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In illaudata laudantes.

Praising the wrong things

XXXVI.

Ingentes Galatm semermi milite turmas.
Spem praeter trepidus fuderat Antiochus.[1]
Lucarum cm saeva boum vis,[2] dira proboscis,
Tum primm[3] hostiles corripuisset equos.
Ergo trophaea locans Elephantis imagine pinxit,
Insuper & sociis occideramus ait.
Bellua servasset ni nos foedissima barrus:
Ut superasse iuvat, sic superasse pudet.

Antiochus, in spite of his fears, had beyond all expectation routed the huge squadrons of Galatians with his light-armed troops, when the savage might of elephants, their raging and their trunks, for the first time ever fell upon the enemy’s cavalry. So when he set up the trophy, he adorned it with the picture of an elephant and furthermore said to his troops: “We would have fallen, if this revolting beast, the elephant, had not preserved us. Pleasing as it is to conquer, it is galling to conquer like this”.

COMMENTARIA.

Hoc Emblema sumptum est ex historia quae
habetur apud Clearchum Solensem,[4] qui de
varia historia non minus eleganter qum eru-
dit scripsit, in lib. 12 cap. 29. cuius haec sunt
verba: Antiochus Syriae Rex, cm Galatas
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [d8v p64]expugnare statuisset, copiosum exercitum col
legit tam ex militibus qum Elephantibus
quibus tum temporis periculosis in bellis
utebantur. Galatae ubi primm hostes semiar-
matos conspexere, victoriam sperantes non
dubitarunt cum Antiocho congredi, inito
certamine fer actum erat de Antiocho, nisi
de-repente Elephanti quos secum solitus erat
in praelium proferre, hostium Galatarum
equos corripuissent ac in fugam vertissent,
quo insperato auxilio Antiochus Galatas
profligavit ac penitus subegit: quare cm de
more trophaeum, id est victoriae signa locaret
Elephantis pinxit imaginem, Elephantibus po-
tius qum sibi victoriam tribuens: haec ille.
Barrum Nonius Marcellus Elephantem dicit,
barrire enim proprium esse Elephantorum,
inquit M. Varro, quamvis Vegetius de re mi-
litari dicat barritum etiam esse clamorem Ro-
manorum
militum cm acies utraeque se iun-
xerint, Elephantos autem primum vidit Italia
Pyrrhi Epirotarum Regis bello, in Lucanis.
testis est Pomponius Letus.[5] Sunt autem Lu-
cani populi inter Calabros & Apulos siti, &
Sabinis orti: & propterea Elephantos Boves
Lucas appellant, qud maximam ea tempesta-
te quadrupedem quam haberent Bovem vo-
carent, & uti dictum, primm in Lucania Ele-
phantum vidissent. Galatum pro Galatarum
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [e1r p65]per syncopem dicit, sunt autem Galatae populi,
qui Galaciam habitant, quae Regio minoris
Asie
est. Gallae olim ex Europa venientes haec
habitarunt regionem, unde Gallogrecia dicta
est. Autor est Fenestella.[6] Ad Gallatas scripsit
divus Paulus, maxima Ecclesiae tuba. Antio-
chus itaque militibus suis de victoria exultan-
tibus, perieramus, inquit, nisi nos Elephanti
beluae foedissimae servassent, quantum igitur
nos vicisse laetamur, tantum nos ignominio-
sae victoriae pudeat. Proboscis in Elephantos
manus dicitur qud ea tanquam manu uta-
tur. Autor est Pompeius.

Notes:

1. For this incident, see Lucian, Zeuxis sive Antiochus 8-11. In 276 BC Antiochus I won against fearful odds by directing his sixteen elephants against the Galatian horsemen and scythed chariots. Not only did the horses turn in panic and cause chaos among their own infantry, but the elephants came on behind, tossing, goring and trampling. Although he had won an overwhelming victory, Antiochus did not consider it a matter for congratulation.

2. ‘Might of elephants’, lit. ‘might of Lucanian cattle’, supposedly so called by the Romans because they first saw these strange beasts in Lucania in south Italy, when King Pyrrhus of Epirus made use of them in his defeat of the Romans at the battle of Heraclea in 280 BC. See Pliny, Natural History 8.6.16.

3. ‘For the first time ever’. The Galatians, Celtic tribes who had invaded Asia Minor, had never seen elephants before. Elephants had often been used in battle on other occasions.

4. Clearchus of Soli (in Cyprus), pupil of Aristotle, wrote on eastern philosophies and religions, among other things.

5. Giulio Pomponio Leto (1425-98), humanist, professor of eloquence at Rome, founded a Greek and Latin academy, but got in trouble for being too secular (or pagan), wrote commentaries on Classical law, history and literature.

6. Fenestella, very popular Roman historian (d. c. 20 AD).


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