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CUSTODIENDAS VIR-
gines.

Girls must be guarded

Vera haec effigies[1] innuptae est Palladis, eius
Hic Draco, qui dominae constitit ante pedes.
Cur divae Comes hoc animal? custodia rerum
Huic data, sic lucos, sacraque templa colit.[2]
Innuptas opus est cura asservare puellas,
Pervigili laqueos undique tendit amor.[3]

This is the true image of virgin Pallas. Her snake is here, positioned at his mistress’s feet. Why does this creature accompany the goddess? The task of guarding things was entrusted to it, and so it looks after groves and sacred temples. It is necessary to guard unmarried girls with ever-watchful care - Love lays his snares on every side.

Notes:

1. ‘Image of virgin Pallas’. Pallas Athene, virgin goddess and protectress of the city of Athens, represented with helmet, spear and aegis. Pallas Athene was equated with Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom. Pausanias, Periegesis 1.24.7 mentions such a statue with a snake.

2. See Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.20.3: ‘the snake with its keen and ever-watchful sight has assigned to it the custodianship of temples, shrines, oracles and treasures.’ Ancient Greek holy sites often housed a snake.

3. ‘Love lays his snares on every side’ - a proverbial saying.


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Tandem tandem iustitia obtinet.

At long last justice wins the day

XXXVIII.

Aeacidae Hectoreo perfusum sanguine scutum,
Quod Graecorum Ithaco concio iniqua dedit.
Iustior arripuit Neptunus in aequora iactum
Naufragio, ut dominum posset adire suum:
Littoreo Aiacis tumulo namque intulit unda:
Quae boat, & tali voce sepulchra ferit.
Vicisti Telaniniade tu dignior armis,
Affectus fas est cedere iustitiae.[1]

The shield of Aeacus’ descendant, stained with Hector’s blood, the unjust assembly of the Greeks awarded to the Ithacan. Neptune, showing more respect for equity, seized upon it when it was cast into the sea in the shipwreck, so that it could go to its proper master. For the wave carried it to Ajax’s tomb upon the shore, the wave which booms and smites the sepulchre with these words: ‘Son of Telamon, you have conquered. You are more worthy of these arms’. It is right for partiality to yield to justice.

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A la fin obtient Justice.

XXXVIII.

Neptune aperceut, que les Grecs
Avoient contre Ajax mal jug:
Concevant pource grands regretz,
L’escu d’Achilles a charg:
Lequel par eau tant a nag,
Que au tombeau de Ajax dire vient:
Je suis tien, et tu m’as rang:
A justice obeyr convient.

Notes:

1. This is a version of Anthologia graeca 9.115-6. See Homer, Odyssey 11.541ff. for the contest for ownership of the divine armour of the dead Achilles (i.e. Aeacus’ descendant), who had earlier killed Hector. The Greek assembly awarded the armour to smooth Odysseus (the Ithacan) rather than to brave Ajax (son of Telamon), and, according to later tradition, Ajax became mad with fury and humiliation. Returning to sanity he committed suicide in shame. See e.g. Ovid, Metamorphoses 13.1.ff; and [A50a175]. Ajax was buried on a promontory near Rhoeteion, not far from Troy.


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