only ones in the air. Our hero thought he was on their tail feathers.

One of his brainstorms was the ornithopter, which is a precursor to today’s helicopter. Here is a picture of the helicopter’s great, great-grandfather as Leonardo envisioned it:

da Vinci’s helicopter. Nice try, huh? (public domain)

The screw-like blade was rotated by men on the platform beneath it who turned the shaft connected to that blade. Theoretically, this thing could have gotten off the ground. Of course, that theory supposes you have a dozen Olympic decathletes turning the screw. It also assumes that you’re flying it in air that has the consistency of banana pudding.

Vitruvian Man

Around 1490, or for those of you who like to rhyme, two years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, Right Now Man created a drawing to depict the ideal human proportions. That work, and the person in it are called “Vitruvian Man.” Perhaps you don’t know the name. You know the drawing:

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, Galleria d...

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, Galleria dell’ Accademia, Venice (1485-90) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s OK, if you’re into that sort of thing, but it is about as special as any of da Vinci’s other creations. How not special is it? So not special that I can now present to you my latest work of art – Vitruvian Omawarisan.

The Other Vitruvian Man. Yes, I know da Vinci didn’t black out Vitruvian Man’s junk. But da Vinci’s mom didn’t read his blog either.

Leonardo da Vinci seems like he was all hype and no substance.

I lack substance as well.

My day will come – the day when the world declares me today’s Right Now Man.

25 Comments on “Leonardo da Vinci – Not That Smart”

  1. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    Nicely placed blackout square. Yes, I may be one of a few who, after reading your post, is not at all impressed with Da Vinci. Other than the fact that he was a prolific doodler, these inventions are all designed to get someone, or many, killed. Except for Vitruvian Man. And Gawd knows what the hell purpose that ever served. Renaissance porn.

    • omawarisan says:

      I never really thought of it like that. He was sort of a defense contractor. Not a good one, but still…

    • Kekelsons says:

      You’re not serious, right? Vitruvian Man was DaVinci’s take on the Roman architect’s idea of the ideal proportions. The Vitruvian Man IS the ebodyment of the ideal proportions.

      • omawarisan says:

        You’re not serious, are you?

        I don’t take anything I say seriously,nor should you. I assure you that I’ll take anything you have to say the same way.

  2. shoutabyss says:

    I takes a lot of [blacked out] to go after da Vinci’s intelligence. What was it, I wonder, that stoked the fires of your imagination to come up with such an idea?

    I heard he also invented the earliest known version of the Trebuchet MS font. That’s nothing to sneeze at!

  3. lbwoodgate says:

    “machine for getting all our soldiers killed by the other guys.”

    Clearly the guy who invented the canon had to view DaVinci’s approach as “how not to succeed”

  4. Is that an animal pushing the siege machine? Where’s PETA?

  5. Your fascination and take on art is interesting. Very interesting. Did you know that almost anyone can draw the human form using Leonardo da Vinci measurement (with some evolution…). Even the above average stick figure drawer! Just sayin’

  6. sanscera says:

    I practically worship da vinci for the amazing creativity. But it was nice to see the other side of the coin as well.

  7. Debbie says:

    With nods to Katybeth, I am not a stick figure drawer. Not by a long shot. Never have been. So I’m totally impressed by your “copy” of Leo’s human. It’s way better than anything I could come up with. Now that funnel-thingy for the soldiers? Even I, who have never been a soldier, know that looks like a recipe for doom.

    • omawarisan says:

      In policing, doors are considered “fatal funnels” You’ll never see an officer who is safety conscious stand in front of a door. Leo designed a fatal funnel that brings along its own hall way.

  8. Anonymous says:

    You can see he was working his way toward combining the wooden jetway with the ornithopter. Ornithopter… gotta like that word!

  9. Laura says:

    I like Vitruvian Omawarisan. He’s like Edward Scissorhands, but with spatulas instead of scissors. I imagine him making a lot of pancakes.

  10. Blogdramedy says:

    Right on, man! *snicker*

  11. planetross says:

    He was one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so that makes up for his other shortcomings.

    note: if there were no Leonardo daVinci, would Michelangelo DiCaprio have starred in Titanic?

  12. planetross says:

    He was one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so he wasn’t a complete failure.

    note: If there were no Leonardo daVinci, would Michelangelo DiCaprio have starred in Titanic?

  13. My theory is that any man who cares enough that his Mom reads his blog to black out his junk should already be declared today’s “Right Now Man”.

  14. Bryan says:

    You have to respect his detail work as a contractor. The little cut-outs of someone giving the “bird” to the opposing army is very Italian. Well, it is very New Jersey-Italian. But still, it is nice to know that Da Vinci probably spent his time at the gym, tan, and laundry and gelling his hair.

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