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Alcaeam veteres caudam dixere Leonis,
Qua stimulante iras concipit ille graves.
Lutea cum surgit bilis, crudescit & atro
Felle dolor, furias excitat indomitas.[1]

The ancients called the lion’s tail alcaea, for under its stimulus he takes on dreadful fury. When the yellow bile rises and his temper grows savage with the black gall, the tail incites his indomitable rage.

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Die alten haben sLöwen Schwantz
Alceam reitz sterck gnennet gantz
Mit welchem so er sich selbs schlecht
Zu grossem zorn er wirt bewegt
Wann die grün gel Gall auffsteign thut
Erneuwerts den schmertzen mit unmuth
Erwegt gantz unberd und ungstumb
Die wütend unsinnigkeit thumb.


1.  The Greek word ἀλκαία was supposedly derived from ἀλκή ‘strength’ (see emblem 4, n.3, [A67a004]). The Etymologicum Magnum, an ancient Greek lexicon, defines ἀλκαία as ‘properly the tail of the lion, because it urges him on to strength (ἀλκή)’. Pliny, Natural History, 8.16.49, describes how the lion’s tail lashes with increasing fury and spurs him on. See also Aelian, De natura animalium, 5.39.

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    • beasts of prey, predatory animals: lion (+ fighting animals; aggressive relations) [25F23(LION)(+51)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • beasts of prey, predatory animals: lion (+ silent means of communication of animal(s): wagging of tail etc.) [25F23(LION)(+491)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • Rage, Anger (+ emblematical representation of concept) [56E2(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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