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IN ADULATORES.

Flatterers

De Chameleonte vide Plinium naturalis Historia
libro VIII. Cap. XXXIII.

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Semper hiat, semper tenuem qua vescitur aura [=auram] ,
Reciprocat chamaeleon[1].
Et mutat faciem, varios sumitque colores,
Praeter rubrum vel candidum.[2]
Sic & adulator populari vescitur aura,[3]
Hiansque cuncta devorat.
Et solum mores imitatur principis atros.
Albi & pudici nescius.

The Chameleon is always breathing in and out with open mouth the bodiless air on which it feeds; it changes its appearance and takes on various colours, except for red and white. - Even so the flatterer feeds on the wind of popular approval and gulps down all with open mouth. He imitates only the black features of the prince, knowing nothing of the white and pure.

Notes:

1. This creature was supposed to feed only on air, keeping its mouth wide open to suck it in. See Pliny, Natural History 8.51.122. For the chameleon cf. Erasmus, Parabolae pp.144, 241, 252.

2. ‘except for red and white’. See Pliny, ib.

3. ‘the wind of popular approval’. This is a common metaphor in Latin, e.g. Horace, Odes 3.2.20, ‘at the behest of the wind of popular approval.’


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    Section: PERFIDIA (Treachery). View all emblems in this section.

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    In fraudulentos.

    Deceivers

    Parva lacerta, atris stellatus corpora guttis
    Stellio,[1] qui latebras, & cava busta colit,
    Invidiae, pravique doli fert symbola pictus.
    Heu nimium nuribus cognita zelotypis.
    Nam turpi obtegitur faciem lentigine quisquis,
    Sit quibus immersus Stellio, vina bibat.[2]
    Hinc vindicta frequens decepta pellice vino,
    Quam formae amisso flore relinquit amans.

    The little lizard, called the ‘starred’ gecko from the dark star-shaped marks sprinkled all over its body, a creature that lurks in holes and hollow tombs, is pictured here and presents symbols of resentment and wicked deception, known only too well to jealous wives. For anyone who drinks wine in which a spotted gecko has been soaked comes out in ugly spots all over the face. This is often a way of taking revenge - the husband’s fancy woman is tricked with wine, and, when the flower of her beauty is gone, her lover abandons her.

    Notes:

    1. stellio, ‘the ‘starred’ gecko’. See Ovid, Metamorphoses, 5.461 for the explanation of the name stellio.

    2. Nam turpi...vina bibat, ‘anyone who drinks wine...all over the face’. See Pliny, Natural History, 29.22.73.


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