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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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Cacquet.

Apostrophe.

Pourquoy romps tu mon repos Hirondelle
Par ton babil?[1] digne d’estre hupe telle
Que fut Tereus, Quand par glaive trencher
Voulut ta langue: & non pas l’arracher.[2]

Comme Progn ayant par Tereus son vio-
lateur la langue couppe, fut mue en une
Hirondelle jaseresse. Ainsi ceulx qui savent &
peuvent moins bien parler, sont les plus ba-
billars, fachans les aultres de leur cacquet.

Notes:

1. ‘disturb my...slumbers with your chattering’. See Aelian, De natura animalium, 9.17: ‘the swallow, an uninvited guest, saddening the dawn with her chattering and interrupting the sweetest part of our slumbers.’

2. Procne and Philomela were daughters of Pandion, king of Athens. Tereus, king of Daulis (town in Phocis) married Procne and had a son (Itys) by her. He raped her sister Philomela and cut out her tongue to prevent her telling of his misdeeds. She managed however to send a message to her sister Procne (through weaving it into a tapestry), who took her revenge by cooking Itys and serving him up as a meal to his father. When Tereus pursued them with a sword, Philomela was turned into a swallow, Procne into a nightingale and Tereus into a hoopoe. In Latin writers the names are often reversed, with Procne becoming a swallow (as here), Philomela a nightingale. See Ovid, Metamorphoses, 6.424ff, especially 555-7.


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  • Prolixity, Verbosity, Loquacity; 'Loquacità' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52D4(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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