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Ignavi.

Good for nothing

XXI.

Ignavi aerdeolam stellarem[1] effingere servi
Et studia, & mores fabula prisca fuit,
Quae famulum Asteria[2] volucris sumpsisse figuram
Est commenta, fides sit penes historicos.
Degener hic veluti qui caevet in are falco est
Dictus ab antiquis vatibus ardelio.[3]

There was an old story to the effect that the little starred heron displays the activities and character of a good-for-nothing slave, a story which alleged that the slave Asterias took the form of a bird. Let the [natural] historians vouch for this. This sort of despicable person is like the kestrel quivering in one place in the air, a person called a fussing busybody by the ancient poets.

Notes:

1. The ‘little starred heron’, which, according to the story, had once been human and a slave, was, because of its sluggish nature, called ocnus, i.e. ‘idleness’. Cf. Emblem 17 ([A56a017]). As it understood human speech, it hated to be called this, or ‘slave’. See Pausanias, 10.29.2; Aelian, De natura animalium 5.36; Aristotle, Historia animalium, 9.18.617.

2. Asterias, ‘starred’, is the Greek name for ardea stellaris, possibly a bittern.

3. ardelio: ‘a fussing busybody’. See Martial, Epigrams, 2.7.7.; 4.78.9: Phaedrus, Fables, 2.5.1. Cf. Erasmus, Adagia, 543, Callipides, on someone who expends a great deal of energy achieving nothing.


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