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IMPOSSIBILE.

The impossible

Abluis Aethiopem quid frustra? ah desine, noctis
Illustrare nigrae nemo potest tenebras.[1]

Why are you washing an Ethiopian in vain? Oh, do stop. No one can turn the shades of black night into light.

Notes:

1. This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 11.428. See also Aesop, Fables 11; Erasmus, Adagia 350, Aethiopen lavas.


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  • (personifications of) 'Vanitas', the vanity of human life; Fragilit� humana, Fugacit� delle grandezze & della gloria mondana, Meditatione della morte, Opera vana, Piacere vano, Vana gloria, Vanit� (Ripa) [11R5] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • day and night [23R] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Impossibility (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52BB42(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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EMBLEMA CXIIII

Consiliarii Principum.

Counsellors of princes

Heroum genitos, & magnum fertur Achillem
In stabulis Chiron erudiisse suis.[1]
Semiferum doctorem, & semivirum centaurum,
Assideat quisquis regibus, esse decet.[2]
Est fera, dum violat socios, dum proterit hostes:
Estque homo, dum simulat se populo esse pium.

It is said that Chiron brought up in his stables the sons of heroes and the great Achilles. He shows us that anyone who sits in counsel with kings must be a teacher who is half a beast, a centaur who is half a man. He is the beast when he attacks supporters and tramples on enemies. He is the man when he feigns compassion for the people.

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Das CXIIII.

Frsten Rht.

Der Centaur Chiron wie dsag sol
Gelernet habn in seinem hol
Und underweist den knen Mann
Achillem der von Helden kam
Ein jeder der zu Hof seyn wil
Bey grossen Herren wol am spil
Mu seyn ein Mensch wie ein halb Thier
Und wie ein halb Mensch ein wild Stier
Ein Thier ist er so er letzt die Freundt
So er zu Boden stst die Feind
Und ein Mensch ist er so er sich
Stelt gegen jederman freundtlich.

Notes:

1. Chiron, the wise centaur entrusted with the education of Achilles, Aesculapius, and other noble figures. Centaurs were creatures combining the physical and mental characteristics of a man with those of a horse. They were wild and uncontrolled, and came to symbolise humanity descending to savagery. Even the civilised Chiron, the educator, retained violent potential.

2. Variant reading: esse docet, ‘He shows us that anyone who sits in counsel with kings is ...’


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