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In Avaros.

On the avaricious

Septitius populos inter ditissimus omnes,
Arva senex nullus quo magis ampla tenet.
Defraudans geniumque suum, mensasque paratas,
Nil praeter betas, duraque rapa vorat.
Cui similem dicam hunc, inopem quem copia reddit,
An ne asino? sic est, instar hic eius habet.
Nanque asinus dorso preciosa obsonia gestat,
Seque rubo aut dura carice pauper alit.[1]

Septitius is the richest man on earth; no old man has wider estates than he. Mean to himself and his dinner table, he chews nothing but beets and stringy turnips. To what shall I liken a man whose very wealth makes him a beggar? Shall it be an ass? That’s it - he is just like an ass. An ass carries a load of rich delicacies on his back, but, poor creature, feeds itself on brambles and tough grass.

Notes:

1. Cf. Anthologia graeca 11.397, concerning a miser called Artemidorus.


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Ex pace ubertas.

Prosperity as the result of peace

EMBLEMA CLXXIX.

Grandibus ex spicis tenues contexe corollas,
Quas circum alterno palmite vitis eat.
His comptae Alcyones[1] tranquilli in marmoris unda
Nidificant, pullos involucresque fovent.
Laetus erit Cereri, Baccho quoque[2] fertilis annus,
AEquorei si rex alitis instar[3] erit.

From fat ears of corn weave supple garlands, and let the vine encircle them with alternating stems. Decked out with these the halcyon birds build their nests on the wave of the glassy sea, and cherish their unfledged chicks. - The year will be rich for Ceres and fertile for Bacchus too, if the king is the image of the bird of the sea.

Notes:

1. ‘halcyon birds’. For these see Aelian, De natura animalium 1.36; 9.17; Pliny, Natural History. 10.47.89-91; and for the legend of their transformation, Ovid, Metamorphoses 11, 410ff, esp. 728ff. Halcyons were supposed to build a nest and launch it on the sea at a time of calm peaceful weather provided for them about the time of the winter solstice. See Erasmus, Adagia 1552, Halcedonia sunt apud forum.

2. ‘for Ceres...and for Bacchus too’, i.e. rich with crops of corn and wine.

3. ‘is the image of the bird of the sea’, i.e. diffusing peace, love and concord. Before their metamorphosis into seabirds, Alcyone and her husband were a deeply loving royal couple ruling a peaceful country. This love persisted after the change, symbolised by the calm weather associated with their nesting.


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