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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  [O3v p214]

PAIX.

Beste portant tours de bois, d’ent [=dent] d’ivoire,
Accoustumée en guerre avoir victoire,
Est maintenant au collier L’elephant.
Et de Caesar traict le char triumphant,
Cencorde [=Concorde] es gens cognoist mesme la beste,
Et de la paix (armes laissant) faict feste.[1]

Caesar en son triumphe monta au Capitol avec qua-
rante elephans portans chescun six hommes, avec
flambeaux ardens, & odorans, en signe de Paix ac-
quise par guerre. Car l’Elephant, est (ou ha esté)
Beste guerroyable, par sa force, & adresse: & beste
triumphale, & pacificque pour sa docile humanité.

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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