Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Da Vinci & Lincoln

Today is the birthday of Leonardo Da Vinci, who was born in 1452 in the town of Vinci, hence the name. He was the quintessential Renaissance Man, doing a multitude of things and all of them well. At age 50 he was employed by the Borgias as a military engineer––a defense contractor, if you will; a year later he painted his serene masterpiece la Gioconda, better known today as the Mona Lisa. In difficult times it's good to be versatile. Da Vinci appears on pages 31, 190, 195 and 240 in A Book of Ages.

Abraham Lincoln was felled by an assassin's bullet on April 15, 1865. It's a story repeated often in history: the hero who isn't alive to enjoy the fruits of victory. Martin Luther King Jr., FDR, Bobby Kennedy, Admiral Horatio Nelson, Moses.

The eerie coincidences between the deaths of Lincoln and JFK have become folklore: Lincoln's assassin did the deed in a theater and was captured in a warehouse; Kennedy's assassin fired from a warehouse and was captured in a theater; Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy, Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln; both were succeeded by V.P.s named Johnson; etc. Famous stories are full of ironic details.

Writing about Lincoln's death in A Book of Ages I chose to describe the contents of his pockets, which, ironically enough, included a Confederate five dollar bill. Lincoln stories are told on pages 40, 49, 73, 135, 162-3, 189, 195, 199 and 210.

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