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EMBLEMA XIX.

Providentia.

Forethought.

Ad Iacobum Endium reipublicae Hollandiae
caussarum vindicem.[1]

Qu sacer excurret Nilus in arva,
Praescius, alluvie libera ponit
Ova, monens merit nos Crocodilus
Quae fata immineant ant videre.[2]

Where the holy Nile will break its banks among the fields, the provident Crocodile lays her eggs in the open, in the overflow, teaching us a good lesson: To look ahead to see what the fates may threaten.


Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [F8v p96]

Alcmanium est dactylicum tetrametrum hypercata-
lecticum, simile secundo Boetii carmini, cuius
initium:

Heu qum praecipiti mersa profundo.

Crocodilus, cui croci metu nomen
est, exitiale malum, quadrupes utroque elemen-
to infestum & terra & flumine, linguae expers,
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [G1r p97]dentibus serratis, eorumque ordine pectinatim
se stipante,[3] maxilla inferiore immobili, unguibus
immanibus, cute ade invicta, ut ictus tormento
quovis adactos eludat atque repercutiat tergore,
metatur locum nido praedivinatione quadam &
naturali providentia eum deligens, ad quem sum-
mus Nili auctus eo anno sit accessurus: neque ali
bi incubat ova, quae candida sunt anserinis simi-
lia. Haec de Crocodilo ex Plinio lib. 8. ca. 25. So-
lino
cap. 45.[4] Marcellino lib. 22. & Herodoti Eu-
terpe. Addit Plutarchus libro de Iside,[5] Aegy-
ptios
certum coniicere Nili incrementi termi-
num ibi fore, ubi ova excluserit femina: nam
cm in humido fovere nequeant Crocodili, & pro-
cul fluminis alveo parere metuant, ita exact
praesentiunt naturae tacito instinctu quod futurum
est, ut accessu fluvii in pariendo, incubandoque
(quod alternis observant mas & femina) utan-
tur, atque ita ova arida & inhumecta conservent.
Monemur prudenter rerum satagere, longque
ant consultare atque videre, qum quid statua-
mus aut agamus.

The Alcmanian is a dactylic tetrameter hypercatalectic, like the second ode of Boethius, that begins: “Alas, overwhelmed by danger how ruinous...”
The crocodile, which gets its name from its fear of saffron, is a deadly evil, a dangerous quadruped in both elements - on land and in the river. Lacking a tongue, [p.97] but with jagged teeth, jam-packed in rows like combs, it cannot move its lower jaw-bone; its claws are prodigious, and its skin so impossible to damage that it is unharmed by a rain of blows no matter how painful, and they bounce off its back. It marks out a site for its nest by some sort of sixth sense and natural foresight, selecting the spot that will be the high-water mark of the Nile’s flood that year, and nowhere else will it lay its eggs, which are white like a goose’s. These things about the Crocodile are taken from Pliny, bk. 8, ch. 25; Solinus, ch. 45; Ammianus [Marcellinus], bk. 22 and Herodotus’ Euterpe. Plutarch adds in his book on Isis that the Egyptians inferred where the high-point of the Nile’s flooding would be from where the female had hatched their eggs: for since Crocodiles are unable to keep the eggs warm in the damp, and fear to lay them far from the river’s channel, they foretell by a silent instinct of nature where it will be, so that they can make use of the proximity of the river in laying and incubating (which the male and female take it in turns to do), and so keep their eggs dry and out of the damp. We are advised by this to take good care of things, and to take thought and foresee, well in advance, what we should decide or do.

Notes:

1. Jacob van den Eynde (aka Eyndius): landsadvocaat (the lawyer who represents the province) of Holland (d. 1570).

2. The prose explains that through foresight and natural providence the crocodile lays her eggs each year at the exact spot where the Nile will rise highest.

3. Pliny, Natural History, 8.25.37.89.

4. See Emblem XIIII ([FJUb014]).

5. De Iside et Osiride, 75.381B-C.



Iconclass Keywords

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Relating to the text:

  • Adversity, Misfortune, Bad Luck; 'Fortuna infelice', 'Infortunio' (Ripa) [54FF11] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Fates, Parcae (Moirae) [92G1] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • geographical names of countries, regions, mountains, rivers, etc. (names of cities and villages excepted) (with NAME) [61D(NILE)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • historical person (with NAME) other representations to which the NAME of a historical person may be attached (with NAME of person) [61B2(ENDIUS, Jacobus)3] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Prediction, Prophecy; 'Augurio', 'Divinatione', 'Profetia' (Ripa) [52E2] Search | Browse Iconclass

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