The Monster of Ravenna

Described, among others, by Ambroise Paré, this being was meant to have been born in Italy in 1512, contemporaneous with the bloody Battle of Ravenna, in which King Louis XII and Pope Julius engaged in combat. It survived to grow into a hulking brute which, naturally enough, terrorized the countryside. It was considered an omen of God's anger with the Italian people and, as such, it various disjointed parts could be "read" metaphorically. The arms never developed, scholars claimed, because the Italians showed a conspicuous lack of good deeds. Because the Italians had no firm dedication to any cause, their fickle, flighty nature was reflected in the Monster's wings. The beast was a biological hermaphrodite, and its double set of genitals illustrated sexual immorality: lust, sodomy, bestiality. The great ugly claw was greed, and the knee-mounted eyeball betrayed a covetous love of material things; the single horn-- overweening pride. The only positive side to this scaly abomination, which was in fact not always mentioned (note its exclusion from the above illustration), was a cruciform marking on the beast's trunk. This, of course, was interpreted as Christ's willingness to save all His people-- if they would only reform.

Portrait of The Monster as a young child. From another edition of Paré; this illustration includes the odd chest markings.

From Aldrovandi, Monstrorum Historia (1658): an older, more dignified Monster of Ravenna.

I decided to interpret the Monster more literally, and came up with this modern rendering. Naturally, the pathetic creature in my drawing was not capable of surviving for more than a few days after birth. Some wrath of God.