The rhinoceros we chose as our image symbolizes the crossroads of Portuguese-speaking cultures that inspire GEOGRAPHIA. It’s a drawing by Albrecht Dürer of the animal (called Ulysses) which was given by an Indian sultan to King Dom Manuel I, which arrived in Lisbon in 1515. No rhinoceros had been seen in Europe since the Roman Era.
To put to the test Pliny the elder’s description of a natural animosity between the rhinoceros and the elephant, and arranged a fight to take place between the recent arrival and one of his elephants on June 3rd 1515. The rhinoceros advanced slowly and deliberately towards its foe; the elephant, unaccustomed to the noisy crowd that turned out to witness the spectacle, fled the field in panic before a single blow was struck.
The king despatched the animal as a gift to Pope Leo X in Rome. The King was keen to curry favour with the Pope, to maintain the papal grants of exclusive possession to the new lands that his naval forces had been exploring in the Far East. The rhinoceros never arrived, as it drowned when the ship sank off the coast of Italy. One account states that its carcase was retrieved and later stuffed with straw to be sent to the Pope once again.