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IN SENATUM BONI
PRINCIPIS.

On the senate of a good prince

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Effigies manibus truncae ante altaria Divum,
Hic resident, quarum lumine capta prior.
Signa potestatis summae sanctique senatus,
Thebanis fuerant ista reperta viris.[1]
Cur resident? quia mente graves decet esse quieta,
Iuridicos animo ne [=nec] variare levi.
Cur sine sunt manibus? capiant ne xaenia, nec se
Pollicitis flecti muneribusve sinant.
Caecus at est princeps, quod solis auribus, absque
Affectu constans iussa senatus agit.

Figures without hands sit here before the altars of the gods. The chief of them is deprived of sight. These symbols of the supreme power and of the reverend senate were discovered by men of Thebes. - Why do they sit? - Because lawgivers should be serious, of a calm mind, and not change with inconstant thoughts. - Why have they no hands? - So that they may not take gifts, nor let themselves be influenced by promises or bribes. But the president is blind, because the Senate, by hearing alone, uninfluenced by feeling, impartially discharges what it is bidden to do.

Notes:

1.  This is Thebes in Egypt. See Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride 10; also Erasmus, Adagia 2601, Scarabaeus aquilam quaerit.


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Le parlement du bon Prince.

LIX.

Ces gents sans mains qui sont assis,
Sont ceux dont justice est pourveuë:
Ils seent ayant sens rassis:
Et don chose n’est d’eux receuë:
Leur Prince privé de sa veuë,
Ne peut appercevoir personne:
Et juge par sentence deuë,
Selon qu’en l’oreille on luy sonne.

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commentaires.

Les Thebains, personnages fort prudents, mirent
au devant des autels de leurs Dieux, des effigies de
Juges qui n’avoyent point de mains, hors mis le pre-
mier, qui estoit le plus haut assis, lequel avoit bien
des mains, mais il estoit aveugle. Ils vouloyent par ce-
cy nous tracer un modelle & une idee d’un bon &
souverain Senat. Or sont-ils assis, pource que les juges
doyvent estre graves, rassis & constans: non remuans
ny turbulents. Ils n’ont point de mains, à fin qu’ils ne
puissent prendre aucuns dons ny presents, qui les corrom-
proyent. Le Prince n’a point d’yeux, à fin qu’il juge
seulement selon ce qu’il oit: S’il avoit des yeux, cela le
pourroit inviter à avoir esgard aux personnes. Les
Juges se doyvent souvenir qu’ils sont Lieutenans de
Dieu, & que tost ou tard, il faudra qu’ils rendent
compte à leur Capitaine, qui punira beaucoup plus ri-
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [F3v p86] goureusement leurs prevarications, qu’il ne fera pas
celles des autres estats & vocations.


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