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In adulari nescientem.

Unable to flatter

Scire cupis dominos toties cur Thessalis ora[1]
Mutet, & ut varios quaerat habere duces.
Nescit adulari, cuiquamve obtrudere palpum,[2]
Regia quem morem principis omnis habet.
Sed veluti ingenuus sonipes, dorso excutit omnem,
Qui moderari ipsum nesciat Hippocomon.[3]
Nec saevire tamen domino fas, ultio sola est,
Dura ferum ut iubeat ferre lupata magis.[4]

Do you want to know why the land of Thessaly changes its overlords so often, how it comes about that it looks for different leaders? - It does not know how to flatter, or how to stroke anyone the right way, the behaviour every prince’s court displays. Like a noble stallion, it throws from its back every horseman who does not know how to control it. Nor may the master treat the horse savagely: his only course of action is to make the creature wear a harsher bit with jagged teeth.

Notes:

1. áIn later editions, Thessaly is replaced with Insubris ora, ‘land of the Insubres’, i.e. the plain of Milan, Alciato’s home area. Various Gallic tribes, including the Insubres, inhabited this region in the Classical period. Cf. [A50a002], and see Alciato, Historia Mediolanensis col.6.

2. á‘stroke...the right way’. See Erasmus, Adagia 2527, Obtrudere palpum.

3. á‘horseman, groom’. See Plato, Politicus 261d for the image of the ruler as supervisor of a stud of horses.

4. á‘a harsher bit with jagged teeth’. A jagged-toothed bit was used on intractable horses, and also in breaking-in. See Erasmus, Parabolae p.136: the horse despises a smooth bit.


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  • family of a ruler, and court [44B15] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Flattery; 'Adulatione' (Ripa) [57AA6121] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • geographical names of countries, regions, mountains, rivers, etc. (names of cities and villages excepted) (with NAME) [61D(THESSALY)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Praise, Approbation, Approval; 'Lode' (Ripa) [57B1] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Revenge, Requital, Retaliation; 'Vendetta' (Ripa) [57AA741] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Sincerity; 'PuritÓ et SinceritÓ d'animo', 'SinceritÓ' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57A612(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Strength, Power; 'Fortezza', 'Fortezza d'Animo e di corpo', 'Fortezza del corpo congiunta con la generositÓ dell'animo', 'Fortezza & valore del corpo congiunto con la prudenza & virt¨ del animo', 'Forza' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54A7(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • virtues of the ruler [44B10] Search | Browse Iconclass

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