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IN SIMULACRUM SPEI.

A picture of hope

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Quae dea tam laeto suspectans sydera vultu,
Cuius penniculis reddita imago fuit?
Elpidii[1] fecêre manus, ego nominor illa,
Quae miseris promptam spes bona praestat opem.
Cur viridis tibi Palla? quòd omnia me duce vernent,
Quid manibus mortis tela[2] refracta geris.
Quod vivos sperare decet, praecido sepultis,
Cur in dolioli tegmine pigra sedes.
Sola domi mansi volitantibus undique noxis,
Ascraei[3] ut docuit musa verenda senis.
Quae tibi adest volucris? cornix fidissimus oscen,[4]
Est bene cum nequeat dicere dicit erit.
Qui comites? bonus eventus[5], praecepsve cupido,
Qui praeeunt, vigilum somnia vana vocant.
Quae tibi iuncta astat, scelerum Rhamnusia[6] vindex,
Scilicet ut speres nil nisi quod liceat.[7]

What goddess is this, looking up to the stars with face so glad? By whose brush was this image depicted? - The hands of Elpidius made me. I am called Good Hope, the one who brings ready aid to the wretched. - Why is your garment green? - Because everything will spring green when I lead the way. - Why do you hold Death’s blunt arrows in your hands? - The hopes that the living may have, I cut short for the buried. - Why do you sit idle on the cover of a jar? - I alone stayed behind at home when evils fluttered all around, as the revered muse of the old poet of Ascra has told you. - What bird is at your side? - A crow, the faithful prophet. When it cannot say, ‘All’s well’, it says, ‘All shall be well’. - Who are your companions? - Happy Ending and Eager Desire. - Who go before you? - They call them the idle dreams of those who are awake. - Who stands close beside you? - Rhamnusia, the avenger of crimes, to make sure that you hope for nothing but what is allowed.

Notes:

1.  Elpidius is an invented name derived from Greek elpis, ‘hope’.

2.  For Death’s arrows cf. [A34a066] .

3.  ‘the old poet of Ascra’, i.e. Hesiod. See Hesiod, Opera et dies 90ff. for the story of Pandora’s box or jar.

4.  ‘a crow, the faithful prophet’. The crow was a bird of prophecy and an emblem of hope. Its caw was interpreted as cras, cras, ‘tomorrow, tomorrow’. Cf. the proverb, Quod hodie non est, cras erit: ‘What is not today shall be tomorrow.’

5.  Bonus Eventus or Bonne Aventure, cf. Evento Buono in Ripa, Iconologia; also called ‘Success’ or ‘Happy Ending’.

6.  Rhamnusia, i.e. Nemesis, who had a shrine at Rhamnus in Attica.

7.  The woodcut is also used for Illicitum non sperandum [A31a013].


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SIGNA FORTIUM.

The mark of the brave

Quae te causa movet volucris saturnia[1] magni,
Ut tumulo insideas ardua Aristomenis[2]?
Hoc moneo quantum inter aves ego robore praesto,
Tantum semideos inter Aristomenes.
Insideant timidae timidorum busta columbae,
Nos aquilae intrepidis signa benigna damus.

Saturnian bird, what cause brings you to stand with uplifted wings on the tomb of mighty Aristomenes? - I tell you this - as I stand out among the birds in power, so does Aristomenes among the sons of gods. Fearful doves may perch on the graves of the fearful. We eagles give signs of favour to the fearless.

Notes:

1.  volucris Saturnia, ‘Saturnian bird’, i.e. the eagle, attendant on Jupiter, son of Saturn.

2.  Aristomenes was a Messenian hero of the seventh century BC, of semi-divine origin, who performed incredible exploits while leading his country for many years in resistance to the Spartans. On one occasion an eagle aided his miraculous escape from captivity.


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  • doves, pigeons [34B231] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Strength, Power; 'Fortezza', 'Fortezza d'Animo e di corpo', 'Fortezza del corpo congiunta con la generosit… dell'animo', 'Fortezza & valore del corpo congiunto con la prudenza & virtu del animo', 'Forza'(Ripa) [54A7] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Courage, Bravery, Valiance, Manliness; 'Ardire magnanimo et generoso', 'Gagliardezza', 'Valore', 'Virtù heroica', 'Virtù dell'animo e del corpo' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54A8(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Cowardice [54AA8] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Fear, Dread; 'Paura', 'Timidità o Timore', 'Timore' (Ripa) [56DD1] Search | Browse Iconclass

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