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Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [N4v p200]

Dicta septem sapientum.[1]

Sayings of the Seven Sages

Haec habeas: septem Sapientum effingere dicta,
Atque ea picturis qui celebrare velis.
Optimus in rebus modus est (Cleobulus ut inquit,)
Hoc trutinae examen, sive libella docet.
Noscere se Chilon Spartanus quenque iubebat.
Hoc specula in manibus, vitraque sumpta dabunt.
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [N5r p201]Quod Periander ait, fraena adde Corinthius irae,
Pulegium[2] admotum naribus efficiet.
Pittacus at ne quid (dixit) nimis. haec eadem aiunt,
Contracto qui gith[3] ore liquefaciunt.
Respexisse Solon finem iubet.[4] ultimus agris,
Terminus[5], haud magno cesserit ipse Iovi.
Heu qum vera Bias, Est copia magna malorum:
Musmoni insideat effice sardus eques.[6]
Ne praes esto[7] (Thales dixit) sic illita visco
In laqueos sociam parra, meropsque trahit.

If you wish to represent the sayings of the Seven Sages and celebrate them in picture, you may have the following suggestions. - ‘Moderation is best’, as Cleobulus said. This the balance teaches or the plumbline. - Chilon of Sparta bade each man know himself. A mirror or glass taken in the hand will represent this. - The saying of Periander of Corinth, ‘Rein in your wrath’, pennyroyal held to the nostrils will show. - Pittacus said, ‘Nothing in excess’. The same thing is said by those who suck cassia with wry mouth. - Solon bids us look to the end. Set at the field end is Terminus, who would not yield to mighty Jove. - How truly did Bias say, ‘There is great store of evil men’. Make a Sardinian rider sit upon a wild sheep. - ‘Do not stand surety’, said Thales. Even so, smeared with bird-lime, the lapwing or bee-eater draws its fellow-bird into the snare.

Notes:

1. The list of the Seven Sages of the ancient Greek world was not fixed: various selections were made from up to seventeen names (though this one is the most common). Their utterances were variously reported and attributed now to one, now to the other. See Diogenes Laertius, De Clarorum philosophorum vitis, 1.40-42. The list here is derived from Anthologia Graeca, 9.366.

2. pulegium, ‘pennyroyal’. See Emblem 16, line 4 ([A50a016]).

3. gith, ‘cassia’ or ‘senna’. See Pliny, Natural History, 20.71.182ff. for its medicinal and culinary uses. It is so bitter that a little goes a long way.

4. Respexisse finem, ‘look to the end’, i.e.only when his life is over can a man be judged to have been happy. See the story of Solon and Croesus in Plutarch, Solon, 27-8.

5. Terminus, see Emblem 157 ([A50a157]).

6. Musmoni insideat effice Sardus eques, ‘make a Sardinian rider sit upon a wild sheep’, i.e. a worthless rider on a worthless beast. Cf. Erasmus, Adagia, 505 (Sardi venales, ‘Sardinians for sale’).

7. Ne praes esto, ‘Do not stand surety’. See Erasmus, Adagia, 597 (Sponde, noxa praesto est, ‘Stand surety and disaster is at hand’).


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  • (story of) Jupiter (Zeus) [92B1] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Badness (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54AA5(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Betrayal (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57AA6142(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • End; 'Fine' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [51FF5(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Europeans (with NAME) [32B311(SARDINIANS)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Mortality, Extinction of Life (+ emblematical representation of conc)ept) [58BB1(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Self-control; 'Dominio di se stesso' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [53B3(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Self-knowledge (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52A53(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Temperance, Moderation; 'Misura' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54A43(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • the seven wise men of Greece: Bias, Chilon, Cleobulus, Periander (alternatively Myson), Pittacus, Solon, Thales (+ in allegorical or symbolic frame or setting; with allegorical or symbolic accessories) [98B(SEVEN SAGES)(+1)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • tools and machines ~ building (with NAME) [47G6(PLUMB-LINE)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Wisdom; 'Sapienza', 'Sapienza humana', 'Sapienza vera' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52A51(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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