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CUM LARVIS NON LU-
CTANDUM.[1]

Do not wrestle with the dead

Aeacidae[2] moriens percussu cuspidis Hector[3],
Qui toties hosteis vicerat ante suos.
Comprimere haud potuit vocem insultantibus illis,
Dum curru & pedibus nectere vincla parant.
Distrahite ut libitum est sic cassi luce leonis,
Convellunt barbam vel timidi lepores.[4]

When he was dying from the wound dealt by the spear of Aeacus’ descendant, Hector, who had so often before defeated his own enemies, could not keep silent as they triumphed over him, while preparing to tie the ropes to chariot and feet. Tear me as you will, he said; when the lion is deprived of the light of life, even cowardly hares pluck his beard.

Notes:

1. Cf. Erasmus, Adagia 153, Cum larvis luctari.

2. ‘of Aeacus’ descendant’, i.e. ‘of Achilles’. Textual variant: Aeacidae.

3. Hector was the greatest warrior on the Trojan side in the Trojan War, killed in single combat by Achilles, the Greek champion. See Homer, Iliad 22.367ff. and 24.14ff. for Achilles’ desecration of Hector’s body, dragging it, tied by the feet behind his chariot, round the tomb of Patroclus.

4. The last two lines are a translation of the two-line epigram Anthologia graeca 16.4, where, in Planudes’ text, the words are attributed to Hector in the heading.


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IN TEMERARIOS.

The reckless

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Aspicis aurigam currus phaetonta[1] paterni,
Inguivomos [=Ignivomos] ausum flectere solis equos.
Maxima qui postqum terris incendia sparsit,
Est temere insesso lapsus ab axe miser.
Sic plerique rotis fortunae ad sydera Reges,
Evecti ambitio quos iuvenilis agit.
Pst magnam humani generis clademque suamque,
Cunctorum poenas denique dant scelerum.

You see here Phaethon, driving his father’s chariot, and daring to guide the fire-breathing steeds of the Sun. After spreading great conflagrations over the earth, the wretched boy fell from the car he had so rashly mounted. - Even so, the majority of kings are borne up to heaven on the wheels of Fortune, driven by youth’s ambition. After they have brought great disaster on the human race and themselves, they finally pay the penalty for all their crimes.

Notes:

1. Phaethon, the son of Apollo, the sun-god. The myth referred to here is told in Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.748 - 2.349. Both Phaethon and Icarus ([A31a054]) are types of those who aim too high and do not recognise their proper sphere.


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