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Link to an image of this pageLink 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 LaŽrtiade,[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 LaŽrtiade, ‘for the son of LaŽrtes’, 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 pageLink to an image of this page †[i3r p133]

Pax.

Peace

LXXX.

Turrigeris humeris, dentis quoque barrus eburni,
Qui superare ferox Martia bella solet,
Supposuit nunc colla iugo, stimulisque subactus,
Caesareos currus ad pia templa vehit.
Vel fera cognoscit concordes undique gentes,
Proiectisque armis munia pacis obit.[1]

The elephant, with its tower-bearing shoulders and ivory tusk, a beast accustomed to dominate the conflicts of Mars with savage ravings, has now submitted its neck to the yoke: subdued by goads, it draws Caesar’s chariot to the holy temples. Even the beast recognises nations reconciled on every side, and rejecting the weapons of war, it performs the duties of peace.

COMMENTARIA.

Elephantus qui ob nimiam suam dorsi &
dentium fortitudinem, aliŗs turres gestare atque
etiam crudelia bella superare consuevit, ut re-
fert T. Livius lib. 7. Decad. 4. nunc se prorsus
humilians, iuga subit, stimulos patitur & cur-
Link to an image of this pageLink to an image of this page †[i3v p124]rus Caesareos triumphales ad Templa sacra
trahit, quia fortŤ animal ipsum, concordiam
& pacem inter omnes esse gentes, cognoscit,
ideoque reiectis & aspernatis armis bellicis,
obsequiosŤ pacis munus obit. Demonstra-
tur pacem etiam ferocissimos, ad pias actio-
nes & divinum cultum , atque etiam mansuetu-
dinem, incitare, quae omnia bellicis tumulti-
bus non solým negliguntur & impediuntur,
verým & omnino contraria & crudelissima
quaeque exercentur. Elephantorum antiquitus
in bellis usus, omissis aliis autoribus habetur
apud Plinium. lib. 6. cap. 9. & lib. 8. cap. 6.

Notes:

1.This is translated from Anthologia graeca 9.285, which refers to an occasion under the Emperor Tiberius when the statue of the Deified Augustus was for the first time borne in procession in a chariot drawn by elephants.


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