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Sapientia humana stultitia est
apud Deum.[1]

The Wisdom of Man is folly to God

Emblema v.

Quid dicam? quonam hoc compellem[2] nomine monstrum
Biforme, quod non est homo, nec est draco?[3]
Sed sine vir pedibus, summis sine partibus anguis,
Vir anguipes dici, & homiceps anguis potest.
Anguen pedit homo, hominem eructavit & anguis:
Nec finis hominis est, initium nec est ferae.
Sic olim Cecrops[4] doctis regnavit Athenis:
Sic & gigantesterra mater protulit.
Haec vafrum species, sed religione carentem,
Terrena tantùm quique curet,[5] indicat.[6]

What shall I say? By what name call this two-fold monster, that is neither man nor snake? A man without feet, a snake without its upper parts - this can be called a snake-footed man, a man-headed snake. The man farts a snake, the snake has vomited a man, the man has no end, the beast no beginning. In such a form did Cecrops once rule in learned Athens, in such a form did Mother Earth once bring forth the Giants. This image indicates a clever man, but one without religion, who cares only for the things of the earth.

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Hoc monstro notantur Athei quidam, & deliri
Epicurei, qui cùm sint anima rationis participe
à Deo informati, relicta sui conditione meliore,
nihil nisi terram sapiunt, neglecta omni religione,
divinóque cultu, quen tamen prae se ferunt, sed
simulatione quadam, nimirum ut rebus terrestri-
bus quas avidissimé appetunt, securiùs fruantur.
Sumptum carmen est, sed aliò tortum, ex 4. Grae-
corum Epigrammaton.

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LA SAGESSE DE CE
monde est folie devant Dieu.

Mais quoy? quel monstre icy? quel nom peust-il avoir?
Qu’est il, & d’où vient il, le pourroit on sçavoir?
Il n’est dragon ny homme, & n’a la forme faicte
D’homme ny de dragon, ains est serpent sans teste,
Et homme sans ses pieds: homme-chef, serpent-pied.
Nous le pourrons nommer, & le mot bien luy sied
L’homme poulse un serpent: le serpent vomit l’homme:
La fin de l’un n’y est, ny chef de l’autre en somme.
Ainsi jadis Cecrops en Athenes regna,
Tels furent les Geans, que la terre donna.
Cecy remarque & poinct Athees, idolatres,
Qui sans religion extremement finastres
N’ont point d’autre soucy que du terrestre bien,
Et trop sages mondains, ont de foy moins que rien.

Par ce monstre sont representez aucuns
Atheistes & Epicuriens insensez, lesquels
doüez de Dieu d’une ame raisonable, se
veaultrent contre la terre, comme ne faisans
autre estat de leur condition meilleure, au
contemnement de toute religion & divin
service, que toutesfois ils font semblant de
tenir, mais c’est de mine seulement, assavoir
afin de s’entretenir, s’enrichir des biens de
la terre, ausquels ils se rendent du tout. Cest
Embleme est tiré (quoy qu’à autre sens ac-
commodé) du quatriéme des Epigrammes Grecs.

Notes:

1.  This epigram is based on Anthologia Graeca, 16.115-6, descriptions of a hippocentaur, the second of which was translated by Alciato at Sel. Ep. p.335. Metre: dactylic hexameters paired with iambic senarii.

2.  Corrected from the Errata

3.  Variant reading in 1550 , ‘monstrum? Biforme quod...’, ‘monster? A two-fold thing, that is neither ...’.

4.  Cecrops, the mythical wise first king of Athens, the city of Pallas Athene, the goddess of wisdom. Cecrops, like the Giants (l.8) was born of the earth and was represented as half-man, half snake.

5.  Terrena tantum quique curet, ‘who cares only for the things of earth’. See Macrobius, Saturnalia, 1.20.9: the fact that the Giants’ bodies terminated as snakes shows that they had not a single thought that was right or elevated, but that their life in all its comings and goings tended to what was base.

6.  Variant reading in 1550, Haec vafrum est species, sed relligione carentem...indicans, ‘This is an image of clever men, but indicating one without religion’.


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