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Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [m8r p191]

Gratiae.

The Graces

VI.

Tres Charites Veneri assistunt, dominamque sequuntur.
Hincque voluptates, atque alimenta parant.
Laetitiam Euphrosyne, speciosum Aglaia nitorem.
Suadela est Pithus, blandus & ore lepos.[1]
Cur nudae? mentis quoniam candore venustas
Constat, & eximia simplicitate placet.
An quia nihil referunt ingrati atque arcula inanis,[2]
Est Charitum? qui dat munera, nudus eget.
Addita cur nuper pedibus talaria? bis dat
Qui cito dat,[3] minimi gratia tarda pretii est.
Implicitis ulnis cur vertitur altera? gratus
Foenerat, huic remanent una abeunte duae.[4]
Iuppiter iis genitor, coeli de semine divas
Omnibus acceptas edidit Eurynome.

The three Graces are attendant on Venus and follow their mistress. So they provide pleasures and pleasure’s nourishment. Euphrosyne brings gladness, Aglaia bright beauty; persuasion belongs to Peitho with winsome charm in speech. Why are they naked? Because loveliness consists in innocence of mind and commends itself by great simplicity. Or is it because the ungrateful make no return and the Graces’ treasure-chest is empty? He who gives gifts is stripped and needy. Why are there wings newly fastened to their feet? He gives twice who gives quickly. A favour granted late is of little value. Why does the second one link arms but turn her back to us? The man who shows gratitude gets more than he lays out; as one goes, two remain for him. Jupiter was their begetter; and Eurynome bore them, the divine offspring of the heavenly seed, goddesses loved by all mankind.

Notes:

1. The Latin words laetitia (gladness), nitor (beauty) and suadela (persuasion) are translations of the Greek names of the Graces, Euphrosyne, Aglaia and Peitho.

2. arcula inanis, ‘treasure-chest is empty’. See Erasmus, Adagia, 1812 (Simonidis cantilenae).

3. bis dat / Qui cito dat ‘He gives twice who gives quickly’. See Erasmus, Adagia, 791 (Bis dat qui cito dat).

4. Lines 9-12 express common sentiments, found e.g. in Seneca, De Beneficiis, passim. For the Graces especially, see Ibid., 1.3-4. See also Erasmus, Adagia, 1650 (Nudae Gratiae), where Erasmus associates the Graces with both friendship and ingratitude.


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    Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [B1v p18]

    Ad illustrem[1] Maximilianum ducem Mediolanensem.

    To the illustrious Maximilian, Duke of Milan.

    Emblema I.

    EXiliens infans sinuosi faucibus anguis,
    Est gentilitiis nobile stemma tuis.[2]
    Talia Pellaeum[3] gessisse nomismata regem,
    Vidimus, hisque suum concelebrasse genus.
    Dum se Ammone satum,[4] matrem anguis imagine lusam,
    Divini & sobolem seminis esse docet.
    Ore exit, tradunt sic quosdam enitier angues,[5]
    An quia sic Pallas de capite orta Iovis?[6]

    An infant bursting from the maw of a coiling serpent marks the noble lineage of your clan. We have observed that the Pellaean king had coinage with such a device and by it celebrated his own descent, proclaiming that he was begotten of Ammon, that his mother was beguiled by the form of a snake and the child was the offspring of divine seed. The infant emerges from the mouth. They say that some snakes come to birth that way. Or is it because Pallas sprang like this from the head of Jove?

    Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [B2r p19]

    An den durleuchtigen, etc. Maximilian
    Hertzogen
    zu Mayland.

    I.

    Ein kind au einer krummen schlang
    Entspringend, Hertzog ist dein schilt:
    Alexander fuert auch vorlang
    Zu sonder zeugnu sollich bild,
    Wie selbs der got Jupiter mild
    Sein vater wer, und solcher art
    Ir junge bringt die nater wild,
    Auch Pallas also gporen ward.

    Notes:

    1. Other editions expand this to ‘illustrissimum’.

    2. The Sforza family had ruled Milan since 1450, having assumed power through marriage (some said fraudulently) to a Visconti heiress, and taken their symbol as their own. They were chased out in 1499 by the French, but restored several times.

    3. Pellaeum...regem: ‘the Pellaean king’, i.e. Alexander the Great, born at Pella in Macedonia

    4. For the superhuman birth of Alexander, see e.g. Plutarch, Life of Alexander, 3 and 27: Jupiter in the form of a serpent mated with Olympias, wife of Philip of Macedon, and begat Alexander. Ammon, a north African deity, was identified with Zeus/Jupiter. When Alexander visited Ammon’s sanctuary, he was hailed as the son of the god.

    5. According to e.g.Pliny, Natural History 10.170, Aelian, De natura animalium 1.24, the viper, alone among snakes, produces not eggs but live young. See also Isidore, Etymologiae 12.4.10.

    6. The story of Pallas Athene springing complete and armed from the head of Jove is found in many sources; see e.g. Homer, Hymns 3.308ff; Hesiod, Theogony 923ff.


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