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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O6v p220]

Littera occîdit, spiritus vivificat.[1]

The letter kills but the spirit gives life

EMBLEMA CLXXXV.

Vipereos Cadmus dentes ut credidit arvis,
Sevit & Aonio semina dira solo:
Terrigenûm clypeata cohors exorta virorum est,
Hostili inter se qui cecidere manu.
Evasere quibus monitu Tritonidos armis
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O7r p221]Abiectis data pax, dextraque iuncta fuit.[2]
Primus Agenorides[3] elementa, notasque magistris
Tradidit, iis suavem iunxit & harmoniam.[4]
Quorum discipulos contraria plurima vexant,
Non nisi Palladia quae dirimuntur ope.

When Cadmus entrusted the dragon’s teeth to the furrows and sowed the dread seed in Aonian [Theban] soil, there sprang up a shield-bearing band of earth-born men, who fell by fighting among themselves. Those escaped who at Tritonia’s [Athena’s] command threw down their arms, granted peace and joined right hands. Agenor’s son first gave to teachers letters and symbols and also put together for them sweet musical concord. Many adversities assail those who follow these disciplines, adversities which are resolved only by Pallas Athena’s aid.

Notes:

1.  II Corinthians 3:6.

2.  For the story of Cadmus, founder of Thebes (in Aonia, or less correctly in the French, in Thessaly), and the dragon’s teeth, see Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.99ff. Athena, goddess of wisdom - here called Tritonia, from the place of her birth in North Africa - brought the internecine struggle between the earth-born warriors to an end.

3.  Agenorides, ‘Agenor’s son’, i.e. Cadmus, who supposedly introduced writing to Greece. The scattering of the dragon’s teeth was interpreted as the invention of the alphabet.

4.  harmoniam, ‘musical concord’. Cadmus’ wife was called Harmonia.


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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [N6v p204]

La lettre occit, mais l’esprit vivifie.[1]

XLV.

Lors qu’au champ Boeotic Cadme eut les dents semé
De son hideux serpent, une trouppe guerriere
Soudain de terre issit, qui d’une main meurtriere
S’entretuerent tous d’un courage animé:[2]

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [N7r p205]

Fors ceux qui par l’advis de Pallas s’appaiserent,
Mirent les armes bas, & en main se toucherent.
Cadme fut le premier qui inventa les lettres,[3]
Les maria ensemble, & incita les maistres
A les enseigner puis à disciples divers:
Qui furent la plus part bigearres & pervers,
Semans tousjours entreux contredits infinis,
Qui jamais ne seront que par Pallas finis.

Commentaires.

La fable de Cadmus se trouve au long dans Ovi-
de
. Voyons en le sens moral. Cadme, fils d’Agenor,
fit un ingenieux & industrieux ouvrier, qui pre-
mier bailla les lettres aux Grecs. Ce qui se doit en-
tendre, ou des paroles & de l’oraison, qui nous sont Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [N7v p206] representees par les lettres, ou bien des disputes &
contentions, qui sont ordinairement entre les hommes
lettrés. Par le dragon ou serpent est entendue la sa-
pience, & ceste encyclopedie, ou amas de toutes scien-
ces, que les lettres nous produisent. Les dents du dra-
gon furent semés. Le sermon (que nous pouvons ap-
peller discours) est ainsi nommé, à cause de plusieurs
mots semés & joincts ensemble. Les naturalistes di-
sent que le dragon a seize dents. Il y a aussi seize
consonantes, qui se perdent & se chassent l’une l’au-
tre, si elles ne sont aidees d’ailleurs. Mais si on leur
joint les voyelles, qui leur sont comme l’esprit est au
corps, alors les mots se forment, lesquels joincts en-
semble font le parler & l’oraison. Ces voyelles, ce
sont ces soldats qui demeurerent en vie par l’exhor-
tation de Pallas. Ceste bande de gents armés, issus des
dents du dragon, nous remarque aussi les disputes,
contentions, & altercations de certains escholiers,
qui portans envie aux labeurs d’autruy, se ruïnent
les uns les autres M. Barthelemi Aneau, jadis Prin-
cipal du college de la Trinité à Lyon, a appliqué ceste
fable aux libraires & imprimeurs.

Notes:

1.  II Corinthians 3:6.

2.  For the story of Cadmus, founder of Thebes (in Aonia, or less correctly in the French, in Thessaly), and the dragon’s teeth, see Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.99ff. Athena, goddess of wisdom - here called Tritonia, from the place of her birth in North Africa - brought the internecine struggle between the earth-born warriors to an end.

3.  Cadmus supposedly introduced writing to Greece. The scattering of the dragon’s teeth was interpreted as the invention of the alphabet.


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