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IN ADULATORES.

Flatterers

De Chameleonte vide Plinium naturalis historia
libro. VIII. Cap. XXXIII.

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Semper hiat, semper tenuem qua vescitur auram[1],
Reciprocat chamaeleon[2].
Et mutat faciem varios sumitque colores,
Praeter rubrum vel candidum.[3]
Sic & adulator populari vescitur aura,[4]
Hiansque cuncta devorat.
Et solum mores imitatur principis atros.
Albi & pudici nescius.

The Chameleon is always breathing in and out with open mouth the bodiless air on which it feeds; it changes its appearance and takes on various colours, except for red and white. - Even so the flatterer feeds on the wind of popular approval and gulps down all with open mouth. He imitates only the black features of the prince, knowing nothing of the white and pure.

Notes:

1. Corrected from the Errata and by hand in this copy.

2. This creature was supposed to feed only on air, keeping its mouth wide open to suck it in. See Pliny, Natural History 8.51.122. For the chameleon cf. Erasmus, Parabolae pp.144, 241, 252.

3. ‘except for red and white’. See Pliny, ib.

4. ‘the wind of popular approval’. This is a common metaphor in Latin, e.g. Horace, Odes 3.2.20, ‘at the behest of the wind of popular approval.’


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    Section: PAX (Peace). View all emblems in this section.

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    PAX

    Peace

    Turrigeris humeris, dentis quoque barrus eburni,
    Qui superare ferox Martia bella solet,
    Supposuit nunc colla iugo: stimulisque subactus,
    Caesareos currus ad pia templa vehit.
    Vel fera cognoscit concordes undique gentes.
    Proiectisque armis munia pacis obit.[1]

    The elephant, with its tower-bearing shoulders and ivory tusk, a beast accustomed to dominate the conflicts of Mars with savage ravings, has now submitted its neck to the yoke: subdued by goads, it draws Caesar’s chariot to the holy temples. Even the beast recognises nations reconciled on every side, and rejecting the weapons of war, it performs the duties of peace.

    Notes:

    1. This is translated from Anthologia graeca 9.285, which refers to an occasion under the Emperor Tiberius when the statue of the Deified Augustus was for the first time borne in procession in a chariot drawn by elephants.


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