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Nil reliqui.

Nothing left

Scilicet hoc deerat, post tot mala denique nostris
Locustae ut raperent, quidquid inesset, agris.[1]
Vidimus innumeras euro[2] duce tendere turmas,
Qualia non Atylae castrave Xerxis erant.[3]
Hae foenum, milium, corda omnia consumpserunt;
Spes & in angusto est, stant nisi vota super.

This was all it needed - that after so many misfortunes, finally locusts should seize whatever was in our fields. We have seen countless squadrons encamped, led by Eurus, hosts such as Attila and Xerxes never had. These creatures have eaten up all hay, millet and later crops. There is little scope for hope unless our prayers prevail.

Notes:

1.  Referring to a plague of locusts in North Italy in 1541/2 .

2.  Eurus was the wind from the East.

3.  Attila the Hun and Xerxes, King of Persia, were leaders who invaded the Roman Empire and Greece with vast armies in mid fifth century AD and 480 BC respectively. Xerxes’ invasion and Attila’s first invasion both came from the east.


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Fatuitas.

Stupidity.

Miraris nostro qụd carmine diceris Otus,[1]
Sit vetus à proavis cum tibi nomen Otho.[2]
Aurita est, similes & habet ceu noctua plummas, [3]
Saltantemque auceps mancipat aptus avem.[4]
Hinc fatuos, captu & faciles, nos dicimus otos.
Hoc tibi conveniens tu quoque nomen habe.

You are surprised that in my poem you are called Otus, when your ancient family name, handed down for generations, is Otho. The otus is eared and has feathers like the little owl. The skilful birdcatcher gets the bird into his power as it dances. For this reason we call stupid people, easy to catch, oti. You too can have this name, which suits you.

Notes:

1.  Otus, the long-eared owl.

2.  It is unclear exactly what Alciato is referring to here. As is made clearer by Mignault in the commentary in other editions, it is not the Emperor Otho, but the bustard (otis in Latin, otide in French), a large tufted bird that has interesting mating habits, which (following the commentary in the 1615 edition) consists of strutting and preening to such an extent that the bird is easy to catch. It is there likened to a man named Otho known for his haughty manner, who came from an ancient lineage, in which instance Alciato could originally have been referring in a punning manner to Lucius Roscius Otho, a Roman tribune who authored the law that the knights should occupy the premier seats in a theatre and was much abused for it.

3.  See Pliny, Natural History, 11.50.137: only the eagle-owl and the long-eared owl have feathers like ears (the little owl - noctua - does not in fact have ear-tufts).

4.  See Pliny, Natural History, 10.33.68: ‘The otus is an imitator of other birds and a hanger-on, performing a kind of dance; like the little owl, it is easily caught, when its attention is fixed on one person while another person circles round it’. See also Plutarch, Moralia, Bruta animalia ratione uti, 951E.


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