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Link to an image of this pageLink to an image of this page †[Q8r p255]

In adulatores.

Flatterers

EMBLEMA LIII.

Semper hiat, semper tenuem, qua vescitur, auram
Reciprocat Chamaeleon[1]:
Et mutat faciem, varios sumitque colores,
Praeter rubrum, vel candidum.[2]
Sic & adulator populari vescitur aura,[3]
Hiansque cuncta devorat:
Et solým mores imitatur Principis atros,
Albi, & pudici nescius.

The Chameleon is always breathing in and out with open mouth the bodiless air on which it feeds; it changes its appearance and takes on various colours, except for red and white. - Even so the flatterer feeds on the wind of popular approval and gulps down all with open mouth. He imitates only the black features of the prince, knowing nothing of the white and pure.

Notes:

1.This creature was supposed to feed only on air, keeping its mouth wide open to suck it in. See Pliny, Natural History 8.51.122. For the chameleon cf. Erasmus, Parabolae pp.144, 241, 252.

2.‘except for red and white’. See Pliny, ib.

3.‘the wind of popular approval’. This is a common metaphor in Latin, e.g. Horace, Odes 3.2.20, ‘at the behest of the wind of popular approval.’


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Section: STULTITIA (Folly). View all emblems in this section.

Link to an image of this pageLink to an image of this page †[E3r p69]

Vespertilio.

The bat

Assumpsisse suum volucri ex Meneide nomen,[1]
Socraticum autores Choerephoonta ferunt.[2]
Fusca viro facies, & stridens vocula, tali
Hunc hominem potuit commaculare nota.

Writers tell us that Chaerephon, Socrates’ follower, got his particular name from the winged daughter of Minyas. It was his sallow complexion and squeaky little voice that gave rise to such a slur to sully his reputation.

Notes:

1.For the transformation of the daughters of Minyas (the founder of the earliest race of Greeks) into bats - for refusing to worship Dionysus - see Ovid, Metamorphoses, 4.389ff.

2.Chaerophon, a distinguished disciple of Socrates, was nick-named ‘The Bat’ and ‘Boxwood’ for his pale complexion and poor health, supposedly brought on by excessive study. See Aristophanes, Aves, 1564; Philostratus, Vitae sophistarum, 1.482.


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  • study and diversion [49A1] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • studying at night [49B4411] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Minyas' daughters changed into bats: having aroused Bacchus' anger by weaving instead of worshipping him, the daughters of Minyas, Leuconoe (Leucippe), Alcithoe and Arsippe, are changed into bats by the god (Ovid, Metamorphoses IV 399) [97CC7] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • male persons from classical history (with NAME) representations to which the NAME of a person from classical history may be attached [98B(CHAEREPHON)3] Search | Browse Iconclass

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