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In simulachrum Spei.[1]

A picture of hope

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

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. From the 1536 Wechel edition onwards, the woodcut is revised: Nemesis is added, just peeping round the corner.

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

3. For Death’s arrows cf. [A34b065], [A34b066].

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

5. ‘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.’

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

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


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Qu Dii vocant eundum.

Go where Heaven calls

In trivio mons est lapidum, supereminet illi
Trunca Dei effigies, pectore facta tenus:
Mercurii est igitur tumulus, suspende viator
Serta deo, rectum qui tibi monstrat iter.[1]
Omnes in trivio sumus, atque hoc tramite vitae
Fallimur, ostendat ni Deus ipse viam.

At a parting of the ways, there is a hillock of stones. Rising above it is a half-statue of a god, fashioned as far down as the chest. So the hill is Mercury’s. Traveller, hang wreaths in honour of the god who points out the road to you. We are all at the crossroads, and on this track of life we go wrong, unless God himself shows us the way.

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Aller ou dieu appelle.

Scais tu que signifie Mercure,
Sur ung mur estant pres la voye:
Et qui de la monstrer prand cure,
Affin que nul ne se fourvoye?
Ce veult dire, que dieu pourvoye
En ce mondain chemin les hommes.
Car sans son ayde, on se desvoye,
En tant de faulx sentiers, ou sommes.

Notes:

1. Mercury was, among his many other functions, the god of travellers.


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