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Ridicula ambitio.

Ridiculous ambition

Quid non ambitio persuadet dedita vanis,
Dum ex levibus certum captat inepta decus?
Ánnon[1] ex avium cantu, quas gutture nomen
Fingere consuerat, notior esse cupit?
His igitur tandem missis ut spargere in Orbe
Nomen heri possent, atque sonare procul:
Pristina continuò repetebant carmina sylvis,
Annonis & votum docta fefellit avis.
Ficedulas etiam religatas pertrahit esca,
Stamina si rumpant, libera rura petunt.
In levibus quaeso, firmam ne ponito laudem:
Sola fugit virtus tristia fata rogi.

What does ambition, devoted to foolish matters, not persuade to do, silly as she is, in trying to achieve distinct glory from foolish actions? Hanno wanted to become famous through the song of the birds he had taught to counterfeit his name with their throat. But, when in the end they were released, so they could spread the name of their master over the world, and celebrate it in places far away, they immediately took up their old songs in the woods. The learned bird failed to come up to Hanno’s wish. Food still lures fig-peckers into captivity, but if they break the threads [of the net], they make for the open fields. Please do not found praise on foolish matters; only virtue escapes the sad fate of the funeral pyre.

Notes:

1.  This reference is not to the more famous Hanno, rival of Hannibal, but to an earlier Carthaginian, possibly ‘Hanno the Navigator’, from the 6th or 5th century BC. The story of the trained birds comes from Aelian, Varia historia, 14.30.



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