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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[1],
Reciprocat chamaeleon[2].
Et mutat faciem varios sumitque colores,
Praeter rubrum vel candidum.[3]
Sic & adulator populari vescitur aura,[4]
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. Corrected from the Errata and by hand in this copy.

2. 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.

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

4. ‘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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    Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [N1v p194]

    Fer simile ex Theocrito.[1]

    Something more or less the same from Theocritus

    Alveolis dum mella legit, percussit Amorem
    Furacem mala apes, & summis spicula liquit
    In digitis: tumido gemit at puer anxius ungue,
    Et quatit errabundus humum, Venerique dolorem
    Indicat, & graviter queritur, qud apicula parvum
    Ipsa inferre animal tam noxia vulnera possit.
    Cui ridens Venus, hanc imitaris tu quoque dixit
    Nate feram, qui das tot noxia vulnera parvus.

    While he was taking honey from the hives, a vicious bee stung thieving Amor, and left its sting in the end of his finger. The boy in distress cried out as his finger-end swelled up. He ran about, stamping his foot, showed his hurt to Venus, and complained bitterly that a little bee, that tiny creature, could inflict such grievous wounds. Venus smiled at him and said, “You are like this creature, my son; small as you are you deal many a grievous wound”.

    Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [N2r p195]

    Presque se [=le] semblable au precedent,
    compris de Theocrite.

    Cupido chast du meil desrobe,
    La mouche a miel surce le pique.
    Il va puis, il vient, puis ne hobe,
    Frappant du pied en fantasticque:
    Ha dit il, ma mere impudicque,
    Je meurs sans que eusse sceu penser,
    Que si peu de corps mellificque,
    Eust peu tant asprement blesser.
    Aultrement.
    Cupido yvrognet & chast,
    Roba du miel pour sa pasture:
    Mais pas nadvient quil y touchast,
    Sans soudain recepvoir poincture:
    Venus le ot crier daventure,
    Lors dit, Regarde donc foireux,
    Si telle petite creature
    Te ard, que fais tu aux amoureux.[2]

    Notes:

    1. 3rd-century BC bucolic poet, who may or may not have wrriten the Idylls (19, The Honey Stealer), of which this is a fairly close translation, in dactylic hexameters, as in the Greek original.

    2. These French verses were not in the 1536 edition.


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