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Custodiendas virgines.

Girls must be guarded

XLII.

Vera haec effigies[1] innuptae est Palladis, eius
Hic Draco, qui dominae constitit ante pedes.
Cur divae comes hoc animal? custodia rerum
Huic data, sic lucos sacraque templa colit.[2]
Innuptas opus est cura asservare puellas
Pervigili, laqueos undique tendit amor.[3]

This is the true image of virgin Pallas. Her snake is here, positioned at his mistress’s feet. Why does this creature accompany the goddess? The task of guarding things was entrusted to it, and so it looks after groves and sacred temples. It is necessary to guard unmarried girls with ever-watchful care - Love lays his snares on every side.

COMMENTARIA.

Pallas aliàs Minerva filia Iovis sine Ma-
tre, ex cerebro nanque eius nata fingitur, Dea
sapientiae & artium, virgo & casta habetur cu
ius imagini Draco, horribile animal acutissi-
mi omnium ferè animantium visus, ante pe-
des tanquam diligens custos sibi semper ad-
stans pingitur, ut illa securè tam sylvas quàm
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [e6r p75]templa inhabitare, hoc est & domi & foris
tuta esse possit. Sic etiam virgines, innuptaeque
puellae quinimo & nuptae arctissimè custo-
diri debent. insidiatur enim amor immo-
dum, tanquàm canis venaticus avidè inhians
ferae, loca perlustrat singula. Pariter & foemi-
nam proclivem esse vel sacra pagina docet:
In filia, inquit non avertente se firma custo-
diam ne inventa occasione abutatur se: ficut
enim viator sitiens ad fontem os aperiet &
ab omni aqua proxima bibat donec deficiat.
Ecclesiasticus capite 26. rectè insuper admonet
quod vulgò dicitur, Mulier pudica ne sola sit
usquam. Neque enim Deae (si Poëtis creditur)
sibi pepercere, nec ipsi Dii tantum prospi-
cere unquam potuere, quin amoris technis
delusi fuerint, haud igitur frustra Proper-
tius
quaerit:

Dic mihi quis potuit lectum servare pudicum.
Quae Dea cum solo vivere sola Deo.

Notes:

1.  ‘Image of virgin Pallas’. Pallas Athene, virgin goddess and protectress of the city of Athens, represented with helmet, spear and aegis. Pallas Athene was equated with Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom. Pausanias, Periegesis 1.24.7 mentions such a statue with a snake.

2.  See Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.20.3: ‘the snake with its keen and ever-watchful sight has assigned to it the custodianship of temples, shrines, oracles and treasures.’ Ancient Greek holy sites often housed a snake.

3.  ‘Love lays his snares on every side’ - a proverbial saying.


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  • 'Verginit�' (Ripa) [31A72110] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Protection; 'Custodia', 'Difesa contra nimici, malefici & venefici', 'Difesa contra pericoli', 'Riparo da i tradimenti' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54E42(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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