Slideshow of images produced by Midjourney Ai with a prompt to generate images of Sandro Botticelli asd a ninja turtle.

Botticelli should be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!

by | Dec 11, 2023

Sandro Botticelli got screwed! When Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, the creators of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, were choosing names for their characters, they couldn’t come up with authentic sounding Japanese names. So they campily chose four Italian Renaissance masters from Laird’s copy of “History of Art” by H.W. Janson.

I grew up in the 80s and 90s. I didn’t know anything about Italian Renaissance artists but suddenly I knew the names Raphael, Leonardo, Michaelangelo and Donatello. I knew from the cartoon origin story that these were names of real Italian artists in history. But being a kid, I didn’t know much more than that. As I grew up, I came to recognize why these four were considered among the Italian Renaissance Masters.

This summer, I went to the theater to catch the new Ninja Turtles movie. Now that I’m a cynical adult, I found myself munching on popcorn, shaking my head thinking, “Sandro Botticelli got screwed!” I thought about standing up and trying to get the theater to pause the movie so I could go on a tirade. But instead, I decided to save it for a blogpost!

By skipping over Botticelli, an entire generation or two were not exposed to one of the great Italian Renaissance masters from a pop culture source that initiated a lot of people into some basic knowledge of that period.

Look, I’m not trying to argue that we boot a Ninja Turtle off the team. If you’ve read my book, The Grand Communication or seen any of my presentations, you know that each of their namesakes feature prominently in discussing the Renaissance in connection with the rise of Hermeticism. Raphael’s The School of Athens is a fixture for opening our discussions on Greek philosophy. Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man begins our conversation about geometry in our relationship with nature. Donatello’s sculpture David illustrates the power of the Medici from censorship during the dangerous Inquisition period. And Michaelangelo’s fresco of The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel marks our look at the notion of communion with the Divine. The Ninja Turtles are a great team.

Gallery of: Raphael’s The School of Athens,  Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man, Donatello’s sculpture David,  and Michaelangelo’s fresco of The Creation of Adam in the Sistine Chapel.

But what about our boy Sandro!

The Birth of Venus alone should get him an audition. Add in a couple of masterpieces like Primavera and Venus and Mars and you’d think this artist is a shoe-in for Ninja Turtle status.

Yet somehow Botticelli got screwed.

I’m arguing that the Ninja Turtles need to add a new member to the team!

I asked a friend who is a martial artist and a fellow mason what weapon a proposed 5th Ninja Turtle should possess. Without missing a beat, he responded, “Kusarigama, easy. None of them have a long chain weapon. It’s obvious.”

I had to look it up. But I think our boy Sandro is going to be a badass Ninja Turtle!

Written by Nathan Schick

Nate Schick joined Freemasonry in 2017. He was awarded the Master Lecturer Award in 2022 and the Master Ritualist Award in 2023. He is a member of Glendale Lodge #23 in Glendale, AZ. He has given numerous talks on Masonic history and symbolism.  He is a faculty member in the School of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies at Arizona State University. He is the author of book "The Grand Communication."