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tetrastichon.

Quis sapor est dapibus? quae fercula grata palato,
Si gladius pendens immineat capiti?
Vita Tyrannorum simili discrimine pendet,
Quorum finitur (non nisi morte) metus.[1]

What does the feast taste like? What courses are sweet for the palate, if a dangling sword threatens the head? The life of tyrants hangs on a similar chance; their fear ends thus (not without death).

quatrain.

En ce festin de manger n’ay envie,
Ne de gaudir (tout ainsi beau qu’il est)
Lors que je pense & cognoys que ma vie
Seulement tient, & depend d’un filet.

Notes:

1.  Reference to the ‘Sword of Damocles’. Damocles was the courtier of Dionysius I, Tyrant of Syracuse, who traded places with him for a day, only to discover the sword hanging above his head by a horsehair. A symbol for the dangers of occupying a position of power. Cicero, Tusculanae Quaestiones, 5.61-62.


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