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SIGNA FORTIUM.

The mark of the brave

Quae te causa movet volucris Saturnia[1] magni,
Ut tumulo insideas ardua Aristomenis[2]?
Hoc moneo quantum inter aves ego robore praesto,
Tantum semideos inter Aristomenes.
Insideant timidae timidorum busta columbae,
Nos aquilae intrepidis signa benigna damus.

Saturnian bird, what cause brings you to stand with uplifted wings on the tomb of mighty Aristomenes? - I tell you this - as I stand out among the birds in power, so does Aristomenes among the sons of gods. Fearful doves may perch on the graves of the fearful. We eagles give signs of favour to the fearless.

Notes:

1. volucris Saturnia, ‘Saturnian bird’, i.e. the eagle, attendant on Jupiter, son of Saturn.

2. Aristomenes was a Messenian hero of the seventh century BC, of semi-divine origin, who performed incredible exploits while leading his country for many years in resistance to the Spartans. On one occasion an eagle aided his miraculous escape from captivity.


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  • doves, pigeons [34B231] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Strength, Power; 'Fortezza', 'Fortezza d'Animo e di corpo', 'Fortezza del corpo congiunta con la generosit… dell'animo', 'Fortezza & valore del corpo congiunto con la prudenza & virtu del animo', 'Forza'(Ripa) [54A7] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Courage, Bravery, Valiance, Manliness; 'Ardire magnanimo et generoso', 'Gagliardezza', 'Valore', 'Virtù heroica', 'Virtù dell'animo e del corpo' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54A8(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Cowardice [54AA8] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Fear, Dread; 'Paura', 'Timidità o Timore', 'Timore' (Ripa) [56DD1] Search | Browse Iconclass

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In dies meliora.

Getting better every day.

Rostra novo mihi setigeri suis[1] obtulit anno,
Haecque cliens ventri xenia (dixit) habe.
Progreditur semper, nec retro respicit unquam,
Gramina cum pando proruit ore vorax.
Cura viris eadem est, ne spes sublapsa retrorsum
Cedat: & ut melius sit, quod & ulterius.[2]

A dependant of mine brought me the head of a bristly boar at the New Year and said: Here is a present for your insides. - The pig always moves forwards and never looks back as it greedily tears up plants with its flat snout. - Men have the same attitude - they don’t want hopes to collapse and fall back, they do want what lies ahead also to be better.

Notes:

1. setigeri suis, ‘of a bristly boar’. For pork as a seasonal present at the Saturnalia (17-23 December), see Martial, Epigrams, 14.71: ‘This pig, fattened on acorns among the foaming boars, will make your Saturnalia happy’.

2. ulterius. This, the last word of the epigram, is written on the back of the boar in the pictura, where it suggests the meaning ‘ever onward’. Ulterius is sometimes used a a device of Charles V.


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