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Lascivia.

Wantonness

EMBLEMA LXXIX.

Delicias & mollitiem mus creditur albus
Arguere, at ratio non sat aperta mihi est.[1]
An qud ei natura salax & multa libido est?
Ornat Romanas an quia pelle nurus?
Sarmaticum murem vocitant plerique Zibellum,[2]
Et celebris suavi est unguine muscus Arabs.[3]

The white mouse is supposed to represent self-indulgence and licentiousness, but the reason is not very clear to me. Is it because it is highly sexed and has strong sexual appetities? Or because it adorns Roman women with its fur? Many people call the civet-cat the Sarmatian mouse, and famous for its sweet oil is the Arabian musk.

Notes:

1. The white mouse was a proverbial example of the effeminate and the promiscuous. See the Suda s.v. mus, and Apostolius, Proverbs, 11,87, who also reports its sexual proclivities.

2. zibellum, ‘civet cat’, one source of musk, an ingredient in many perfumes. Sarmatia was the region north of the Black Sea.

3. murem...muscus, ‘mouse...musk’. The words ‘mouse’ and ‘musk’ (late Latin muscus) are connected, from the mouse-shaped sac of the male animals which produce musk. Some plants have a musky smell. Muscus also means ‘moss’ - Arabia was famous for plants which produced aromatic gums (e.g. incense and nard).


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Adversus naturam peccantes.[1]

Those sinning against nature.

EMBLEMA LXXX.

Turpe quidem dictu, sed & est res improba factu,
Excipiat siquis choenice ventris onus.
Mensuram, legisque modum hoc excedere sanctae est,
Quale sit incesto pollui adulterio.[2]

It is certainly foul as a deed but also a wicked thing to speak of, if someone were to empty the burden of his bowels into a bushel-box. This means exceeding the measure and limit of divine law as it would be defiled by impure adultery.

Notes:

1. With thanks to the commentary supplied on the Memorial website.

2. This emblem is omitted in most editions.


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