Ravenna Monster, 16th Century - stock photo
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Ravenna Monster, 16th Century

In March of 1512 a well respected Florentine apothecary, Lucca Landucci, described a monster born in Ravenna as having a single horn upon its head, two bat-like wings, a serpentine and hermaphrodic lower body, a single eye set in its knee and an eagle like claw for a foot. The monster was almost certainly a child born with a severe and unusual genetic disorder. Records indicate that Pope Julius II ordered the child starved to death. The rumor of The Monster spread across Europe accompanied by dozens of woodcuts and engravings that pictured the monster in various ways. It was considered an omen of God's anger with the Italian people and, as such, it various disjointed parts could be "read" metaphorically. The arms never developed, because the Italians showed a lack of good deeds. The beast and its double set of genitals illustrated sexual immorality: lust, sodomy, bestiality. The great ugly claw was greed, and the knee-mounted eyeball betrayed a covetous love of material things; the single horn, overweening pride. Woodcut from Des Monstres et prodiges by Ambroise Paré, 1573.

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2700 x 3868 pixels

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9 x 13 inches / 23 x 33 cm

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