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Section: VINDICTA (Retribution). View all emblems in this section.

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 Laërtiade,[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 Laërtiade, ‘for the son of Laërtes’, 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  [O6v p220]

Le glaive du furieux.

Faict furieux Ajax par grandz regretz
Tuoit ses porcz, pensant tuer les Grecz.[1]
Ainsi le porc portoit la penitence
Pour Ulysses, & des Grecz la sentence.
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O7r p221] Fureur ne peut nuyre. Mais son coup fault,
Et sans advis contre soy mesme sault.

Ajax le vaillant champion, condamné contre
Ulysses par la sentence injuste des Grecz, au pro-
ces des armes d’Achilles, devint fol furieux par
indignation, & en sa rage il rencontra ung grand
tropeau de ses porceaulx: lesquelz (pensant que
fussent les Grecz) il tua à grand [=grandz] coups d’espée: ce
que ne veult aultre chose à dire: sinon que Fureur,
& Ire (qui est temporaire manie) se nuyct plus
que à nul aultre, soit en contention civile, ou d’ar-
mes. Car en l’une perd sens, raison, & parolle, en
l’aultre, perd adresse, & visée, & le plus souvent
par trop grand ardeur s’enferre soy mesme.

Notes:

1.  See Emblem 27 ([A58a027]) 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.


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