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Dolus in suos.

Treachery against one’s own kind.

EMBLEMA L.

Altilis allectator anas, & caerula pennis,
Assueta ad dominos ire redire suos,
Congeneres cernens volitare per ara turmas,
Garrit, in illarum se recipitque gregem,
Praetensa incautas donec sub retia ducat:
Obstrepitant captae, conscia at ipsa silet.
Perfida cognato se sanguine polluit ales,
Officiosa aliis, exitiosa suis.[1]

The well-fed decoy duck with its green-blue wings is trained to go out and return to its masters. When it sees squadrons of its relations flying through the air, it quacks and joins itself to the flock, until it can draw them, off their guard, into the outspread nets. When caught they raise a protesting clamour, but she, knowing what she has done, keeps silence. The treacherous bird defiles itself with related blood, servile to others, deadly to its own kind.

Notes:

1. Cf. Aesop, Fables, 282, where the decoy birds are pigeons.


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Superbia.

Pride

LXII.

En statuae statua,[1] & ductum de marmore marmor
Se conferre deis ausa procax Niobe. [2]
Est vitium muliebre superbia, & arguit oris
Duritiem, ac sensus, qualis inest lapidi.

Behold a statue of a statue, marble carved from marble, insolent Niobe, who dared to set herself up against the gods. Pride is a woman’s vice, and shows hardness of face and feeling, such as exists in a stone.

Notes:

1. According to the best-known story of her fate, Niobe was turned to stone. For the statue of Niobe by Praxiteles, see Ausonius, Epigrams, 63.2 and Anthologia Graeca, 16.130, a much translated epigram, which seems to have been in Alciato’s thoughts here.

2. Niobe in her pride boasted that having 12 (or 14) children, she was superior to Lato with just two, i.e. Apollo and Diana. These gods in revenge slew all her children and in her grief Niobe hardened into a rock; see Ovid, Metamorphoses, 6.165ff. See further, Erasmus, Adagia, 2233, ‘Niobes mala’.


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