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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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    EMBLEMA CXVII.

    In receptatores sicariorum.

    Those who harbour cut-throats

    Latronum furumque manus tibi saeva[1] per urbem
    It comes: & diris cincta cohors gladiis.
    Atque ita te mentis generosum prodige censes,
    Quod tua complures allicit olla malos,
    En novus Actaeon, qui postqum cornua sumpsit,
    In praedam canibus se dedit ipse suis.[2]

    A fierce band of ruffians and thieves accompanies you about the city, a gang of supporters armed with lethal swords. And so, you wastrel, you consider yourself a fine lordly fellow because your cooking pot draws in crowds of scoundrels. - Here’s a fresh Actaeon - he, after he grew his horns, became the prey of his own hunting dogs.

    Das CXVII.

    Wider die so sich zu der Landsknecht und
    Buben Rott gesellen.

    Dich Lurtsch, So du gehst durch dstat
    Volget dir nach ein hauffen drat
    Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [M2v f77v] Der frechen und verwegnen Knecht
    Mit gwerter hand ein unntz Gschlecht
    Und meinst also seystdu alsdann
    Dester Edler im Gschlecht und Stamm
    Dieweil du hast an dich gehengt
    Ein Gottlo Rott, durch miet und schenck
    Sich an ein neuwen Actean
    Welcher da er die Hrner gewan
    Wurd er von seinen eigen Wind [=Hind]
    Zerrissen und gefressen gschwind.

    Notes:

    1. Other editions read scaeva, ‘evil-minded’. The capital letter in some editions suggests that the Latin word could be taken as a proper name in the vocative case, i.e addressing one Scaeva.

    2. For the story of Actaeon turned into a stag and killed by his own hounds, see Ovid, Metamorphoses 3.138ff. Similarly, the hangers-on will destroy the one who has fed them.


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