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Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [M7r p189]

Insani gladius.

The madman’s sword

Setigeri medius stabat gregis ensifer Aiax,[1]
Caede suum, credens caedere Tantalidas.[2]
Hostia sic tanquam sus succedanea[3] poenas
Pro Lartiade,[4] pro caveaque dabat.
Nescit obesse suis furor hostibus, errat ab ictu,
Consiliique impos in sua damna ruit.

Ajax was standing sword in hand in the midst of the bristled herd, thinking that in killing the pigs he was killing the descendants of Tantalus. The victim, like the substitute pig, was paying the penalty for the son of Laertes and for the assembled crowd. Madness does not know how to disadvantage its real foes; it misdirects its blows, and, lacking judgement, rushes headlong to its own destruction.

Notes:

1. See Emblem 28 ([A51a028]) for Ajax’ madness and suicide. In his madness, he slaughtered a herd of sheep, thinking them to be the Greeks. The two largest rams he took to be Agamemnon and Menelaus. See Zenobius, Proverbs, 1.43; Horace, Satires, 2.3.197-8; Erasmus, Adagia, 646 (Aiacis risus) - Erasmus makes the animals pigs, which Alciato here follows.

2. Tantalidas, ‘the descendants of Tantalus’ i.e. Agamemnon and Menelaus, whom Ajax blamed for his humiliation.

3. A substitute animal was sacrificed when the first offering was rejected by the gods or, as here, in place of the proper victim. See Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 4.6.5.

4. pro Lartiade, ‘for the son of Lartes’, i.e. Odysseus, to whom the Greek assembly awarded the splendid armour of the dead Achilles, not to Ajax.


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Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [L8v p176]

La espada en manos d’el loco.

Ottava rhima.

Despues de buelto loco Ajax, pensando
Que los Atridas por su mal juizio [M]
Y a Ulysses junto estava castigando
Entre unos puercos (fuera ya d’el quiio
De la cordura y seso) exercitando
Su espada, mata quien est sin viio.[1]
Para vengarse el loco no tien’ maa,
Que danasse pensando que otro daa.

[Marginalia - link to text]A Agamemnon y Menelao.

Notes:

1. See Emblem 38 ([A49a038]) for Ajax’s madness and suicide. In his madness, he slaughtered a herd of sheep, thinking them to be the Greeks. The two largest rams he took to be Agamemnon and Menelaus. See Zenobius, Proverbs, 1.43; Horace, Satires, 2.3.197-8; Erasmus, Adagia, 646 (Aiacis risus) - Erasmus makes the animals pigs, as here.


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