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Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [D3v p54]

EMBLEMA XLVIII.

Princeps ne cui aures servas praebeat.

A prince’s ear should not be at the service of anyone.

Sublimem aere Iovis statuam, patula aure carentem,
Sacrarat Minoa Creta.
Principis est, regnum dextra moderantis habena,
Servam ne cui commodet aurem.

Minoan Crete had dedicated a lofty statue in bronze of Jupiter, with its ears blocked. It behoves any prince that governs his kingdom with a skilful rein, Not to put his ear at the disposal of anyone.


Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [I6r p139]

Herocum est Archilochio tetrametro adiunctum.
Desumptum est ex Plutarcho, libro de
Iside saepius antea citato, ubi sic ait. In Creta Io-
vi
s fuit statua, auribus mutila: quo symbolo innue
re voluit artifex, principem & qui ius in omnes
habeat, non debere alicui aures suas mancipio
dare, hoc est, ita accommodare ut ab illo possessae
videantur, utque illarum obsequio abuti queat.
Nihil perniciosius est qum qud aures in omne
patentes princeps habeat: id quod Marcellinus
lib. 16. de Constantino Caesare praedicat, turpem
tanto Imperatori maculam adspergens;[1] contr
qum praeclarum acroama & elogium Iuliano
lib. 18. idem tribuit illius patrueli, quo praedicat
eum personarum indeclinabilem[2] iusti iniustique
fuisse distinctorem: addito & documenti vi-
ce exemplo laudabili, quod huiusmodi est:
nam cm Numerius, provinciae Narbonensis[3]
rector, peculatus insimulatus, rationibus crimen
obiectum facil dilueret, ac Cephidius orator
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [I6v p140]hominis innocentiam acerrim oppugnaret, in-
opsque documentorum exclamaret: Neminem
quenquam nocentem fore, si infitiari sufficeret:
Iulianus sapienter ex tempore subiecit, Ecquis
tandem innocens erit, si accusasse sufficiet? Non
alienum hinc est Alexandri Macedonis factum,
altera manu opposita aurem obstruentis, ut reo
servaretur integra.

A heroic hexameter is joined up to an Archilochian tetrameter.
This emblem is taken from Plutarch’s book On Isis, already much referred to, where he says the following: In Crete was a statue of Jupiter, which lacked ears. The sculptor’s intended meaning was that a prince, or anyone who holds sway in anything, should not lend his ears too freely to anyone; that is to say, he should not be so accommodating to anyone that his ears seem to be in that person’s possession, and that that person could potentially abuse this [lit. their] indulgence. Nothing is more dangerous than that a prince should be open to suggestion from anyone whatsoever, something for which Ammianus criticises the emperor Constantine in bk. 16, thereby casting a grievous aspersion on the character of that great ruler; what a glorious rhapsody and glowing character-reference the same author makes by contrast in bk. 18 on Constantine’s cousin Julian, in which he records that he was an inflexible judge of persons, both good and wicked; to which he adds a praiseworthy example as evidence, to this effect. When Numerius (he says), governor of Provence, was arraigned on a charge of corruption, and was easily able to brush off the charges against him with sound arguments, the orator Cephidius [p.140] bitterly impugned the man's innocence, though he lacked evidence, and exclaimed that ‘no-one would ever be found guilty, if flat denial were defence enough;’ but Julian in his wisdom came back on the spur of the moment with: ‘Then who will ever be innocent, if an accusation were evidence enough?’ In the same vein is the thing that Alexander of Macedon did, when he would block one ear by holding a hand up to it [when a speech of accusation was being made], so that it should remain unbiased when hearing the defendant’s case.

Notes:

1. Lit. ‘alleging a grievous stain against so great an Emperor’. The Latin appears somewhat ambiguous as to whether Junius considers Ammianus’ charge to be reasonable: turpem (‘grievous’) could be read as referring either to the grievousness of the (wrongful) charge, or to the wickedness of the deed for which he was (rightly) charged. Ammianus was (and is) considered a fine writer and historian, but potentially biased against the Christian emperors on account of his paganism and his partisan support for Julian the Apostate; but this would not necessarily have bothered Junius.

2. Indeclinabilis: Ammianus’ own word: Res Gestae, 18.1.

3. Provincia Narbonensis, the Roman province in Gaul with its capital at Narbonne, is today known as Provence. Governor Numerius is not found in standard classical reference books.



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