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Opulenti haereditas.

The rich man’s legacy

Patroclum falsis rapiunt hinc Troes in armis,
Hic socii, atque omnis turba Pelasga vetat.
Obtinet exuvias Hector, Graecique cadaver.[1]
Haec fabella agitur, cum vir opimus obit.
Maxima rixa oritur, tandem sed transigit haeres,
Et corvis aliquid, vulturiisque sinit.[2]

On that side the Trojans are carrying off Patroclus in his deceptive armour, on this, his co-fighters and all the Greek host try to stop them. Hector obtains the spoils, the Greeks the body. This story is played out when a rich man dies. A great quarrelling arises, but eventually the heir brings the argument to an end and leaves something for crows and vultures.

Notes:

1.  For the death of Patroclus, see Homer, Iliad, 16.784ff. He borrowed Achilles’ armour to fight the Trojans when Achilles refused, and was killed by Hector, who took the armour.

2.  ‘Vulture’ was a term used to refer to people who hang round rich persons, hoping for a legacy See Erasmus, Adagia, 614 (Si vultur es, cadaver exspecta).


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EMBLEMA CXXXI.

Inanis impetus.

Antagonism that achieves nothing

Lunarum [=Lunarem] noctu (ut speculum)[1] canis inspicit orbem:
Seque videns, alium credit inesse canem,[2]
Et latrat: sed frustra agitur vox irrita ventis,
Et peragit cursus surda Diana suos.[3]

A dog at night is looking into the moon’s disk as into a mirror and seeing himself, thinks there is another dog there; and he barks - but the sound is carried away, ineffectual, on the winds. Diana, unhearing, pursues her course.

Das CXXXI.

Vergebne mühe.

Als den Mon sach der Hund zu nacht
Und sich drinn als im Spiegel gdacht
Er es wer eins anderß Hunds Bild
Sprang ubersich und stalt sich wild
Aber sein bellen gieng in lufft
War vergebens und gar ein dufft
Der Mon dannoch sein lauff verricht
Last in bellen als ghör ers nicht.

Notes:

1.  For the theory of the moon’s disk as a mirror reflecting things on earth, see Plutarch, De facie in orbe lunae, Moralia, 920ff.

2.  Variant reading: altum credit inesse canem, ‘thinks there is a dog up there’.

3.  Diana is of course goddess of the moon.


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