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Custodiendas virgines.

Girls must be guarded

Emblema xxii.

Vera haec effigies[1] innuptae est Palladis: eius
Hic Draco, qui dominae constitit ante pedes.
Cur Divae comes hoc animal? custodia rerum
Huic data: sic lucos, sacráque templa colit.[2]
Innuptas opus est cura asservare puellas
Pervigili. laqueos undique tendit amor.[3]

This is the true image of virgin Pallas. Her snake is here, positioned at his mistress’ feet. Why does this creature accompany the goddess? The task of guarding things was entrusted to it, and so it looks after groves and sacred temples. It is necessary to guard unmarried girls with ever-watchful care - Love lays his snares on every side.

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PHidias, clarissimi nominis statuarius Palladis
simulachro draconem peruigilem apposuit, quem
pedibus Dea premeret. quo significabat virgines &
puellas (fuit autem Pallas virginitatis numen) per-
vigili cura studióque servandas: ubique enim &
undique amor grassatur: & eo sexu nihil imbecil-
lius aut fragilius.

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Qu’il fault garder soigneusement les filles.

C’Est icy de Pallas la vraye pourtraiture,
Qui de virginité a principale cure:
Son dracon à ses pieds y est depeint aussi.
Mais pourquoy le faict on à la Deesse ainsi
Assister de si pres? C’est que pres il regarde,
Et que des lieux sacrez on luy donne la garde:
Cela nous demontrant qu’il fault soigneusement
Sur filles avoir l’oeil, & qui sont mesmement
Prestes à marier: car la chose est bien seure
Qu’amour qui tend ses lacs, les assault à toute heure.

PHidias, excellent statuaire, mit pres du
simulachre de Pallas un dragon tous-
jours veillant, que la Deesse pressoit des
pieds: par cecy voulant signifier que les jeu-
nes filles à marier (aussi a esté Pallas, Deesse
de la virginité) doivent estre fort soigneu-
sement gardees. Car tousjours & par tout l’a-
mour se fourre: & n’y rien plus imbecille
ou fragile qu’est ce sexe.

Notes:

1.  ‘Image of virgin Pallas’. Pallas Athene, virgin goddess and protectress of the city of Athens, represented with helmet, spear and aegis. Pallas Athene was equated with Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom. Pausanias, Periegesis 1.24.7 mentions such a statue with a snake.

2.  See Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.20.3: ‘the snake with its keen and ever-watchful sight has assigned to it the custodianship of temples, shrines, oracles and treasures.’ Ancient Greek holy sites often housed a snake.

3.  ‘Love lays his snares on every side’ - a proverbial saying.


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