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IN SENATUM BONI
principis.

On the senate of a good prince

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Effigies manibus truncae ante altaria Divm,
Hic resident, quarum lumine capta prior.
Signa potestatis summae, sanctique senatus,
Thebanis fuerint [=fuerant] ista reperta viris.[1]
Cur resident? quia mente graves decet esse quieta,
Iuridicos animo nec variare levi.
Cur sine sunt manibus? capiant ne xenia, nec se
Pollicitis flecti muneribusve sinant.
Caecus at est princeps, quod solis auribus, absque
Affectu constans iussa senatus agit.

Figures without hands sit here before the altars of the gods. The chief of them is deprived of sight. These symbols of the supreme power and of the reverend senate were discovered by men of Thebes. - Why do they sit? - Because lawgivers should be serious, of a calm mind, and not change with inconstant thoughts. - Why have they no hands? - So that they may not take gifts, nor let themselves be influenced by promises or bribes. But the president is blind, because the Senate, by hearing alone, uninfluenced by feeling, impartially discharges what it is bidden to do.

Notes:

1. This is Thebes in Egypt. See Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride 10; also Erasmus, Adagia 2601, Scarabaeus aquilam quaerit.


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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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