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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [A4r p7]

PREMIER LIVRE DES
Emblemes d’Alciat.

Au Duc de Milan.

I

Duc de Milan, ton escusson
Met hors d’un serpent l’enfant nud,[1]
Alexandre en telle façon
Du ciel croyoit estre venu:[2]
Car sa mere avoit soustenu
Jupiter, faict serpent nouveau:[3]
Cela pouvoit estre advenu,
Pallas vint bien de son cerveau.[4]

commentaires.

Icy sont descrites les armoiries des Ducs de Mi-
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [A4v p.8] lan
: sçavoir est un petit enfant issant de la gueule d’un
serpent: que lon blasonne, d’argent, à la guyure d’a-
zur, lissant de gueules. Ces armoiries sont prisees à
cause de leur ancienneté, & aussi à cause de l’excel-
lence du premier inventeur. Car Alexandre le Grand
fit battre de la monnoye où cecyestoit representé, se
voulant dire estre descendu du ciel: d’autant qu’O-
lympias
sa mere avoit dit publiquement, qu’elle ne
l’avoit pas conceu de Phillipes son mari, mais d’un
serpent de grandeur excessive. On dit qu’il y a une
sorte de serpents qui fait ses petits par la bouche. Les
poëtes tiennent que Pallas, qu’on appelle aussi, Miner-
ve, nasquit de la teste de Jupiter: Et la nomment, La
Deesse de sapience, inventrice des arts & sciences:
pource (disent quelques uns) qu’elle n’a point eu de
mere.

Notes:

1.  The Sforza family had ruled Milan since 1450, having assumed power through marriage (some said fraudulently) to a Visconti heiress, and taken their symbol as their own. They were chased out in 1499 by the French, but restored several times.

2.  For the superhuman birth of Alexander, see e.g. Plutarch, Life of Alexander, 3 and 27: Jupiter in the form of a serpent mated with Olympias, wife of Philip of Macedon, and begat Alexander. Ammon, a north African deity, was identified with Zeus/Jupiter. When Alexander visited Ammon’s sanctuary, he was hailed as the son of the god.

3.  According to e.g.Pliny, Natural History 10.170, Aelian, De natura animalium 1.24, the viper, alone among snakes, produces not eggs but live young. See also Isidore, Etymologiae 12.4.10.

4.  The story of Pallas Athene springing complete and armed from the head of Jove is found in many sources; see e.g. Homer, Hymns 3.308ff; Hesiod, Theogony 923ff.


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FOEDERA ITALORUM.[1]

The Italians’ Alliances.

Hanc cytharam à lembo [=lembi] , quae forma halieutica[2] fertur.
Vendicat, & propriam musa latina sibi.
Accipe Dux, placeat nostrum hoc tibi tempore munus
Quo nova cum sociis foedera inire paras.
Difficile est nisi docto homini tot tendere chordas,
Unaque si fuerit non bene tenta fides.
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [A3r]Ruptave (quôd facile est) perit omnis gratia conchae,
Illeque praecellens cantus ineptus erit.
Sic Itali coëunt proceres in foedera, concors,
Nil est quod timeas, si tibi constet amor.
At si aliquis desciscat (uti plerunque videmus)
In nihilum illa omnis solvitur harmonia.

This lute, which from its boat shape is called “halieutica”, my Latin Muse now claims for her own service. Receive it, O Duke. May this offering of mine be pleasing to you at this moment when you are preparing to enter into fresh agreements with your allies. It is difficult, except for a man of skill, to tune so many strings, and if one string is out of tune or broken, which so easily happens, all the music of the instrument is lost and its lovely song disjointed. In like manner the leaders of Italy are now forming alliances. There is nothing for you to fear if affection lasts for you and stays in concord. But if any one should slide away, which we often see, that harmony is all dissolved into nothing.

Notes:

1.  In later editions the title is merely Foedera.

2.  A Greek word meaning ‘fishing’ (boat).


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