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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [A4r p7]

EMBLEMA I.

Reprehendere[1] proclive: & animum
apertum esse debere.

It’s easy to criticise: and that the heart should be open.

Nocte satus, genitore orbus, sum nomine Momus,
Dente[2] Theonino singula rodo lubens:
Fingi hominem caussor clathrato pectore; apertis
Sensibus occultum ut nil specus ille tegat.

Born to Night, without a father, I am Momus by name, I take pleasure in gnawing things one at a time with a tooth like Theon’s. I pretend to be made as a man, with a lattice in my breast; So that nothing hidden lies hidden in that cavity, since my senses are open.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [E1v p66]

MOMUS reprehensionis conviciique Deus
apud priscos fuit habitus, quando etiam vitiis, mor
bisque, & multis etiam pestibus sua illi praefece-
runt numina. Hunc Hesiodus poëta in Theogo-
nia Noctis filium prodidit, absque genitore: quo
fit ut nonnulli secuti fidem editionis Venetae[3] longè
omnium mendosissimae lapsi sint: Somnum paren
tem illi attribuentes. Erroris occasionem dedit
vox, οὔ τινι, quae, nemini, significat, eamque lectio-
nem interpretes Graeci agnoscunt, & sequuntur;
cùm alii legisse videantur, ὧ τινι, id est, cui, ut re-
feratur ad somnum, non animadvertentes, quòd
hunc Nocte editum fuisse dixerit, quòdque incae
stum matris cum filio invecturi sint. Cur autem
fabuletur Noctis filium Momum, sine patre: hanc
mihi perspexisse rationem videor, tum quod viti-
litigator in altissima ignorantiae atque errorum
caligine versetur, & luce ingenii defectus studió-
que aliena reprehendendi nihil ipse rectum gignat,
sed emissitiis oculis aliena pervideat: tum quòd ex
occulta & abdita ratione illa carpendi libido na-
scatur. Sine patre verò, quod incerto auctore & è
vulgo plerunque oriatur istud reprehendendi ca-
lumniandique studium, quomodo vulgo conce-
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [E2r p67] ptos dicimus, qui certum patrem demonstrare non
possunt. Ob superiorem rationem etiam fuscum et
coloris mustelini faciem pictura illi tribuit, addi-
tis nigris & dentibus & unguibus; qui maledi-
centia symbola sunt, iuxta illud Epigrammatarii:
Nigros contorsit lividus ungues.
Idem alatus pingitur, quòd reprehensione, ac ma-
ledictis nihil pernicius; quae facillimè emittuntur,
citissimè excipiuntur, & quaquaversum latissimè
diffunduntur, ut sensit Cicero pro Plancio. quo
spectat & Alcaei versus:
Μώμου λαιψηρὰς ἐξέφυγεν πτέρυγας, id est,
Pernices Momi pennas effugerat unus.
Epigrammata graeca Momum effigiant senem
subiecta manu fulcientem calva tempora; quae spe-
cies innuit senile plaerunque esse reprehendendi
vitium, eóque morbo laborantes vitilitigatores,
cogitabundorum more, meditari semper ac com-
minisci quod carpant. Adiungo illi & Invidiam
individuam comitem: hoc consilio, quò aemula-
tio fermè accendat foveatque istud vitium. Fa-
bula notissima est ex Luciani Hermotimo de se-
ctis, quam compendio recensebo. Nata inter Pal-
ladem
, Neptunem, & Vulcanum contentione,
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [E2v p68] quis utilius opus commonstraret, Neptunus tau-
rum, sive ut alii, equum velut arationi, vecturaeque
accommodum in primis animal in medium sta-
tuit: Pallas domicilium ostendit, cuius usus con-
tra iniurias aëris omnes inserviret: Vulcanus fi-
ctum hominem pro facilè praestantissimo opere
exhibuit. Delectus arbiter Momus, praeter alia
quae carpsit, caussatus fuit in hominis opificio prae-
teritos fuisse ab artifice clathros, seu fenestellas, pe
ctoris parieti inserendos; per quos, ne quid occul-
tum lateret intus, introspici posset. Idem etiam
Veneris sandalium, ut argutum nimis atque lo-
quax, calumniatus fuisse legitur. Porrò nihil in vita
mortalium tam numeris omnibus absolutum, tam
doctum, tam rectè factum invenias, quod non,
innatus Momis quibusdam, calumniandi & car
pendi morbus convellat, aut saltem incessat: adeo
proclivius fuit saeculis omnibus, μωμίζειν ἢ μιμί-
ζειν
, id est, Momum quàm mimum agere. Itaque
tum hunc ad sensum refertur Emblema, quòd re-
prehensioni obnoxia sint omnia: tum etiam ad id,
quod prudentissimè, doctissiméque dictum à So-
crate
memorat Vitruvius,[4] oportuisse hominum pe-
ctora fenestrata & aperta esse; ne occultos habe-
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [E3r p69] rent animorum sensus; sed ad considerandum pa-
tentes: siquidem corde nihil sinuosius, nihil insi-
diosius fabricata est natura; ut solius Dei sit sen-
sus & cogitata hominis inspicere atque pernosse.
Pictura. Senex pingatur calvus, colore fusco,
lividis dentibus unguibusque, alis supra hume-
ros exstantibus, laeva caput sustentans cogitabun-
di in morem, dextrae indice extento versus effi-
giem quandam hominis, clathratum pectus ha-
bentem: adstent procul Pallas cum domicilio: Ne-
ptunus cum equo: proximè illum Vulcanus cum
homine suo, ita ut simulachrum hominis clathra-
tum diversum sit ab homine Vulcani, velut Mo-
mo designante, talem oportuisse fingi. Quod ad
picturam Deorum attinet, ita semel statuo: Ne-
ptunus nudus pingatur, capillitio caeruleo, altera
tridentem complexus, altera manu equum ha-
bena tenens, pede delphinum premens. Vulcanus
atro colore ut faber, rugosus propter assiduos ad
incudem labores, laeva malleum tenens, dextra ho-
minem à se fictum commonstrans, claudus, capite
praeferens pileum caeruleum, cuiusmodi fermè figu-
ra spectatur Ducis Veneti tiara. Palladis effi-
giem dabo Emblemate 15[5].[6]

Momus was held by the ancients to be the god of blame and insults, at a time when they accorded divinities even to vices, maladies and numerous plagues. The poet Hesiod describes him in the Theogony as the son of Night, without a father: as a result of which some, faithfully following the faultiest edition of all, the Venetian, have long made a mistake: they attribute Sleep as his father. The phrase that gave rise to this error is ou tini, meaning ‘to no-one’, and this is the reading the Greek commentators knew and followed; while others apparently read ô tini, that is ‘to whom’, referring as it might be to Sleep - but they fail to notice that Hesiod said that the latter had been born of Night, and that the ancients would have condemned the incest of a mother and her son. But the reason why he says that Momus was the son of Night, without a father - I believe I have spotted it. For one thing it is because the wrangler abides in the deepest darkness of ignorance and errors, and cut off from the light of reason, and in his zeal for blaming other people’s actions he produces nothing worthwhile himself, but surveys others’ doings with prying eyes: and for another it is because that eagerness for gnawing is born of a hidden and secret reason. He is without a father indeed, because that eagerness for blaming and slandering more often than not arises from an uncertain source, and out of the crowd, in the same way that we call people ‘children of the crowd’ [p.67] who are unable to say for sure who their father was. On account of his superior judgment the picture shows him dark, and in appearance the colour of a weasel, with black teeth and nails too - which signify abusiveness, as in that saying of the Epigrammatist: The spiteful man has brandished black nails. He is also shown with wings, because nothing is swifter than criticism and abuse; which are spoken very easily, let loose very swiftly, and spread very widely in all directions, as Cicero thought [Pro Plancio], where he also refers to a verse of Alcaeus: Mômou laipsêras exefugen pterugas that is ‘The swift wings of Momus fled away together.’ The Greek epigrams portrayed Momus as an old man propping up his bald head with his hand; which hints that the vice of criticism often belongs to the aged; the wranglers are afflicted with the same sickness - after the manner of those who use their brains too much - to be always pondering and devising what sort of thing to gnaw at. Inseparable from Momus I also show Envy: for this reason, that jealousy commonly sparks and feeds the flame of the other vice. The most famous myth is from Lucian’s Hermotimus on sects [or principles of conduct, doctrines], which I will recount fully. An argument had arisen between Minerva, Neptune and Vulcan, [p.68] as to which of them could point to their own as the most useful work. Neptune, giving the lead, as indeed the others would, set before them a horse, as being as good as a bull for ploughing, and the animal above suited par excellence for transport;* Minerva pointed to a house, whose value as a defence against the violence of the elements was of service to everyone; Vulcan showed a man, whom he had fashioned, as easily the most outstanding piece of work. Momus was chosen as judge: besides other things which he criticised, he argued that when mankind was being created the maker had neglected to, and should have, put in a lattice or little openings in the wall of the breast, through which it would be possible to look in, so that nothing should lie hidden within. He is also said to have criticised Venus’ sandal, as being too bright and talkative. Moreover you will find nothing in the life of mortals so complete in every way, so learned, so properly done, that the disease of criticising and slandering, inborn in certain Momuses will not tear into, or at any rate disparage: so great has been the disposition in all ages mômizein ê mimizein) that is to say, to act like Momus rather than learn by imitation. And so the Emblem has on the one hand this meaning, that everything is liable to disparagement: and on the other this, that it was most wisely and cleverly said by Socrates (as Vitruvius records) that the breasts of men should be like windows open to view, so that they should have no hidden [p.69] feelings in their hearts, but ones open to examination, since indeed nothing is harder to read than the heart; nature has made nothing more dishonest; so that the feelings and thoughts of mankind are for God alone to search out and know. The picture. The old man is to be depicted bald, dark-coloured, with black teeth and nails, with wings protruding above his shoulders, propping his head on his left hand in the manner of one in thought, with the forefinger of his right hand pointing towards a representation of a man with a latticed chest. Nearby should stand Minerva with a house, Neptune with a horse, and near him Vulcan with his man, so that the image of the man with the lattice is different from that of Vulcan’s man, as much as to say that by Momus’ designation he ought to have been created like that. Concerning the depiction of the Gods, I will put it briefly thus: Neptune should be depicted naked, with hair of sky-blue, in one hand grasping a trident, in the other holding the reins of his horse; with his feet he treads on a dolphin. Vulcan is to be shown as a smith, dark in colour, ruddy from his ceaseless labours at the anvil, with his left hand holding a hammer, with his right pointing to the man he has fashioned; he is lame, wearing a sky-blue felt cap on his head, in shape rather of the sort that one sees in the headdress of the Doge of Venice. I will give the appearance of Minerva in Emblem 15.
* The Latin in fact seems to say the opposite, that he set before them a bull as good as a horse for ploughing; the prose below (p.69) makes it clear that it was a horse he set.

Notes:

1.  As the prose makes clear, ‘criticism’ here stands for slander, calumny, wrangling and blame. See Hesiod, Theogony, 214.

2.  See Horace, Epistles 1.18.82 for a reference to the poet Theon’s tooth.

3.  ‘the faultiest edition of all’: is this the Aldus edition of Hesiod, from 1495; or an edition by Victor Trincavellus, whose edition came out in Venice in 1537?

4.  Vitruvius, Roman architect and engineer, 1st century, BC (designed the ‘Vitruvian Man’). This reference is from his De architectura, 3, praefatio, 1.

5.  Actually Emblem 24,[FJUb024], not 15.

6.  Much of this is based on Erasmus’s commentary on proverb 474 ‘Momo satisfacere et similia’ (in Adagiorum Chilias Prima), as cited in Chris L. Heesakkers’ edition of Junius, p. 53.



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