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Link to an image of this pageLink to an image of this page †[E5v]

IN EUM QUI SIBI IPSI[1]
damnum apparat.

One who brings about his own downfall

Capra lupum non sponte meo nunc ubere lacto,
Quod male pastoris provida cura iubet.[2]
Creverit ille simul, mea me[3] post ubera pascet,
Improbitas nullo flectitur obsequio.[4]

I am a goat giving suck against my will - to a wolf. The improvident kindness of the shepherd makes me do this. Once the wolf has grown, after feeding at my teats, he will then eat me. Wickedness is never deterred by services rendered.

Notes:

1.Textual variant: ‘ipsi’ omitted.

2.This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 9.47. For the content cf. Aesop, Fables 313-5.

3.Corrected from the Errata.

4.‘Wickedness is never deterred by services rendered’. See Erasmus, Adagia 1086, Ale luporum catulos.


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Section: SCIENTIA (Learning). View all emblems in this section.

Link to an image of this pageLink to an image of this page †[N4r p199]

Litera occidit, spiritus vivificat.[1]

The letter kills but the spirit gives life

Vipereos Cadmus dentes ut credidit arvis,
Sevit & Aonio semina dira solo:
Terrigenum clypeata cohors exorta virorum est,
Hostili inter se qui cecidÍre manu.
EvasÍre quibus monitu Tritonidos armis
Abiectis data pax, dextraque iuncta fuit.[2]
Primus Agenorides[3] elementa, notasque magistris
Tradidit, iis suavem iunxit & harmoniam.[4]
Quorum discipulos contraria plurima vexant,
Non nisi Palladia quae dirimuntur ope.

When Cadmus entrusted the dragon’s teeth to the furrows and sowed the dread seed in Aonian [Theban] soil, there sprang up a shield-bearing band of earth-born men, who fell by fighting among themselves. Those escaped who at Tritonia’s [Athena’s] command threw down their arms, granted peace and joined right hands. Agenor’s son first gave to teachers letters and symbols and also put together for them sweet musical concord. Many adversities assail those who follow these disciplines, adversities which are resolved only by Pallas Athena’s aid.

Notes:

1.II Corinthians 3:6.

2.For the story of Cadmus, founder of Thebes (in Aonia, or less correctly in the French, in Thessaly), and the dragon’s teeth, see Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.99ff. Athena, goddess of wisdom - here called Tritonia, from the place of her birth in North Africa - brought the internecine struggle between the earth-born warriors to an end.

3.Agenorides, ‘Agenor’s son’, i.e. Cadmus, who supposedly introduced writing to Greece. The scattering of the dragon’s teeth was interpreted as the invention of the alphabet.

4.harmoniam, ‘musical concord’. Cadmus’ wife was called Harmonia.


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