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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [n2v p196]

Ignavi.

Good for nothing

XXI.

Ignavi aerdeolam stellarem[1] effingere servi
Et studia, & mores fabula prisca fuit,
Quae famulum Asteria[2] volucris sumpsisse figuram
Est commenta, fides sit penes historicos.
Degener hic veluti qui caevet in aëre falco est
Dictus ab antiquis vatibus ardelio.[3]

There was an old story to the effect that the little starred heron displays the activities and character of a good-for-nothing slave, a story which alleged that the slave Asterias took the form of a bird. Let the [natural] historians vouch for this. This sort of despicable person is like the kestrel quivering in one place in the air, a person called a fussing busybody by the ancient poets.

Notes:

1.  The ‘little starred heron’, which, according to the story, had once been human and a slave, was, because of its sluggish nature, called ocnus, i.e. ‘idleness’. Cf. Emblem 17 ([A56a017]). As it understood human speech, it hated to be called this, or ‘slave’. See Pausanias, 10.29.2; Aelian, De natura animalium 5.36; Aristotle, Historia animalium, 9.18.617.

2.  Asterias, ‘starred’, is the Greek name for ardea stellaris, possibly a bittern.

3.  ardelio: ‘a fussing busybody’. See Martial, Epigrams, 2.7.7.; 4.78.9: Phaedrus, Fables, 2.5.1. Cf. Erasmus, Adagia, 543, Callipides, on someone who expends a great deal of energy achieving nothing.


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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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