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Cum larvis non luctandum.[1]

Do not wrestle with the dead

Emblema cliii.

Aeacidae[2] moriens percussu cuspidis Hector[3],
Qui toties hosteis vicerat antè suos:
Comprimere haud potuit vocem, insultantibus illis,
Dum curru & pedibus nectere vincla parant.
Distrahite ut libitum est: sic cassi luce leonis
Convellunt barbam vel timidi lepores.[4]

When he was dying from the wound dealt by the spear of Aeacus’ descendant, Hector, who had so often before defeated his own enemies, could not keep silent as they triumphed over him, while preparing to tie the ropes to chariot and feet. Tear me as you will, he said; when the lion is deprived of the light of life, even cowardly hares pluck his beard.

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EX Homero, Iliadis. χ & incerti cuiusdam Epigram-
mate. Graeci Hectorem penè iam mortuum cir-
cunstantes lacessebant, eique insultabant, nec erat
qui extincto vulnus non infligeret: Ita pleríque
meliculosi & ignavi cùm non audeant vivos impe-
tere, quorum aspectum vix sustinerent, in mortuos
audaculi debacchantur.

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Qu’il ne faut mesdire des morts.

HEctor brave guerrier, qui avoit en la guerre
Occis tant d’ennemis, rué qu’il fut par terre
De la main d’Achilles: les voyant hardiment
S’acharner contre luy & lier rudement,
Lascha ce mot contre eux saisis de frenaisie,
Tirez deschirez moy à vostre fantasie:
Les lievres tout de mesme encor qu’ils craignent fort,
Arrachent brusquement le poil du Lyon mort.

CEcy est tiré du 22. de l’Iliade d’Homere,
& de l’Epigramme d’un Poëte Grec. A-
pres qu’Hector fut atterré, si qu’il estoit pres-
que mort, les Grecs tout à l’entour l’assailli-
rent, & attaquerent d’injures, se mocquans
de luy, si qu’il n’y avoit celuy qui ne le frap-
past voire ja tout roide mort. Tout de mes-
me aucuns poltrons & couards n’ayans pas
la hardiesse de s’oser presenter à la face des
vivans, desquels ils eussent redoubté le re-
gard & presence, apres qu’ils les voyent
morts, ils en disent hardiment du saillant pis
qu’ils peuvent.

Notes:

1.  Cf. Erasmus, Adagia 153, Cum larvis luctari.

2.  ‘of Aeacus’ descendant’, i.e. ‘of Achilles’. Textual variant - 1550 has Aeacidae

3.  Hector was the greatest warrior on the Trojan side in the Trojan War, killed in single combat by Achilles, the Greek champion. See Homer, Iliad 22.367ff. and 24.14ff. for Achilles’ desecration of Hector’s body, dragging it, tied by the feet behind his chariot, round the tomb of Patroclus.

4.  The last two lines are a translation of the two-line epigram Anthologia graeca 16.4, where, in Planudes’ text, the words are attributed to Hector in the heading.


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