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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [Mm1r p545]

Bonis auspiciis incipiendum.

Begin with good auspices

EMBLEMA CXXVII.

Auspiciis res coepta malis, bene cedere nescit.
Felici quae sunt omine facta, iuvant.
Quidquid agis, mustela tibi si occurrat, omitte:
Signa malae haec sortis bestia prava gerit.[1]

A business begun with bad auspices cannot turn out well. Things done with good omens bring happiness. Whatever you are doing, if a weasel crosses your path, abandon it. This evil creature bears signs of ill luck.

Notes:

1.  For the weasel as a creature of ill omen, see Erasmus, Adagia, 173, (Mustelam habes).


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Section: PRUDENTIA (Wisdom). View all emblems in this section.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B4r p23]

Πῆ παρέβην? τί δὲ ερξέα [=ἔρεξα] ? τί μοι δέον, οὐκ
ἐτελέσθῆ?
Quid excessi? quid
admisi? quid omisi?

Where have I transgressed? What have I committed? What thing incumbent on me has been left undone?

Italicae Samius sectae celeberrimus autor[1]
Ipse suum clausit carmine dogma brevi.
Quò praetergressus? quid agis? quid omittis agendum?[2]
Hanc rationem urgens reddere quenque sibi.
Quod didicisse gruum volitantum ex agmine fertur,
Arreptum gestant quae pedibus lapidem,[3]
Ne cessent, neu transversas mala flamina raptent.
Qua ratione hominum vita regenda fuit.

The famous Samian founder of the Italian sect himself put his essential teaching into a short verse: Where have you overstepped the mark? What are you doing? What are you leaving undone that ought to be done? - urging each man to make this reckoning in his own mind. He is said to have learnt this from a skein of flying cranes, which seize a stone and carry it in their claws, to prevent themselves from making no headway, and to stop adverse gusts of wind carrying them off course. Man’s life was ever to be lived on this principle.

Notes:

1.  Italicae Samius sectae...autor, ‘Samian founder of the Italian sect’, i.e. Pythagoras. Born in Samos, he emigrated in 531 BC to Croton in South Italy, where he founded a religious/philosophical sect.

2.  This is a version of the Greek text in the motto, which is recorded in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, 8.20.

3.  Cranes wisely carrying stones as ballast are likened to men of foresight in Suidas (i.e, the Suda), s.v. geranos. Other reasons were suggested by ancient writers for this habit.


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