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DE MORTE ET AMORE.[1]

Death and Love

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Errabat socio mors iuncta cupidine secum,
Mors pharetras parvus tela gerebat amor.
Divertere simul, simul una & nocte cubarunt,
Caecus amor, mors hoc tempore caeca fuit.
Alter enim alterius, male provida spicula sumpsit,
Mors aurata, tenet ossea tela puer.
Debuit inde senex qui nunc acheronticus[2] esse,
Ecce amat & capiti florea serta parat.
Ast ego mutato quia amor me perculit arcu,
Defficio [=Deficio] iniiciunt & mihi fata manum.
Parce puer, mors signa tenens victricia parce,
Fac ego amem subeat fac Acheronta senex.

Death was travelling in company with Cupid. Death was carrying the quivers, little Love the arrows. They turned aside together, and slept beside each other that night. Love was blind, and Death too was blind at this time, for each took the other’s heedless arrows. Death has the golden ones, the boy the ones of bone. As a result, an old man who ought by now to be in the grave is - lo and behold - in love, and gets garlands of flowers for his head. But I, since Love struck me with his substitute bow, I am failing - the Fates lay their hand on me. Boy, show mercy. Death, holding the symbols of your triumph, do you show mercy. Cause me to love; cause the old man to go down to Hades.

Notes:

1. The iconography of the emblems ‘De morte et amore’ and ‘In formosam fato praereptam’ (next emblem) is confused in many editions.

2. Acheron was considered to be a river in Hades, but is used to mean the Underworld or the dead in general. Homer described it as a river of Hades, where Odysseus consulted spirits of Underworld (Odyssey 10.513). Vergil (Aeneid 6.297, with the note of Servius) describes it as the principal river of Tartarus, from which the Styx and Cocytus sprang.


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In simulachrum Spei.

A picture of hope.

Emblema. 44.

Quae Deatam [=Dea tam] laeto suspectans sidera vultu?
Cuius peniculis reddita imago fuit?
Elpidii[1] fecere manus. Ego nominor illa,
Quae miseris promptam Spes bona praestat opem.
Cur viridis tibi palla? quod omnia me duce vernent.
Quid manibus mortis tella[2] refracta geris?
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [T3v f147v]Quod vivos sperare decet, praecido sepultis.
Cur in dolioli tegmine pigra sedes?
Sola domi mansi volitantibus undique noxis,
Ascraei[3] ut docuit musa verenda senis.
Quae tibi adest volucris? Cornix fidissimus oscen[4],
Est bene cum nequeat dicere, dicit, erit.
Qui comites? bonus Eventus[5] praecepsque Cupido
Qui praeeunt? Vigilum somnia vana vocant.
Quae tibi iuncta astat? scelerum Rhamnusia[6] vindex,
Scilicet ut speres nil, nisi quod liceat.

What goddess is this, looking up to the stars with face so glad? By whose brush was this image depicted? - The hands of Elpidius made me. I am called Good Hope, the one who brings ready aid to the wretched. - Why is your garment green? - Because everything will spring green when I lead the way. - Why do you hold Death’s blunt arrows in your hands? - The hopes that the living may have, I cut short for the buried. - Why do you sit idle on the cover of a jar? - I alone stayed behind at home when evils fluttered all around, as the revered muse of the old poet of Ascra has told you. - What bird is at your side? - A crow, the faithful prophet. When it cannot say, ‘All’s well’, it says, ‘All shall be well’. - Who are your companions? - Happy Ending and Eager Desire. - Who go before you? - They call them the idle dreams of those who are awake. - Who stands close beside you? - Rhamnusia, the avenger of crimes, to make sure that you hope for nothing but what is allowed.

Notes:

1. Elpidius is an invented name derived from Greek ἐλπίς, ‘hope’.

2. For Death’s arrows cf. [A15a153], [A15a154].

3. ‘the old poet of Ascra’, i.e. Hesiod. See Hesiod, Opera et dies 90ff. for the story of Pandora’s box or jar.

4. ‘a crow, the faithful prophet’. The crow was a bird of prophecy and an emblem of hope. Its caw was interpreted as cras, cras, ‘tomorrow, tomorrow’. Cf. the proverb, Quod hodie non est, cras erit: ‘What is not today shall be tomorrow.’

5. Bonus Eventus or Bonne Aventure, cf. Evento Buono in Ripa, Iconologia; also called ‘Success’ or ‘Happy Ending’.

6. Rhamnusia, i.e. Nemesis, who had a shrine at Rhamnus in Attica.


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