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TUMULUS IOANNIS GA-
leacii Vicecomitis
primi Ducis
Mediolani.[1]

The tomb of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, first Duke of Milan

Pro tumulo pone Italiam, pone arma ducesque,[2]
Et mare quod geminos mugit adusque sinus.
Adde his barbariem[3] conantem irrumpere frustra
Gallus uti, & Teuton alpe & hyberus aquis.[4]
Anguiger autem[5] summo sistens in culmine dicat,
Quīs parvis magnum me super imposuit?

Instead of the tomb, put Italy, put weapons and leaders, and the sea which roars right up to the twin curving coasts. Add to these the barbarian host, trying in vain to burst in, like the French, the German over the Alps and the Spanish by sea. But the one holding a snake, standing on the roof of the tomb, may well say: Who has put me, great as I am, on top of little things?

Notes:

1.  Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402), created first Duke of Milan in 1395. Noted for his ruthlessness, he united most of the Po valley under the rule of Milan for the first time, defeated Bologna, and set his sights on Florence until his death saved that city.

2.  This epigram is based on Anthologia graeca 7.73 (by Geminos, but wrongly attributed to Germanicus in the sixteenth century). The Greek epigram is concerned with what would be a worthy tomb for the Greek hero Themistocles, who was buried in a very simple grave. It suggests one with representations of Salamis and the Persians, recalling the hero’s most famous exploit, the victory over the Persians at the battle of Salamis. Likewise, memorials of Visconti’s achievements are proposed here.

3.  ‘the barbarian host’, i.e. the ‘barbarian’ French, who were induced to become involved in the Milan/Florence conflict and were defeated by Visconti. The French are mentioned specifically in the version of this poem found in Selecta epigrammata p.254, where 1.4 reads: Gallus ut et Theuton Alpe et Hyberus aquis, ‘like the Gaul and the Teuton via the Alps and the Spaniard via the sea’. In Alciato’s day, the French continued to overrun the Italian peninsula and attempt to dictate its internal affairs.

4.  This line is completely changed in later editions.

5.  This is presumably a figure of the Duke of Milan, whose arms included a snake; see [A31a001]. In the accompanying woodcut, we have written on a snaking ribbon held by a figure the Greek version (taken from the original Greek epigram) of the Latin words quoted in l.6.


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    IN ADULARI INSCI-
    entem.

    Unable to flatter

    Scire cupis toties dominos cur in subris ora[1],
    Mutet & ut regi serviat utque duci?[2]
    Nescit adulari, cuiquamve obtrudere palpum[3]
    Regiaque morem principis omnis habet,
    Sed velut ingenuus sonipes dorso excutit omnem,
    Qui moderandi nesciat [4]hypocomum.[5][6]

    Do you want to know why the land of the Insubres changes its overlords so often and how it serves its king and leader. It does not know how to flatter, or how to stroke anyone the right way, the behaviour every prince’s court displays. Like a noble stallion, it throws from its back every horseman who does not know how to control it.

    Notes:

    1.  Insubris ora, ‘land of the Insubres’, i.e. the plain of Milan, Alciato’s home area. Various Gallic tribes, including the Insubres, inhabited this region in the Classical period. Cf. [A50a002], and see Alciato, Historia Mediolanensis col.6.

    2.  This rather puzzling line is completely rewritten in later editions.

    3.  ‘stroke...the right way’. See Erasmus, Adagia 2527, Obtrudere palpum.

    4.  ipsum is added in later editions to regularise the scansion.

    5.  ‘horseman, groom’. See Plato, Politicus 261d for the image of the ruler as supervisor of a stud of horses.

    6.  Two further lines in later editions.


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      • virtues of the ruler [44B10] Search | Browse Iconclass
      • family of a ruler, and court [44B15] Search | Browse Iconclass
      • riding a horse, ass, or mule; rider, horseman [46C131] Search | Browse Iconclass
      • Strength, Power; 'Fortezza', 'Fortezza d'Animo e di corpo', 'Fortezza del corpo congiunta con la generositą dell'animo', 'Fortezza & valore del corpo congiunto con la prudenza & virtł del animo', 'Forza' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54A7(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
      • Sincerity; 'Puritą et Sinceritą d'animo', 'Sinceritą' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57A612(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
      • Flattery; 'Adulatione' (Ripa) [57AA6121] Search | Browse Iconclass
      • Revenge, Requital, Retaliation; 'Vendetta' (Ripa) [57AA741] Search | Browse Iconclass
      • Praise, Approbation, Approval; 'Lode' (Ripa) [57B1] Search | Browse Iconclass
      • geographical names of countries, regions, mountains, rivers, etc. (names of cities and villages excepted) (with NAME) [61D(THESSALY)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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