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Sapientia humana stultitia est apud

The Wisdom of Man is folly to God

Quid dicam? quónam hoc compellem nomine monstrum
Biforme: quod non est homo, nec est draco?[2]
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O1v f92v]Sed sine vir pedibus, summis sine partibus anguis,
Vir anguipes dici, & homiceps anguis potest.
Anguem pedit homo, hominem eructavit & anguis
Nec finis hominis est, initium nec est ferae.
Sic olim Cecrops[3] doctis regnavit Athenis,
Sic & gigantes terra mater protulit.
Haec vafrum species, sed relligione carentem,
Terrena tantum quique curet,[4] indicat.[5]

What shall I say? By what name call this two-fold monster, that is neither man nor snake? A man without feet, a snake without its upper parts - this can be called a snake-footed man, a man-headed snake. The man farts a snake, the snake has vomited a man, the man has no end, the beast no beginning. In such a form did Cecrops once rule in learned Athens, in such a form did Mother Earth once bring forth the Giants. This image indicates a clever man, but one without religion, who cares only for the things of the earth.


Menschen Weißheit ist vor Gott ein

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O2r f93r]

Was soll ich sagen? Und mit was
Namen soll ich doch nennen das
Zweigstaltig wunder und Meerfein
Daß kein Mensch noch kein Drack kan seyn
Sonder on Füß ist es ein Mann
On das obertheil ein Schlang ran
Kan genannt werden ein Menschkopff geschlang
Und ein Schlangnfüssiger Mann lang
Ein Mensch ein Schlangen gefeißt hat
Ein Schlang ein Menschen hrauß kotzt drat
Das ende dem Menschen nit gleicht
Noch der anfang dem Thier so schleicht
Also hat vor zeiten gregiert
Zu Athen der Cecrops und gfürt
Also hat die Mutter die Erd
Die starcken Risen herfür bschert
Diese gstalt zeigt an und bedeut
Gar lustig und geschwinde Leut
Die seind on all forcht Gottes, doch
Nur dem zeitlichen stellen noch.


1.  This epigram is based on Anthologia Graeca, 16.115-6, descriptions of a hippocentaur, the second of which was translated by Alciato at Sel. Ep. p.335. Metre: dactylic hexameters paired with iambic senarii.

2.  Variant reading: monstrum? Biforme quod..., ‘monster? A two-fold thing, that is neither ...’.

3.  Cecrops, the mythical wise first king of Athens, the city of Pallas Athene, the goddess of wisdom. Cecrops, like the Giants (l.8) was born of the earth and was represented as half-man, half snake.

4.  Terrena tantum quique curet, ‘who cares only for the things of earth’. See Macrobius, Saturnalia, 1.20.9: the fact that the Giants’ bodies terminated as snakes shows that they had not a single thought that was right or elevated, but that their life in all its comings and goings tended to what was base.

5.  Variant reading: Haec vafrum est species, sed relligione carentem...indicans, ‘This is an image of clever men, but indicating one without religion’.

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