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Tumulus meretricis.

The courtesan’s tomb

EMBLEMA LXXIV.

Quis tumulus? cuia urna? Ephyraeae est Laidos.[1] ah, non
Erubuit tantum perdere Parca[2] decs?
Nulla fuit tum forma: illam iam carpserat aetas,
Iam speculum Veneri cauta dicarat[3] anus.
Quid scalptus sibi vult aries[4], quem parte leaena
Unguibus apprehensum posteriore tenet?
Non aliter captos quòd & ipsa teneret amantes:
Vir gregis est aries, clune tenetur amans.

What tomb, whose urn is this? - It belongs to Lais of Ephyre. - Ah, was not the goddess of Fate ashamed to destroy such loveliness? - She had no beauty then. Age had already worn it away. She had become an old woman and had already wisely dedicated her mirror to Venus. - What’s the meaning of the ram carved there, which a lioness holds tight, gripping its hind-quarters with her claws? - It is there because she too would hold her captive lovers in just this way. The male of the flock is the ram. The lover is held by the buttocks.

Notes:

1.  ‘Lais of Ephyre’. Ephyre is an old name for Corinth, the home of several famous courtesans called Lais.

2.  One of the Parcae or Fates, here presumably Atropos, the Fate who cut off the thread of the individual’s life.

3.  As a symbol of retirement, the tools of one’s trade were dedicated to the presiding deity. For Lais dedicating her mirror to Venus, see Anthologia graeca 6.1 and 18.

4.  Scalptus...aries, ‘the ram carved there’. Pausanias Periegesis 2.2.4 describes such a tomb of Lais at Corinth.


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In amatores meretricum.

Those who give their affection to whores

EMBLEMA LXXV.

Villosae indutus piscator tegmina caprae,
Addidit ut capiti cornua bina suo;
Fallit amatorem stans summo in littore sargum[1],
In laqueos simi quem gregis ardor agit.
Capra refert scortum: similis fit sargus amanti,
Qui miser obscoeno captus amore perit.

When a fisherman has dressed himself in a shaggy she-goat skin and placed twin horns on his head, he stands at the edge of the beach, and tricks the passionate sargus, whom desire for the snub-nosed herd drives into the trap. - The she-goat represents the whore, the sargue is like the lover, who perishes, wretched fellow, in the toils of unwholesome love.

Notes:

1.  A sort of fish, possibly the sea-bream, believed to be unable to resist the smell of she-goats. See Aelian, De natura animalium 1.23.


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