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EMBLEMA CLXXXVI [=185] .

Bonis auspiciis incipiendum.

Begin with good auspices

Auspiciis res cepta malis, bene cedere nescit,
Felici quae sunt omine facta iuvant.
Quicquid agis, mustella tibi si occurrat, omitte:
Signa malae haec sortis bestia prava gerit.[1]

A business begun with bad auspices cannot turn out well. Things done with good omens bring happiness. Whatever you are doing, if a weasel crosses your path, abandon it. This evil creature bears signs of ill luck.

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Das CLXXXVI [=185] .

Man sol alle ding mit Glück an-
fahen.

Die sach so hat ein bösn anfang
Kan nicht haben ein guten gang
So aber ein gut zeichn erstlich
Erscheint, geraht es gern glücklich
Was du anfachst so dir bekompt
Ein Wisel so laß ab zu stund
Dann diß unzifer gwiß bedeut
Das nicht vil glück sey in der beut.

Notes:

1.  For the weasel as a creature of ill omen, see Erasmus, Adagia, 173, (Mustelam habes).


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    IN ADULATORES.

    Flatterers

    De Chameleonte vide Plinium naturalis historia
    libro. VIII. Cap. XXXIII.

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    Semper hiat, semper tenuem qua vescitur auram[1],
    Reciprocat chamaeleon[2].
    Et mutat faciem varios sumitque colores,
    Praeter rubrum vel candidum.[3]
    Sic & adulator populari vescitur aura,[4]
    Hiansque cuncta devorat.
    Et solum mores imitatur principis atros.
    Albi & pudici nescius.

    The Chameleon is always breathing in and out with open mouth the bodiless air on which it feeds; it changes its appearance and takes on various colours, except for red and white. - Even so the flatterer feeds on the wind of popular approval and gulps down all with open mouth. He imitates only the black features of the prince, knowing nothing of the white and pure.

    Notes:

    1.  Corrected from the Errata and by hand in this copy.

    2.  This creature was supposed to feed only on air, keeping its mouth wide open to suck it in. See Pliny, Natural History 8.51.122. For the chameleon cf. Erasmus, Parabolae pp.144, 241, 252.

    3.  ‘except for red and white’. See Pliny, ib.

    4.  ‘the wind of popular approval’. This is a common metaphor in Latin, e.g. Horace, Odes 3.2.20, ‘at the behest of the wind of popular approval.’


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