Conrad Gesner published his History of the animals in the same year when Salamon, the elephant left Lisbon for Vienna.
This morning, just as if it were attracted by the previous elephant, a new elephant arrived with the post. And what is even more splendid, this elephant is a contemporary and colleague of the rhinoceros of Dürer – as if he warned me with a gentle push that it is time to write the next chapter of the Rhinocerology, dedicated to the rhinoceros and the elephant.
El viaje del elefante del Nobel winner José Saramago was published only two months ago in Buenos Aires. It reconstructs with much humor and historical detail the adventurous voyage of that elephant called Salamon which was sent in 1551 by King John III of Portugal from Lisbon to Archduke Maximilian II to Vienna. Along the way, in Salzburg there is still standing the inn To the Elephant which gave the inspiration of the novel to Saramago.
It is interesting to see how much these Renaissance pachyderms roaming about Europe have come into fashion during the last years, like The Pope’s rhinoceros by Lawrence Norfolk or The Pope’s elephant by Silvio Bedini. I will report on the book as soon as I finish it. In the meantime, in order it should not feel alone, I include here another elephant that I received in comment to the previous post as an additional illustration of the friendship between elephant and man.