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Foedera.

Alliances.

Hanc citharam lembi, quae forma halieutica[1] fertur,
Vendicat, & propriam Musa latina sibi.
Accipe Dux, placeat nostrum hoc tibi tempore munus,
Quo nova cum sociis foedera inire paras.
Difficile est, nisi docto homini, tot tendere chordas,
Unaque si fuerit non bene tenta fides:
Ruptave (quod facile est) perit omnis gratia conchae,
Illeque praecellens cantus, ineptus erit.
Sic Itali count proceres in foedera, concors,
Nil est quod timeas, si tibi constet amor.
At si aliquis desciscat (uti plerunque videmus)
In nihilum illa omnis solvitur harmonia.

This lute, which from its boat shape is called “halieutica”, my Latin Muse now claims for her own service. Receive it, O Duke. May this offering of mine be pleasing to you at this moment when you are preparing to enter into fresh agreements with your allies. It is difficult, except for a man of skill, to tune so many strings, and if one string is out of tune or broken, which so easily happens, all the music of the instrument is lost and its lovely song disjointed. In like manner the leaders of Italy are now forming alliances. There is nothing for you to fear if affection lasts for you and stays in concord. But if any one should slide away, which we often see, that harmony is all dissolved into nothing.

Notes:

1. A Greek word meaning ‘fishing’ (boat).


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Etiam ferocissimos domari.

Even the fiercest are tamed.

IIII.

Romanum postqum eloquium, Cicerone perempto,
Perdiderat[1] patriae pestis acerba suae:
Inscendit currus victor, iunxitque leones[2],
Compulit & durum colla subire iugum,
Magnanimos cessisse suis Antonius armis,
Ambage hac cupiens significare duces.

After Antony, that grievous bane of his country, had destroyed eloquence by slaying Cicero, he mounted his chariot in triumph and yoked to it lions, forcing their necks to bow to the harsh yoke, desiring by this symbolic act to indicate that great leaders had given way before his military might.

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Les plus cruelz surmontez.

IIII.

Apres que Anthoine eust faict mourir
Cicero pere d’eloquence,
En cheriot voulut courir,
Conduit par Lyons d’arrogance:
Faisant en ce pure jactance,
Que comme Lyons le servoient,
Mis avoit en obeissance
Les grans, qui grosse audace avoient.

Notes:

1. ‘had destroyed eloquence by slaying Cicero’. Cicero was considered Rome’s greatest orator - his name was held by many to be synonymous with eloquence itself; see Quintilian, Institutio oratoria 10.1.112. Mark Antony had Cicero murdered in 43 BC in revenge for his scathing attacks in the fourteen ‘Philippic’ orations. See Seneca the Elder, Suasoriae 6.17.

2. Cf. Pliny, Natural History 8.21.55: Antony was the first to yoke lions to a chariot in Rome...by this unnatural sight giving people to understand that noble spirits were at that time bowing to the yoke.


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