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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [i8v p144]

In adulatores.

Flatterers

LXXXVIII.

Semper hiat, semper tenuem qua vescitur auram,
Reciprocat chamaeleon[1],
Et mutat faciem, varios sumitque colores,
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [k1r p145]Praeter rubrum vel candidum:[2]
Sic & adulator populari vescitur aurae,[3]
Hiansque cuncta devorat,
Et solłm mores imitatur principis atros:
Albi & pudici nescius.

The Chameleon is always breathing in and out with open mouth the bodiless air on which it feeds; it changes its appearance and takes on various colours, except for red and white. - Even so the flatterer feeds on the wind of popular approval and gulps down all with open mouth. He imitates only the black features of the prince, knowing nothing of the white and pure.

COMMENTARIA.

Chamaeleon animal est frequens in India,
semper hians & aperto ore aėrem, quo solo
vivit & nutritur, attrahens & respirans, saepe
facillimeque in varios colores convertitur ex-
cepto rubro & albo, de quo Aristoteles lib. 2.
de natura animal. Plinius lib. 8. cap. 33. & Demo-
critus
in lib. de potestate Camaeleontis. Ovidius
quoque lib. 15. Metamorphoseon.

Id quoque quod ventis animal nutritur & aura,
Protinus assimulat, tetigit quoscunque colores.

Sic etiam adulator alitur & sustentatur fama
solummodo populi, inhiansque cuncta devo-
rat, imitatur facīllimč superioris sui nigros &
perversos mores, ab albis verņ & ru-
bris, id est, sine labe puris at-
que pudicis, totus
alienus est.

Notes:

1.  This creature was supposed to feed only on air, keeping its mouth wide open to suck it in. See Pliny, Natural History 8.51.122. For the chameleon cf. Erasmus, Parabolae pp.144, 241, 252.

2.  ‘except for red and white’. See Pliny, ib.

3.  ‘the wind of popular approval’. This is a common metaphor in Latin, e.g. Horace, Odes 3.2.20, ‘at the behest of the wind of popular approval.’


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