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SIGNA FORTIUM.

The mark of the brave

Quae te causa movet volucris saturnia[1] magni,
Ut tumulo insideas ardua Aristomenis[2]?
Hoc moneo quantum inter aves ego robore praesto,
Tantum semideos inter Aristomenes.
Insideant timidae timidorum busta columbae,
Nos aquilae intrepidis signa benigna damus.

Saturnian bird, what cause brings you to stand with uplifted wings on the tomb of mighty Aristomenes? - I tell you this - as I stand out among the birds in power, so does Aristomenes among the sons of gods. Fearful doves may perch on the graves of the fearful. We eagles give signs of favour to the fearless.

Notes:

1. volucris Saturnia, ‘Saturnian bird’, i.e. the eagle, attendant on Jupiter, son of Saturn.

2. Aristomenes was a Messenian hero of the seventh century BC, of semi-divine origin, who performed incredible exploits while leading his country for many years in resistance to the Spartans. On one occasion an eagle aided his miraculous escape from captivity.


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  • doves, pigeons [34B231] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Strength, Power; 'Fortezza', 'Fortezza d'Animo e di corpo', 'Fortezza del corpo congiunta con la generosit… dell'animo', 'Fortezza & valore del corpo congiunto con la prudenza & virtu del animo', 'Forza'(Ripa) [54A7] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Courage, Bravery, Valiance, Manliness; 'Ardire magnanimo et generoso', 'Gagliardezza', 'Valore', 'Virtù heroica', 'Virtù dell'animo e del corpo' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54A8(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Cowardice [54AA8] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Fear, Dread; 'Paura', 'Timidità o Timore', 'Timore' (Ripa) [56DD1] Search | Browse Iconclass

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Dulcia quandoque amara fieri.

Sweetness turns at times to bitterness

Matre procul licta paulm secesserat infans
Lydius[1], hunc dirae sed rapuistis apes.
Venerat hic ad vos placidas ratus esse volucres,
Cm nec ita immitis vipera saeva foret.
Quae datis ah dulci stimulos pro munere mellis,
Proh dolor, heu sine te gratia nulla datur.[2]

A Lydian babe had strayed some way off, leaving his mother at a distance, but you made away with him, you dreadful bees. He had come to you, thinking you harmless winged creatures, yet a merciless viper would not be as savage as you. Instead of the sweet gift of honey, ah me, you give stings. Ah pain, without you, alas, no delight is granted.

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Doulceur porte bien amertume.[3]

Cupido peu loing de sa mere,
Mouche a miel pour oysel prenant,
Sentit tost sa morsure amere:
Si crie, & fuyt incontinent.
Venus rit, puis dit: maintenant
Si mouche a miel fut amoureuse,
Tel douleur ne te fut donnant,
Sans toy toute chose est fascheuse.
Aultrement
Cupido pour ses appetitz
Vers des mouches a miel alla:
Qui[4] cuydoit oyseletz petitz:
Et moult entour elles vola.
Delles est mors: il crye hala.
Sa mere entend dou vient la plaincte:
Ha mignard (dit elle) vela,
Vous faictes bien de pire attaincte.

Notes:

1. This is based on Anthologia graeca 9.548 , where a baby, called Hermonax, is stung to death. See also Anthologia graeca 9.302 for another epigram treating the same incident.

2. In the 1536 edition, a version of this text is attached to the following emblem.

3. Corrected from the 1536 edition.


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