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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [n2r p195]

Nobiles & generosi.

High born and noble

XX.

Aurea Cecropias[1] nectebat fibula vestes:
Cui coniuncta tenax dente cicada fuit:
Calceus Arcadico suberat cui lunula ritu, [2]
Gestatur patribus mullea Romulidis.[3]
Indigenas quòd se adsererent haec signa tulerunt
Antiqua illustres nobilitate viri.

A golden brooch knitted together the robes of Cecrops’ descendants, a brooch which had attached to it a cicada, gripping with a tooth. A shoe called a mullea with a little crescent-shaped ornament below in Arcadian fashion was worn by Romulus’ patrician clans. Because they proclaimed themselves descendants of the earliest inhabitants, men distinguished by ancient noble lineage wore these symbols.

Notes:

1.  Cecropias, ‘of Cecrops’ descendants’, i.e. Athenians claiming descent from Cecrops, the autochthonous first king of Athens. See Emblem 227, n.3 ([A56a227]).

2.  Arcadico...ritu, ‘in Arcadian fashion’. The Arcadians wore crescent-shaped ornaments because they believed themselves to be the first men on earth and older than the moon. See Ovid, Fastii, 2.290. Evander, who came from Arcadia, was the founder of the primitive settlement on the Palatine hill which preceded Romulus’ Rome. See Vergil, Aeneid, 8.; Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae, 76.

3.  patribus...Romulidis, ‘Romulus’ patrician clans’, i.e. members of the inner circle of noble Roman families claiming descent from the first senators (patres), one hundred in number, appointed by Romulus, founder and first ruler of Rome. These patrician families wore a distinctive black boot with a crescent-shaped ornament. Those members who achieved high political office wore similar red boots, calcei mullei, so called because their colour was like that of a mullet (according to Isidore, Etymologiae (Origines), 19.34.4 and 10).


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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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