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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [D1r f25r]

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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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [N6r p203]

Le meurier.

XLIIII.

Jamais durant le froid le meurier ne bourgeonne:[1]
Sage il est, quoy qu’à tort nom de fol on luy donne.[2]

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [N6v p204]

Commentaires.

On baille diverses etymologies au meurier. Les
uns le derivent d’un mot Latin, qui signifie retarde-
ment: les autres d’un mot Grec qui signifie noir: &
autres encor d’un autre mot Grec, qui signifie fol: &
ce par antiphrase: car c’est le plus sage de tous les ar-
bres. Pline & autres en parlent en ceste façon: Le
meurier verdoye le dernier de tous les arbres de la
ville: car il attend que tout le froid soit passé: & pour-
ce est-il appellé le plus sage de tous les arbres. Mais
quand il commence à pousser, il acheve tout en une
nuict, & se fait mesme ouïr. On l’employe pour sym-
bole de la prudence: car il attend l’occasion du temps
& de la saison, de peur que l’injure de l’air ne l’en-
dommage. Ainsi l’homme prudent dilaye tout expres
ses affaires d’importance, & tous ses conseils, ne les
voulant point executer avant le temps, ains attendant
une occasionmeure , ou il les puisse exploiter sans
dommage & sans danger.

Notes:

1.  See Pliny, Natural History, 16.25.102: “the mulberry is the last of domesticated trees to shoot, and only does so when the frosts are over; for that reason it is called the wisest of trees”.

2.  Reference to a supposed ‘etymology by opposites’: Latin morus ‘mulberry’ was equated with Greek μῶρος ‘fool’, but the tree was considered wise: see note 1.


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