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Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [N2r p195]

Facundia difficilis.

Eloquence is hard

Antidotum Aeaeae medicata in pocula Circes
Mercurium hoc Ithaco fama dedisse fuit.[1]
Moly vocant, id vix radice evellitur atra,
Purpureus: sed flos, lactis & instar habet.
Eloquii candor facundiaque allicit omnes:
Sed multi res est tanta laboris opus.

According to the story, Mercury gave to the man from Ithaca this antidote to the poisoned cup of Aeaean Circe. They call it moly. It is hard to pull up by its black root. The plant is dark, but its flower is white as milk. The brilliance of eloquence and readiness of speech attracts all men, but this mighty thing is a work of much labour.

Notes:

1. See Homer, Odyssey, 10.270ff. for the story of the encounter of Ulysses (the man from Ithaca) and his crew with the sorceress Circe on the island of Aeaea. The plant moly is described ibid, 302-6. See Emblem 76 ([A51a076]), for the effect of Circe’s poisoned cup. Cf. Erasmus, De Copia (Loeb edition, 1.91 D), where moly is interpreted as wisdom rather than eloquence. Cf. Coustau, ‘In herbam Moly, ex Homero’ ([FCPb073]).


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Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [O5v f96v]

EMBLEMA CLI.

In illaudata laudantes.

Praising the wrong things

Ingentes Galatum semermi milite turmas,
Spem praeter trepidus fuderat Antiochus.[1]
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [O6r f97r]Lucarum cum saeva boum vis,[2] ira proboscis,
Tum primum[3] hostiles corripuisset equos.
Ergo trophaea locans Elephantis imagine pinxit,
Insuper & sociis occideramus ait,
Bellua servasset ni nos foedissima barrus:
Ut superasse iuvat, sic superasse pudet.

Antiochus, in spite of his fears, had beyond all expectation routed the huge squadrons of Galatians with his light-armed troops, when the savage might of elephants, their raging and their trunks, for the first time ever fell upon the enemy’s cavalry. So when he set up the trophy, he adorned it with the picture of an elephant and furthermore said to his troops: “We would have fallen, if this revolting beast, the elephant, had not preserved us. Pleasing as it is to conquer, it is galling to conquer like this”.

Das CLI.

Von denen so heliche ding loben.

Als Antiochus der Knig zag
On all hoffnung sigt und oblag
Der Galater wolgrster Schar
Mit seinem blossen Hauffen gar
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [O6v f97v] Als er die ungeheuwren Thier
Die Elephanten lie herfr
Die mit irem schnotz und rssel
Der Feind Ro in dflucht trieben schnell
Zu eim Sigzeichen er darumb
Auffrichten thet die Bildnu stumb
Eins Helffants, und zun Kriegern sproch
Wir weren all umbkommen noch
So uns das wst grob Thier nit hett
Vorm Feind erhalten und errett
Uns ists ein ehr da wir gsigt hand
Aber also ist uns ein schand.

Notes:

1. For this incident, see Lucian, Zeuxis sive Antiochus 8-11. In 276 BC Antiochus I won against fearful odds by directing his sixteen elephants against the Galatian horsemen and scythed chariots. Not only did the horses turn in panic and cause chaos among their own infantry, but the elephants came on behind, tossing, goring and trampling. Although he had won an overwhelming victory, Antiochus did not consider it a matter for congratulation.

2. ‘Might of elephants’, lit. ‘might of Lucanian cattle’, supposedly so called by the Romans because they first saw these strange beasts in Lucania in south Italy, when King Pyrrhus of Epirus made use of them in his defeat of the Romans at the battle of Heraclea in 280 BC. See Pliny, Natural History 8.6.16.

3. ‘For the first time ever’. The Galatians, Celtic tribes who had invaded Asia Minor, had never seen elephants before. Elephants had often been used in battle on other occasions.


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