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Biology, Love, Mind, Strange

What I Learned From A Three Legged Sicilian

If you lived in a world where everyone had one arm, how would you cope with two?

That brilliant quote is attributed to Francesco Lentini, a circus performer billed as the three legged man. Francesco “Frank” Lentini was born in Rosolini, Sicily, Italy. He died in 1966, although his exact age is reported differently in different places as he has three reported birthdays: July 8, 1884, July 8, 1885 or May 18, 1889

His family in Sicily is reported to have considered his condition a disgrace:

… for the Lentini family it was a disgrace: “A shame – remember Pietro – to hide, something that should not be talked about at home.”


Should anyone feel shame for something he or she did not choose, for a biological reality? No. People are stupid and cruel. If you believe in a creator, any shame is on the artist, not on any of His works of art. If you follow science, a person’s biology comes from self-organizing systems driven by patterns of subatomic forces and quantum flux. Shame is a mind control weapon social animals use to guide herd behavior for real or imagined benefit.

That’s my definition. The dictionary says shame is a “painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.”

If you did not personally do anything wrong, don’t feel shame. If you made the best choices you could, given limited options in a world of idiots who assumed the worst, do not feel shame. If you did mess up in any way, forgive yourself and do the best you can day to day, do not feel shame. If you keep making the same mistake, is it really a mistake? Perhaps not. Sort it out and keep trying to learn from your experiences and do not feel shame.

Ignore hate, blow it off, it’s a pervasive sickness of the human mind. Be your unique self with joy, humor and love.

Born in Rosolini, Sicily, into a family of twelve children (seven sisters and five brothers), he became known for having three legs, four feet and two sets of genitals.

Lentini was born with a parasitic twin. The twin was attached to Lentini’s body at the base of his spine and consisted of a pelvis bone, a rudimentary set of male genitalia and a full-sized leg extending from the right side of Lentini’s hip, with a small foot protruding from its knee.

At the age of eight, Lentini’s family moved to the United States. Lentini then entered the sideshow business as The Great Lentini, joining the Ringling Brothers Circus act. He gained US citizenship at the age of 30. His career spanned over forty years and he worked with every major circus and sideshow including Barnum and Bailey and Buffalo Bill‘s Wild West Show. Lentini was so respected among his peers that he was often called “The King”.

In his youth, Lentini used his extraordinary third leg to kick a football across the stage, hence his show name, the Three-Legged Football Player. By the time he was six, Lentini’s normal legs were slightly different in length—one was 39 inches, the other 38 inches—but the third leg was only 36 inches, and the foot on it was clubbed. Even more as an adult, while his extra leg was several inches shorter than the others, his primary legs were also two different lengths. He was heard to complain that even with three legs, he still didn’t have a pair. He married Theresa Murray, three years younger than he, and they had four children: Josephine, Natale, Frank and James. Frank Lentini died of lung failure in Jacksonville, Florida, on September 22, 1966, at the age of 82.


Thank you, Francisco, for the reminder to free the mind. The idea that you are “coping” with being who you are carries a needless value judgment of unworthiness imposed from without. Throw off those chains.


About Xeno

E pluribus unum.


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