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Annone, the elephant Pope's


In the gardens of the Vatican a whitish elephant is buried from the XVI century. It was a gift of the king of Portugal to Pope Leone X (Giovanni de Medici) for his election to Pontiff; there was given him the name of one of the generals of Hannibal: Annone.
When it arrived at Rome, the people it were very much upset because elephants were not seen from the times of Ancient Rome; the elephant was covered with golden brocade and a Moor was leading astride on the neck and an other was guiding him walking in front and since it seemed that the elephant was doing all that that the Moor was ordering the people was convinced that the eleohant could understand 2 languages, portoguese and indians.The Pope was waiting for the arrival of the procession to Castel Sant' Angel, when Annone was arrived it knelt for three times as tribute, then, obeying to a sign of his Indian keeper, breathed the water in trunk with the pail and sprayed not only the Cardinals, but also the crowd of the curious ones.
The chroniclers of the epoch say that it was a very intelligent animal and that with the sprays of his trunk he became a swift protagonist of the holidays and entertainment that were taking place to Rome.

Memorable the joke that the Pope wanted to do with the complicity of the whole court to a poet a little slob of name Barballo to which it promised the coronation in Campifoglio (Capitol Hill) only if he had been reached the place mounted on an elephant. The event recalled a lot of crowd that was making a din and laughing at such a point that reached Bridge Sant'Angelo, Annone did not want any more to go ahead. The popular satire remembers the fact with a sonnet that begins.

Our poet Archi Baraballe
was sitting on the Archibestia,
he looked like a nice captain from afar
but when he approached he did laugh butterflies ...

Of the joke Pope Leone wanted memory to remain making incising on one of the doors of the Sala della Segnatura – that Raffaello was frescoing - the Barballo image "the Archipoet in act of deriving from the Vatican on the back of the elephant" while the Pope looks at him laughing at a window.
The Archibeast was living in a shed made to build purposely in the courtyard of the Belvedere and of him a friend of Raffaello was taking care; the Annone's maintenance was costing 100 ducati every year.
In the summer 1516 it fell ill of angina and no doctor or others called by the Pope's, who was going every day watching over him, was able to cure it. Annone was buried in Horti Vaticani and Raffaello was charged with doing a portrait of him, this portarit was gone lost but luckily Francisco di Ollanda reproduced this opera on his notebook with the touching epigraph. Annone is whichever remained in the memory of Rome; in a fountain of Villa Madama his marmorean head throws water in a basin extracted from a Roman sarcophagus, on the sideo of the door of the Sala della Segnatura there is ‘incision wanted by Pope Leone X', it is possible to recognize Annone also in the ornament of the porch of Palace Baldassini, in road of the Coppelle 35. And at last he is the great elephant in the Garden of the Monsters to Bomarzo.





by M.L. ©ALL RIGHTS RESERVED (Ed 1.0 - 01/04/2016)