The Pope’s Elephant by Silvio A. Bedini

October 8th, 2011 | Posted in Books

In early 16th century Rome, among the Pope’s great joys was his menagerie of exotic animals, and the prize of his collection was an Indian elephant named Hanno, presented to him by the King of Portugal. The Pope’s Elephant by Silvio A. Bedini, historian emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution, describes Hanno’s powerful effect on the Papal Court and on the Roman citizenry. For Romans, Hanno became the preeminent symbol of the alluring Orient; for Pope Leo’s detractors, the elephant became a symbol of Roman corruption. –Michael Joseph Gross