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

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 †[L8v]

ἀντέρως, id est, amor virtutis.

Anteros, that is, love of virtue

Dic ubi sunt incurvi arcus? ubi tela Cupido?
Mollia queis iuvenum figere corda soles?[1]
Fax ubi tristis? ubi pennae? tres unde corollas
Fert manus: unde aliam tempora cincta gerunt:
Haud mihi vulgari est, hospes cum Cypride quicquam
Ulla voluptatis nos neque forma tulit.
Sed puris hominum succendo mentibus ignes
Disciplinae, animos astraque ad alta traho.
Quatuor eque ipsa texto virtute corollas,[2]
Quarum quae Sophiae est, tempora prima tegit.

Tell me, where are your arching bows, where your arrows, Cupid, the shafts which you use to pierce the tender hearts of the young? Where is your hurtful torch, where your wings? Why does your hand hold three garlands? Why do your temples wear a fourth? - Stranger, I have nothing to do with common Venus, nor did any pleasurable shape bring me forth. I light the fires of learning in the pure minds of men and draw their thoughts to the stars on high. I weave four garlands out of virtue’s self and the chief of these, the garland of Wisdom, wreathes my temples.

Link to an image of this pageLink to an image of this page †[M1r]

Amour de vertus.

Cupido ou est larc & flesches dont tu tires?
Ta torche ardent, tes esles dou vient que les retires?
Et que as quatre chappeaux, ung au chef, au bras trois?
Vecy pourquoy: Venus na rien en mes destrois:
De doctrine fais feu, es gens de scavoir chaulx:
Et eslieve leurs sens jusques vers les cieulx haulx.
De vertus ay dresse les chappeaux que je tiens.
Moral, & naturel, que en Logique retiens.
Sapience est sur tous, que plus de solas preste:
Quest notee au chappeau que jay dessus la teste.

Notes:

1.This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 16.201.

2.‘I weave four garlands out of virtue’s self’, a reference to the four cardinal virtues, justice, temperance, courage and wisdom.


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