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FIRMISSIMA CONVELLI
non posse.

The firmest things cannot be uprooted

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Occeanus quamvis fluctus pater excitet omnes,[1]
Danubiumque omnem barbare Turca bibas,[2]
Non tu[3] irrumpes perfracto limite, Caesar
Dum Charolus populis bellica signa dabit.[4]
Sic sacrae quercus[5] firmis radicibus adstant.
Sicca licent [=licet] venti concutiant folia.

Though Father Ocean rouses all his waves, though, barbarous Turk, you drink the Danube dry, yet you shall not break through the boundary and burst in, while Emperor Charles shall give to his peoples the signal for war. Even so, holy oaks stand firm with tenacious roots, though the winds rattle the dry leaves.

Notes:

1.  This poem is based on Anthologia graeca 9.291, which refers to a threat to ancient Rome from invading German tribes.

2.  The Turks invaded along the Danube and reached Hungary, winning the battle of Mohacs in 1526. When Alciato was writing, they continued to threaten Vienna and Central Europe.

3.  Later editions correct to tamen, no doubt to improve the scansion.

4.   Caesar...Charlus, i.e. Emperor Charles V, led the charge to recover the lost territory.

5.  ‘holy oaks’. Oaks were holy because sacred to Zeus, especially at his sanctuary at Dodona in Greece ([A50a199]). The image of the dry leaves is already present in the Greek poem, but see also Vergil, Aeneid 4.441-4.


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  • withering, leaves or flowers falling off [25G(+35)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • trees: oak (+ withering, leaves or flowers falling off) [25G3(OAK)(+35)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Asiatic races and peoples: Turks [32B33(TURKS)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Constancy, Tenacity; 'Costanza', 'Tenacitą' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [53A21(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Stability, Firmness; 'Fermezza', 'Stabilimento', 'Stabilitą' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [53A22(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Invincibility (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54A71(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • historical person (with NAME) other representations to which the NAME of a historical person may be attached (with NAME of person) [61B2(CHARLES V [of Holy Roman Empire])3] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • geographical names of countries, regions, mountains, rivers, etc. (names of cities and villages excepted) (with NAME) [61D(DANUBE)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • (story of) Oceanus [91B112] Search | Browse Iconclass

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A MINIMIS QUOQUE[1]
timendum.

Beware of even the weakest foe

Bella gerit scarabaeus & hostem provocat ultro,
Robore & inferior consilio superat.
Nam plumis aquile clam se neque cognitus abdit,
Hostilem ut nidum summa per astra petat.
Quaque [=Ovaque] confodiens prohibet spem crescere prolis,
Hocque modo illatum dedecus ulctus [=ultus] abit.[2]

The scarab beetle is waging war and takes the challenge to its foe. Though inferior in physical strength, it is superior in strategy. It hides itself secretly in the eagle’s feathers without being felt, in order to attack its enemy’s nest across the lofty skies. It bores into the eggs and prevents the hoped-for offspring from developing. And then it departs, having thus avenged the insult inflicted on it.

Notes:

1.  Corrected from the Errata.

2.  For the feud between the eagle and the beetle, see Aesop, Fables 4; Erasmus, Adagia 2601, Scarabaeus aquilam quaerit.


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