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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [h1r p113]

In statuam Bacchi.[1]

A statue of Bacchus

LXVII.

Bacche pater quis te mortali lumine novit,
Et docta effinxit hinc[2] tua membra manu?
Praxiteles[3], qui me rapientem Gnosida[4] vidit,
Atque illo pinxit tempore qualis eram.
Cur iuvenis, teneraque etiam lanugine vernat
Barba, queas Pylium cùm superare senem?[5]
Muneribus quandoque meis si parcere disces,
Iunior & forti pectore semper eris.
Tympana non manibus, capiti non cornua desunt,[6]
Quos nisi dementeis talia signa decent?
Hoc doceo, nostro quòd abusus munere sumit
Cornua, & insanus mollia sistra[7] quatit.
Quid vult ille color membris penè igneus? omen
Absit, an humanis ureris ipse focis?
Cùm Semeles de ventre[8] parens me fulmine traxit
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [h1v p114]Ignivomo, infectum pulvere mersit aquis.
Hinc sapit hic, liquidis qui[9] nos bene diluit undis:
Qui non, ardenti torret ab igne iecur.
Sed nunc me doceas qui vis miscerier? & qua
Te sanus tutum prendere lege queat?
Quadrantem addat aquae, calicem sumpsisse falerni[10]
Qui cupit, hoc sumi pocula more iuvat.
Stes citra[11] heminas[12], nam qui procedere tendit
Ultrà, alacer, sed mox ebrius, inde furit.
Res dura haec nimium, sunt pendula guttura, dulcè
Tu fluis, heu facilè commoda nulla cadunt.

Father Bacchus, who set mortal eyes upon you and accordingly fashioned your limbs with skilful hand? - It was Praxiteles, who saw me carrying off the girl from Knossos and represented me as I was at that time. - Why are you young, and why is your beard fresh with tender down, though you can surpass the old man of Pylos? - Because you will always be young and of a brave heart, if you will learn to use my gifts sparingly. - Drums are not absent from your hands, horns are not missing from your head. Whom but the mad do such symbols fit? - I teach men that anyone who abuses my gifts grows horns and in madness shakes unmanly rattles. - What is the meaning of the colour like fire upon your limbs? Perish the thought - do you yourself burn with mortal fires? When my father drew me with his flaming lightning-blast from Semele’s womb, he dipped me in water, all marked with ash as I was. And so that man is wise who dilutes me well with water. He who does not, gets his liver scorched from the raging fire. - But now, tell me how you wish to be mixed, and under what conditions a sensible man can take you in safety. - The man who desires to take a cup of Falernian should add a quadrans of water. It is good when cups are taken like this. You should keep within small measures. Anyone who pushes on further is first merry, soon drunk and then mad. - This is a very hard thing. Our tongues hang out, you flow sweetly down. Alas, nothing good for us comes easy.

COMMENTARIA.

Quidam cùm Bacchum Deum vini putatum
egregiè fabricatum videret, eius mirabilem for-
mam contemplans eum tandem sic alloquitur:
Dic pater Bacche quis hominum unquam te
vidit & taliter effinxit? Cui Bacchus respon-
dit, Praxiteles (statuarius nobilis praesertim
marmoris felicissimus sculptor, qui etiam Bac-
chum formavit aeneum, de quo Plinius lib. 34.
ca. 8.) me ad unguem talem expressit qualem
me vidit cùm raperem Gnosida (id est, Ariad-
ne
, filia Minois Regis Cretae ex Gnoso urbe
quae Theseum iuvenem cùm Minotauro de-
vorandus obiiceretur adiuvit & servavit, quam
ille in patriam revertens secum abduxit, sed in
itinere, insula Chio dereliquit & periurus
deservit, Deinde Bacchus eius misertus, eam
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [h2r p115]in uxorem sibi rapuit, & ob amoris memoriam
coronam à Capite eius sumptam inter sydera
collocavit ut canit Ovidius lib. 8. Metamorphoseon) quo-
modo Iuvenis videris quasi nunc primum bar-
ba succrescere incipiat, cùm tamen aetate supe-
rare possis etiam senem illum Pylium? (id est,
Nestorem sic dictum ab urbe Pylo in qua re-
gnabat. Vixit autem tres hominum aetates, ut
inquit Homerus Odyssea 3. inde proverbium Ne-
storea senecta. in Chiliadibus) Hoc significo, te
quoque iuniorem validioremque futurum, si parcè
interdum meis muneribus uteris. Sed quid ma-
nibus Tympanum atque etiam Caput cornu-
tum habes, tum haec non nisi fatuis & insanis
conveniant? His tibi monstro eos qui vino
nostro dono abutuntur, mox inebriatos fero
ciores fieri & cornua assumere, denique libidi-
nosè tanquam mente captos tympanis lude-
re (sunt autem tympana luxuriae instrumenta,
teste Iustino lib. 30.) Quid sibi vult inflamma-
tus ille ac penè igneus totius corporis color?
an ne flammis humanis ureris? Cùm pater me
igneo fulmine ex ventre matris extraxisset,
mox corpus meum pulvere infectum aquis
immersit, (fabula sic narratur, Iupiter captus
amore Semeles filiae Regis Thebarum, eam
impregnavit, quare Iuno irata ut eam de me-
dio tolleret, assumpsit formam vetulae, eius
nutricis, eamque accedens persuasit, ut experi-
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [h2v p116]retur, an Iupiter verè & ex animo illam ama-
ret, hoc modo, ab eo aliquid magni peteret
nempe velit talis & tantus secum concubere,
qualis & quantus cum Iunone coniuge sua
consuevisset, Semele igitur experiri volens
(ut sunt mulieres illius rei praesertim novae cu
pidissime) illud summopere petiit. Iupiter au
tem Sem ele iuraverat, se quicquid ab eo pete
ret daturum, ideoque ut iusiurandum servaret
illam fulmine flagranti occidit adhuc prae-
gnantem: infantulum autem nondum matu-
rum partui ex ventre eius sumens femori suo
imposuit ac tam diu fovit donec menses ma-
ternos compleret, qui puer Bacchus dictus
fuit primus inventor vini, pulchrè Ovidius lib.
3. Metamorphoseon) Idcirco sapienter agitis qui no-
stra munera rectè aqua diluit, secus enim ie-
cur in corpore combustum sentiet, sed instruas
me nunc quo pacto aquis rectè non bibenti
noceas temperari possis? Qui me ut prosim
assumere cupit infundat vini poculo quar-
tam aquae partem, sic nanque tutus erit, nec bi
bendo ultra heminam procedat, (est autem
hemina mensurae genus dimidium sextarii con-
tinens, ferè quod Lusitanis quartiglu dicitur)
nam qui huiusmodi mensuram excedere vo-
let hilaris quidem erit, sed mox ebrius, ratio-
ne denique privatus ac furens: Verùm ulti-
ma haec lex nimis dura videtur, sunt enim
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [h3r p117]guttura pendula & tu dulce fluis. Heu quam
difficilè quaeque commoda eveniunt.

Notes:

1.  For a description of Bacchus, see Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.4ff.

2.  Textual variant: quis.

3.  Praxiteles. This artist fashioned a famous group of statues in bronze depicting Bacchus/Dionysus with Drunkenness and a Satyr. See Pliny, Natural History 34.19.69.

4.  Gnosida, ‘the girl from Knossos’, i.e. Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Knossos, who helped Theseus destroy the Minotaur, was taken by him to Naxos and there abandoned. Dionysus, the young, exotic and beautiful god of wine, rescued her and made her his bride. See Philostratus, Eikones 1.15.

5.  Pylium...senem, ‘the old man of Pylos’, i.e. Nestor, king of Pylos, who had outlived three generations of men and was a proverbial example of age.

6.  ‘horns are not missing from your head’. The god was represented with ram’s or bull’s horns, symbolising power and virility. Under the influence of wine the weak imagine themselves strong and powerful: see Horace, Odes 3.21.18.

7.  mollia sistra, ‘unmanly rattles’. Small percussion instruments (see l.9) were used in the wild rites of Bacchus, mainly celebrated by women.

8.  Semeles de ventre, ‘from Semele’s womb’. Semele, pregnant with Bacchus by Jove, desired to see Jove in his full glory, and the ensuing lightning-blast consumed her. Jove rescued the foetus and enclosed it in his thigh until it was full-grown, whereupon he entrusted the baby to the nymphs (i.e. water-spirits) to bring up. For the content of ll.15-18 compare Anthologia graeca 9.331.

9.  Textual variant: qui.

10.  calicem...Falerni, ‘cup of Falernian’. Wine from Falernum was one of the best in ancient Italy, but here stands for wine in general.

11.  Textual variant: intra.

12.  As a hemina measures six cyathi and a quadrans (l.21) contains three cyathi, this suggests that the wine should be at two-thirds strength. For diluting wine, see Erasmus, Adagia 1196, Perdidisti vinum infusa aqua. The ancients normally diluted their wine.


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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [F8v p96]

A la Statue de Bacchus.[1]

LXVII.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G1r p97]

Pere Bacchus, qu’est-ce qui t’a congnu?
Et par sage art a peint ton corps tout nud:
Praxiteles[2] le peintre florissant,
Quand il me vid ma Gnosis[3] ravissant.
Mais il t’a peint avec jeune visage,
Quoy que sois vieux plus que Nestor le sage.
Il a ce faict pour tout homme asseurer,
Que qui sçaura mes dons bien mesurer,
Santé aura, & se verra sans cesse
Ne point vieillir, ains tousjours en jeunesse.
Et ce tabour, & cornes qu’il t’a faict,[4]
Que veulent-ils nous marquer en effect?
Tels signes sont enseignes de folie:
Monstrans que vin par trop prins le fol lie.
Et rend mocqué, l’induisant à mener
Flute par rue, ou bien tabouriner.
Que veut noter ceste rouge couleur?
As tu senti quelque rude chaleur?
Quand tiré fus de Semelé ma mere,
Par Jupiter en foudre estant mon pere.
Jecté par luy promptement dans l’eau fu,
Pour me garder du dommage de feu.[5]
Surquoy je dis, que celuy est prudent,
Qui avec eau lave mon corps ardant:
Car tel secours à moy qui estouffoye,
Fait que plusieurs n’ont point bruslé le foye.
Je te requiers que me donnes doctrine,
Comment tu dois entrer en ma poictrine:
Et combien d’eau avec toy dois mesler,
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G1v p98] Pour seurement sans danger t’avaller.
Servir de moy tu te peux sans offense,
Si le quart d’eau mets avec mon essence.
Pour ton repas demi pinte mesure:
Celà rendra ta santé longue & seure.
Qui de plus boire, helas, est curieux,
Il devient yvre, & en fin furieux.
Helas voicy un dur enseignement:
Veu que tu sçais couler si doucement
Par nos gosiers, avec tant d’allegresse.
Proffit ne vient, sans apporter tristesse.

commentaires.

Par ce petit dialogue Alciat nous apprend le bien
& le mal qui nous vient par le boire. Il dit donc, que
quelcun, contemplant l’effigie du Dieu Bacchus,
faicte & gravee par l’excellent sculpteur Praxiteles,
l’interrogue en ceste façon: Di moy, pere Bacchus, le-
quel des hommes t’a jamais peu voir, pour te represen-
ter de la façon. Praxiteles, respond Bacchus, m’a ain-
si façonné, me voyant lorsque je ravis Ariadne, fille
de Minos, Roy de Crete. Comment peux tu estre jeu-
ne, la barbe ne te commençant qu’à poindre, veu que
tu es plus aagé que Nestor? Je t’apprens, que tu te
maintiendras aussi jeune & robuste, si tu uses sobre-
ment de mes dons. Mais pourquoy as-tu un tambour
entre les mains, & des cornes en ta teste, veu que ce-
là ne convient qu’aux fols, & à ceux qui ont perdu
le sens? Je t’enseigne par cecy, que ceux qui abusent
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G2r p99] de mes dons, c’est à dire du vin, apres s’estre enyvrés
deviennent furieux, puis, comme s’ils fussent hors du
sens, jouent lascivement du tambour. Que veut dire
ceste couleur enflammee & toute en feu de tout ton
corps? brusles tu de flammes humaines? Quand mon
pere me tira du ventre de ma mere avec le foudre en-
flammé, il plongea dans l’eau mon corps tout souillé
de poudre. C’est pourquoy sagement fait celuy qui
tempere son vin avec de l’eau: autrement il se brusle-
roit le foye. Mais enseigne moy, comme je te pourray
temperer avec de l’eau à fin que tu ne me nuises. Qui
veut tirer aide & proffit de moy, il faut qu’il mette le
quart d’eau en son vin, & qu’à son repas il ne boyve
que demi pinte pour le plus. Qui voudra passer ceste
mesure, deviendra bien joyeux, mais à l’instant yvre,
privé de raison & furieux. Ceste derniere reigle, ô
Bacchus, est dure à observer: car nos gosiers sont tous-
jours secs, & tu coules tant doucement. Helàs que
difficilement nous jouïssons de nos plaisirs, sans en-
courir quelque danger.

Gnosis, qui s’appelloit aussi Ariadne, ayant pre-
servé Thesee, à ce qu’il ne fust devoré par le Mino-
taure
, fut par iceluy toutesfois, tant ingrat se mon-
stra-il, abandonnee & laissee dormant en une isle:
où depuis Bacchus la trouva, & la prit à femme, &
logea sa couronne entre les estoiles. Les poëtes tien-
nent que Nestor a vescu trois cents ans. Les tambours
sont instruments de luxure, lors qu’ils ne sont em-
ployés pour la guerre. Semelé, fille du Roy de The-
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G2v p100] bes
, fut aimee de Jupiter, & par luy engroissee: dont
Juno irritee se transforma en vieille, & print le visa-
ge de la nourrice de Semelé, à laquelle elle persuada
que pour s’asseurer que Jupiter l’aimoit parfaicte-
ment, il faloit qu’elle luy fit promettre qu’il la baise-
roit tout de mesme façon, qu’il avoit accoustumé
d’embrasser la Deesse Junon. La povrette suit ce con-
seil. Jupiter, qui luy avoit promis & juré de luy bail-
ler ce que’elle luy demanderoit, fut si bien estonné &
desplaisant quand il entendit la teneur de la reque-
ste. Mais il n’y avoit ordre de se retracter: car il avoit
juré. Il vint donc à elle avec le foudre bruslant, d’où
la povrette fut esteincte: mais Jupiter luy tira prom-
ptement le petit enfant du ventre, & le mit dans sa
cuisse, où il acheva le terme de ses neuf mois, au bout
desquels il sortit, & fut nommé Bacchus.

Notes:

1.  For a description of Bacchus, see Ovid, Metamorphoses 4.4ff.

2.  Praxiteles. This artist fashioned a famous group of statues in bronze depicting Bacchus/Dionysus with Drunkenness and a Satyr. See Pliny, Natural History 34.19.69.

3.  Gnosis, ‘the girl from Knossos’, i.e. Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Knossos, who helped Theseus destroy the Minotaur, was taken by him to Naxos and there abandoned. Dionysus, the young, exotic and beautiful god of wine, rescued her and made her his bride. See Philostratus, Eikones 1.15.

4.  The god was represented with ram’s or bull’s horns, symbolising power and virility. Under the influence of wine the weak imagine themselves strong and powerful: see Horace, Odes 3.21.18.

5.  Semele, pregnant with Bacchus by Jove, desired to see Jove in his full glory, and the ensuing lightning-blast consumed her. Jove rescued the foetus and enclosed it in his thigh until it was full-grown, whereupon he entrusted the baby to the nymphs (i.e. water-spirits) to bring up. For the content of ll.15-18 compare Anthologia graeca 9.331.


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