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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [n1v p194]

Strenuorum immortale
nomen.

Achievers have an immortal name

XVII.

Aeacidae tumulum Rhoetaeo in littore cernis,[1]
Quem plerunque pedes visitat alba Thetis.[2]
Obtegitur semper viridi lapis hic amarantho,[3]
Quòd nunquam herois sit moriturus honos.
Hic Graium murus,[4] magni nex Hectoris, aut [=haud] plus
Debet Maeonidae, quam sibi Maeonides.[5]

You see the tomb of Aeacus’ descendant on the Rhoetean shore, which white-footed Thetis often visits. This stone is always covered with green amaranth, because the honour due to heroes shall never die. This man was‘the wall of the Greeks’, and the destruction of great Hector, and he owes no more to the Lydian poet than the poet does to him.

Notes:

1.  ‘Aeacus’ descendant’, i.e. Achilles, the greatest warrior on the Greek side in the Trojan War. Rhoeteum was a promontory on the Trojan coast (though normally associated with the tomb of Ajax).

2.  Thetis, a sea-nymph, mother of Achilles, called ‘silver-footed’ by Homer.

3.  amarantho: the name of the plant means ‘never-fading’. See Pliny, Natural History, 21.23.47.

4.  ‘the wall of the Greeks’, translating Homer’s description of Achilles at Iliad, 3.229.

5.  Maeonidae, ‘to the Lydian poet’, i.e. Homer, who told in the Iliad the famous story of Achilles’ wrath and refusal to fight during the Trojan War, and of his eventual slaying of Hector, the chief warrior on the Trojan side. (For which see Emblem 057, [A56a057]). For the sentiment that great deeds need to be sung in order not to be forgotten, see Horace, Odes, 4.8.20ff; and that great literature needs great themes, see Tacitus, Dialogus de oratoribus, 37.


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    Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B4r f12r]

    Cuculi.

    Cuckoos

    Ruricolas agreste genus plerique cuculos
    Cur vocitent, quaenam prodita causa fuit?[1]
    Vere novo cantat Coccyx, quo tempore vites
    Qui non absolvit iure notatur iners.
    Fert ova in nidos alienos, qualiter ille
    Cui thalamum prodit uxor adulterio.

    Whatever explanation has been given for the custom of calling country-dwellers, that rustic race, ‘cuckoos’? - When spring is new, the cuckoo calls, and anyone who has not pruned his vines by this time is rightly blamed for being idle. The cuckoo desposits its eggs in other birds’ nests, like the man on whose account a wife betrays her marriage bed in adultery.

    Notes:

    1.  See Pliny, Natural History, 18.66.249, and Horace, Satires, 1.7.31, for the use of the word ‘cuckoo’ as term of mockery for the idle man who has failed to finish pruning his vines before the cuckoo is heard calling.


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