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DULCIA QUANDO-
que amara fieri.

Sweetness turns at times to bitterness

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Matre procul licta paulum secesserat infans,
Lydius[1], hunc dirae sed rapuistis apes.
Venerat hic ad vos placidas ratus esse volucres,
Cum nec ita immitis vipera saeva foret.
Que [=Quae] datis ah dulci stimulos pro munere mellis,
Proh dolor, heu sine te gratia nulla datur.[2]

A Lydian babe had strayed some way off, leaving his mother at a distance, but you made away with him, you dreadful bees. He had come to you, thinking you harmless winged creatures, yet a merciless viper would not be as savage as you. Instead of the sweet gift of honey, ah me, you give stings. Ah pain, without you, alas, no delight is granted.

Notes:

1. This is based on Anthologia graeca 9.548 , where a baby, called Hermonax, is stung to death. See also Anthologia graeca 9.302 for another epigram treating the same incident.


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Section: PERFIDIA (Treachery). View all emblems in this section.

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Dolus in suos.

Treachery against one’s own kind.

Altilis allectator anas, & caerula pennis
Adsueta ad dominos ire redire suos.
Congeneres cernens volitare per ara turmas
Garrit: in illarum se recipitque gregem,
Praetensa incautas donec sub retia ducat.
Obstrepitant captae, conscia at ipsa silet.
Perfida cognato se sanguine polluit ales,
Officiosa aliis, exitiosa suis.[1]

The well-fed decoy duck with its green-blue wings is trained to go out and return to its masters. When it sees squadrons of its relations flying through the air, it quacks and joins itself to the flock, until it can draw them, off their guard, into the outspread nets. When caught they raise a protesting clamour, but she, knowing what she has done, keeps silence. The treacherous bird defiles itself with related blood, servile to others, deadly to its own kind.

Notes:

1. Cf. Aesop, Fables, 282, where the decoy birds are pigeons.


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