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Principis clementia.

Clemency in a ruler

Emblema cxlviii.

Vesparum qud nulla unquam rex spicula figet,[1]
Qudque aliis duplo corpore maior erit,
Arguet imperium clemens, moderatque regna,
Sanctque iudicibus credita iura bonis.

The king of the wasps will never implant any sting and will be twice as big as the rest. This will be a sign of mild dominion, a disciplined kingdom, and inviolable law entrusted to good judges.

IDem ferm habet Plato, dialogo de Regno: talem
enim civitatibus regem optat, qualis inter apum
examina rex nascitur, ut & corpore & animi dotibus
fit insignior & praestantior. Rex apum aculeo caret,
aut si habet, eo non utitur: ita bonus princeps ad
puniendum tardus esse debet, ad clementiam ver
pronus.

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Clemence du Prince.

LE Roy des Guespes pas ne poingt,
Aussi d’eguillon n’a il point,
Et est plus-grand de corpulence.
Ce que nous monstre un Roy bien dous,
Et qui commet le droit pour tous
A gens droits & d’experience.

TOut de mesme est dit en Platon, au
dialogue du regne: l o il souhette un
tel Roy aux villes & pays, comme naist en
l’essain des abeilles celuy qui est tenu pour
Roy, c’est qu’il soit plus remarquable & plus
excellent en grandeur de corps & facultez
de l’esprit. Le Roy des abeilles n’a point
d’eguillon, ou s’il en a, il n’en use point: de
mesme le bon Prince doibt estre tardif pu-
nir & enclin clemence.

Notes:

1. According to Pliny, Natural History, 11.21.74, wasps do not have ‘kings’: it is the ‘mother’ wasps that are without stings. On the other hand, the ‘king’ bee (the ancients believed the queen bee to be male) and its lack of sting, or refusal to use its sting, was often mentioned; e.g. Aelian, De natura animalium, 5.10; Pliny, ibid., 17.52. For the analogy with kingship, see e.g. Seneca, De Clementia, 1.19; Erasmus, Adagia, 2601 (Scarabaeus aquilam quaerit).


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