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Tumulus Ioannis Galeacii Vicecomitis,
primi Ducis Mediolanensis.[1]

The tomb of Jovanne Galeazzo Visconti, first Duke of Milan

Emblema cxxxiii.

Pro tumulo pone Italiam, pone arma Ducesque,[2]
Et mare, quod geminos mugit adusque sinus.
Adde his barbariem[3] conantem irrumpere frustrà,
Et mercede emptas in fera bella manus.
Anguiger[4] & summo sistens in culmine, dicat:
Quis parvis magnum me super imposuit?

Instead of the tomb, put Italy, put weapons and leaders, and the sea which roars right up to the twin curving coasts. Add to these the barbarian host, trying in vain to burst in, and forces hired with money for savage wars. But the one holding a snake, standing on the roof of the tomb, may well say: Who has put me, great as I am, on top of little things?

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [S5r f185r]

EX aliquot Graecis epigrammatis concinnat hoc
in gratiam Galeacii sui, cui pro tumulo univer-
sam Italiam, quam ab incursionibus barbarorum
servavit, esse depingendam vult, quasi sepulchrum
magnis virtutibus debitum: in apice verò Angui-
gerum statui, qui ita dicat, τοῖς με μικροῖς τὸν
μέγαν ἐντίθεται
; quasi is quanquam magnus, non
tamen satis dignus honos habendus sit, qui in eum
principem conferatur.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [S5v f185v]

Le tombeau du Seigneur Jean Galeas
Viconte
, premier Duc de Milan.

POur sepulture magnifique
De nostre grand Duc & Seigneur,
Pour faire à son nom plus d’honneur,
Peints tout le terroir Italique:
Representes les Capitaines,
Leurs soldats redoutez & craints,
Et l’une & l’autre mer depeints
Mugissant à flottes soudaines.
Mets en apres la Barbarie
Qui s’efforce en vain d’y entrer,
Et faits ses forces rencontrer
Les nostres de grande furie.
Soit un porte-serpent de suite
Tout au dessus, qui parle ainsi:
Qui est-ce qui m’a mis icy
Sur une chose si petite?

IL accommode en l’honneur de son Prin-
ce Galeas
cest Embleme, tiré de quelques
Epigrammes Grecs, auquel il designe pour
tombeau le pourtrait de toute l’Italie, qui
a esté par luy preservee de l’incursion des
nations barbares; tombeau deu à ses gran-
des vertus: & au dessus il colloque un por-
te-serpent, qui parle ainsi: Qui est-ce qui a
mis, moy qui suis grand, sur choses petites?
comme
si tel honneur qu’il luy fait bien, qu’il soit
grand, n’estoit encor assez digne pour le me-
rite de ce Prince.

Notes:

1.  Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402), created first Duke of Milan in 1395. Noted for his ruthlessness, he united most of the Po valley under the rule of Milan for the first time, defeated Bologna, and set his sights on Florence until his death saved that city.

2.  This epigram is based on Anthologia graeca 7.73 (by Geminos, but wrongly attributed to Germanicus in the sixteenth century). The Greek epigram is concerned with what would be a worthy tomb for the Greek hero Themistocles, who was buried in a very simple grave. It suggests one with representations of Salamis and the Persians, recalling the hero’s most famous exploit, the victory over the Persians at the battle of Salamis. Likewise, memorials of Visconti’s achievements are proposed here.

3.  ‘the barbarian host’, i.e. the ‘barbarian’ French, who were induced to become involved in the Milan/Florence conflict and were defeated by Visconti. The French are mentioned specifically in the version of this poem found in Selecta epigrammata p.254, where 1.4 reads: Gallus ut et Theuton Alpe et Hyberus aquis, ‘like the Gaul and the Teuton via the Alps and the Spaniard via the sea’. In Alciato’s day, the French continued to overrun the Italian peninsula and attempt to dictate its internal affairs.

4.  This is presumably a figure of the Duke of Milan, whose arms included a snake; see [FALc001]. In the accompanying woodcut, we have written on a snaking ribbon held by a figure the Greek version (taken from the original Greek epigram) of the Latin words quoted in l.6.



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