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EMBLEMA CLXXXII [=181] .

Impossibile.

The impossible

Abluis Aethyopem quid frustra? ah desine, noctis
Illustrare nigrae nemo potest tenebras.[1]

Why are you washing an Ethiopian in vain? Oh, do stop. No one can turn the shades of black night into light.

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Das CLXXXII [=181] .

Vergebne Arbeit.

Was badt sein Moren lang umb sunst?
Hör auff es ist verlorn all Kunst
Dann niemand der duncklen Nacht kan
Dick Finsternuß erleuchten thon.

Notes:

1.  This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 11.428. See also Aesop, Fables 11; Erasmus, Adagia 350, Aethiopen lavas.


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  • (personifications of) 'Vanitas', the vanity of human life; Fragilit� humana, Fugacit� delle grandezze & della gloria mondana, Meditatione della morte, Opera vana, Piacere vano, Vana gloria, Vanit� (Ripa) [11R5] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • day and night [23R] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Impossibility (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52BB42(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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PAX.

Peace

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Turrigeris humeris, dentis quoque barrus eburni,
Qui superare ferox Martia bella solet. [M]
Supposuit nunc colla iugo stimulisque subactus,
Caesareos currus ad pia templa vehit.
Vel fera cognoscit concordes undique gentes,
Proiectisque armis munia pacis obit.[1]

The elephant, with its tower-bearing shoulders and ivory tusk, a beast accustomed to dominate the conflicts of Mars with savage ravings, has now submitted its neck to the yoke: subdued by goads, it draws Caesar’s chariot to the holy temples. Even the beast recognises nations reconciled on every side, and rejecting the weapons of war, it performs the duties of peace.

[Marginalia - link to text]Vide Suetonium in vita Gaii [Julii] Caesaris.[2]

Notes:

1.  This is translated from Anthologia graeca 9.285, which refers to an occasion under the Emperor Tiberius when the statue of the Deified Augustus was for the first time borne in procession in a chariot drawn by elephants.

2.  The episode in Suetonius’s ‘Life of Julius Caesar’ (ch. 37) is not really relevant to this text.


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