In his private notebooks, Da Vinci (1452-1519) enjoyed himself by making a lot of spoof 'prophecies' that were merely descriptions of everyday, common phenomena dressed up to look 'apocalyptic'. The History Channel, for example, has recently made much of one of them that reads:
'The water of the sea shall rise above the peaks of the mountains towards the sky, and shall fall down again onto the dwellings of men.'
...and has taken to portraying it as an description of the imminent destruction of the world by water, an impression that it reinforces by showing one of his famous sketches of the Biblical Deluge -- best known as 'Noah's Flood' (which the Bible, be it noted, promises will never happen again) -- while adding yet another of his 'prophecies' that reads:
'You shall see the greatest forest trees borne from the east to the west by the fury of the winds.'
In fact, of course, the first is merely a description of perfectly ordinary CLOUD (and rain), and the second of DRIFTWOOD.
How do we know? He himself says so in the same notebooks!
How do we know? He himself says so in the same notebooks!
The Deluge (after original in Royal Library, WIndsor Castle)
An everyday apocalypse
Here are some more 'prophecies' from Volume II of Da Vinci's intriguing collection:
"There shall come forth from hollow caves that which shall cause all the
nations the world to toil and sweat with great agitation, anxiety and
labour so as to gain its aid."
[He's talking about GOLD AND SILVER!]
"The malevolent and terrifying thing shall of itself strike such terror into men that almost like madmen, while thinking to escape it, they shall rush precipitately upon its limitless forces."
[He's talking about FEAR OF POVERTY!]
"That which shall be most needful to whomever has need of it shall
be unknown, and if known shall be held of less account."
[He's talking about ADVICE!]
"Serpents of huge size shall be seen fighting with birds at an immense height in the air."
[He's talking about STORKS CARRYING OFF SNAKES!]
"There shall come forth from beneath the ground that which by its
terrific report shall stun all who are nearby and cause men to drop
dead at its breath, while devastating cities and castles."
[He's talking about BRONZE CANNONS!]
"There are many who hold the faith of the Son yet build temples
only in the name of the Mother."
[He's talking -- rather daringly, I should say -- about CHRISTIANS!]
"A large portion of the bodies that have had life shall pass into the
bodies of other animals -- that is, the houses no longer inhabited shall
pass piecemeal through those that are inhabited, ministering to their
needs and bearing away with them what is waste"
[He's talking about FOOD!]
"Men shall sleep and eat and have their habitation among trees grown in
forests and the fields."
[He's talking about WOODEN BEDS!]
"It shall seem to men that they see new destructions in the sky, and
the flames descending from them shall seem to have taken flight and to
flee away in terror; they shall hear creatures of every kind speaking
human language; they shall instantly run in person to divers parts
of the world without moving; amidst the darkness they shall see the
most radiant splendours. O marvel of mankind! What frenzy has thus
taken hold of you! You shall converse with animals of every species,
and they with you in human language. You shall behold yourselves
falling from great heights without suffering any injury; the torrents
shall bear you with them as they mingle in their headlong course."
[He's talking about DREAMS!]
"Many communities there shall be who shall hide themselves and their
young and their food in gloomy caves, and there in dark
places shall support themselves and their families for many months
without any light, whether artificial or natural."
[Some post-nuclear catastrophe? No, he's talking about ANTS!]
"And many others shall be robbed of their store of provisions and
food, and by an insensate people shall be cruelly immersed and
drowned. O justice of God! why dost Thou not awake to behold Thy
creatures thus abused?"
[More catastrophe? No, he's talking about BEES!]
"From countless numbers shall be stolen their little children, and the
throats of them shall be cut, and they shall be cut most
barbarously.into quarters "
[Murderous invaders? No, he's talking about SHEEP AND CATTLE!]
"Many offspring shall be torn with pitiless beatings from the very
arms of their mothers and flung upon the ground, and then maimed."
[More catastrophe? No, he's talking about OLIVES, ACORNS AND
"O cities of the sea, I behold in you your citizens, women as well as
men, tightly bound with strong bonds about their arms and legs by folk
who shall have no understanding of your speech; and you shall be
able to give vent to your griefs and sense of loss of liberty only by
making tearful complaints and sighs and lamentations one to another;
for those who bind you shall have no understanding of your speech, nor
shall you understand them."
[More oppression? No, it's BABIES IN SWADDLING CLOTHES!]
"In you, O cities of Africa! your own sons shall be seen torn to
pieces within their own houses by most cruel and savage beasts of
[He's talking about CATS EATING RATS!]
"O neglectful Nature, why are you so partial, becoming to
some of thy children a tender and solicitous mother, to others a most
cruel and ruthless stepmother? I see your children given into slavery
to others without ever receiving any benefit, and instead of any
reward for the services they have done them they are repaid by the
severest punishments and spend their lives in the constant
service of their oppressor."
[He's talking about PEOPLE BEATING THEIR DONKEYS!]
"The greatest honours and ceremonies shall be granted to men without
[He's referring to FUNERALS!]
"There shall be many who shall move one towards the other, holding
in their hands sharp cutting irons. They shall not do each other
any hurt other than that caused by fatigue, for as one leans forward
the other shall draw back an equal distance; but woe to him who intervenes
between them, for in the end he shall be left cut to pieces."
[He's referring to REAPERS!]
"There shall be heard mournful cries and loud shrieks, the hoarse angry
voices of those who are tortured and plundered and finally left naked
and motionless; and this shall be by reason of the motive power which
turns the whole."
[He's talking of SILK-SPINNING!]
"The earth shall be seen turned upside down and facing the opposite
hemisphere, while laying bare the holes where lurk the fiercest
[Another catastrophe? Reversal of the poles? No -- just PLOUGHING!]
"Then a great part of those men who remain alive shall throw out of
their houses the victuals that they have saved for the free use of the
birds and beasts of the field, yet without taking any care of them."
[Post-holoocaust collective suicide? No -- just SOWING!]
"There shall come from out the sky that which shall transport a great
part of Africa which lies beneath this heaven towards Europe, and that of
Europe towards Africa; and those of the provinces shall mingle together
in great evolution."
[Earth upheavals? No -- just RAIN again!]
"In the final event the earth shall become red after being exposed to
fire for many days, and the stones shall be changed into ashes."
[Holocaust? No -- just KILNS!]
"The trees and shrubs of the mighty forests shall be converted to ashes."
[Wildfires in western USA? No, just ordinary WOODFIRES!]
"Creatures of the water shall die in boiling water."
[Just BOILED FISH! I wonder if Nostradamus had heard of this one?...]
"There shall fall with fury from the direction of the sky that
which shall give us food and light."
[The Second Coming? No -- just OIL FOR LAMPS from olive trees!]
"Bodies without souls shall by their sayings supply precepts that
shall help us to die well."
[Visitations from the beyond? No -- just BOOKS!]
"And they shall seek frenziedly the things that are most beautiful to
seek after, to possess and make use of their vilest parts; and
afterwards, having returned with loss and penitence to their
right minds, they shall be filled with great admiration for
[He's talking about WANTON SEX!]
"You shall see that those who are considered to be of most experience
and judgment, in the same degree as they come to need things less,
shall seek and hoard them with all the more eagerness."
[The MISERLINESS OF AGE!]
"There shall be many busily engaged in the practice of taking from that thing
which gets bigger the more the more they take from it."
"There shall be many hunters of beasts who, the more they catch, the
fewer they shall have; and so conversely they shall have more in the same
proportion as they catch less."
"Flying creatures shall support men with their feathers."
"Men shall speak with men who shall not hear them; their eyes shall be
open and they shall not see; they shall speak to them and there shall
be no reply; they shall ask pardon from one who has ears but does not
hear; they shall offer light to one who is blind, and to the deaf they
shall appeal with loud cries."
[The WORSHIP OF IMAGES OF THE SAINTS!]
"Men shall walk without moving, they shall speak with those who are
not there, they shall hear those who do not speak."
[Modern telecoms? No, DREAMS!]
"Within walnuts and other trees and plants there shall be found very
great treasures that lie hidden there."
"Many by explelling their breath too rapidly shall lose the power of
sight, and in a short time all capability of sensation."
[BLOWING THE LIGHT OUT WHEN GOING TO BED!]
"Many shall be seen borne by large animals with great speed to the
loss of their lives and to instant death. In the air and on the earth
shall be seen animals of different colours, bearing men furiously to
destroy their lives."
[SOLDIERS ON HORSEBACK!]
"The movement of the dead shall cause many who are living to flee
with grief and lamentations and cries."
"With stone and iron, things shall be rendered visible that were not
[Microscopes? No -- TINDER-BOXES!]
"The masters of estates shall eat their own workers."
[The EATING OF OXEN!]
"All men shall suddenly change hemisphere."
[Toppling of the poles? No, it's just that the hemisphere begins where
you choose it to begin!]
"O how many shall there be who shall never be bom."
"Endless generations shall perish through the death of the pregnant."
[The EATING OF FISH-ROES!]
"In all parts of Europe there shall be lamentations by great
nations for the death of one man."
"There shall come forth out of dark and gloomy caves that which shall
cause the whole human race to undergo great afflictions, perils, and
mortality. To many of those who pursue it, after much tribulation it shall
afford delight; but whosoever pays no homage to it shall die in want and
misery. It shall bring to pass endless crimes; it shall
prompt and incite wretched men to murder, to steal and to
enslave; it shall hold its own followers suspect; it shall
deprive free cities of their status: it shall take away life itself from
many; it shall make men torment each other with many kinds of
subterfuge, deceit, and treachery. O vile monster! How much better
were it for men that thou shouldst return to hell! For this the vast
forests shall be stripped of their trees; for this an infinite number
of creatures shall lose their lives."
[GOLD AND PRECIOUS METALS!]
"There shall be seen huge bodies devoid of life, carrying great
numbers of men with ferocious speed to mortal destruction."
"Men from the remotest of countries shall speak to each other and reply."
[Phones? Internet? No, just INTERNATIONAL LETTER-WRITING!]
And how do we know all this?
Once again, Leonardo himself says so in the same notebooks!
Effective, aren't they?