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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 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  [M6v f81v]

EMBLEMA CXXV.

Alius peccat, alius plectitur.

One sins and another is punished

Arripit ut lapidem catulus, morsuque fatigat,
Nec percussori mutua damna facit.
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [M7r f82r]Sic plerique sinunt veros elabier hosteis:
Et quos nulla gravat noxia, dente petunt.[1]

A puppy seizes the stone and worries it with his teeth and does not bite back at the one who threw it. Even so, most people allow the true enemy to escape and bite those who carry no burden of guilt.

Das CXXV.

Einer sündigt der ander büst.

Gleich wie ein Hund der mit eim Stein
Geworffen wirt, den Stein allein
Anfelt und beist in zorniglich
Dem der in gworffen hat thut er nicht
Also findt man deren vil
Die dHauptsächer lohnt auß dem spil
Und fallen allein diese an
So wider sie nicht habn gethan.

Notes:

1.  Cf. Aesop, Fables 235, where bees sting the wrong person. See Erasmus, Adagia 153, Cum larvis luctari, where the ‘puppy’ comparison is quoted from Aristotle (Rhetoric 3, 4). See also Plato, Republic 5.469E.


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