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QUI ALTA CONTEMPLAN
tur cadere.

Those who contemplate the heights come to grief

Dum Turdos visco, pedica dum fallit Alaudas,
Et iactam [=iacta] altivolam figit harundo gruem.
Dipsada non prudens auceps pede perculit ultrix,
Illa mali emissum virus ab ore iacit.
Sic obit extento qui sydera respicit arcu,
Securus fati quod iacet ante pedes.[1]

While he tricks thrushes with bird-lime, larks with snares, while his speeding shaft pierces the high-flying crane, the careless bird-hunter steps on a snake; avenging the injury, it spits the darting venom from its jaws. So he dies, a man who gazes at the stars with bow at the ready, oblivious of the mishap lying before his feet.

Notes:

1. See Anthologia graeca 7.172 and Aesop, Fables 137.


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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,
Reciprocat Chamaeleon[1].
Et mutat faciem varios sumitque colores,
Praeter rubrum vel candidum.[2]
Sic & adulator populari vescitur aura,[3]
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. 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.

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

3. ‘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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