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In illaudata laudantes.

Praising the wrong things

Emblema cxxiii.

Ingentes Galatűm semermi milite turmas,
Spem praeter trepidus fuderat Antiochus:[1]
Lucarum cům saeva boum vis,[2] ira, proboscis,[3]
Tum primům[4] hostiles corripuisset equos.
Ergo trophaea locans Elephantis imagine pinxit,
Insuper & sociis, Occideramus, ait,
Bellua servasset ni nos foedissima barrus:
Ut superasse iuvat, sic superasse pudet.

Antiochus, in spite of his fears, had beyond all expectation routed the huge squadrons of Galatians with his light-armed troops, when the savage might of elephants, their raging and their trunks, for the first time ever fell upon the enemy’s cavalry. So when he set up the trophy, he adorned it with the picture of an elephant and furthermore said to his troops: ‘We would have fallen, if this revolting beast, the elephant, had not preserved us. Pleasing as it is to conquer, it is galling to conquer like this’.

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EX Luciani apologia, quae inscribitur Zeuxis, sive
Antiochus. Quo exemplo belli duces ii notan-
tur qui utile honesto anteponunt, & iuxta Lysan-
sententiam, vel dolo, vel fraude, vel insidiis ho-
stem impetunt.

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Contre ceux qui louent choses
non louables.

ANtiochus ayant contre son esperance
D’un camp fort mal fourny abbatu la puissance
Des Galates plus-forts, & ce par le moyen
De quelques Elephans qui luy ayderent bien,
Et dont des ennemis les chevaux tressaillirent,
Quand sus eux de fureur ces grans bestes saillirent,
Et de force, & de trompe, & de cholere aussi:
Luy en voulant dresser un beau trophee, ainsi
Commanda que fust fait d’un Elephant l'image,
En disant neantmoins, comme accort & bien sage,
A ses familiers: nous estions, mes amis,
N’eust esté ceste beste, en grand desespoir mis.
D’estre victorieux nous en faisions bien conte:
D’avoir vaincu ainsi nous en recevons honte.

CEcy est d’une apologie de Lucian, qu’il
intitule Zeuxis, ou Antiochus. Par cest
exemple les capitaines de guerre sont taxez,
qui ont plus d’esgard au proffit qu’ŕ l’hon-
nesteté, & suyvant l’opinion de Lysander,
ils supprennent leurs ennemis par dol, ou
tromperie, ou par embusches.


1.  For this incident, see Lucian, Zeuxis sive Antiochus 8-11. In 276 BC Antiochus I won against fearful odds by directing his sixteen elephants against the Galatian horsemen and scythed chariots. Not only did the horses turn in panic and cause chaos among their own infantry, but the elephants came on behind, tossing, goring and trampling. Although he had won an overwhelming victory, Antiochus did not consider it a matter for congratulation.

2.  ‘Might of elephants’, lit. ‘might of Lucanian cattle’, supposedly so called by the Romans because they first saw these strange beasts in Lucania in south Italy, when King Pyrrhus of Epirus made use of them in his defeat of the Romans at the battle of Heraclea in 280 BC. See Pliny, Natural History 8.6.16.

3.  Some editions give dira proboscis, ‘their terrible trunk’.

4.  ‘For the first time ever’. The Galatians, Celtic tribes who had invaded Asia Minor, had never seen elephants before. Elephants had often been used in battle on other occasions.

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  • (story of) Antiochus I (Soter) representations to which the NAME of a person from classical history may be attached [98B(ANTIOCHUS I)3] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • cavalry, horsemen [45(+22)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Defeat [54FF2] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • extinct, 'historical' peoples (with NAME) [32B2(GALATIANS)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Ingloriousness (+ emblematical representation of concept) [59BB34(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
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  • Praise, Approbation, Approval; 'Lode' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57B1(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • trunked animals: elephant (+ audible means of communication of animal(s): roaring, crying, singing, barking, mewing, neighing, chirping, etc.) [25F25(ELEPHANT)(+949)] Search | Browse Iconclass
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