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Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [N4v p200]

Ἐχθρῶν ἄδωρα δῶρα.[1]

The gifts of enemies are no gifts

EMBLEMA CLXVII.

Bellorum cepisse ferunt monumenta vicissim
Scutiferum Aiacen, Hectoraque Iliacum.
Baltea Priamides, rigidum Telamonius ensem;
Instrumenta suae cepit uterque necis.
Ensis enim Aiacem confecit; at Hectora functum
Traxre AEmoniis cingula nexa rotis.
Sic titulo obsequii, quae mittunt hostibus hostes
Munera, venturi praescia fata ferunt.[2]

The story tells that shield-bearing Ajax and Hector of Troy exchanged souvenirs of battle. Priam’s son took the sword-belt, Telamon’s descendant the rigid sword, each accepting the instrument of his own death. For the sword destroyed Ajax, and the belt, attached to Thessalian wheels, dragged the dead Hector. So the gifts which enemies give to enemies, seemingly doing honour, knowing what is to come, bring doom.

Notes:

1. The gifts of enemies are no gifts. See Sophocles, Ajax 665, where Ajax so speaks of the ill-fated sword he had received from Hector.

2. See Homer Iliad 7.299, for the occasion in the Trojan War when Hector (the Trojan hero, son of Priam) and Ajax (Telamon’s descendant, one of the best fighters on the Greek side) met in single combat and afterwards, the honours being even, exchanged gifts. (Ajax was carrying the vast shield for which he was famed). Later, he committed suicide by falling on the sword he received from Hector (see [A91a028] n. and [A91a175] n.). Hector was later killed in single combat by Achilles (prince of Thessaly, the Greek champion), who desecrated the body by tying it behind his chariot (it is suggested here that he used the sword-belt Hector had received from Ajax) and dragging it about before the eyes of the Trojans. See [A91a153].


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Iusta ultio.

Just revenge

LXXIIII.

Raptabat volucres captum pede corvus in auras
Scorpion, audaci praemia parta gulae.
Ast ille infuso sensim per membra veneno,
Raptorem in stygias compulit ultor aquas.
O risu res digna, aliis qui fata parabat,
Ipse perit, propriis succubuitque dolis.[1]

A raven was carrying off into the flying winds a scorpion gripped in its talons, a prize won for its audacious gullet. But the scorpion, injecting its poison drop by drop through the raven’s limbs, despatched the predator to the waters of the Styx and so took its revenge. What a laughable thing! The one who was preparing death for others himself perishes and has succumbed to his own wiles.

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COMMENTARIA.

Corvus avis vorax & furax, cadaveribus at-
que rapinis intentus. Cm autem aduncis suis pe
dibus in praedam avidae gulae rapuisset scorpio-
nem venenosissimum animal de quo Isidorus
qui caudae suae ictu paulatim venenum infun-
dens eius membris ulciscitur, raptoremque infla-
tum interimit. Res ridicula, ut qui aliorum in-
sidiabatur vitae, ipse propriis dolis periit. Simi
lis extat Apologus apud Aesopum de Corvo &
Serpente, hc etiam adagia sumpta, Corvus ser
pentem, & Corvus scorpium, ut in Chiliadibus.

Notes:

1. This is a fairly free translation of Anthologia graeca 9.339. See Erasmus, Adagia 58, Cornix scorpium, where the Greek epigram is again translated.


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