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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B1v f9v]

Scyphus Nestoris.

Nestor’s cup

Nestoreum geminis cratera hunc accipe fundis, [1]
Quod gravis argenti massa profudit opus.
Claviculi ex auro: stant circum quattuor ansae:
Unam quanque super fulva columba sedet.
Solus eum potuit longaevus tollere Nestor.
Maeonidae doceas quid sibi musa velit.
Est coelum scyphus ipse. color argenteus illi est:
Aurea sunt coeli sidera claviculi.
Pleiadas esse putant, quas dixerit ille columbas.[2]
Umblici [=Umbilici] gemini,[3] magna minorque fera est.[4]
Haec Nestor longo sapiens intelligit usu.
Bella gerunt fortes, callidus astra tenet.

Receive this bowl of Nestor with its double support, a work which a heavy mass of silver shaped. Its studs are of gold. Four handles stand about it. Above each one sits a yellow dove. Only aged Nestor was able to lift it. Do tell us what Homer’s Muse intended. The cup itself is the heavens; its colour is silvery; the studs are the golden stars of heaven. They think that what he called doves are the Pleiades. The twin bosses are the great and lesser beast. The wise Nestor understood this by long experience: the strong wage war, the wise man grasps the stars.

Notes:

1.  Nestor’s bowl is described at Homer, Iliad, 11.632-7. Only Nestor, for all his great age could lift it when full. For the interpretation of Nestor’s cup (or mixing bowl) given here, see Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, 11.487 F ff.

2.  The Greek word for ‘doves’ is πελειάδες.

3.  ‘twin bosses’, i.e. possibly the protuberances inside the bowl where it was joined to the two supports.

4.  ‘great and lesser beast’, i.e. the Great and Little Bear, a phrase based on Ovid, Tristia, 4.3.1: ‘magna minorque ferae’.


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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B1v p18]

Ad illustrem[1] Maximilianum ducem Mediolanensem.

To the illustrious Maximilian, Duke of Milan.

Emblema I.

EXiliens infans sinuosi è faucibus anguis,
Est gentilitiis nobile stemma tuis.[2]
Talia Pellaeum[3] gessisse nomismata regem,
Vidimus, hisque suum concelebrasse genus.
Dum se Ammone satum,[4] matrem anguis imagine lusam,
Divini & sobolem seminis esse docet.
Ore exit, tradunt sic quosdam enitier angues,[5]
An quia sic Pallas de capite orta Iovis?[6]

An infant bursting from the maw of a coiling serpent marks the noble lineage of your clan. We have observed that the Pellaean king had coinage with such a device and by it celebrated his own descent, proclaiming that he was begotten of Ammon, that his mother was beguiled by the form of a snake and the child was the offspring of divine seed. The infant emerges from the mouth. They say that some snakes come to birth that way. Or is it because Pallas sprang like this from the head of Jove?

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B2r p19]

An den durleuchtigen, etc. Maximilian
Hertzogen
zu Mayland.

I.

Ein kind auß einer krummen schlang
Entspringend, Hertzog ist dein schilt:
Alexander fuert auch vorlang
Zu sonder zeugnuß sollich bild,
Wie selbs der got Jupiter mild
Sein vater wer, und solcher art
Ir junge bringt die nater wild,
Auch Pallas also gporen ward.

Notes:

1.  Other editions expand this to ‘illustrissimum’.

2.  The Sforza family had ruled Milan since 1450, having assumed power through marriage (some said fraudulently) to a Visconti heiress, and taken their symbol as their own. They were chased out in 1499 by the French, but restored several times.

3.  Pellaeum...regem: ‘the Pellaean king’, i.e. Alexander the Great, born at Pella in Macedonia

4.  For the superhuman birth of Alexander, see e.g. Plutarch, Life of Alexander, 3 and 27: Jupiter in the form of a serpent mated with Olympias, wife of Philip of Macedon, and begat Alexander. Ammon, a north African deity, was identified with Zeus/Jupiter. When Alexander visited Ammon’s sanctuary, he was hailed as the son of the god.

5.  According to e.g.Pliny, Natural History 10.170, Aelian, De natura animalium 1.24, the viper, alone among snakes, produces not eggs but live young. See also Isidore, Etymologiae 12.4.10.

6.  The story of Pallas Athene springing complete and armed from the head of Jove is found in many sources; see e.g. Homer, Hymns 3.308ff; Hesiod, Theogony 923ff.


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