Da Vinci's Demons Ep105: The Tower





The Tower

Leonardo is dealing with the repercussions of sodomy charges. His father Piero defends him. The episode focuses on his sexuality and the ingenious way he arranges for his escape and to have the charges dropped.

- Directed by: Paul Wilmshurst
- Written by: Joe Aheame

The episode begins with dignitaries from Spain coming to Florence to attempt to arrange a deal with the Medici's.  As they are being shown around the home and seeing various artworks they come across a statue of "David" and find it immoral. They are "Patrons of the arts, particularly those based on the Holy Faith." and haven't quite embraced the "Humanism" of Florence. The statue used in the show is actually supposedly modeled after Leonardo when he was young. It gives us an idea of what Leonardo would have looked like, and also what went on in Verrocchio's workshop that has been alluded to in the series and by many historians.


On April 9, 1476 Sodomy Charges were filed against Leonardo da Vinci, Baccino, Bartolomeo di Pasquino; and Leonardo Tornabuoni, a member of the aristocratic Tornabuoni family: "party to many wretched affairs and consents to please those persons who request such wickedness of him" with Jacopo Saltarelli - a known prostitute. 
While the episode leaves out the other accused and how their charges were really dropped, Da Vinci's Demons's version is a lot more entertaining. In real life it's said that because of one of the accused family's influence the case was dropped for lack of evidence. 

The show's versions of events has him devising a way to sneak out of prison, project an image of the Judge (naked) glued to a pig up into the clouds - and black mails him with a camera obscura photograph. It sounds strange but is pretty funny if you watch it. 

Interestingly they included the "camera obscura" - the "Magic Lantern" and a rudimentary form of Photography into the show at the same time. All three of which have been attributed to Leonardo da Vinci in some form or another. They even had Leo use the word "Shroud" to describe the cloth he burned the image upon with the use of Silver Nitrate (a photosensitive material.) In my book and on my site I attribute these to the "Shroud of Turin" and other researchers have even demonstrated that this was possible with the materials available at his time. 

There are a lot of subtle hints and nods to Leonardian History and theories that the writers have included. 

Although this is based on Leonardo's sexuality and what that meant in Renaissance Italy - they updated it with some of the same arguments that still go on today. "The sodomites have the souls of the unborn on their conscious." - A church witness for the case, which is saying that if you don't have children you are bad. There are also a lot of harassing insults thrown at Leonardo while he is in prison relating to his sodomy charge. 

Florence did have laws against sodomy but like they mention "Why sodomy? No one gets tried for that" - "Not in Florence, 100 miles away.." - Leo's companions. It was one of those laws that was still in place but was usually only used when needed for some other reason. Interestingly "Florentine" (someone from Florence) became the slang word for "Faggot" showing how prevent it was in the city-state.

"I have dedicated my life to the study of nature.
I have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to defend." 
- Tom Riley (Da Vinci Demon's Leonardo)

While drumming up evidence for their case the prosecution raided Leonardo's workshop and found a hidden stash of sketches. They said they depicted animals with the bodies of men and were pagan heresy. This was an even bigger no-no back then as "graven images" / art could only be religious in nature, and was only just starting to accept Humanism as the only alternative. Essentially you couldn't create an image of anything that wasn't church approved. This is another very important aspect to the real life Leonardo's secrecy and tendency for hidden and obscured images. While today we may think that if he had to hide it that it must be either true, or some-how-significant - it could just be that it was imaginary/fantasy and HAD to be hidden or it would be destroyed.

"You know that you cannot invent animals without limbs, each of which, in itself, must resemble those of some other animal. Hence if you wish to make an animal, imagined by you, appear natural—let us say a Dragon, take for its head that of a mastiff or hound, with the eyes of a cat, the ears of a porcupine, the nose of a greyhound, the brow of a lion, the temples of an old rooster, the neck of a water tortoise." - Leonardo da Vinci

Another paraphrasing they used in this episode was:

"They took away my liberty." - Tom Riley which comes from the quote:

"If Liberty is dear to you may you never discover that my face is love's prison." - It's too complicated to explain in this post but you can read more about it here: Mon Salai
After the charges are dropped and he is released he runs into Jacopo Saltarelli - the prostitute. In the context of the show they had Jacopo be an some-what-scorn lover who testified against Leo.

"I wanted to see you exposed not killed, what you have with women isn't love, it's out of fear." - Saltarelli

He is trying to convince Leo that isn't just experimenting (with him) and that he doesn't love women. Leo responds:

"Desire is not as simple as one sex or another... Experiments out of curiosity... No one defines me. Not Florence's outdated laws, and certainly not you. You infatuation will fade and you will find others to love. I have no doubt."
They kiss and Leo says:

"Every kiss sends a message. That one was goodbye."





During their brief interlude Jacopo reminds da Vinci about a sketch that Leo made of him and says that if he really wanted him to be convicted he would have shown it to the court. (The sketch with the wings is from the show)




"Incarnate Angel" - the real life sketch was of Leonardo's Assistant Salai - which they obviously based the image from the show off of but changed the characters. Salai was also the model for Leo's painting "St. John the Baptist" in this same pose. More: Mon Salai



Next scene Leo is back with the spy Lucrezia Donati, bathing naked. He is unaware that she was the one who actually had him accused - still reluctantly working for the Vatican. They talk about their emotions and decide:

"Maybe that's what Both of us share, bound to a life without love. "


His affair with Lucrezia Donati, or any woman for that matter, is probably not accurate and there is a lot more evidence that Leonardo was exclusively homosexual. Some would argue that he was "A-Sexual" or repressed any sexuality what-so-ever but that is mostly a way to keep him more un-human, or superhuman in that he was too advanced for such things. Sigmund Freud was one such person and while he concluded that Leonardo was never with women, he placed him in a 3rd category of 'sexuality' which was basically 'non-sexual.' Claiming that his childhood resulted in him sublimating his sexual impulses into intellectual types.

"In mentioning the concurrence in Leonardo of the powerful investigation impulse with the stunting of his sexual life which was limited to the so-called ideal homosexuality, we feel inclined to consider him as a model example of our third type. The most essential point of his character and the secret of it seems to lie in the fact, that after utilizing the infantile activity of curiosity in the service of sexual interest he was able to sublimate the greater part of his libido into the impulse of investigation." - Freud 
“It is doubtful whether Leonardo ever embraced a woman in love, nor is it known that he ever entertained an intimate spiritual relation with a woman as in the case of Michelangelo and Vittoria Colonna. While he still lived as an apprentice in the house of his master Verrocchio, he with other young men were accused of forbidden homosexual relations which ended in his acquittal. It seems that he came into this suspicion because he employed as a model a boy of evil repute.[15] When he was a master he surrounded himself with handsome boys and youths whom he took as pupils. The last of these pupils Francesco Melzi, accompanied him to France, remained with him until his death, and was named by him as his heir. Without sharing the certainty of his modern biographers, who naturally reject the possibility of a sexual relation between himself and his pupils as a baseless insult to this great man, it may be thought by far more probable that the affectionate relationships of Leonardo to the young men did not result in sexual activity. Nor should one attribute to him a high measure of sexual activity." Freud 


You can read Freud's complete da Vinci commentary HERE

The last scene of the episode has the mysterious man coming to see Leonardo and asks him about the visions he experienced while imprisoned.

"You did experience something while imprisoned"
"It was a dream, nothing more. " - Leo
"Return to the cave Leonardo."
"I saw bodies, I saw a man, hanging upside down, I thought he was dead like the rest but he was alive, "Who was it Leonardo"
 ((free me)-the hanged-man in his vision)
It doesn't make sense!
((free me))
"it was me!" - Leo


The episode Ends... 

"The act of procreation and anything that has any relation to it is so disgusting that human beings would soon die out if there were no pretty faces and sensuous dispositions." - Leonardo da Vinci



- Notice it's the word "procreation" 


Notice in the same sketch, in the lower left hand corner, there is an allusion to non-reproductive copulation. 






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