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Antiquissima quaeque commenticia.

The oldest things are all invented

Emblema clxxxii.

Pallenaee senex, cui forma est histrica, Proteu,[1]
Qui modò membra viri fers, modò membra feri:
Dic age, quae species ratio te vertit in omnes,
Nulla sit ut vario certa figura tibi?
Signa vetustatis, primaevi & praefero secli,[2]
De quo quisque suo somniat arbitrio.

Proteus, old man of Pallene, whose outward appearance changes like an actor’s, assuming sometimes the body of a man, sometimes that of a beast, come, tell me, what is your reason for turning into all kinds of shapes, so that you have no permanent form as you constantly alter? I offer symbols of antiquity and the very first times, concerning which everyone dreams up what he will.

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COnvertit Protei πολυμορφοῦ fabulam in scri-
ptores quosdam rhapsodos, & rerum antiquissi-
marum narrationem e variis & saepe pugnantibus
inter se narrationibus petitam concinnantes[3]: qui cum
somnient de rebus à se remotissimis, portentosam
historiae formam nobis obtrudunt, ut revera Proteum
quendam effingere velle videantur.

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Les chose du passé, controuvees, ou for-
gees à plaisir.

Dialogisme.

D.
POurquoy te changes-tu, dis moy, vieillard Protee,
En diverses façons, par fois homme semblant,
Par fois aussi mué, à beste resemblant
Dis moy pourquoy as-tu ta face humaine ostee?
R. Le pourtrait du vieil temps je marque tout content,
Duquel un chacun songe ainsi comme il entend.

IL accommode la fable de Protee change-
forme à ces rhapsodes d’escrivains, & hi-
stoires des choses du passé, qui ne font que
regratter tout ce qu’ils font de divers com-
ptes tissus & cousus de diverses & contraires
pieces: lesquels apres avoir long temps resvé
sur des choses qui sont bien fort esloignees
de leur memoire, ils nous forgent je ne scay
quel corps d’histoire tout monstrueux, de sor-
te qu’ils semblent nous vouloir figurer quel-
que nouveau Protee.

Notes:

1.  Proteus was ‘the Old Man of the Sea’, who evaded capture by constantly changing his shape. See e.g. Homer, Odyssey, 4.400ff.; Vergil, Georgics, 4. 405-10, 440-2; Erasmus, Adagia, 1174 (Proteo mutabilior). Vergil (Georgics, 4.391) describes him living near the headland of Pallene (on the Macedonian coast). The idea of Proteus as a gifted actor or mime-artist is taken from Lucian, Saltatio, 19.

2.  signa vetustatis primaevi et...secli, ‘symbols of antiquity and the very first times’. Pallene (see n.1.) suggested a connection with the Greek word παλαιός ‘ancient’, as the name Proteus was supposedly connected with πρώτιστος, ‘the very first’.

3.  Corrected from the Errata.


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