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Submovendam ignorantiam.

Ignorance must be done away with

Quod monstrum id? Sphinx[1] est, cur candida virginis ora,
Et volucrum pennas, crura leonis habet?
Hanc faciem assumpsit rerum ignorantia: tanti
Scilicet est triplex caussa & origo mali.
Sunt quos ingenium leve, sunt quos blanda voluptas,
Sunt & quos faciunt corda superba rudes.
At quibus est notum quid Delphica litera[2] possit,
Praecipitis monstri guttura dira secant.
Namque vir ipse, bipesque tripesque & quadrupes idem est,
Primaque prudentis laurea, nosse virum.

What monster is that? - It is the Sphinx. - Why has it the bright face of a maiden, the wings of birds, the legs of a lion? - Ignorance has assumed this form, because the cause and origin of this great evil is threefold. There are some whom frivolity makes ignorant, others the blandishments of pleasure, still others arrogance. But those who are aware of the force of the Delphic letter, these cut the dread throat of the lowering monster. For man himself is two-legged, three-legged, four-legged, one and the same, and the first victory of the wise is to know the man.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G4r]

Lon doibt oster Ignorance.

Sphinx est pucelle de visaige,
En plume oyseau, des piedz lyon:
Ignorance a sur nous usaige,
Pour trois vices, dont nous lions:
Quelz? que peu nous humilions,
Que avons volupte, inconstance:
De tous lesquelz nous deslions
Quand avons de nous congnoissance.
Vel Quand lhomme a se congnoistre pense.

Notes:

1.  The Sphinx was a monster which lay in wait on the road to Thebes and killed all travellers who could not answer its riddle: What goes on four legs in the morning, two at mid-day, three at evening? Oedipus destroyed the monster by giving the correct answer, ‘Man’ (i.e the baby crawls on all fours , the youth walks upright on his two legs, the old man requires a stick). See below, 1.9 (Namque vir ipse...). See also Erasmus, Adagia 1209, Boeotica aenigmata.

2.  ‘the Delphic letter’, i.e. the letter E. See Plutarch, De E apud Delphos, an essay which discusses various explanations put forward for the ‘E’, a letter cast in bronze. At the end of the essay (392ff.), the letter is brought into connection with the inscription Gnothi sauton, ‘Know thyself’ (cf. 1.10), which greeted those who came to consult the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. See also Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.6.6.


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Ex bello pax.

Peace succeeding to war

XLV.

En galea intrepidus quam miles gesserat, & quae
Saepius hostili sparsa cruore fuit.
Parta pace apibus tenuis concessit in usum
Alveoli, atque favos grataque mella gerit.
Arma procul iaceant, fas sit tunc sumere bellum,
Quando aliter pacis non potes arte frui.[1]

See here a helmet which a fearless soldier previously wore and which was often spattered with enemy blood. After peace was won, it retired to be used as a narrow hive for bees; it holds honey-combs and nice honey. - Let weapons lie far off; let it be right to embark on war only when you cannot in any other way enjoy the art of peace.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G3r p101]

De Guerre Paix.

XLV.

L’armet dung hardy chevalier
En temps de paix fut de repos:
Des mousches a miel ung milier,
L’ont trouvé pour elles dispos:
Tost y ont faict leurs petitz potz,
Mettans miel, ou meist sang la guerre:
Soit doncq’ noise hors de tous propos,
Qui n’est contrainct[2] pour paix acquerre.

Notes:

1.  Cf. Anthologia graeca, 6.236, where bees nest in what were once the beaks (projections at the prow) of war-galleys.

2.  The 1536 edition reads ‘aultrement’; the revision corrects the scansion.


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