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Link to an image of this pageLink to an image of this page †[B7r]

IN ILLAUDATA LAU-
DANTES.

Praising the wrong things

Link to an image of this pageLink to an image of this page †[B7v]

Ingentes Galatum semerini [=semermi] milite turmas,
Spem praeter trepidus fuderat Antiochus.[1]
Lucarum cum saeva boum vis,[2] ira proboscis,
Tum primum[3] hostiles corripuisset equos.
Ergo trophea locans Elephantis imagine pinxit,
Insuper & sociis occideramus ait.
Bellua servasset ni nos foedissima barrus,
Ut superasse iuvat, sic superasse pudet.

Antiochus, in spite of his fears, had beyond all expectation routed the huge squadrons of Galatians with his light-armed troops, when the savage might of elephants, their raging and their trunks, for the first time ever fell upon the enemy’s cavalry. So when he set up the trophy, he adorned it with the picture of an elephant and furthermore said to his troops: “We would have fallen, if this revolting beast, the elephant, had not preserved us. Pleasing as it is to conquer, it is galling to conquer like this”.

Notes:

1.For this incident, see Lucian, Zeuxis sive Antiochus 8-11. In 276 BC Antiochus I won against fearful odds by directing his sixteen elephants against the Galatian horsemen and scythed chariots. Not only did the horses turn in panic and cause chaos among their own infantry, but the elephants came on behind, tossing, goring and trampling. Although he had won an overwhelming victory, Antiochus did not consider it a matter for congratulation.

2.‘Might of elephants’, lit. ‘might of Lucanian cattle’, supposedly so called by the Romans because they first saw these strange beasts in Lucania in south Italy, when King Pyrrhus of Epirus made use of them in his defeat of the Romans at the battle of Heraclea in 280 BC. See Pliny, Natural History 8.6.16.

3.‘For the first time ever’. The Galatians, Celtic tribes who had invaded Asia Minor, had never seen elephants before. Elephants had often been used in battle on other occasions.


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Link to an image of this pageLink to an image of this page †[E4v p72]

Quae supra nos, nihil ad nos.[1]

What lies above us is none of our business

XXVIII.

Caucasia aeternum pendens in rupe Prometheus[2]
Diripitur sacri praepetis ungue iecur.
Et nollet fecisse hominem, figulosque perosus
Accensam rapto damnat ab igne facem.
Roduntur variis prudentum pectora curis,
Qui coeli affectant scire deŻmque vices.

Suspended for ever from the Caucasian rock, Prometheus has his liver torn by the talons of the sacred bird. He could well wish he had not made man. Hating moulders of clay, he curses the torch lit from the stolen fire. - The hearts of the learned are gnawed by various cares, the learned who strive to know the vicissitudes of heaven and the gods.

Link to an image of this pageLink to an image of this page †[E5r p73]

Was ob unnŖ ist nit zu erforschen.

XXVIII.

Prometheus macht von laym ein bild,
Das er durch fewr zu leben bracht,
Drumb nagt im yetz ein geyer wild,
Sein leber, die wechst tag und nacht,
Den lon er umb solch kunst empfacht.
Also verzern yr hertz in layd,
All die legen yer sinn und acht
Zu wissen Gottes haymlichkayt.

Notes:

1.See Erasmus, Adagia 569, Quae supra nos nihil ad nos.

2.The Titan Prometheus appears in myth as the champion of men against the ill-will of Zeus. According to one account, he moulded man out of clay (hence the reference to figuli, lit. ‘potters’, in l.3). Again, when Zeus withheld fire from mortals, Prometheus ascended to heaven and stole fire from the chariot of the sun for the benefit of men. As a perpetual punishment, Prometheus was put in chains and suspended from a rock in the Caucasus, where an eagle, the sacred bird of Zeus, in the day-time consumed his liver, which renewed itself every night. See Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.82ff; Hesiod, Theogony 561ff.


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  • (symbolic) representations ~ creation, cosmos, cosmogony, universe, and life (in the broadest sense) [10] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • fire (one of the four elements) [21C] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Things Unknown, the Unknown (+ emblematical representation of concept) [51AA8(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Curiosity, Inquisitiveness, Desire of Knowledge; 'Curiosit√†' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52A12(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
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