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Litera occidit, spiritus vivificat.[1]

The letter kills but the spirit gives life

Vipereos Cadmus dentes ut credidit arvis,
Sevit & Aonio semina dira solo,
Terrigenum clypeata cohors extorta virorum est,
Hostili inter se qui cecidere manu.
Evasere quibus monitu Tritonidos armis
Abiectis data pax dextraque iuncta fuit.[2]
Primus Agenorides[3] elementa notasque magistris
Tradidit, iis suavem iunxit & harmoniam.[4]
Quorum discipulos contraria plurima vexant,
Non nisi Palladia quae dirimuntur ope.

When Cadmus entrusted the dragon’s teeth to the furrows and sowed the dread seed in Aonian [Theban] soil, there sprang up a shield-bearing band of earth-born men, who fell by fighting among themselves. Those escaped who at Tritonia’s [Athena’s] command threw down their arms, granted peace and joined right hands. Agenor’s son first gave to teachers letters and symbols and also put together for them sweet musical concord. Many adversities assail those who follow these disciplines, adversities which are resolved only by Pallas Athena’s aid.

Notes:

1. II Corinthians 3:6.

2. For the story of Cadmus, founder of Thebes (in Aonia, or less correctly in the French, in Thessaly), and the dragon’s teeth, see Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.99ff. Athena, goddess of wisdom - here called Tritonia, from the place of her birth in North Africa - brought the internecine struggle between the earth-born warriors to an end.

3. Agenorides, ‘Agenor’s son’, i.e. Cadmus, who supposedly introduced writing to Greece. The scattering of the dragon’s teeth was interpreted as the invention of the alphabet.

4. harmoniam, ‘musical concord’. Cadmus’ wife was called Harmonia.


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Cotonea.

The quince

EMBLEMA CCIII.

Poma novis tribui debere Cydonia nuptis
Dicitur antiquus constituisse Solon.[1]
Grata ori & stomacho cm sint, ut & halitus illis
Sit suavis, blandus mnet & ore lepos.

Solon of old is said to have ordained that quinces be given to newly-weds, since these are pleasant both to mouth and stomach. As a result their breath is sweet, and winning grace drops from their lips.

Notes:

1. antiquus...Solon, ‘Solon of old’. See Plutarch, Coniugalia praecepta, Moralia 138 D.


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