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Curculione gruis tumida vir pingitur alvo,
Qui laurum, aut manibus gestet onocrotalum[1].
Talis forma fuit Dionysi[2], & talis Apici,[3]
Et gula quos celebres deliciosa facit.

We have here painted a man with a crane’s long gullet and a swollen belly, holding in his hands a gull or pelican. Such was the form of Dionysius, such the form of Apicius, and all those whom gourmet taste makes famous.


1. These birds were symbols of ravenous greed. The pelican is called inexplebile animal, ‘insatiable creature’, by Pliny, Natural History, 10.66.131; cf. Emblem 283 ([A56a283]). For the gull, see Erasmus, Adagia, 1133 (Larus: the gull will also fit food-suppliers because it is a bird with an appetite for fish).

2. Dionysius II, Tyrant of Syracuse. After his deposition, he lived in Corinth, and many anecdotes were told of his indulgent way of life there, including the story that he died of being overweight.

3. Apicius was a famous gourmet of the time of the Emperor Tiberius. See Seneca, De consolatione, 10.8-9 and Martial, Epigrams, 3.22: he spent a hundred million sesterces on food items and committed suicide for fear of starvation on discovering that he had only one million left. He composed two cookery books, but the one which has come down to us under his name is a fourth- to fifth-century compilation drawing on his works and several others (ed. princ. Le Signerre, Milan 1498).

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    • Gluttony, Intemperance, 'Gula'; 'Gola', 'Ingordigia', 'Ingordigia overo Avidità ', 'Voracità ' (Ripa) ~ personification of one of the Seven Deadly Sins [11N35] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • water-birds: pelican [25F36(PELICAN)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • shore-birds and wading-birds: gull [25F37(GULL)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • holding something «« KEY (933) TO 31A the (nude) human figure; 'Corpo humano' (Ripa) [31A(+933)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • anthropomorphic beings with parts of abnormal shape (+ abdomen, belly) [31A444(+13)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • anthropomorphic beings with parts of abnormal shape (+ neck) [31A444(+615)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • anthropomorphic beings with parts of abnormal shape (+ neck) [31A444(+615):25F37(CRANE)(+3)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • Intemperance, Immoderation (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54AA43(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • specific aspects, allegorical aspects of Bacchus; Bacchus as patron [92L17] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • male persons from classical history (with NAME) representations to which the NAME of a person from classical history may be attached [98B(APICIUS, Marcus Gavius)3] Search | Browse Iconclass

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