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PROLOGUELeonardo’s Genius

Before entering into the details of Leonardo’s science, let us examine what is commonly referred to as his genius.

During Leonardo’s time, the term “genius” did not have our modern meaning of a person endowed with extraordinary intellectual and creative powers.1 The Latin word genius originated in Roman religion, where it denoted the spirit of the gens, the family. It was understood as a guardian spirit, first associated with individuals and then also with peoples and places. The extraordinary achievements of artists or scientists were attributed to their genius, or attendant spirit.

This meaning of genius was prevalent ...

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