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Tumulus Ioannis Galeacii Vi-
primi Ducis Me

The tomb of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, first Duke of Milan


Pro tumulo pone Italiam, pone arma Ducesque,[2]
Et mare, quod geminos mugit adusque sinus.
Adde his Barbariem[3] conantem irrumpere frustra
Et mercede emptas in fera bella manus.
Anguifer ast[4] summo sistens, in culmine dicat:
Quis parvis magnum me super imposuit?

Instead of the tomb, put Italy, put weapons and leaders, and the sea which roars right up to the twin curving coasts. Add to these the barbarian host, trying in vain to burst in, and forces hired with money for savage wars. But the one holding a snake, standing on the roof of the tomb, may well say: Who has put me, great as I am, on top of little things?


Quicunque duci strenuo generoso & ma-
gnanimo tumulum extruere volet, nihil omni-
no aliud praeter foelicem ac imperterritam in-
tegram Italiam ponat, armis Ducibusque suis
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [l6r p171]optim munitam, & ab utraque parte hc Tyr-
illic Adriatico mari clausam. Addat in-
super barbaras multiplices gentes circum cir
ca maximis militum copiis, vehementi ar-
dentique impetu necquicqum & incassum
eam invadere molientes. Eius nanque sum-
mitate supereminet imperterritus ille angui-
fer, (Mediolanensis Dux, de cuius insigniis
anguem praeseferentibus dictum supra Embl.
1.[5]) aspernans omnia & floccipendens quis
inquiat, me magnum rebus exiguis superim-
posuit? Italiae autem situm amoenitatem, fer-
tilitatem, gloriam, bellicasque virtutes, tam
Cosmographi qum Chronici Historiogra-
phi innumeri prolix describunt, inter quos
Strabo libro 5. Deque eius potentia & bellica
eminentia, elegans est oratio Regis Agrippae
apud Iosephum historiographum de bel-
lo Iudaico, libro 2. cap. 16. extat &
Belsolis Regis perpulchra epi-
stola, apud Crinitum libro 8.
cap. 11. de honesta di-
sciplina & Crho-
nici pas-


1. Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402), created first Duke of Milan in 1395. Noted for his ruthlessness, he united most of the Po valley under the rule of Milan for the first time, defeated Bologna, and set his sights on Florence until his death saved that city.

2. This epigram is based on Anthologia graeca 7.73 (by Geminos, but wrongly attributed to Germanicus in the sixteenth century). The Greek epigram is concerned with what would be a worthy tomb for the Greek hero Themistocles, who was buried in a very simple grave. It suggests one with representations of Salamis and the Persians, recalling the hero’s most famous exploit, the victory over the Persians at the battle of Salamis. Likewise, memorials of Visconti’s achievements are proposed here.

3. ‘the barbarian host’, i.e. the ‘barbarian’ French, who were induced to become involved in the Milan/Florence conflict and were defeated by Visconti. The French are mentioned specifically in the version of this poem found in Selecta epigrammata p.254, where 1.4 reads: Gallus ut et Theuton Alpe et Hyberus aquis, ‘like the Gaul and the Teuton via the Alps and the Spaniard via the sea’. In Alciato’s day, the French continued to overrun the Italian peninsula and attempt to dictate its internal affairs.

4. This is presumably a figure of the Duke of Milan, whose arms included a snake; see [A56a001]. In the accompanying woodcut, we have written on a snaking ribbon held by a figure the Greek version (taken from the original Greek epigram) of the Latin words quoted in l.6.

5. See [A56a001]

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