The Shadows of Things

butterflies-columbine-hoefJoris Hoefnagel  (1542, Antwerp – 24 July 1601, Vienna)

“Let us take off the spectacles that show us the shadows of things instead of the things themselves,”
Danish physician Olaus Worm, 1588 – 1655.

‘In a very modern, empirical mode, Worm determined that the unicorn did not exist and that purported unicorn horns were really simply from the narwhal. At the same time, however, he then wondered if the anti-poison properties associated with a unicorn’s horn still held true, and undertook experiments in poisoning pets and then serving them ground up narwhal horn (his poisoning must have been relatively mild because he reported that they did recover).

His other empirical investigations included providing convincing evidence that lemmings were rodents and not, as some thought, spontaneously generated by the air.’

W

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