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Professors’ nicknames

Emblema 95.

Moris vetusti, est aliqua professoribus
Super adiici cognomina,
Faciles, apertosque explicans tantum locos
Canon vocatur Curtius.
Rebolvitur [=Revolvitur] qui eodem, & iteratque nimis
Maeander,[2] ut Parisius.
Obscurus, & confusus, ut Picus fuit,
Labyrinthus appellabitur.[3]
Nimis brevis, multa amputans, ut Claudius,
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [Hh6v f246v]Mucronis agnomen feret.
Qui vel columnas voce rumpit,[4] Parpalus,
Dictus Truo[5] est scholastici [=scholasticis] .
Contra est vocatus, tenuis esset Albius
Quod voce, vespertilio.[6]
At ultimas mutilans colobotes Syllabas.
Hirundo Crassus dicitur.[7]
Qui surdis [=surdus] aliis solus ipse vult loqui.
Ut sturnus in proverbio est.
Hic blesus, ille raucus, iste garriens:
Hic sibilat ceu vipera.
Tumultuatur ille rictu, & naribus,
Huic lingua terebellam facit.
Singultit alius, atque tussis [=tussit] haesitans.
At conspuit alius, ut psecas.[8]
Quam multa rebus vitia in humanis agunt,
Tam multa surgunt nomina.

It’s an old custom for professors to be given nicknames. Curtius, the one who lectures only on easy and obvious passages, is called Straight and Narrow. The one who keeps going back to the same point and repeats everything too often is called Maeander, like Parisius. If he’s difficult to follow and muddled, like Picus, he’ll be called the Labyrinth. The one who is too concise, chops a lot off, like Claudius, will get the name of Clippers. Parpalus, who even cracks the pillars with his voice, gets the name of Pelican from the students. On the other hand, Albius who had a squeaky voice was called the Bat. Crassus, the mutilator, who mangles the ends of all his words is called the Swallow. The one who won’t listen and insists on talking himself is like the starling in the proverb. This one stammers, that one is hoarse, the third talks too fast, the other hisses like a snake. One grimaces with mouth and nostrils running riot, another has a tongue like a drill. One breaks off to cough and clear his throat, another sputters all over you like a dripping gutter. For every fault displayed in human behaviour a name arises to match.


1.  For the giving of nicknames to teachers cf. Lucian, Symposium, 6.

2.  Maeander, a river in Asia Minor famous for its meanderings.

3.  The Labyrinth: See Emblem 12, n.1 ([A15a012]).

4.  columnas voce rumpit, ‘even cracks the pillars with his voice’. Cf. Juvenal, Satires, 1.13: ‘the pillars cracked with continual recitations’.

5.  Truo, ‘Pelican’. See previous emblem.

6.  Vespertilio, ‘Bat’. See Emblems 61 and 62 ([A15a061], [A15a062]).

7.  Hirundo, ‘the Swallow’. Cf. Emblem 70 ([A15a070]). The Greeks compared the persistent twittering of the swallow to barbarian jabbering.

8.  psecas, ‘a dripping gutter’, a word explained in the Suda.

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