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Prudens, sed infacundus.[1]

Wise, but lacking eloquence.

Noctua cecropiis[2] insignia praestat Athenis
Inter aves sani noctua consilii.
Armiferae merito obsequiis sacrata Minervae est,
Garrula quo cornix cesserat ante loco.[3]

The owl provides the symbol for Athens, Cecrops’ city, for among the birds the owl is known for wise counsel. Deservedly was it dedicated to the service of weapon-bearing Minerva, in the place vacated by the chattering crow.

Notes:

1. In later editions, the motto becomes Prudens, magis quam loquax, ‘wise head, close mouth’.

2. Cecrops was a legendary wise early king of Athens, a city renowned as a place of learning. See above, Emblem 27 ([A46a027]), line 7.

3. garrula quo cornix cesserat, ‘vacated by the chattering crow’. The crow was dismissed from Athena’s service for telling tales, and was replaced by the owl. See Ovid, Metamorphoses, 2.562-5. This story is represented in Aneau, ‘Periculum in terra, periculum in mari’ ([FANa029]).


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Vis naturae.

The power of nature

Pana colunt gentes, (naturam hoc dicere rerum est)
Semicaprumque hominem, semivirumque Deum.
Vir tenus umblico est, hominum qud propria virtus [1]
Corde oriens celsa verticis arce sedet.
Hinc caper est, quia nos natura in saecla propagat
Concubitu, ut volucres, squamea, bruta, feras.
Quod commune aliis animantibus, est caper index
Luxuriae, Veneris, signaque aperta gerit.
Cordi alii sophien, alii tribuere cerebro.
Inferiora modus, nec ratio ulla tenet.

Pagans worship Pan, that is the force of nature, a man half-goat, a god half-man. Pan is a man down to the navel, because the power that is peculiar to men rises from the heart and has its seat in the high citadel of the head. Below this he is goat, because Nature perpetuates us down the ages by sexual intercourse, as she does birds, fish, brute beasts and wild. This is a thing shared with other living creatures. The goat is a sign of licentiousness, and carries Venus’ standards unconcealed. Wisdom some have assigned to the heart, others to the head. The lower parts neither restraint nor reason governs.

Notes:

1. Variant reading, Est vir pube tenus, quod nobis insita virtus, ‘Pan is a man down to the loins, because the power that is naturally present in us men rises...’.


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  • Prudence, 'Prudentia'; 'Prudenza' (Ripa) ~ one of the Four Cardinal Virtues [11M41] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Licentiousness, Lasciviousness; 'Lascivia', 'Licenza' (Ripa) [57AA51] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Instinct, Natural Disposition; 'Instinto naturale' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [58B6(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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