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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [m8r p191]

Antiquissima quaeque com-
mentitia.

The oldest things are all invented

VII.

Pellenaee senex, cui forma est histrica, Proteu, [1]
Qui modņ membra viri fers, modņ membra feri.
Dic agč quae species ratio te vertit in omnes,
Nulla sit ut vario certa figura tibi?
Signa vetustatis, primaevi & praefero secli: [2]
De quo quisque suo somniat arbitrio.

Proteus, old man of Pallene, whose outward appearance changes like an actor’s, assuming sometimes the body of a man, sometimes that of a beast, come, tell me, what is your reason for turning into all kinds of shapes, so that you have no permanent form as you constantly alter? I offer symbols of antiquity and the very first times, concerning which everyone dreams up what he will.

Notes:

1.  Proteus was ‘the Old Man of the Sea’, who evaded capture by constantly changing his shape. See e.g. Homer, Odyssey, 4.400ff.; Vergil, Georgics, 4. 405-10, 440-2; Erasmus, Adagia, 1174 (Proteo mutabilior). Vergil (Georgics, 4.391) describes him living near the headland of Pallene (on the Macedonian coast). The idea of Proteus as a gifted actor or mime-artist is taken from Lucian, Saltatio, 19.

2.  signa vetustatis primaevi et...secli, ‘symbols of antiquity and the very first times’. Pallene (see n.1.) suggested a connection with the Greek word παλαιός ‘ancient’, as the name Proteus was supposedly connected with πρώτιστος, ‘the very first’.


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    Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B1r f9r]

    Male parta male dilabuntur.[1]

    Ill gotten, ill spent

    Miluus edax,[2] nimiae quem nausea torserat escae,
    Hei mihi mater ait viscera ab ore fluunt.
    Illa autem quid fles? cur haec tua viscera credas,
    Qui rapto vivens sola aliena vomis?

    A voracious kite, which had eaten too much, was racked with vomiting. ‘O dear, mother’, it said, ‘entrails are pouring out of my mouth.’ She however replied: ‘What are you crying about? Why do you think these are your entrails? You live by plunder and vomit only what belongs to others.’

    Notes:

    1.  The title is proverbial. See Cicero, Philippics, 2.65.

    2.  ‘A voracious kite’. The kite was a figure of greed and extortion.


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    • Gluttony, Intemperance, 'Gula'; 'Gola', 'Ingordigia', 'Ingordigia overo Aviditą§¬ 'Voracitą§ (Ripa) ~ personification of one of the Seven Deadly Sins [11N35] Search | Browse Iconclass
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