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Ignavi.

Good for nothing

XXI.

Ignavi aerdeolam stellarem[1] effingere servi
Et studia, & mores fabula prisca fuit,
Quae famulum Asteria[2] volucris sumpsisse figuram
Est commenta, fides sit penes historicos.
Degener hic veluti qui caevet in are falco est
Dictus ab antiquis vatibus ardelio.[3]

There was an old story to the effect that the little starred heron displays the activities and character of a good-for-nothing slave, a story which alleged that the slave Asterias took the form of a bird. Let the [natural] historians vouch for this. This sort of despicable person is like the kestrel quivering in one place in the air, a person called a fussing busybody by the ancient poets.

Notes:

1. The ‘little starred heron’, which, according to the story, had once been human and a slave, was, because of its sluggish nature, called ocnus, i.e. ‘idleness’. Cf. Emblem 17 ([A56a017]). As it understood human speech, it hated to be called this, or ‘slave’. See Pausanias, 10.29.2; Aelian, De natura animalium 5.36; Aristotle, Historia animalium, 9.18.617.

2. Asterias, ‘starred’, is the Greek name for ardea stellaris, possibly a bittern.

3. ardelio: ‘a fussing busybody’. See Martial, Epigrams, 2.7.7.; 4.78.9: Phaedrus, Fables, 2.5.1. Cf. Erasmus, Adagia, 543, Callipides, on someone who expends a great deal of energy achieving nothing.


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    Prudentes.

    The Wise.

    VIII.

    Iane bifrons, qui transacta futuraque calles,
    Quique retro sannas sicut & ant vides, [1]
    Tot te cur oculis, tot fingunt vultibus? an qud
    Circunspectum hominem forma fuisse docet?

    Two-headed Janus, you know about what has already happened and what is yet to come, you see the jeering faces behind just as you see them in front. Why do they represent you with so many eyes, why with so many faces? Is it because this form tells us that you were a man of circumspection?

    Notes:

    1. quique retro sannas, sicut et ante, vides, ‘you see the jeering faces behind just as you see them in front’, a line based on Persius, Satirae, 1.58-62.


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