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EMBLEMA CXLV.

In nothos.

Bastards

Herculeos spurii semper celebretis honores:
Nam vestri princeps ordinis ille fuit.[1]
Nec prius esse deus potuit,[2] quàm sugeret infans
Lac, sibi quod fraudis nescia Iuno dabat.[3]

Bastards, you should always celebrate the honours of Hercules, for he was the chief of your line. He could not become a god until as a babe he sucked the milk which Juno was giving him, unaware that she was being tricked.

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Das CXLV.

Von Bastharten.

Ir Basthart erzeigt Göttlich ehr
Dem Herculi dann er ein Herr
Und Oberster euwers standes war
Kondt nicht under der Götter schar
Kommn er hett dann ein Göttin gsogn
Damit Göttin Juno war btrogn
Dann sie im reichet unbewust
Ir eigen Milch auß irer Brust.

Notes:

1.  Hercules was fathered by Jupiter on Alcmene, wife of Amphitryon of Thebes, and became his father’s favourite. Juno, wife of Jupiter, in jealousy pursued Hercules with implacable hatred.

2.  After all his Labours and other exploits, Hercules, by the will of Jupiter, was received among the gods. See e.g. Ovid, Metamorphoses, 9.156ff; Cicero, De officiis, 3.25.

3.  For the story of Juno tricked by Jupiter into suckling the loathed Hercules see Pausanias, 9.25.2. This divine milk apparently counteracted Hercules’ illegitimate birth which otherwise disqualified him for heaven. See Erasmus, Adagia, 2070 (Ad Cynosarges).


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    SUBMOVENDAM
    ignorantiam.

    Ignorance must be done away with

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    Quod monstrum id? sphinx[1] est, cur candida virginis ora,
    Et volucrum pennas, crura leonis habet?
    Hanc faciem assumpsit rerum ignorantia, tanti
    Scilicet est triplex causa, & origo mali.
    Sunt quos ingenium leve, sunt quos blanda voluptas,
    Sunt & quos faciunt corda superba rudes.
    At quibus est notum quid Delphici litera[2] possit,
    Praecipitis monstri guttura dira secant.
    Namque vir ipse, bipesque tripesque, & quadrupes idem est
    Primaque prudentis laurea nosse virum.

    What monster is that? - It is the Sphinx. - Why has it the bright face of a maiden, the wings of birds, the legs of a lion? - Ignorance has assumed this form, because the cause and origin of this great evil is threefold. There are some whom frivolity makes ignorant, others the blandishments of pleasure, still others arrogance. But those who are aware of the force of the Delphic letter, these cut the dread throat of the lowering monster. For man himself is two-legged, three-legged, four-legged, one and the same, and the first victory of the wise is to know the man.

    Notes:

    1.  The Sphinx was a monster which lay in wait on the road to Thebes and killed all travellers who could not answer its riddle: What goes on four legs in the morning, two at mid-day, three at evening? Oedipus destroyed the monster by giving the correct answer, ‘Man’ (i.e the baby crawls on all fours , the youth walks upright on his two legs, the old man requires a stick). See below, 1.9 (Namque vir ipse...). See also Erasmus, Adagia 1209, Boeotica aenigmata.

    2.  ‘the Delphic letter’, i.e. the letter E. See Plutarch, De E apud Delphos, an essay which discusses various explanations put forward for the ‘E’, a letter cast in bronze. At the end of the essay (392ff.), the letter is brought into connection with the inscription Gnothi sauton, ‘Know thyself’ (cf. 1.10), which greeted those who came to consult the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. See also Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.6.6.


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