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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G7r p109]

La paz.

Ottava rhima.

El elephante que vençer solia
Las guerras con las torres guarneçidas
De gente que en batallas el traia,
Sometiò a’l jugo sus fuerças rendidas
Y lleva armas d'el Cęsar à la pia  [M]
Yglesia, y da de paz nuevas complidas,
Por dar nos à entender como aun los brutos
Ven de la paz seguirse grandes frutos.[1]

[Marginalia - link to text]Julio Cesar.

Notes:

1.  This is based on Anthologia graeca 9.285, which refers to an occasion under the Emperor Tiberius when the statue of the Deified Augustus was for the first time borne in procession in a chariot drawn by elephants.


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INSANI GLADIUS.

The madman’s sword

Emblema 174.

Setigeri medius stabat gregis ensifer Aiax,[1]
Caede suum credens caedere Tantalidas.[2]
Hostia sic tanquam sus succidanea[3] paenas
Pro Laertiade,[4] pro caveaque dabat.
Nescit obesse suis furor hostibus: errat ab ictu,
Consiliique impos in sua damna ruit.

Ajax was standing sword in hand in the midst of the bristled herd, thinking that in killing the pigs he was killing the descendants of Tantalus. The victim, like the substitute pig, was paying the penalty for the son of Laertes and for the assembled crowd. Madness does not know how to disadvantage its real foes; it misdirects its blows, and, lacking judgement, rushes headlong to its own destruction.

Notes:

1.  See Emblem 28 ([A15a028]) for Ajax’ madness and suicide. In his madness, he slaughtered a herd of sheep, thinking them to be the Greeks. The two largest rams he took to be Agamemnon and Menelaus. See Zenobius, Proverbs, 1.43; Horace, Satires, 2.3.197-8; Erasmus, Adagia, 646 (Aiacis risus) - Erasmus makes the animals pigs, which Alciato here follows.

2.  Tantalidas, ‘the descendants of Tantalus’ i.e. Agamemnon and Menelaus, whom Ajax blamed for his humiliation.

3.  A substitute animal was sacrificed when the first offering was rejected by the gods or, as here, in place of the proper victim. See Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 4.6.5.

4.  pro Laërtiade, ‘for the son of Laërtes’, i.e. Odysseus, to whom the Greek assembly awarded the splendid armour of the dead Achilles, not to Ajax.


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