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ETIAM FEROCISSIMOS
DOMARI.

Even the fiercest are tamed.

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Romanum postquām eloquium, Cicerone perempto
Perdiderat[1] patriae pestis acerba suae,
Inscendit currus victor iunxitque leones[2],
Compulit & durum colla subire iugum
Magnanimos cessisse suis Antonius armis,
Ambage hac cupiens significare duces.

After Antony, that grievous bane of his country, had destroyed eloquence by slaying Cicero, he mounted his chariot in triumph and yoked to it lions, forcing their necks to bow to the harsh yoke, desiring by this symbolic act to indicate that great leaders had given way before his military might.

Notes:

1.  ‘had destroyed eloquence by slaying Cicero’. Cicero was considered Rome’s greatest orator - his name was held by many to be synonymous with eloquence itself; see Quintilian, Institutio oratoria 10.1.112. Mark Antony had Cicero murdered in 43 BC in revenge for his scathing attacks in the fourteen ‘Philippic’ orations. See Seneca the Elder, Suasoriae 6.17.

2.  Cf. Pliny, Natural History 8.21.55: Antony was the first to yoke lions to a chariot in Rome...by this unnatural sight giving people to understand that noble spirits were at that time bowing to the yoke.


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INSIGNIA DUCATUS ME-
DIOLANENSEM.

Insignia of the Duke of Milan.

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Exiliens infans sinuosi č 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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