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Gramen.

Grass

Emblema xxvi.

Gramineam Fabio patres tribuêre corollam,[1]
Fregerat ut Poenos Hannibalemque mora.
Occulit inflexo nidum sibi gramine alauda,
Vulgò aiunt, pullos sic fovet illa suos.
Saturno Martique sacrum, quo Glaucus adeso
Polybides,[2] factus creditur esse Deus.
His meritò arguitur nodis tutela salúsque:
Herbáque tot vires haec digitalis habet.[3]

The Roman Senate bestowed on Fabius a crown of grass, when he had by his delaying tactics broken the Carthaginians and Hannibal. The lark hides its nest among the bent grass, as they say, and so it protects its young. This grass is sacred to Saturn and to Mars, and Glaucus, son of Polybus, is believed to have become a god by eating it. - Rightly is protection and safety indicated by these knotted stems: this plant, the finger-grass, has so many powers.

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FOntem huius Emblematis ex Festo Pompeio[4] re-
petendum duco, cuius haec verba: Herbam do,
cùm ait Plautus, victum me fateor significat, quod
est antiquae & pastoralis vitae indicium. Nam qui
in prato cursu aut viribus contendebant, cùm su-
perati erant, ex eo solo in quo certamen erat, de-
cerptam herbam adversario tradebant. Citatur ex
Attio,[5] Gaudent, currunt, celebrant, herbam conferunt.
Alciatus verò hic celebrat graminis vires, ex
qua corona graminea olim fiebat: ex qua nidificat
alauda: ex qua herba Saturno & Marti sacram dicit[6], &
qua comesta Glaucus putatur revixisse, & in Deo-
rum numerum transiisse. quibus exemplis ostendi-
tur gramen poni meritò pro nota salutis & tutelae.

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Le Gramen, ou dent de chien

QUand le grand Fabius eut par sage conduite
D’Annibal & des siens fort grand’ trouppe reduite
A ses intentions, il fut des siens orné,
Louangé hautement, & d’herbe couronné,
Nommee le Gramen, comme pour grand salaire.
On dit qu l’Alouette a coustume de faire
En telle herbe son nid, y cache ses petits,
Les y loge & nourrit, comme en grand’ seurté mis.
L’herbe à Saturne & Mars a esté dediee:
Par laquelle Glaucus, en l’ayant essayee,
Et congneu sa vertu, obtint divinité,
Aussi tost qu’il en eust (comme l’on dit) gousté.
Par tous ces poincts icy le salut & defence
Nous est signifié: aussi l’experience
D’une herbe si petite, ayant de vertuz tant,
Monstre que peu de cas rend l’homme bien content.

J’Estime qu’il fault prendre la source de
cest Embleme de Festus Pompeius, du-
quel je rendray icy les mots: Au lieu ou
Plaute dict, Herbam do, qui est à dire, je
donne l’herbe, c’est autant comme s’il disoit,
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [F4v f40v]je confesse estre vaincu. Qui est une marque
de la vie ancienne & pastorale. Car ceux
qui emmy un pré contendoient à la course,
ou à force de corps, quand ils estoient sur-
montez, ils donnoient à leur adversaire de
l’herbe prinse sur le lieu mesme ou le com-
bat avoit esté donné. Ainsi on allegue cecy
d’Attius, ancien poëte,

Ils tressaillent de joye, courans hastivement
En grand trouppe apportans de l’herbe gayement.

Or Alciat celebre icy le Gramen (herbe
nommee dent de chien) de laquelle on fai-
soint anciennement la couronne graminee
ou cinique: de laquelle herbe l’allouette
faict & compose son nid: herbe dediee à
Saturne & à Mars: de laquelle ayant usé
Glaucus, il resuscita, & dit-on qu’il de-
vint Dieu. Par tous lesquels points il est
monstré que ceste herbe est mise pour une
marque de salut & defence.

Notes:

1.  Quintus Fabius Maximus was nicknamed Cunctator, ‘the Delayer’, for his strategy of avoiding pitched battles with Hannibal’s triumphant army in the Second Punic War. This contributed to Hannibal’s eventual withdrawal from Italy. Cf. Ennius’ famous line, Annals, 370: unus homo nobis cunctando restituit rem: ‘one man by his delaying tactics saved the day for us’. A crown of fresh grass plucked from the spot was given to its general by a whole army if delivered from a state of siege. Fabius was awarded such a crown by general consent for saving all Italy from the threat of Hannibal. See Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 5.6.10; Pliny, Natural History, 22.4.6ff.

2.  Some of the divine herb sown by Cronos (a Greek divinity equated with the Roman Saturn) was eaten by Glaucus the fisherman, who then became a sea-god; see Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, 7.296e; 15.679a; Ovid, Metamorphoses, 13.917ff.

3.  tot vires habet, ‘has so many powers’. See Pliny, Natural History, 24.118.178-83 for the medicinal uses of grass. The finger-grass (ib.183) is common in Mediterranean areas.

4.  Sextus Pompeius Festus, a lexicographer from the late Classical era (but whose dates are uncertain).

5.  Lucius Accius or Attius, 2nd century BC Roman playwrite.

6.  Corrected from the Errata.


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  • (story of) Hannibal representations to which the NAME of a person from classical history may be attached [98B(HANNIBAL)3] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • male persons from classical history (with NAME) non-aggressive activities of person from classical history [98B(FABIUS, Q. MAXIMUS)5] Search | Browse Iconclass
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