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Submovendam ignorantiam.

Ignorance must be done away with

Dialogismus.

Emblema clxxxvii.

Quod monstrum id? Sphinx[1] est. Cur candida virginis ora,
Et volucrum pennas, crura leonis habet?
Hanc faciem assumpsit rerum ignorantia: tanti
Scilicet est triplex causa & origo mali.
Sunt quos ingenium leve, sunt quos blanda voluptas,
Sunt & quos faciunt corda superba rudes.
At quibus est notum, quid Delphica littera[2] possit:
Praecipitis monstri guttura dira secant.
Namque vir ipse, bipésque tripésque & quadrupes idem est,
Primáque prudentis laurea, nosse virum.

What monster is that? - It is the Sphinx. - Why has it the bright face of a maiden, the wings of birds, the legs of a lion? - Ignorance has assumed this form, because the cause and origin of this great evil is threefold. There are some whom frivolity makes ignorant, others the blandishments of pleasure, still others arrogance. But those who are aware of the force of the Delphic letter, these cut the dread throat of the lowering monster. For man himself is two-legged, three-legged, four-legged, one and the same, and the first victory of the wise is to know the man.

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SPhinx, ignorantiae typus est. σφίγγω idem est
quod constringo & vincio: illa enim mentis no-
tiones & igniculos ipsos obscurat prorsus & ex-
tinguit ignorantiae labes: cuius tres hîc συμβολι-
κῶς
constituuntur efficientes seu primariae causae,
libido, animi levitas, arrogantia. Prima quidem
puellari forma depingitur, quae cùm animum occu-
pat, nunquam potest obcaecata mens cognitionis
& scientiae bono perfrui. Altera est inconstantia seu
levitas cum ave comparata, quae bis per omnia dis-
cedit à stabili firmóque scientiae fundamento,
Tertia verò arrogantia, superbiáque leoninis cru-
ribus adumbrata, φιλαυτίαν in se habet per-
niciosissimam & rerum meliorum contemptum,
quam necessariò sequitur crassa & exitiosa impe-
ritia, suique ignorantia. At qui seipsum norit, detra-
cta omni libidine, foedáque voluptate, avulsis incon-
stantiae plumis fugacibus, & omni arrogantia, intelli-
get quid homo fit, id est, problema Sphingis explica
bit, suam ipsius naturam intuebitur, primò quidem qua-
drupedum penè similem conditioni, deinde hominis fir-
mitate constantem, & postremò imbecillam propter
concreti partes infirmas: ita ut monstrum arrogantiae
turpissimum seipsum conficiat, & hominem sui com-
potem relinquat: qua victoria nulla alia excellen-
tior, nulla utilior, aut illustrior.

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Qu’il faut repoulser ignorance.

Dialogisme.

D. QUel est ce monstre icy? R. C’est Sphinx. D. Pourquoy a-elle
Au corps plumes d’oiseaux, la face de pucelle,
Et les pieds Leonins? R. Par cela se cognoit
La source d’ignorance, & en trois poincts se voit.
Aucuns sont ignorans ayant l’esprit volage,
Autres amourachez se mettent en servage,
Autres trop orgueilleux & fiers comme Lions,
Se mettent au cerveau cent mille opinions.
Mais ceux qui ont comprins la sentence Delphique,
Esgorgent ce grand monstre, haut monté, horrifique.
Car l’homme à deux, à trois, à quatre pieds se voit,
Tousjours mesme homme estant: & quand il se cognoit,
Et est modeste, accort, & plein de bonne addresse,
C’est tout le premier poinct de sa plusgrand’ sagesse.

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LE Sphinx, est un vray pourtrait d’igno-
rance: car le mot grec σφίγγω vault à dire,
comme serrer, lier. L’ignorance obscurcit les no
tions & beaux commencemens[3] qui sont en l’ame,
voire les estaint du tout. d’icelle ignorance
sont icy mises par symboles trois causes pre-
mieres & principalles, assavoir la paillardise,
la legereté d’esprit, & l’arrogance. La premiere
est representee par la forme de pucelle: la-
quelle venant à se saisir de l’ame, elle estant par
ce moyen aveuglee, jamais ne peust jouyr du
bien de science & doctrine. L’aultre, qui est in-
constance ou legereté, resemblant à un oiseau, du
tout se destourne de pouvoir asseoir le fer-
me & stable fondement de science. La troisieme
est arrogance, ou orgueil, qui est depeinte par
les pieds du Lion: a en soy une grand’ persuasion
de soy-mesme fort pernicieuse, & un contenne-
ment de choses meilleures suyvie necessaire-
ment d’une crasse & fort dangereuse ignorance
avec obli de soy-mesme. Mais celuy qui se co-
gnoit (ayant banny de soy tout amour fol &
deshonneste, toutes plumes volages d’inconstan-
ce ostees, & toute arrogance mise hors) cognoi
stra que c’est que l’homme, c’est à dire, il dissou
dra la question de Sphinx, il considerera sa natu
re, qui est premierement resemblante aux ani-
maux à quatre pieds: en apres vient à perfection
d’homme: en fin devient imbecille à cause de la
pesanteur du corps: de sorte que par ce moyen
le monstre d’arrogance se desfera soy-mesme, &
lairra l’homme maistre de soy: qui est à vray
dire, une victoire la plus excellente, la plus pro
fitable & recommandee que l’on pourroit dire.

Notes:

1.  The Sphinx was a monster which lay in wait on the road to Thebes and killed all travellers who could not answer its riddle: What goes on four legs in the morning, two at mid-day, three at evening? Oedipus destroyed the monster by giving the correct answer, ‘Man’ (i.e the baby crawls on all fours , the youth walks upright on his two legs, the old man requires a stick). See below, 1.9 (Namque vir ipse...). See also Erasmus, Adagia 1209, Boeotica aenigmata.

2.  ‘the Delphic letter’, i.e. the letter E. See Plutarch, De E apud Delphos, an essay which discusses various explanations put forward for the ‘E’, a letter cast in bronze. At the end of the essay (392ff.), the letter is brought into connection with the inscription Gnothi sauton, ‘Know thyself’ (cf. 1.10), which greeted those who came to consult the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. See also Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.6.6.

3.  Corrected from the Errata


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  • Delphic oracle [92B3721] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • fabulous beings with wings [31A458] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Frivolity (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57AA66(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Ignorance; 'Ignoranza', 'Ignoranza di tutte le cose', 'Ignoranza in un ricco senza lettere' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52AA5(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Licentiousness, Lasciviousness; 'Lascivia', 'Licenza' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57AA51(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Oedipus and the sphinx; he solves the riddle [94T33] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Pleasure, Enjoyment, Joy; 'Allegrezza', 'Allegrezza da le medaglie', 'Allegrezza, letitia e giubilo', 'Diletto', 'Piacere', 'Piacere honesto' (Ripa) [56B1] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Pride, Loftiness; 'Alterezza in persona nata povera civile' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57AA64(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Self-knowledge (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52A53(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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