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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [P2v p228]

Tumulus Ioannis Galeacii Vicecomitis, pri-
mi Ducis Mediolani.[1]

The tomb of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, first Duke of Milan

CIII.

Pro tumulo pone Italiam, pone arma Ducesque,[2]
Et mare, quod geminos mugit adusque sinus.
Adde his barbariem[3] conantem irrumpere frustrą,
Et mercede emptas in fera bella manus.
Anguiger ast[4] summo sistens in culmine dicat:
Quis parvis magnum me super imposuit?

Instead of the tomb, put Italy, put weapons and leaders, and the sea which roars right up to the twin curving coasts. Add to these the barbarian host, trying in vain to burst in, and forces hired with money for savage wars. But the one holding a snake, standing on the roof of the tomb, may well say: Who has put me, great as I am, on top of little things?

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [P3r p229]

Das grab des thewern helden Johan-
sen Galeatz
, des ersten Hertzogen
zu Mayland.

CIII.

Setz fur ein grab das gantz Welschland,
Das under und das ober meer,
Die Fursten mit gewerter hand,
Darzu manch frembd besteltes her,
Und auff diß alls zu sonder ehr
Setz Hertzog Johans, der noch wiert
Sagen: Wer hat mich grossen her
Auff dise kleyn herschafft gfiert.

Notes:

1.  Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402), created first Duke of Milan in 1395. Noted for his ruthlessness, he united most of the Po valley under the rule of Milan for the first time, defeated Bologna, and set his sights on Florence until his death saved that city.

2.  This epigram is based on Anthologia graeca 7.73 (by Geminos, but wrongly attributed to Germanicus in the sixteenth century). The Greek epigram is concerned with what would be a worthy tomb for the Greek hero Themistocles, who was buried in a very simple grave. It suggests one with representations of Salamis and the Persians, recalling the hero’s most famous exploit, the victory over the Persians at the battle of Salamis. Likewise, memorials of Visconti’s achievements are proposed here.

3.  ‘the barbarian host’, i.e. the ‘barbarian’ French, who were induced to become involved in the Milan/Florence conflict and were defeated by Visconti. The French are mentioned specifically in the version of this poem found in Selecta epigrammata p.254, where 1.4 reads: Gallus ut et Theuton Alpe et Hyberus aquis, ‘like the Gaul and the Teuton via the Alps and the Spaniard via the sea’. In Alciato’s day, the French continued to overrun the Italian peninsula and attempt to dictate its internal affairs.

4.  This is presumably a figure of the Duke of Milan, whose arms included a snake; see [A42b001]. In the accompanying woodcut, we have written on a snaking ribbon held by a figure the Greek version (taken from the original Greek epigram) of the Latin words quoted in l.6.


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