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In tumulum Chironis.[1]

On the tomb of Chiron.

Optimum ad felicitatem qum ocissi-
m aboleri.[2]

The best thing for happiness is to be wiped out as soon as possible.

Siste tuos Chiron peregrino in crimine planctus,
Nec refuge aeterni vivere lege Dei:
Et sceleratorum temeraria facta nepotum
Desine in aerumnis connumerare tuis.

Chiron, cease your complaining of a foreign crime, And don’t seek to hide from living under the rule of God everlasting: And leave off numbering the over-bold deeds of your wicked descendants among your tribulations.

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ALIUD[3]

Other

Cur fugis Chiron donum immortale deorum?
Nec placet haec animis Athanasia tuis?
An qud Achivorum noras peccata nepotum,
Et chari immemorem [=] pignoris Italiam?
Atque impendentes patriis cervicibus enses,
Et Tyberinorum foedera rupta ducum?
Anne & foedatos natorum sanguine manes,
Et data cognat dira venena manu?[4]
An quod & occidui testata piacula cleri,
Et positos noras munere pontifices?[5]
Abreptum & miseri scelus exitiale Giesi,
Et sacra Amorreis contemerata notis?
Et scelera antiquo iam commutata decori,
Et patriis iussas moribus exequias?
An salsae peritura molae convivia noras,
Ventura & Libycis pemmata deliciis?
Aut lapathum, & tenuis vulgata obsonia squillae
Tam subito in primas corruitura dapes?
Ergo age, disce horum foedos contemnere mores,
Et postliminio coelica dona cape.

Chiron, why do you flee the immortal gift of the gods? Does this deathlessness not please your spirit? Or is it because you knew the sins of the Greek descendants, and Italy’s forgetfulness of its dear pledge? Did you know about swords threatening Senatorial necks And the broken agreements of the Roman leaders [lit. people of the Tiber]? Or about the ancestral spirits defiled with the blood of sons And dreadful poisons given by a related hand? Or was it because you knew of the well-attested sins of Western clergy, And Popes put in office for money? [....*] And crimes put in the place of ancient honour And last rites ordered for ancestral ways. Did you know that the dinners after a sacrifice would be no more, And that pastries would come in with their Libyan enticements? Or that sorrel and the humble dish of cheap sea food would so suddenly rush to be the first course? So come on, learn to despise the disgusting behaviour of these men, And accept once again the gift of the gods.
* These two lines remain impossible to interpret. Giesus could refer to Gessius Florus, the particularly nasty governor of Judaea who incited the bloodiest and final rebellion of the Jews in 66 (and maybe perished in the insurrection), while the Amorrei could be the Amorrhites, a Semitic people frequently mentioned in the Old Testament, sometimes the equivalent of the Canaanites, those ejected from Palestine by the Israelites.

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NARRATIO PHILOSOPHICA.

Possit aliquis in attentissima rerum huma-
narum cogitatione positus iust demirari,
Chironem immortalitatis beneficio diis auctum
vitam hanc brevi subterfugere volisse. An qud
simul atque in vitam tanquam in viam ingressi
sumus, tot periculis & aerumnis distinemur, ut
quasi nostri nosmet poeniteat? An qud in eos qui
istum vitae cursum tenent, tot saepe incurrunt ani-
morum & corporum aegritudines, ut merit vitae
calamitosae una mors Chironi fuerit praeferenda?
An qud maiorum suorum flagitia accurat per-
spiciens, vivendi satietate mirabiliter teneretur?
An qud suorum temporum aequales omnibus
flagitiis contemeratos cerneret, neque eorum u-
sum & consuetudinem aequo animo ferre posset,
quorum improbitas bonorum omnium cervici-
bus ad perniciem videbatur impendere? An qud
populum suum prop desipientem offendisset, ut
cuius mores perditos & infames iudicaret, illius
uti congressu nefas esse arbitraretur? An qud po-
steritatem intuens, & in eam divinationis animo
defixus, veneficia, adulteria, clades, latrocinia, ho-
micidia, falsum, testamentorum subiectiones lon-
g ant praevideret: & ea tempora putaret impen-
dere, quibus utilitati dignitas, sceleri virtus, iniu-
stitiae aequitas esset concessura? An ut eorum mo-
res & vitae indignitatem defugeret, qui religio-
nem stupro, forum cupiditate, hominumque inter
ipsos communitatem dolo & fraudibus inquina-
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [B1v p18]rent? An qud futurum aliquando praesentiret, ut
quae gens praestantissima iustitiae & paupertatis
seminaria primm habuisset, eadem ipsa labenti-
bus saeculis, ambitione, divitiarum copia, luxu &
externis rebus feodaretur: & ea sibi ascisceret, quae
Christus praeclarissimae rogationis author long
se & suis depulisset? An qud ii qui rempubli-
cam gerunt, negligentiam, avaritiam, corrupte-
lam, sordes, gratiam, ambitionem ad iudicia fo-
rumque attulerunt: & qui locus benevolentia &
odio vacare debuisset, is talium animi aegrotatio-
num maxim plenissimus apparuit? An qud ii
qui se Christianos & esse & nominari volunt, pie-
tatem erga homines (qua ferme una fidei Christia-
nae splendor, & tuendae nos inter nos societatis iu-
ra continentur) versura, foenoribus, usurarum
voragine, dolo malo, frustratione, denique illa vir
tutum omnium perturbatrice avaritia convelle-
runt: ut nullus perdiu inter nos sapere iudicetur,
qui non se totum lucro, & domesticis patrimonii
sui commodis dediderit. Itaque scit & ad mores
nostros apposit Hesiodus ait,
Νῦν δ’ ἐγὼ μὴτ’ αὐτὸς ἐν ἀνθρὼποισι δίκαιος
Εἴην, μὴτ’ ἐμὸς υἱὸς ἐπὶ κακὸν ἄνδρα δίκαιον
Ἐμμεναι, εἰ μείζωγε δίκην ἀδικώτερος ἕζει.
Nam si qui virtuti omnia summa tribuunt, insani,
si qui ab honorum appetitione absunt, stolidi, si
qui res humanas & fortuitas pro nihilo ducunt,
excordes, si qui honestate non commodis tran-
quilitatem statuunt, stulti & amentes iudicantur:
quae tanta homini sapienti suscipienda erit con-
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [B2r p19]tentio, ut luce omnium religionem, pietatem &
iusticiam colat? si denique cum ambitiosis & avaris
agitur praeclarius, quid tantm bono viro enitendum
erit, ut pro salute omnium fortissima gerat & prae
stantissima? Sed tamen quia plus apud homines pro
bos ipsa honesti forma, qum utilitatis, gratiae, &
existimationis ratio valere debet: non erit commit-
tendum, ut inter adversaria imperitae multitudinis
studia, aliqua vitae nostrae pars officio vacasse vi-
deatur. Quid enim quaeso in universa natura me-
lius virtute, quid praestantius? quid etiam recla-
mante populo hominum dignitati accommoda-
tius? quae si despicitur, facil tamen excellentia sua,
& temporum iniuriam, & hominum perfidiam
superatura sit, nec enim virtus ex hominum opi-
natione est, neque qui in eam omni studio incum-
bunt, in officiis expendendis assensionem popu-

lo metiuntur. Quanquam autem miserrimum
est videre quae nolimus, oculique maxim dolo-
rem augeant, qud miseriis cogitationem non
sinant avertere, non est tamen viro sapienti recu-
sandum, quo minus inter tot clades & nefariorum
hominum perditos conatus, vitam suam aliqua leva
tione consoletur. Si enim Deus optimus maximus,
homines coelo satos huius orbis habitatores, &
calamitatum, quae quotidie scelere accidunt plu-
rimorum, spectatores constituit, non debemus
ita cedere animis, ut quasi deiecti desyderium vi-
vendi penitus deponamus. est enim opinor &
moderationis & sapientiae, eos qui ne umbram qui
dem τοῦ καλοῦ viderunt sine contumelia dimittere.

Notes:

1. Chiron the centaur was accidentally hit by an arrow of Hercules, and renounced his immortality in favour of Prometheus.

2. This wisdom is imparted by Silenus to Midas. It is a commonly expressed sentiment, cf. Plutarch, Consolatio ad Apollonium, Moralia, 115B-D, and Cicero, T.D., 1.116.

3. While the precise meaning of much of this is conjectural, the overall idea is clear: Did you know that everything was going to be turned upside down and the opposite of what it ought to be. There seems to be a general temporal progression in the examples of crimes, and also a progression from dreadful crimes to more venial ones.

4. Presumably, these refer to Roman civil wars.

5. Fornication and simony within the Church.



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