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Leonardo da Vinci was an incredible man. So incredible, really, that it can be almost difficult to imagine him as a real person. After all, how many people achieve fame, fortune, and historical reverence in one field (painting) while simultaneously pioneering human achievement in about 10 others? It beggars belief.

During his lifetime, Leonardo pushed the boundaries of engineering, botany, music, sculpture, architecture, physics, and engineering. He personifies the term, “Renaissance Man”, which is used to describe a person who appears to excel in anything they try. One can only assume he was like the kid you went to highschool with who captained both the basketball AND football teams. Hard not to be jealous of that guy.

But although he appears larger than life in retrospect, Leonardo actually came from surprisingly humble origins. He was born to unmarried parents: a local notary, Piero da Vinci, and a peasant woman named Caterina. They lived in the Vinci region of Florence (which is where the “da Vinci” in his name comes from). For 99.99% of people in human history dealt the same cards at birth, that would have been the whole story.

Not so Leonardo.

Da Vinci is one of the most important historical figures in Western culture. He holds such unbelievable clout, even fictional (and not-so-well-researched) books about complex codes he never made up can become the best-selling novels of all time. So while these days Dicaprio might get more attention, there’s no doubting Da Vinci is the greatest Leo of all time.


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