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SEMPER PRAESTO ESSE
infortunia.

Misfortune is always at hand

Ludebant parili tres olim aetate puellae
Sortibus, ad stygias quae prior iret aquas.
Ast cui iactato male cesserat alea talo,
Ridebat sortis caeca puella suae.
Cum subito icta caput labente est mortua tecto,
Solvit & audacis debita fata ioci.
Rebus in adversis mala sors non fallitur, ast in
Faustis, nec precibus nec locus est manui.[1]

Once three girls of the same age were amusing themselves, casting lots to see which of them would be the first to go to the waters of the Styx. When the dice were cast, the throw fell out unluckily for one of them, but she laughed with blind contempt at the fate predicted for her. Then suddenly she died, struck on the head as the roof fell in, and so paid the fated penalty for her bold mockery. In misfortune, a bad omen cannot be eluded, but even in prosperity neither prayers nor action have any place.

Notes:

1. This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 9.158.


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PRUDENS MAGIS QUAM
loquax.

Wise head, close mouth.

Emblema. 19.

Noctua Cecropiis[1] insignia praestat Athenis,
Inter aves sani noctua consilii,
Armiferae merito obsequiis sacrata Minervae,
Garrula quo cornix cesserat ante loco.[2]

The owl provides the symbol for Athens, Cecrops’ city, for among the birds the owl is known for wise counsel. Deservedly was it dedicated to the service of weapon-bearing Minerva, in the place vacated by the chattering crow.

Notes:

1. Cecrops was a legendary wise early king of Athens, a city renowned as a place of learning. See above, Emblem 5 ([A15a005]), line 7.

2. garrula quo cornix cesserat, ‘vacated by the chattering crow’. The crow was dismissed from Athena’s service for telling tales, and was replaced by the owl. See Ovid, Metamorphoses, 2.562-5. This story is represented in Aneau, ‘Periculum in terra, periculum in mari’ ([FANa029]).


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