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INSANI GLADIUS.

The madman’s sword

Emblema 174.

Setigeri medius stabat gregis ensifer Aiax,[1]
Caede suum credens caedere Tantalidas.[2]
Hostia sic tanquam sus succidanea[3] paenas
Pro Laertiade,[4] pro caveaque dabat.
Nescit obesse suis furor hostibus: errat ab ictu,
Consiliique impos in sua damna ruit.

Ajax was standing sword in hand in the midst of the bristled herd, thinking that in killing the pigs he was killing the descendants of Tantalus. The victim, like the substitute pig, was paying the penalty for the son of Laertes and for the assembled crowd. Madness does not know how to disadvantage its real foes; it misdirects its blows, and, lacking judgement, rushes headlong to its own destruction.

Notes:

1.  See Emblem 28 ([A15a028]) for Ajax’ madness and suicide. In his madness, he slaughtered a herd of sheep, thinking them to be the Greeks. The two largest rams he took to be Agamemnon and Menelaus. See Zenobius, Proverbs, 1.43; Horace, Satires, 2.3.197-8; Erasmus, Adagia, 646 (Aiacis risus) - Erasmus makes the animals pigs, which Alciato here follows.

2.  Tantalidas, ‘the descendants of Tantalus’ i.e. Agamemnon and Menelaus, whom Ajax blamed for his humiliation.

3.  A substitute animal was sacrificed when the first offering was rejected by the gods or, as here, in place of the proper victim. See Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 4.6.5.

4.  pro Laërtiade, ‘for the son of Laërtes’, i.e. Odysseus, to whom the Greek assembly awarded the splendid armour of the dead Achilles, not to Ajax.


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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [H4v p120]

Parem delinquentis & suasoris
culpam esse.

The one who urges wrongdoing is as guilty as the one who does the wrong

LV.

Praeconem lituo perflantem classica victrix
Captivum in tetro carcere turma tenet.
Queis ille excusat, quòd nec sit strenuus armis,
Ullius aut saevo laeserit ense latus.
Huic illi, quin ipse magis timidissime peccas,
Qui clangore alios aeris in arma cies.[1]

The victorious troop holds captive in a foul dungeon a herald, who sounds military commands on his trumpet. To them he makes his excuses - he is no strong fighting man and has wounded no one’s side with a cruel sword. They reply: You abject coward, you are in fact more guilty, for you with the sound of your trumpet stir up others to fight.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [H5r p121]

Le conseil pugny comme le
deffaillant.

LI [=LV] .

Selon que guerre en sa tempeste
Rend prospere ou dure saison,
L’ont [=L’on] print l’adversaire trompette,
Qu’on mist pour mourir en prison.
Il s’excusoit sur la raison,
Qu’il n’a d’espee faict oultraige:
Tu es (fist on) pire poison,
Car tu rends aux couars couraige.

Notes:

1.  This is a version of Aesop, Fables 325.


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  • prisoner in cell or locked place [44G313] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Counsel; 'Consiglio' (Ripa) [52E3] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Guiltiness (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54AA52(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Recommendation, Inducement, Incitement (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54C2(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Action; 'Operatione manifesta' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54D2(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Equality, Equity, Fairness, Righteousness; 'Equalità', 'Equità', 'Giuditio giusto', 'Ordine dritto e giusto', 'Ugualità' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [59C21(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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