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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [V7v p318]

In tempora & mores.

The way we live now [lit. on or against the times and customs].

Mulier imperator, & mulier miles.

The woman general and the woman soldier.

Tota licet fatuis subsit respublica vulvis,
Et misera elumbes experiatur anus:
Sit satis excelso facinus placuisse Platoni,
Forte parum est nobis displicuisse deis.

Although the whole state may be swamped by empty wombs, and wretchedly contends with spavined old women: That might have been villainy enough to please lofty Plato, but it’s perhaps too small for us to have displeased the gods.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [V8r p319]

ALIUD.

Other

Creditur infelix stultis respublica vulvis,
Foemineoque amens utitur imperio:
Bella gerit mulier, pacis quoque foedera iurat,
Atque magistratus datque movetque foro[1]
Haec quondam magno non sunt invisa Platoni,
Si mulier secum mascula corda gerat.

The commonwealth is thought to be unhappy in its foolish wombs, and crazily relies upon female governance. Woman wages war, and gives the laws of peacetime too, confers magisterial office, as well, and carries on business in the law-courts. Such things were foreseen once by great Plato [as coming to pass], if a woman should ever display the heart of a man.

PROBLEMA.

Problem

Publica si domini regerent moderamina cunni,
Foemineusque daret civica iura pudor:
Dic, an tutorem & Velleiae legis honores
Publica res causis possit habere suis?[2]
Forte: hinc est quòd eam violata in iura reponunt
Praetores, & ius illa minoris habet.

If vaginas lorded it over the helm of state [lit. controlled the helm of state as lords], and female modesty gave civic laws: Tell me, could the commonwealth have the dignity of Velleius’ law to guard over its law-courts? Perhaps: that’s why magistrates reckon it among the laws that have been broken, and she [i.e. a woman] has the rights of a child.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [V8v p320]

NARRATIO PHILOSOPHICA.

FOeminas publicis rerum gubernaculis &
imperiis omnium ferè gentium mores & edi-
cta removerunt: quòd in eis neque animi magni-
tudo, qua potissimum foris nititur civitatis salus
neque consilium, quod in urbanarum rerum tem
peratione maximam vim habet, satis praesidii &
adiumenti ad constituendam rempublicam affer-
re posse videretur. Quid enim eo genere aut ad rem
militarem ineptius, qut ad reprimendos popularium
motus magis imbecillum? quid ad conservandum
publicae dignitatis patrimonium minus accom-
modatum & instructum? quid porrò in ferendis
decretis magis varium & multiplex? Nam & vi-
demus eas, quae se veterum memoria ad res geren
das applicaverunt, aut turpiter civitates suas la-
cerasse, aut eum splendorem quem à maioribus ac
ceperant, minime sustinere potuisse. Quamvis e-
nim Semiramis laudetur, & sit nomen eius mul-
tis scriptis decoratum, citeturque omnium Orien
tis civitatum praestantissima, & praeclarissimae te-
stis memoriae Babylon, quam illa muro & fos-
sa cinxit: non video tamen in quo tantopere vi-
deatur esse perhibenda, quae florentissimum re-
gnum stupris suis & sordibus funestavit. Iam qui
reipubicae moderationi praesunt, hoc primùm te
nere debent, ne commodis suis & utilitatibus in-
serviant. At in mulierum animis avaritia tantam
vim habet, ut quasi ad patrimonii amplificationem
à natura creatae solùm sint, lucro nullam vitam
esse existiment, & plerunque in nuptiarum condi
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [X1r p321]tione quaerenda habeant antiquius, pecuniae quae
viro, quam viro qui pecunia indigeat desponsari.
Quia tamen me ad eas mulieres quae aliquando
maximis virtutibus & praestantissimis in patriam
suam benefactis claruerunt, genus quaestionis vo-
cat, videar praeter officium facere, si debitum ea-
rum virtutu testimonium mom reddam. Nam & ali-
quot legimus quae in summis periculis, civitati-
bus suis magnopere profuerunt. In his apud e-
braeos
principes Debora & Iudith nominantur.
quae in rebus desperatis & afflictis, patriae suae tran-
quillitatem & salutem pepererunt. Iam & illis fe-
rè temporibus Tomiris Scytharum regina Cyrum
potentissimum Persarum regem incredibili animi
elatione fudit & caecidit. Et apud Romanos Chloe
lia
virgo novo stratagematis genere universum
foeminarum genus illustravit, praeclarumque toti
mulierum posteritati imitandae virtutis suae stimu
lum iniecit. Ad harum egregias dotes & propè di-
vinam naturae vim si qua ex nostris mulieribus sese
adiunxerit, illi opinor concessu omnium ad sum-
mam rerum gerendarum authoritatem aditus erit,
licebitque ei consiliorum in republica sociam, sal-
vis forsitan legibus numerari. Nam & Plato ma-
ximus & dicendi, & intelligendi magister, non om
nino foeminarum principatum è civitate sua su-
stulit: si tamen in earum animis virilis splendor elu-
ceat. Quia tamen plerunque evenit, ut mulieres
vel ab ipsa natura effoeminatos & muliebres ani-
mos gerant, non sine ratione maiores mulieribus
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [X1v p322]viam ad honores & magistratus praecluserunt: quòd
ad illam rerum bene gerendarum gloriam, nihil
instrumenti vel à natura, vel à domestica sua inci-
tatione habere videantur. Non est verò consenta-
neum ut quae & privatim & publicè à rerum ad-
ministratione sunt exclusae, eae foris & domi ma-
gistratus instituant: ut nulli perdiu bono ad
honores ordinatim in republica peten
dos, nisi illarum arbitratu, gra-
tia, suffragio & renuntia-
tione, aditus pos-
sit pate-
re.

Notes:

1.  If Coustau is here alluding to a specific contemporary of his interfering in the governance of the state, it would not be to Queen Catherine de Medici (certainly later guilty of this fault): in 1555, she was still overshadowed by her husband’s mistress, Diane de Poitiers, Duchesse de Valentinois, who certainly did involve herself in government policy and appointments such as to the magistracy.

2.  Lit. ‘could the commonwealth have a guardian and the dignity of the Velleian law for its lawsuits?’ There is a (somewhat pedantic) play on words here, as the lex Velleia was apparently named after the consul C. Velleius Tutor. The Velleian law stripped women of certain legal rights, rendering them (in these specific respects) the legal equivalent of minors.



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