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Πῆ παρέβην; τί δ’ἔρεξα; τί μοι δέον
οὐκ ἐτελέσθῆ;

Where have I transgressed? What have I committed? What thing incumbent on me has been left undone?

Emblema xvii.

Italicae Samius sectae celeberrimus auctor[1]
Ipse suum clausit carmine dogma brevi:
Qu praetergressus? quid agis? quid omittis agendum?[2]
Hanc rationem urgens reddere quenque sibi.
Quod didicisse Gruum volitantum ex agmine fertur,
Arreptum gestant quae pedibus lapidem,[3]
Ne cessent, neu transversas mala flamina raptent.
Qua ratione, hominum vita regenda fuit.

The famous Samian founder of the Italian sect himself put his essential teaching into a short verse: Where have you overstepped the mark? What are you doing? What are you leaving undone that ought to be done? - urging each man to make this reckoning in his own mind. He is said to have learnt this from a skein of flying cranes, which seize a stone and carry it in their claws, to prevent themselves from making no headway, and to stop adverse gusts of wind carrying them off course. Man’s life was ever to be lived on this principle.

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LArtius & Suidas scribunt Pythagoram praece-
pisse, suos auditores domum repetentes hunc
versiculum prononciare,
Πῆ παρέβην; τί δ’ἔρεξα; τί μοι δέον οὐκ ἐτελέσθῆ;
Nam omnis humanae vitae lapsus in tribus potissi-
mum cernitur, aut cm transgredimur, i. secus faci-
mus qum oportet, quod est plus qum decet: aut
quod omissum oportuit, neque satis considerat fe-
cimus: aut omittimus quod erat faciendum. Id vo-
latu Gruum didicit Pythagoras, quae dum volant in
sublime, lapillum gestant aequalem viribus & iusto
libratum pondere: ut ne nihil tollant, ne nimium
efferant sese, nve adversis ventis abripiantur.

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Qu’ay-je fait trop? que fay-je, ou ne fay pas?

PYthagore jadis tant celebre & insigne
Comprint en ce brief vers le poinct de sa doctrine,
En-quoy ay-je exced? que fay-je? ou n’ay pas fait?
A ce qu’ soy chacun tint tel compte en effet.
Ce qu’on dit qu’il apprint voyant Grues volantes
Qui coustumierement portent pierres pesantes,
Affin ne s’arrester, ou n’estre de leurs cours
Empeschees des vents contraires & plus forts.
Et de vray celuy est bien advis & sage
Qui conforme sa vie tel apprentissage.

LAerce & Suidas rapportent que Pytha-
goras
enjoignoit ses auditeurs de medi-
ter a part eux ce carme, toutes les fois qu’ils
rentreroient en leurs logis,

En quoy ay-je exced? que fay-je? ou n’ay pas fait?

Car toute faute que peust commettre l’hom
me, se remarque en trois choses: assavoir
quand nous excedons ou faisons plus, ou au-
trement qu’il ne convient: ou quand nous fai-
sons ce qu’il falloit omettre, c’est quand nous
nous oublions par inadvertance: ou quand
nous laissons faire ce qu’il failloit faire. Ce
que Pythagoras aprint par le vol des Grues
lesquelles estans bien haut en l’air portent
& tiennent une pierre autant grosse qu’elle
la peuvent soustenir, & qui leur sert de con-
trepois, ce qu’elles ne soient sans avoir leur
charge, qu’elles ne se hazardent voller trop
haut, ou qu’elles ne soient empeschees par les
vents contraires.

Notes:

1. Italicae Samius sectae...autor, ‘Samian founder of the Italian sect’, i.e. Pythagoras. Born in Samos, he emigrated in 531 BC to Croton in South Italy, where he founded a religious/philosophical sect.

2. This is a version of the Greek text in the motto, which is recorded in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, 8.20.

3. Cranes wisely carrying stones as ballast are likened to men of foresight in Suidas (i.e, the Suda), s.v. geranos. Other reasons were suggested by ancient writers for this habit.


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