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In statuam Bacchi.[1]

A statue of Bacchus

LXVII.

Bacche pater quis te mortali lumine novit,
Et docta effinxit hinc[2] tua membra manu?
Praxiteles[3], qui me rapientem Gnosida[4] vidit,
Atque illo pinxit tempore qualis eram.
Cur iuvenis, teneraque etiam lanugine vernat
Barba, queas Pylium cm superare senem?[5]
Muneribus quandoque meis si parcere disces,
Iunior & forti pectore semper eris.
Tympana non manibus, capiti non cornua desunt,[6]
Quos nisi dementeis talia signa decent?
Hoc doceo, nostro qud abusus munere sumit
Cornua, & insanus mollia sistra[7] quatit.
Quid vult ille color membris pen igneus? omen
Absit, an humanis ureris ipse focis?
Cm Semeles de ventre[8] parens me fulmine traxit
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [h1v p114]Ignivomo, infectum pulvere mersit aquis.
Hinc sapit hic, liquidis qui[9] nos bene diluit undis:
Qui non, ardenti torret ab igne iecur.
Sed nunc me doceas qui vis miscerier? & qua
Te sanus tutum prendere lege queat?
Quadrantem addat aquae, calicem sumpsisse falerni[10]
Qui cupit, hoc sumi pocula more iuvat.
Stes citra[11] heminas[12], nam qui procedere tendit
Ultr, alacer, sed mox ebrius, inde furit.
Res dura haec nimium, sunt pendula guttura, dulc
Tu fluis, heu facil commoda nulla cadunt.

Father Bacchus, who set mortal eyes upon you and accordingly fashioned your limbs with skilful hand? - It was Praxiteles, who saw me carrying off the girl from Knossos and represented me as I was at that time. - Why are you young, and why is your beard fresh with tender down, though you can surpass the old man of Pylos? - Because you will always be young and of a brave heart, if you will learn to use my gifts sparingly. - Drums are not absent from your hands, horns are not missing from your head. Whom but the mad do such symbols fit? - I teach men that anyone who abuses my gifts grows horns and in madness shakes unmanly rattles. - What is the meaning of the colour like fire upon your limbs? Perish the thought - do you yourself burn with mortal fires? When my father drew me with his flaming lightning-blast from Semele’s womb, he dipped me in water, all marked with ash as I was. And so that man is wise who dilutes me well with water. He who does not, gets his liver scorched from the raging fire. - But now, tell me how you wish to be mixed, and under what conditions a sensible man can take you in safety. - The man who desires to take a cup of Falernian should add a quadrans of water. It is good when cups are taken like this. You should keep within small measures. Anyone who pushes on further is first merry, soon drunk and then mad. - This is a very hard thing. Our tongues hang out, you flow sweetly down. Alas, nothing good for us comes easy.

COMMENTARIA.

Quidam cm Bacchum Deum vini putatum
egregi fabricatum videret, eius mirabilem for-
mam contemplans eum tandem sic alloquitur:
Dic pater Bacche quis hominum unquam te
vidit & taliter effinxit? Cui Bacchus respon-
dit, Praxiteles (statuarius nobilis praesertim
marmoris felicissimus sculptor, qui etiam Bac-
chum formavit aeneum, de quo Plinius lib. 34.
ca. 8.) me ad unguem talem expressit qualem
me vidit cm raperem Gnosida (id est, Ariad-
ne
, filia Minois Regis Cretae ex Gnoso urbe
quae Theseum iuvenem cm Minotauro de-
vorandus obiiceretur adiuvit & servavit, quam
ille in patriam revertens secum abduxit, sed in
itinere, insula Chio dereliquit & periurus
deservit, Deinde Bacchus eius misertus, eam
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [h2r p115]in uxorem sibi rapuit, & ob amoris memoriam
coronam Capite eius sumptam inter sydera
collocavit ut canit Ovidius lib. 8. Metamorphoseon) quo-
modo Iuvenis videris quasi nunc primum bar-
ba succrescere incipiat, cm tamen aetate supe-
rare possis etiam senem illum Pylium? (id est,
Nestorem sic dictum ab urbe Pylo in qua re-
gnabat. Vixit autem tres hominum aetates, ut
inquit Homerus Odyssea 3. inde proverbium Ne-
storea senecta. in Chiliadibus) Hoc significo, te
quoque iuniorem validioremque futurum, si parc
interdum meis muneribus uteris. Sed quid ma-
nibus Tympanum atque etiam Caput cornu-
tum habes, tum haec non nisi fatuis & insanis
conveniant? His tibi monstro eos qui vino
nostro dono abutuntur, mox inebriatos fero
ciores fieri & cornua assumere, denique libidi-
nos tanquam mente captos tympanis lude-
re (sunt autem tympana luxuriae instrumenta,
teste Iustino lib. 30.) Quid sibi vult inflamma-
tus ille ac pen igneus totius corporis color?
an ne flammis humanis ureris? Cm pater me
igneo fulmine ex ventre matris extraxisset,
mox corpus meum pulvere infectum aquis
immersit, (fabula sic narratur, Iupiter captus
amore Semeles filiae Regis Thebarum, eam
impregnavit, quare Iuno irata ut eam de me-
dio tolleret, assumpsit formam vetulae, eius
nutricis, eamque accedens persuasit, ut experi-
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [h2v p116]retur, an Iupiter ver & ex animo illam ama-
ret, hoc modo, ab eo aliquid magni peteret
nempe velit talis & tantus secum concubere,
qualis & quantus cum Iunone coniuge sua
consuevisset, Semele igitur experiri volens
(ut sunt mulieres illius rei praesertim novae cu
pidissime) illud summopere petiit. Iupiter au
tem Sem ele iuraverat, se quicquid ab eo pete
ret daturum, ideoque ut iusiurandum servaret
illam fulmine flagranti occidit adhuc prae-
gnantem: infantulum autem nondum matu-
rum partui ex ventre eius sumens femori suo
imposuit ac tam diu fovit donec menses ma-
ternos compleret, qui puer Bacchus dictus
fuit primus inventor vini, pulchr Ovidius lib.
3. Metamorphoseon) Idcirco sapienter agitis qui no-
stra munera rect aqua diluit, secus enim ie-
cur in corpore combustum sentiet, sed instruas
me nunc quo pacto aquis rect non bibenti
noceas temperari possis? Qui me ut prosim
assumere cupit infundat vini poculo quar-
tam aquae partem, sic nanque tutus erit, nec bi
bendo ultra heminam procedat, (est autem
hemina mensurae genus dimidium sextarii con-
tinens, fer quod Lusitanis quartiglu dicitur)
nam qui huiusmodi mensuram excedere vo-
let hilaris quidem erit, sed mox ebrius, ratio-
ne denique privatus ac furens: Verm ulti-
ma haec lex nimis dura videtur, sunt enim
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [h3r p117]guttura pendula & tu dulce fluis. Heu quam
difficil quaeque commoda eveniunt.

Notes:

1. For a description of Bacchus, see Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.4ff.

2. Textual variant: quis.

3. Praxiteles. This artist fashioned a famous group of statues in bronze depicting Bacchus/Dionysus with Drunkenness and a Satyr. See Pliny, Natural History 34.19.69.

4. Gnosida, ‘the girl from Knossos’, i.e. Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Knossos, who helped Theseus destroy the Minotaur, was taken by him to Naxos and there abandoned. Dionysus, the young, exotic and beautiful god of wine, rescued her and made her his bride. See Philostratus, Eikones 1.15.

5. Pylium...senem, ‘the old man of Pylos’, i.e. Nestor, king of Pylos, who had outlived three generations of men and was a proverbial example of age.

6. ‘horns are not missing from your head’. The god was represented with ram’s or bull’s horns, symbolising power and virility. Under the influence of wine the weak imagine themselves strong and powerful: see Horace, Odes 3.21.18.

7. mollia sistra, ‘unmanly rattles’. Small percussion instruments (see l.9) were used in the wild rites of Bacchus, mainly celebrated by women.

8. Semeles de ventre, ‘from Semele’s womb’. Semele, pregnant with Bacchus by Jove, desired to see Jove in his full glory, and the ensuing lightning-blast consumed her. Jove rescued the foetus and enclosed it in his thigh until it was full-grown, whereupon he entrusted the baby to the nymphs (i.e. water-spirits) to bring up. For the content of ll.15-18 compare Anthologia graeca 9.331.

9. Textual variant: qui.

10. calicem...Falerni, ‘cup of Falernian’. Wine from Falernum was one of the best in ancient Italy, but here stands for wine in general.

11. Textual variant: intra.

12. As a hemina measures six cyathi and a quadrans (l.21) contains three cyathi, this suggests that the wine should be at two-thirds strength. For diluting wine, see Erasmus, Adagia 1196, Perdidisti vinum infusa aqua. The ancients normally diluted their wine.


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