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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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    EMBLEMA LIII.

    Antiquissima quaeque commentitia.

    The oldest things are all invented

    APOLOGESIS.

    An argument in support of this view.

    Pallenaee Senex, cui forma est histrica proteu,[1]
    Qui mod membra viri fers, mod membra feri [=ferae] .
    Dic age quae species ratio te vertit in omnes
    Nulla sit ut vario certa figura tibi?
    Signa vetustatis, primaevi & praefero secli:[2]
    De quo quisque suo somniat arbitrio.

    Proteus, old man of Pallene, whose outward appearance changes like an actor’s, assuming sometimes the body of a man, sometimes that of a beast, come, tell me, what is your reason for turning into all kinds of shapes, so that you have no permanent form as you constantly alter? I offer symbols of antiquity and the very first times, concerning which everyone dreams up what he will.

    Das LIII.

    Das aller eltst ist gemeiniglich erticht.

    O alter Proteuw von Pallen
    Der du verkehrst deinr gstalt ansehn
    Jtzt hastu eins Manns gestalt
    Dann in eins Thiers verwandelt bald.
    Lieber sag au was ursach doch
    Dich in so vil form verkrst noch?
    Das du dich bey keinr bstendig findst
    Sonder von einr zur andern windst?
    Ich bilde fr die gar alt zeit
    Und die vil alte jar bedeut
    Von denen jeder nach seim won
    Mag im frbildn und reden davon.

    Notes:

    1. Proteus was ‘the Old Man of the Sea’, who evaded capture by constantly changing his shape. See e.g. Homer, Odyssey, 4.400ff.; Vergil, Georgics, 4. 405-10, 440-2; Erasmus, Adagia, 1174 (Proteo mutabilior). Vergil (Georgics, 4.391) describes him living near the headland of Pallene (on the Macedonian coast). The idea of Proteus as a gifted actor or mime-artist is taken from Lucian, Saltatio, 19.

    2. signa vetustatis primaevi et...secli, ‘symbols of antiquity and the very first times’. Pallene (see n.1.) suggested a connection with the Greek word παλαιός ‘ancient’, as the name Proteus was supposedly connected with πρώτιστος, ‘the very first’.


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