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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [D5v p58]

A minimis quoque timendum.[1]

Beware of even the weakest foe

Bella gerit Scarabaeus, & hostem provocat ultro,
Robore & inferior consilio superat.
Nam plumis Aquilae clam se neque cognitus abdit,
Hostilem ut nidum summa per astra petat.
Ovaque confodiens prohibet spem crescere prolis,
Hocque modo illatum dedecus ultus abit.[2]

The scarab beetle is waging war and takes the challenge to its foe. Though inferior in physical strength, it is superior in strategy. It hides itself secretly in the eagle’s feathers without being felt, in order to attack its enemy’s nest across the lofty skies. It bores into the eggs and prevents the hoped-for offspring from developing. And then it departs, having thus avenged the insult inflicted on it.

Notes:

1.  From the 1536 Wechel edition onwards, the woodcut is revised so that the beetle looks like the scarab of the text.

2.  For the feud between the eagle and the beetle, see Aesop, Fables 4; Erasmus, Adagia 2601, Scarabaeus aquilam quaerit.


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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [D7r p61]

Cum larvis non luctandum.[1]

Do not wrestle with the dead

Aeacidae[2] moriens percussu cuspidis Hector[3],
Qui toties hosteis vicerat antè suos.
Comprimere haud potuit vocem insultantibus illis,
Dum curru, & pedibus nectere vincla parant.
Distrahite ut libitum est, sic cassi luce leonis
Convellunt barbam, vel timidi lepores.[4]

When he was dying from the wound dealt by the spear of Aeacus’ descendant, Hector, who had so often before defeated his own enemies, could not keep silent as they triumphed over him, while preparing to tie the ropes to chariot and feet. Tear me as you will, he said; when the lion is deprived of the light of life, even cowardly hares pluck his beard.

Notes:

1.  Cf. Erasmus, Adagia 153, Cum larvis luctari.

2.  ‘of Aeacus’ descendant’, i.e. ‘of Achilles’. Textual variant: Aeacidae.

3.  Hector was the greatest warrior on the Trojan side in the Trojan War, killed in single combat by Achilles, the Greek champion. See Homer, Iliad 22.367ff. and 24.14ff. for Achilles’ desecration of Hector’s body, dragging it, tied by the feet behind his chariot, round the tomb of Patroclus.

4.  The last two lines are a translation of the two-line epigram Anthologia graeca 16.4, where, in Planudes’ text, the words are attributed to Hector in the heading.


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