We owe so much to the great minds of the Renaissance; those men and women who finally cast off the shackles of medieval small-mindedness and ushered in the return of intellectualism and civility. On a grand scale, at least. Personally, these refined gentlemen were still right old dirty bastards, obsessed with their debonair derrieres, flaneur farts, and Socratic starfish.
Being a Renaissance Man means showing an interest in a wide variety of subjects. And during Renaissance Europe, the subject scatology, i.e., poop, was a very popular one. Many of the period's icons were downright captivated with buttholes, and everything that came out (or in) said buttholes. After printing the Bible, Johannes Gutenberg, artist, publisher, and father of the printing press, wanted to make the second printed book ever a laxative calendar for when to take the best shits. Meanwhile, inventor and everything else-er Leonardo da Vinci dedicated several pages sketching the anus' glorious ability to morph from flower to fortress while clenching -- all while his clever apprentice was doodling sentient dicks marching into a sizeable hairy butthole in the margins.
But the king of crap was, no doubt, Martin Luther. According to Danielle Mead Skjelver of Maryland University, Luther was obsessed with scatology, once declaring that the act of pooping, "Felt that I was altogether born again, and had entered Paradise itself." The patron saint of toilet humor relished making his religiosity as vulgar as possible with infamous quotes like: "I resist the devil, and often it is with a fart that I chase him away," and, "I'm like a ripe stool, and the world's like a gigantic anus, and so we're about to let go of each other," whispered to his wife on his deathbed.
Which isn't really the image most school children are left with after being thought about Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the church door, but that's only because teachers leave out the fact that he did it under the statue of a rabbi french kissing a pig's butthole. Or the fact that he later denounced the Roman Catholic church by called indulgences "an utter shitting," and Pope Paul III a "little ass-pope" who licks the devil's butthole and farts so loud that "it is a wonder that it did not tear his hole and belly apart" -- in an open letter addressed to said Pope.
So why were these Renaissance Men so obsessed with shit talk? To talk shit, it seems. Mead Skjelver posits that mentioning poop all the time was their way of seeming tough and bad-ass like old gritty warriors. This is backed up by the fact that men like Luther often would collect the pamphlets of his detractors, wipe his ass with them and then mail them back. It was a practice they had borrowed from old nobility who'd often take a noble deuce on their enemy's coat of arms and then parade the defiled mess into battle.
It's no surprise that the Renaissance, as the name implies, had some teething issues while coming out of the culture-vacuum that was the Middle Ages, where the height of comedy was to see someone die in a freak manure accident. Having such a potty-mouthed mythical figures shows that they were people of their time first, legendary figures only much later. Fortunately, all those butthole obsessions quickly went away at the dawn of the Age of Enlightenment, when rational figures like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote Romantic poems to his cousin/lover like:
Keep well, my love.
Into your mouth your arse you'll shove.
I wish you good night, my dear,
But first shit in your bed and make it burst.
Oh, dear. Of course, that was just in his private life. In Mozart's Art, he only dedicated himself to enlightened music, like the beautiful sounding Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schön sauber, which translates to … ah, shit.
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Top Image: Artist Unknown