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In vitam humanam.

On human life

Plus solito humanae nunc defle incommoda vitae
Heraclite, scatet pluribus illa malis.
Tu rursus, si quando alis, extolle cachinnum
Democrite, illa magis ludicra facta fuit.
Intere haec cernens meditor, qua denique tecum
Fine fleam, aut tecum quomod splene iocer.[1]

Weep now, Heraclitus, even more than you did, for the ills of human life. It teems with far more woes. And you, Democritus, if ever you laughed before, raise your cackle now. Life has become more of a joke. Meanwhile, seeing all this, I consider just how far I can weep with you, how laugh bitterly with you.

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De la vie humaine.

Plores plus que onques tu ne feis
Heraclite, il en est saison.
Les gens sont en tous maulx confis.
Vertus nont ca bas plus maison.
Democrite ris, tu as raison.
Car chascun veult fol demourer:
Tandis penseray la choison,
Si je debvray rire, ou plorer.

Notes:

1. This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 9.148. For Heraclitus, cf. [A50a016]. For the contrast between the despairing tears of Heraclitus (who withdrew from human society) and the sardonic laughter of Democritus when faced with the folly of men, see, among many sources, e.g. Juvenal, Satires 10, 28ff.


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In receptatores sicariorum.[1]

Those who harbour cut-throats

Latronum furumque manus tibi Scaeva[2] per urbem
It comis [=comes] , & diris cincta cohors gladiis.
Atque ita te mentis generosum prodige cnses,
Qud tua complureis allicit olla malos.
En novus Actaeon, qui postqum cornua sumpsit,
In praedam canibus se dedit ipse suis.[3]

An evil-minded band of ruffians and thieves accompanies you about the city, a gang of supporters armed with lethal swords. And so, you wastrel, you consider yourself a fine lordly fellow because your cooking pot draws in crowds of scoundrels. - Here’s a fresh Actaeon - he, after he grew his horns, became the prey of his own hunting dogs.

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Receptateurs dhomicides.

Gens apres toy avec espees,
(Dont plusieurs ont gaigne le pendre,
Ou davoir oreilles coppees)
Te font cornes au chef extendre,
Mais il ten pourra ainsi prandre,
En nourrissant telz ruffiens,
Que a Acteon: qui (faict cerf tendre)
Fust devore de tous ces chiens.

Notes:

1. Before the 1536 edition, Wechel editions used an earlier version of the woodcut in which the horns were more like a goat than a deer’s antlers.

2. Scaeva, ‘evil-minded’. The capital letter suggests that the Latin word could be taken as a proper name in the vocative case, i.e addressing one Scaeva.

3. For the story of Actaeon turned into a stag and killed by his own hounds, see Ovid, Metamorphoses 3.138ff. Similarly, the hangers-on will destroy the one who has fed them.


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