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IN SIMULACRUM SPEI.

A picture of hope

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Quae dea tam laeto suspectans sydera vultu,
Cuius penniculis reddita imago fuit?
Elpidii[1] fecêre manus, ego nominor illa,
Quae miseris promptam spes bona praestat opem.
Cur viridis tibi Palla? quòd omnia me duce vernent,
Quid manibus mortis tela[2] refracta geris.
Quod vivos sperare decet, praecido sepultis,
Cur in dolioli tegmine pigra sedes.
Sola domi mansi volitantibus undique noxis,
Ascraei[3] ut docuit musa verenda senis.
Quae tibi adest volucris? cornix fidissimus oscen,[4]
Est bene cum nequeat dicere dicit erit.
Qui comites? bonus eventus[5], praecepsve cupido,
Qui praeeunt, vigilum somnia vana vocant.
Quae tibi iuncta astat, scelerum Rhamnusia[6] vindex,
Scilicet ut speres nil nisi quod liceat.[7]

What goddess is this, looking up to the stars with face so glad? By whose brush was this image depicted? - The hands of Elpidius made me. I am called Good Hope, the one who brings ready aid to the wretched. - Why is your garment green? - Because everything will spring green when I lead the way. - Why do you hold Death’s blunt arrows in your hands? - The hopes that the living may have, I cut short for the buried. - Why do you sit idle on the cover of a jar? - I alone stayed behind at home when evils fluttered all around, as the revered muse of the old poet of Ascra has told you. - What bird is at your side? - A crow, the faithful prophet. When it cannot say, ‘All’s well’, it says, ‘All shall be well’. - Who are your companions? - Happy Ending and Eager Desire. - Who go before you? - They call them the idle dreams of those who are awake. - Who stands close beside you? - Rhamnusia, the avenger of crimes, to make sure that you hope for nothing but what is allowed.

Notes:

1.  Elpidius is an invented name derived from Greek elpis, ‘hope’.

2.  For Death’s arrows cf. [A34a066] .

3.  ‘the old poet of Ascra’, i.e. Hesiod. See Hesiod, Opera et dies 90ff. for the story of Pandora’s box or jar.

4.  ‘a crow, the faithful prophet’. The crow was a bird of prophecy and an emblem of hope. Its caw was interpreted as cras, cras, ‘tomorrow, tomorrow’. Cf. the proverb, Quod hodie non est, cras erit: ‘What is not today shall be tomorrow.’

5.  Bonus Eventus or Bonne Aventure, cf. Evento Buono in Ripa, Iconologia; also called ‘Success’ or ‘Happy Ending’.

6.  Rhamnusia, i.e. Nemesis, who had a shrine at Rhamnus in Attica.

7.  The woodcut is also used for Illicitum non sperandum [A31a013].


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