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IN VITAM HUMANAM.

On human life

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Plus solito humanae nunc defle incommoda vitae
Heraclite, scatet pluribus illa malis.
Tu rursus, si quando alias extolle cachinnum,
Democrite, illa magis ludicra facta fuit.
Interea haec cernens meditor, qua denique tecum,
Fine fleam, aut tecum quomodo splene iocer.[1]

Weep now, Heraclitus, even more than you did, for the ills of human life. It teems with far more woes. And you, Democritus, if ever you laughed before, raise your cackle now. Life has become more of a joke. Meanwhile, seeing all this, I consider just how far I can weep with you, how laugh bitterly with you.

Notes:

1. This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 9.148. For Heraclitus, cf. [A50a016]. For the contrast between the despairing tears of Heraclitus (who withdrew from human society) and the sardonic laughter of Democritus when faced with the folly of men, see, among many sources, e.g. Juvenal, Satires 10, 28ff.


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REMEDIA IN ARDUO MALA.
in prono esse.

Remedies are hard, damage is easy

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Aetheriis postquam deiecit sedibus Aten,
Iupiter[1] heu vexat qum mala noxa viros.
Evolat haec pedibus celer & pernicibus alis,
Intactumque nihil casibus esse sinit.
Ergo litae proles Iovis hanc comitantur euntem,[2]
Sarcturae quicquid fecerit illa mali.
Sed quia segnipedes strabae[3] lassaeque senecta,
Nil nisi post longo tempore restituunt.[4]

Once Jupiter had cast Ate down from the heavenly abode, what an evil bane thereafter assailed poor man! Ate flies out fleet of foot with fast-beating wing and leaves nothing untouched by mishap. So Jove’s daughters, the Litae, accompany her as she goes, to mend whatever ill she has brought about. But they are slow-footed, poor of sight and weary with age, and so they restore nothing until later, after long passage of time.

Notes:

1. ‘Jupiter had cast Ate down’. See Homer, Iliad 19. 125ff.

2. ‘the Litae accompany her’. See Homer, Iliad 9.502ff. Ate means ‘Mischief’, Litae, ‘Prayers’. Ate was cast out of Olympus to bring harm to mankind, a personification of humans being led astray. The Litae were a personification of prayers offered in repentance.

3. Textual variant: luscae.

4. The woodcut is puzzling. Possibly the monster is supposed to represent Ate; in later editions she appears as a harpy-like figure. The Litae feature, in later editions, as old women. The old man presumably represents the suffering of mankind.


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  • walking - AA - female human figure [31AA2711] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Slow Motion (+ emblematical representation of concept) [51MM1(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Viciousness, Naughtiness (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57AA6(+4):54D4(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Revenge, Requital, Retaliation; 'Vendetta' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57AA741(+4):54DD4(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Jupiter seizes Ate by her hair and hurls her down from Olympus, possibly because of the delayed birth of Hercules (+ variant) [92B143(+0)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • other lesser deities of Heaven ~ destiny, fate, adversity: Litae [92G7(LITAE)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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