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IN ADULATORES.

Flatterers

De Chameleonte vide Plinium naturalis historia
libro. VIII. Cap. XXXIII.

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Semper hiat, semper tenuem qua vescitur auram,
Reciprocat Chamaeleon[1].
Et mutat faciem varios sumitque colores,
Praeter rubrum vel candidum.[2]
Sic & adulator populari vescitur aura,[3]
Hiansque cuncta devorat,
Et solum mores imitatur principis atros.
Albi & pudici nescius.

The Chameleon is always breathing in and out with open mouth the bodiless air on which it feeds; it changes its appearance and takes on various colours, except for red and white. - Even so the flatterer feeds on the wind of popular approval and gulps down all with open mouth. He imitates only the black features of the prince, knowing nothing of the white and pure.

Notes:

1.  This creature was supposed to feed only on air, keeping its mouth wide open to suck it in. See Pliny, Natural History 8.51.122. For the chameleon cf. Erasmus, Parabolae pp.144, 241, 252.

2.  ‘except for red and white’. See Pliny, ib.

3.  ‘the wind of popular approval’. This is a common metaphor in Latin, e.g. Horace, Odes 3.2.20, ‘at the behest of the wind of popular approval.’


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    DOCTOS DOCTIS OBLOQUI
    nefas esse.

    It is wicked for scholars to wrangle with other scholars

    Emblema 178.

    Quid rapis heu Progne vocalem saeva cicadam,
    Pignoribusque tuis fercula dira paras?[1]
    Stridula stridentem, vernam verna, hospita laedis
    Hospitam, & aligeram penniger ales avem?
    Ergo abiice hanc praedam: nam musica pectora summum est
    Alterum ab alterius dente perire nefas.

    Alas, Procne, why, cruel bird, do you sieze on the melodious cicada and prepare a dreadful banquet for your young? A whistler yourself, you harm the shrill singer; a summer visitor, you hurt another fine-weather caller; a guest, you harm a guest; a feathered bird, you hurt another winged creature. So let this prize go. It is the greatest sin for hearts devoted to the Muses to perish by one another’s tooth.

    Notes:

    1.  The reference is to the legend of Procne’s metamorphosis into a swallow. See [A15a070] and [A15a192]. For swallows catching cicadas, see Aelian, De natura animalium 8.6.


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    • discussion, dialogue, dispute ~ scholar, philosopher [49C40] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • scholar or scientist with muse [49L(+101)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • Similarity, Likeness [51B2] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • Eloquence; 'Eloquenza', 'Fermezza & Gravità dell'Oratione' (Ripa) [52D3] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • Disagreement, Discord; 'Discordia' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54EE31(+4):51B3(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • Malevolence, Maliciousness; 'Malevolenza', 'Malignità', 'Malvagità' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57AA7(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • (story of the) Muses; 'Muse' (Ripa) [92D4] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • Philomela, Procne and Tereus changed into nightingale, swallow, hoopoe (or hawk): Tereus seeks to kill Philomela and Procne for having slain his son; in their flight the two sisters are changed into a nightingale and a swallow; Tereus is changed into a ho [97DD23] Search | Browse Iconclass

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