Let the reader be patient for a while and not flare up with indignation and refuse to follow psychoanalysis because in its very first applications it leads to an unpardonable slander of the memory of a great and pure man. For it is quite certain that this indignation will never solve for us the meaning of Leonardo's childhood fantasy; on the other hand, Leonardo has unequivocally acknowledged this fantasy, and we shall tiierefore not relinquish the expectation—or if you prefer the preconception— that like every psychic production such as dreams, visions and deliria, this fantasy, too, must have some meaning. Let us tiierefore lend our unprejudiced ears for a while to psychoanalytic work which after all has not yet uttered the last word.

The desire to take tire male member into the mouth and suck it, which is considered as one of the most disgusting of sexual perversions, is nevertheless a frequent occurrence among tire women of our time—and as shown in old sculptures was the same in earlier times—and in the state of being in love seems to lose entirely its disgusting character. The physician encounters fantasies based on this desire, even in women who did not come to die knowledge of the possibility of such sexual gratification by reading v. Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathic Sexualis or from other information. It seems that it is quite easy for the women themselves to produce such wish-fantasies.28 Investigation dien teaches us that this situation, so forcibly condemned by custom, may be traced to die most harmless origin. It is nothing but the elaboration of another situation in which we all once felt comfort, namely, when we were in the suckling-age ("when I was still in the cradle") and took die nipple of our modier's or wet-nurse's breast into our moudi to suck it. The organic impression of diis first pleasure in our lives surely remains indelibly impregnated; when the child later learns to know the udder of the cow, which in function is a breast-nipple, but in shape and in position on the abdomen resembles die penis, it obtains the primary basis for die later formation of diat disgusting sexual fantasy.

We now understand why Leonardo displaced the memory of the supposed experience with the vulture to his nursing period. This fantasy conceals nothing more or less than a reminiscence of nursing—or being nursed—at the mother's breast, a scene bodi human and beautiful, which he as well as odier artists undertook to depict with the brush in the form of the modier of God and her child. At all events, we also wish to maintain something we do not as yet understand, that this reminiscence, equally significant for bodi sexes, was elaborated in the man Leonardo into a passive homosexual fantasy. For die present we shall not take up the question as to what connection there is between homosexuality and suckling at die modier's breast, we merely wish to recall diat tradition actually designates Leonardo as a person of homosexual feelings. In considering this, it makes no difference whether that accusation against die youdi Leonardo was justified or not. It is not the real activity but the nature of the feeling which causes us to decide whether to attribute to some one die characteristic of homosexuality.

Another incomprehensible feature of Leonardo's infantile fantasy next claims our interest. We interpret the fantasy of being wet-nursed by die modier and find diat the mother is replaced by a vulture. Where does diis vulture originate and how does he come into this place?

A thought now obtrudes itself which seems so remote diat one is tempted to ignore it. In die sacred hieroglyphics of the old Egyptians die mother is represented by the picture of the vulture.29 These Egyptians also worshiped a modierly deity, whose head was vulture like, or who had many heads of which at least one or two were those of a vulture.3" The name of this goddess was pronounced Mut; we may question whether the sound similarity to our word modier {Mutter) is only accidental? So the vulture really has some connection with the modier, but of what help is that to us? Have we a right to attribute this knowledge to Leonardo when Francois Champollion first succeeded in reading hieroglyphics between 1790-1832? 31

It would also be interesting to discover in what way die old Egyptians came to choose the vulture as a symbol of motherhood. As a matter of fact die religion and culture of Egyptians were subjects of scientific interest even to the Greeks and Romans, and long before we ourselves were able to read the Egyptian monuments we had at our disposal some communications about them from preserved works of classical antiquity. Some of diese writings belonged to familiar authors like Strabo, Plutarch, Aminianus Marcellus, and some bear unfamiliar names and are uncertain as to origin and time, like the Hieroglyphica (1727) of Horapollo [Nilous], and like the traditional book of oriental priestly wisdom bearing the godly name Hermes Trismegistos. From these sources we learn that the vulture was a symbol of modierhood because it was diought that there were only female vultures and no males.32 The natural history of the ancients shows a counterpart to this limitation among the scarebaeus beetles which were revered by die Egyptians as godly; no females were supposed to exist.33

But how does impregnation take place in vultures if only females exist? This is fully answered in a passage of Horapollo.' At a certain time these birds stop in the midst of their flight, open their vagina and are impregnated by die wind.

Unexpectedly we have now reached a point where we can take something as quite probable which only shordy before we had to reject as absurd. It is quite possible diat Leonardo was well acquainted with the scientific fable according to which the Egyptians represented the idea of the mother with the picture of the vulture. He was an omnivorous reader whose interest comprised all spheres of literature and knowledge. In the Codex Atlanticus we find an index of all books which he possessed at a certain time,3' as well as numerous notices about odier books which he borrowed from friends, and according to die excerpts which Fr. Rich-ter 36 compiled from his drawings we can hardly overestimate the extent of his reading. Among these books there was no lack of older as well as contemporary works treating of natural history. All these books were already in print at that time, and it so happens diat Milan was the principal place of the young art of book printing in Italy.