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Cavendum meretricibus.

Beware of whores

XVI.

Sole satae Circes tam magna potentia fertur,
Verterit ut multos in nova monstra viros.
Testis equus domitor Picus,[1] tum Scylla biformis,[2]
Atque Ithaci postquam vina bibere sues.[3]
Indicat illustri meretricem nomine Circe, [4]
Et rationem animi perdere, quisquis amat.

So great, we are told, was the power of Circe, daughter of the Sun, that she turned many persons into new monstrous shapes. A witness to this is Picus, tamer of horses, and Scylla with her double form, and the Ithacans who became pigs after drinking the wine. Circe with her famous name indicates a whore and shows that any man who loves such a one loses his reason.

Notes:

1. Picus, an Italian king, a breeder of horses, turned into a woodpecker by Circe. See Ovid, Metamorphoses, 14.320ff.

2. Scylla was transformed into a figure that was half girl, half barking dogs. See Ovid, Metamorphoses, 14.51ff. Cf. Emblem 68 ([A50a068]).

3. Ithacans: See Homer, Odyssey, 10.229ff. for the story of Ulysses’ sailors (from the island of Ithaca), who were turned into pigs by Circe with a magic potion of wine.

4. Indicat...meretricem: ‘indicates a whore’. See Anthologia Graeca, 10.50 for this rationalisation of the Circe story.


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