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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  [O4r p215]

De guerre Paix.

APODEIXE.

Voy, Que le heaulme en guerre souvent mis
Tant de fois tinct du sang des ennemis:
En temps de Paix sert de rusche, à la mousche
Contenant cire: & miel doulx à la bouche.
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O4v p216]Armes soient loing: Mais permise soit guerre,
Car aultrement, on ne peut paix acquerre.[1]

Une mesme chose peut avoir deux usa
ges contraires, comme l’espée porte
paix par craincte & Justice: & porte
guerre par injure, & audace. Pource
guerre est necessaire pour avoir paix.
Ce que demonstre ung heaulme, en
temps de guerre servant aulx armes:
en temps de paix aux aveilles, miel, &
cire.

Notes:

1.  Cf. Anthologia graeca, 6.236, where bees nest in what were once the beaks (projections at the prow) of war-galleys.


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