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Section: PRINCEPS (The Ruler). View all emblems in this section.

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Consiliarii Principum.

Counsellors of princes

Heroum genitos, & magnum fertur Achillem
In stabulis Chiron erudiisse suis.[1]
Semiferum doctorem, & semivirum centaurum,
Assideat quisquis regibus, esse decet [=docet] .
Est fera, dum violat socios, dum proterit hostes:
Estque homo, dum simulat se populo esse pium.

It is said that Chiron brought up in his stables the sons of heroes and the great Achilles. He shows us that anyone who sits in counsel with kings is a teacher who is half a beast, a centaur who is half a man. He is the beast when he attacks supporters and tramples on enemies. He is the man when he feigns compassion for the people.

Notes:

1. Chiron, the wise centaur entrusted with the education of Achilles, Aesculapius, and other noble figures. Centaurs were creatures combining the physical and mental characteristics of a man with those of a horse. They were wild and uncontrolled, and came to symbolise humanity descending to savagery. Even the civilised Chiron, the educator, retained violent potential.


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Contra.[1]

A contrary view.

Vesparum qud nulla unquam Rex spicula figet.[2]
Quodque aliis duplo corpore maior erit,
Arguet imperium clemens, moderataque regna,
Sanctaque iudicibus credita iura bonis.

The king of the wasps will never implant any sting and will be twice as big as the rest. This will be a sign of mild dominion, a disciplined kingdom, and inviolable law entrusted to good judges.

Notes:

1. It is to be noted that in this edition, Maledicentia and Contra are treated as one emblem whereas in other editions Contra is treated as an emblem in its own right called Principis Clementia.

2. According to Pliny, Natural History, 11.21.74, wasps do not have ‘kings’: it is the ‘mother’ wasps that are without stings. On the other hand, the ‘king’ bee (the ancients believed the queen bee to be male) and its lack of sting, or refusal to use its sting, was often mentioned; e.g. Aelian, De natura animalium, 5.10; Pliny, ibid., 17.52. For the analogy with kingship, see e.g. Seneca, De Clementia, 1.19; Erasmus, Adagia, 2601 (Scarabaeus aquilam quaerit).


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