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ALBUTII AD D. ALCIATUM,
suadens, ut de tumultibus Italicis se subducat,
& in Gallia profiteatur.[1]

Sent by Albutius to Alciato urging him to withdraw from the Italian troubles and take up a teaching post in France

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Quae dedit hos fructus arbor[2] coelo advena nostro,
Venit ab eoo persidis axe prius.
Translatu facta est melior, quae noxia quondam,
In patria, hic nobis dulcia poma gerit,
Fert folium linguae, fert poma similima cordi,
Alciate hinc vitam degere disce tuam.
Tu procul à patria[3] in pretio es maiore futurus,
Multum corde sapis, nec minus ore vales.

The tree that gave us these fruits, a stranger to our skies, came formerly from the eastern climes of Persia. By the transplanting it was made better. The tree that once bore harmful fruits in its native land, here bears sweet ones for us. It carries leaves like a tongue, fruits like a heart. Alciato, learn from it how to spend your life. Far from your own country, you will be held in greater esteem. You are wise in heart, and no less effective in speech.

Notes:

1.  This person has been identified as Aurelius Albutius, lawyer, scholar and poet, like Alciato originally from Milan. On the question of the genuineness of this ascription and a suggested date for the epigram preceding Alciato’s first removal to France in 1518, see J. Köhler, Der ‘Emblematum liber’ von Andreas Alciatus (1492-1550) (Hildesheim: August Lax, 1986).

2.  ‘The tree that gave us these fruits’, i.e. the peach, with its heart-shaped fruit and tongue-shaped leaves.

3.  ‘Far from your own country’. Alciato had two periods in France. He was lecturing on Civil Law in Avignon from 1518-1522, then returned to Milan. He again took up his teaching post in Avignon in 1527, and then removed to Bourges, where he remained until his return to Italy (Pavia) in 1533. The ‘troubles’ mentioned could be political (there was much fighting and tumult in N. Italy), or could refer to the wrangling between rival schools of academic lawyers during Alciato’s youth.


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IN ILLAUDATA LAU-
DANTES.

Praising the wrong things

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Ingentes Galatum semerini [=semermi] milite turmas,
Spem praeter trepidus fuderat Antiochus.[1]
Lucarum cum saeva boum vis,[2] ira proboscis,
Tum primum[3] hostiles corripuisset equos.
Ergo trophea locans Elephantis imagine pinxit,
Insuper & sociis occideramus ait.
Bellua servasset ni nos foedissima barrus,
Ut superasse iuvat, sic superasse pudet.

Antiochus, in spite of his fears, had beyond all expectation routed the huge squadrons of Galatians with his light-armed troops, when the savage might of elephants, their raging and their trunks, for the first time ever fell upon the enemy’s cavalry. So when he set up the trophy, he adorned it with the picture of an elephant and furthermore said to his troops: “We would have fallen, if this revolting beast, the elephant, had not preserved us. Pleasing as it is to conquer, it is galling to conquer like this”.

Notes:

1.  For this incident, see Lucian, Zeuxis sive Antiochus 8-11. In 276 BC Antiochus I won against fearful odds by directing his sixteen elephants against the Galatian horsemen and scythed chariots. Not only did the horses turn in panic and cause chaos among their own infantry, but the elephants came on behind, tossing, goring and trampling. Although he had won an overwhelming victory, Antiochus did not consider it a matter for congratulation.

2.  ‘Might of elephants’, lit. ‘might of Lucanian cattle’, supposedly so called by the Romans because they first saw these strange beasts in Lucania in south Italy, when King Pyrrhus of Epirus made use of them in his defeat of the Romans at the battle of Heraclea in 280 BC. See Pliny, Natural History 8.6.16.

3.  ‘For the first time ever’. The Galatians, Celtic tribes who had invaded Asia Minor, had never seen elephants before. Elephants had often been used in battle on other occasions.


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