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

Antiquissima quaeque com-
mentitia.

The oldest things are all invented

VII.

Pellenaee senex, cui forma est histrica, Proteu, [1]
Qui modò membra viri fers, modò membra feri.
Dic agè 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.

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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    Single Emblem View

    Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [L7r p173]

    La plus part de ce que l’on dit de
    l’antiquité est controuvé.

    VII.

    O Protee vieillard,[1] qui comme un charlatant
    Changes à coup de forme, or’ homme, or’ beste estant,
    Dy moy d’où te provient ceste grande inconstance,
    Si que jamais tu n’es en estat d’asseurance?
    Je represente ainsi l’antiquité qu’on prise,
    De laquelle chacun fait comptes à sa guise.

    Commentaires.

    Protee, selon quelques uns, estoit de Pallene: Les
    autres tiennent qu’il estoit Egyptien. Cest embleme
    reprend l’impudence & inconstance de plusieurs,
    lesquels, ou pour avoir beaucoup d’annees sur la te-
    Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [L7v p174] ste, ou pour avoir beaucoup voyagé, ou bien, pour a-
    voir leu plusieurs anciens historiographes, se laschent
    toute bride à controuver des fables & mensonges.

    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.


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