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IN OCCASIONEM.

Opportunity.

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Lysippi[1] hoc opus est, Sicyon[2] cui patria, tu quis?[3]
Cuncta domans capti temporis articulus
Cur pinnis[4] stas, usque rector,[5] talaria plantis
Cur retines? passim me levis aura rapit
In dextra est tenuis dic unde novacula? acutum
Omni acie hoc signum me magis esse docet
Cur in fronte coma occurrens ut prendar, at heus tu
Dic cur pars calva est posterior capitis
Me semel alipedem si quis permittat abire.
Ne possim apprenso crine deinde rapi[6]
Tali opifex nos arte tui causa, aedidit hospes
Utque omnes moneam pergula aperta tenet.

This image is the work of Lysippus, whose home was Sicyon. - Who are you? - I am the moment of seized opportunity that governs all. - Why do you stand on points? - I am always a leader. - Why do you have winged sandals on your feet? - The fickle breeze bears me in all directions. - Tell us, what is the reason for the sharp razor in your right hand? - This sign indicates that I am keener than any cutting edge. - Why is there a lock of hair on your brow? - So that I may be seized as I run towards you. - But come, tell us now, why ever is the back of your head bald? - So that if any person once lets me depart on my winged feet, I may not thereafter be caught by having my hair seized. It was for your sake, stranger, that the craftsman produced me with such art, and, so that I should warn all, it is an open portico that holds me.

Notes:

1.  Greek sculptor, 4th century BC.

2.  A town west of Corinth.

3.  This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 16.275. See also Erasmus, Adagia 670, Nosce tempus, where Erasmus too gives a verse translation of the Greek epigram.

4.  ‘on points’. Alciato here agrees with Erasmus, who similarly translates the phrase ep’ akra, ‘on tiptoe’, in the Greek original. Thomas More translates more obviously with summis digitis. See Selecta epigrammata (Cornarius, ed.) p. 372ff.

5.  Later editions have rotor so that usque rotor means ‘I am always turning’ which fits the sense well.

6.  Later editions read ...apprenso postmodo crine capi.


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