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Prudens, sed infacundus.[1]

Wise, but lacking eloquence.

Noctua cecropiis[2] insignia praestat Athenis
Inter aves sani noctua consilii.
Armiferae merito obsequiis sacrata Minervae est,
Garrula quo cornix cesserat ante loco.[3]

The owl provides the symbol for Athens, Cecrops’ city, for among the birds the owl is known for wise counsel. Deservedly was it dedicated to the service of weapon-bearing Minerva, in the place vacated by the chattering crow.


1. In later editions, the motto becomes Prudens, magis quam loquax, ‘wise head, close mouth’.

2. Cecrops was a legendary wise early king of Athens, a city renowned as a place of learning. See above, Emblem 27 ([A46a027]), line 7.

3. garrula quo cornix cesserat, ‘vacated by the chattering crow’. The crow was dismissed from Athena’s service for telling tales, and was replaced by the owl. See Ovid, Metamorphoses, 2.562-5. This story is represented in Aneau, ‘Periculum in terra, periculum in mari’ ([FANa029]).

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