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Link to an image of this pageLink to an image of this page †[I7v p142]

In colores.

On Colours


Index maestitiae est pullus color: utimur omnes
Hoc habitu, tumulis cým damus inferias.
At sinceri animi, & mentis stola candida purae:
Hinc sindon sacris linea grata viris.
Nos sperare docet viridis. Spes dicitur esse
Link to an image of this pageLink to an image of this page †[I8r p143]In viridi, quoties irrita retrÚ cadit.[1]
Est cupidis flavus color, est & amantibus aptus,
Et scortis, & queis spes sua certa fuit.
At ruber armatos equites exornet amictus:
Indicet & pueros erubuisse pudor.
Caeruleus nautas, & qui caelestia vates
Attoniti nimia relligione petunt.
Vilia sunt gilvis, nativaque vellera burrhis:
Qualia lignipedes stragula habere solent.
Quem curae ingentes cruciant vel zelus amoris,
Creditur hic fulva non malŤ veste tegi.
Quisquis sorte sua contentus, ianthina gestet:
Fortunae aequanimis taedia quique ferat.
Ut varia est natura coloribus in gignendis,
Sic aliis aliud: sed sua cuique placent.[2]

Black is a sign of sadness; we all use this garb when we perform funeral rites at tombs. But white clothes are a sign of a sincere mind and pure thoughts. Hence the sindon, the linen garment beloved of holy men. Green teaches us to hope. Hope is said to be in the green whenever it sinks back unfulfilled. A gold colour is suitable for avaricious people and lovers, and whores, and anyone whose hopes have come to fruition. Let red garb adorn armed horsemen, let modesty show boys blushing. Blue suits sailors and prophets who, muddled with too much religion, pursue things in the skies. Cheap and untreated are the fleeces for dun-coloured cloaks, the sort of coverings that the wooden-legged have. A man tortured by great anxieties or the jealousy of love is considered appropriately dressed in yellow. Anyone content with his lot may wear mauve, also the man who bears with composure the unpleasantnesses inflicted by Fortune. - Nature is diverse in producing the colours, and different things are for different situations. Yet each of us is pleased by what is his own.


1.‘Green teaches us to hope’. Cf. Emblem 44, line 5 ([A91a044]). In viridi, ‘in the green’ echoes the phrase in herba, for hopes unfulfilled. See e.g. Ovid, Ex Ponto, 16.263: ‘adhuc tua messis in herba est’ (your harvest is still in green leaf).

2.‘each of us is pleased by what is his own’. Cf. Erasmus, Adagia, 115 (suum cuique pulchrum).

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