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FOEDERA ITALORUM.[1]

The Italians’ Alliances.

Hanc cytharam lembo [=lembi] , quae forma halieutica[2] fertur.
Vendicat, & propriam musa latina sibi.
Accipe Dux, placeat nostrum hoc tibi tempore munus
Quo nova cum sociis foedera inire paras.
Difficile est nisi docto homini tot tendere chordas,
Unaque si fuerit non bene tenta fides.
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [A3r]Ruptave (qud facile est) perit omnis gratia conchae,
Illeque praecellens cantus ineptus erit.
Sic Itali count proceres in foedera, concors,
Nil est quod timeas, si tibi constet amor.
At si aliquis desciscat (uti plerunque videmus)
In nihilum illa omnis solvitur harmonia.

This lute, which from its boat shape is called “halieutica”, my Latin Muse now claims for her own service. Receive it, O Duke. May this offering of mine be pleasing to you at this moment when you are preparing to enter into fresh agreements with your allies. It is difficult, except for a man of skill, to tune so many strings, and if one string is out of tune or broken, which so easily happens, all the music of the instrument is lost and its lovely song disjointed. In like manner the leaders of Italy are now forming alliances. There is nothing for you to fear if affection lasts for you and stays in concord. But if any one should slide away, which we often see, that harmony is all dissolved into nothing.

Notes:

1. In later editions the title is merely Foedera.

2. A Greek word meaning ‘fishing’ (boat).


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  • the artist and his muse (in general) [48B101] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • inspiration of the painter [48C75110] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Harmony, Regularity (+ emblematical representation of concept) [51D2(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Accord, Accordance [54E3] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Agreement, Unity; 'Concordia', 'Concordia insuperabile', 'Concordia militare', 'Concordia di Pace', 'Unione civile' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54E31(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • historical person (with NAME) other representations to which the NAME of a historical person may be attached (with NAME of person) [61B2(SFORZA, Massimiliano)3] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • geographical names of countries, regions, mountains, rivers, etc. (names of cities and villages excepted) (with NAME) [61D(ITALY)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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INSIGNIA DUCATUS ME-
DIOLANENSEM.

Insignia of the Duke of Milan.

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Exiliens infans sinuosi faucibus anguis,
Est gentilitiis nobile stemma tuis.[1]
Talia Pellaeum[2] gesisse nomismata regem,
Vidimus, hisque suum concelebrare genus.
Dum se Ammone satum[3] matrem anguis imagine lusam,
Divini & sobolem seminis esse docet.
Ore exit, tradunt sic quosdam enitier angues,[4]
An quia sic Pallas de capite orta Iovis.[5]

An infant bursting from the maw of a coiling serpent marks the noble lineage of your clan. We have observed that the Pellaean king had coinage with such a device and by it celebrated his own descent, proclaiming that he was begotten of Ammon, that his mother was beguiled by the form of a snake and the child was the offspring of divine seed. The infant emerges from the mouth. They say that some snakes come to birth that way. Or is it because Pallas sprang like this from the head of Jove?

Notes:

1. The Sforza family had ruled Milan since 1450, having assumed power through marriage (some said fraudulently) to a Visconti heiress, and taken their symbol as their own. They were chased out in 1499 by the French, but restored several times.

2. Pellaeum...regem: ‘the Pellaean king’, i.e. Alexander the Great, born at Pella in Macedonia

3. For the superhuman birth of Alexander, see e.g. Plutarch, Life of Alexander, 3 and 27: Jupiter in the form of a serpent mated with Olympias, wife of Philip of Macedon, and begat Alexander. Ammon, a north African deity, was identified with Zeus/Jupiter. When Alexander visited Ammon’s sanctuary, he was hailed as the son of the god.

4. According to e.g.Pliny, Natural History 10.170, Aelian, De natura animalium 1.24, the viper, alone among snakes, produces not eggs but live young. See also Isidore, Etymologiae 12.4.10.

5. The story of Pallas Athene springing complete and armed from the head of Jove is found in many sources; see e.g. Homer, Hymns 3.308ff; Hesiod, Theogony 923ff.


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