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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [A5v p10]

EMBLEMA IIII.

Impunitas ferociae parens.

Freedom from punishment is the mother of savagery.

Insultant pavida hîc natio musculi
Clausis muscipulae carcere felibus.
Sublatoque metu fortè periculi
Crescit tunc animus degeneri insolens.

Here the timorous race of mice are making a mockery of the cats caught in mousetraps. And perhaps when the fear of danger is removed, then the spirit of a weak creature grows insolent.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [E5v p74]

Carmen est Asclepiadeum monocolon, quale est illud
Horatii:

Maecenas atavis edite regibus.[1]

Nativum dissidium atque internecivum
bellum esse Feli, cum fugace Murium gente, us-
queadeo ut etiam cinere eius animalis diluto fu-
gari abigique mures sit proditum, nemo est qui
ignorat: nimirum à Natura doctam videmus,
suspensis alto silentio vestigiis, occultóque specu-
latu, & certo caudae quam vibrat libramine, in
musculos exsilire: ut nunc inanem ac supervacuam
sim collocaturus operam, si in re clarissima diser-
tus esse velim. Monet autem symbolum, cuius
meminit Suidas, nimia licentia & impunitate
proposita insolescere homines. Metus supplicii sce
lerosos in officio continet: quo amoto aut negligen
tiùs obito, increscit ferocia & sceleratè agendi li-
bido. Verissimè dictum est in Miloniana,[2] maxi-
mam illecebram esse peccandi, impunitatis spem.
Pictura postulat geminas muscipulas, quibus in-
clusa sint feles, murium agmine liberè choraeas cir
cumquaque ducente.

The verse-form is an Asclepiadic monocolon, as in the line of Horace: Maecenas, born of a line of ancient kings.
Everybody knows there is an instinctive and deadly war waged by the Cat on the “cowran’ tim’rous” race of Mice, to such an extent that it is even recorded that mice were put to flight and driven away by the scattered ashes of that animal. We certainly see her taught by Nature, tiptoeing in deepest silence, and camouflaged, and confidently balanced with her twitching tail, to pounce on little mice. So well-known is this that I would have produced a futile and less than worthless piece of work if I had intended to waste my words on such a well-known subject. But the emblem, which Suidas records, warns us men not to enjoy freedom and impunity too impudently when it is offered us. The fear of punishment keeps criminals in their duty, and when it is removed or heedlessly forgotten, unrestrained spirits and lusting after wickedness grow accordingly. It is most true what is said in the Pro Milone, that the greatest enticement to wrongdoing is the prospect of getting away with it. The picture shows two mousetraps in which cats are caged, while an army of mice go freely dancing all around.

Notes:

1.  Horace, Odes, 1.1. Asclepiades was epigrammatist and lyric poet from Samos, 3rd century BC.

Cicero, Pro Milone, 16.43.


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