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Thursday, October 12, 2006


History Uncensored

History has always been my favorite subject, so it's been exciting to watch my son become enthralled with past civilizations, events, and people as we work through the history unit of our homeschool curriculum. We began with the ancient Greeks and Romans, then jumped ahead to the late middle ages and the beginning of the Renaissance. The past few weeks we've been focusing on some of the great artists, thinkers, and poets of that time, such as Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Petrarch, and Brunelleschi. Today we learned about the man who defined the Italian Renaissance, Leonardo Da Vinci.

We read about his sketchbooks and how he was constantly drawing and describing the world around him. We looked at the inventions that he thought up, but never built, such as a helicopter and a tank. And, of course, we marveled at his two most famous paintings, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.

I had planned ahead for this day and rented a DVD called Leonardo Da Vinci: Renaissance Master from the A&E Biography series. When we finished the lesson in our book, I immediately popped the 50-minute disc into the player and we sat back to learn more about Da Vinci.

Well, we certainly learned more about him. In fact, a little more than I bargained for. This documentary probably should've been titled: Da Vinci: Uncensored. We heard, in great detail, about Leonardo's propensity for young boys, his distaste for the "reproductive act," and his trial in Florence for sodomy.

I guess I'm going to have to start previewing these films before I show them to my kids, because I'm not ready to have certain discussions with my 8-year-old son. Or should I say he's not ready for conversations about pedophilia and sexual behaviors. My son will eventually hear about those things, but not now... he's just too young to properly comprehend those subjects.

What I don't get is that this was a relatively short documentary which glossed over several important aspects of Da Vinci's work in order to dwell on the more salacious details of his life. Those details told me nothing about the artist and his techniques or the influence that he had on the world today.


Blogger Mrs. Mac said...

Thank you for shattering my image of Da Vinci :) You're right ... I may tend to forget his great works and only remeber his sordid life. Better preview everything from here on out.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous CroutonBoy said...

Man, I hate when these shows focus on the salacious side of history's legends instead of their contributions to society. Who cares if he was into sodomy? I mean, if he was alive today and living in my neighborhood then I'd be worried, but it's not like his art and science suddenly suck because of it.

I'd stay away from that documentary on Caligula if I were you...

2:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Croutonboy, so if Joseph Duncan were some great artist we should just forget all the things he did and just focus on his art?

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yoiks. The da Vinci exhibit at the Uffizi in Florence is magnificent. Your kids would love it!

11:38 PM  
Blogger Hannelie said...

How intersting Phil, I also don't know much about him apart from his paintings. Now I agree if I were you I would do the same and watch them before showing. The world is ugly enough, sadly, to reveal it so early to kids.

6:11 AM  
Blogger Hliza said...

Just like the rest of the people here, I don't know this side of Da Vinci! Oh gosh.. now you have to start explaining ugly things..

4:26 PM  
Blogger Phil said...

I don't know this side of Da Vinci!

I didn't either. And I didn't really want to. I don't see how his sexual preferences affect his artistic legacy, but these documentarians thought it important to spend quite a bit of time on it throughout the film. Now everytime I see a work by Da Vinci, one of my first thoughts is, "Oh, he was a pedophile." Guess my new favorite Renaissance artist is Michelangelo. Don't you dare tell me anything about his personal life! Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

5:31 PM  
Blogger stebbijo said...

I read somewhere- I think it was the Da Vinci Code which is supposed to be fiction (but a great read) - that the Mona Lisa is a self portrait of Leonardo as a woman.

10:51 AM  

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