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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [Oo5r p585]

Nobiles, & generosi.

High born and noble

EMBLEMA CXXXVII.

Aurea Cecropias[1] nectebat fibula vestes,
Cui coniuncta tenax dente cicada fuit:
Calceus, Arcadico suberat cui lunula ritu,[2]
Gestatur patribus mullea Romulidis.[3]
Indigenas qụd se adsererent, haec signa tulerunt
Antiqua illustres nobilitate viri.

A golden brooch knitted together the robes of Cecrops’ descendants, a brooch which had attached to it a cicada, gripping with a tooth. A shoe called a mullea with a little crescent-shaped ornament below in Arcadian fashion was worn by Romulus’ patrician clans. Because they proclaimed themselves descendants of the earliest inhabitants, men distinguished by ancient noble lineage wore these symbols.

Notes:

1.  Cecropias, ‘of Cecrops’ descendants’, i.e. Athenians claiming descent from Cecrops, the autochthonous first king of Athens. See Emblem 5, n.3 ([A21a005]).

2.  Arcadico...ritu, ‘in Arcadian fashion’. The Arcadians wore crescent-shaped ornaments because they believed themselves to be the first men on earth and older than the moon. See Ovid, Fastii, 2.290. Evander, who came from Arcadia, was the founder of the primitive settlement on the Palatine hill which preceded Romulus’ Rome. See Vergil, Aeneid, 8.; Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae, 76.

3.  patribus...Romulidis, ‘Romulus’ patrician clans’, i.e. members of the inner circle of noble Roman families claiming descent from the first senators (patres), one hundred in number, appointed by Romulus, founder and first ruler of Rome. These patrician families wore a distinctive black boot with a crescent-shaped ornament. Those members who achieved high political office wore similar red boots, calcei mullei, so called because their colour was like that of a mullet (according to Isidore, Etymologiae (Origines), 19.34.4 and 10).


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Strenuorum immortale nomen.

Achievers have an immortal name

EMBLEMA CXXXVI.

AEacidae tumulum Rhoetaeo in littore cernis,[1]
Quem plerumque pedes visitat alba Thetis.[2]
Obtegitur semper viridi lapis hic amarantho;[3]
Qụd nunquam Herois sit moriturus honos.
Hic Graium murus,[4] magni nex Hectoris. Haud plus
Debet Maeonidae, quàm sibi Maeonides.[5]

You see the tomb of Aeacus’ descendant on the Rhoetean shore, which white-footed Thetis often visits. This stone is always covered with green amaranth, because the honour due to heroes shall never die. This man was‘the wall of the Greeks’, and the destruction of great Hector, and he owes no more to the Lydian poet than the poet does to him.

Notes:

1.  ‘Aeacus’ descendant’, i.e. Achilles, the greatest warrior on the Greek side in the Trojan War. Rhoeteum was a promontory on the Trojan coast (though normally associated with the tomb of Ajax).

2.  Thetis, a sea-nymph, mother of Achilles, called ‘silver-footed’ by Homer.

3.  amarantho: the name of the plant means ‘never-fading’. See Pliny, Natural History, 21.23.47.

4.  ‘the wall of the Greeks’, translating Homer’s description of Achilles at Iliad, 3.229.

5.  Maeonidae, ‘to the Lydian poet’, i.e. Homer, who told in the Iliad the famous story of Achilles’ wrath and refusal to fight during the Trojan War, and of his eventual slaying of Hector, the chief warrior on the Trojan side. (For which see Emblem 154, [A21a154]). For the sentiment that great deeds need to be sung in order not to be forgotten, see Horace, Odes, 4.8.20ff; and that great literature needs great themes, see Tacitus, Dialogus de oratoribus, 37.


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