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Beware of even the weakest foe

Bella gerit scarabaeus & hostem provocat ultro,
Robore & inferior consilio superat.
Nam plumis aquile clam se neque cognitus abdit,
Hostilem ut nidum summa per astra petat.
Quaque [=Ovaque] confodiens prohibet spem crescere prolis,
Hocque modo illatum dedecus ulctus [=ultus] abit.[2]

The scarab beetle is waging war and takes the challenge to its foe. Though inferior in physical strength, it is superior in strategy. It hides itself secretly in the eagle’s feathers without being felt, in order to attack its enemy’s nest across the lofty skies. It bores into the eggs and prevents the hoped-for offspring from developing. And then it departs, having thus avenged the insult inflicted on it.


1.  Corrected from the Errata.

2.  For the feud between the eagle and the beetle, see Aesop, Fables 4; Erasmus, Adagia 2601, Scarabaeus aquilam quaerit.

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