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INVIOLABILES TELO Cupidinis.

Immune to Cupid’s dart

Ne dirus te vincat amor, neu foemina mentem
Diripiat magicis artibus ulla tuam.
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B6v]Bacchica avis praesto tibi motacilla paretur,
Quam quadriradiam circuli in orbe loces.
Ore crucem & cauda, & geminis ut complicet alis,[1]
Tale amuletum carminis omnis erit.
Dicitur hoc Veneris signo Pegasaeus Iason,
Phasiacis laedi non potuisse dolis.[2]

To prevent merciless love overcoming you, to prevent any woman plundering your mind with magic arts, provide yourself with a wagtail, bird of Bacchus. Place it spread four ways within the sphere of a circle, so that it forms the arms of a cross with its beak, tail and paired wings. Such a thing will be an amulet against all magic spells. Through this figure, the gift of Venus, it is said that Jason of Pagasae became immune to the wiles of Phasis.

Notes:

1.  These lines describe the rhombos, a device used in casting love-spells. The bird usually employed was a wryneck, associated with Bacchus, possibly because of its dappled markings. (Cf. the dappled fawns associated with the god.) The wagtail seems to have been confused with the wryneck in folk belief.

2.  Pagasa (or Pagasae) was the place in Thessaly where the ship Argo was built, in which the Argonauts, led by Jason, sailed to Colchis in the region round the river Phasis to fetch the Golden Fleece. In this and in other tasks imposed on them by the king of Phasis they were helped by the sorceress Medea, daughter of the king. Instructed by Venus, Jason used the rhombos to cause Medea to fall in love with him and so use her spells to help, not harm, him. See Pindar, Pythian Odes 4.216ff.


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IN ILLAUDATA LAU-
DANTES.

Praising the wrong things

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Ingentes Galatum semerini [=semermi] milite turmas,
Spem praeter trepidus fuderat Antiochus.[1]
Lucarum cum saeva boum vis,[2] ira proboscis,
Tum primum[3] hostiles corripuisset equos.
Ergo trophea locans Elephantis imagine pinxit,
Insuper & sociis occideramus ait.
Bellua servasset ni nos foedissima barrus,
Ut superasse iuvat, sic superasse pudet.

Antiochus, in spite of his fears, had beyond all expectation routed the huge squadrons of Galatians with his light-armed troops, when the savage might of elephants, their raging and their trunks, for the first time ever fell upon the enemy’s cavalry. So when he set up the trophy, he adorned it with the picture of an elephant and furthermore said to his troops: “We would have fallen, if this revolting beast, the elephant, had not preserved us. Pleasing as it is to conquer, it is galling to conquer like this”.

Notes:

1.  For this incident, see Lucian, Zeuxis sive Antiochus 8-11. In 276 BC Antiochus I won against fearful odds by directing his sixteen elephants against the Galatian horsemen and scythed chariots. Not only did the horses turn in panic and cause chaos among their own infantry, but the elephants came on behind, tossing, goring and trampling. Although he had won an overwhelming victory, Antiochus did not consider it a matter for congratulation.

2.  ‘Might of elephants’, lit. ‘might of Lucanian cattle’, supposedly so called by the Romans because they first saw these strange beasts in Lucania in south Italy, when King Pyrrhus of Epirus made use of them in his defeat of the Romans at the battle of Heraclea in 280 BC. See Pliny, Natural History 8.6.16.

3.  ‘For the first time ever’. The Galatians, Celtic tribes who had invaded Asia Minor, had never seen elephants before. Elephants had often been used in battle on other occasions.


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