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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [E6v]

IN RECEPTATORES
siccariorum.

Those who harbour cut-throats

Latronum furumque manus tibi saeva[1] per urbem,
It comes, & diris cincta cohors gladiis.
Atque ita te mentis generosum prodige censes,
Quod tua complureîs allicit olla malos.
En novus Actaeon qui postquam cornua sumpsit,
In praedam canibus se dedit ipse suis.[2]

A fierce band of ruffians and thieves accompanies you about the city, a gang of supporters armed with lethal swords. And so, you wastrel, you consider yourself a fine lordly fellow because your cooking pot draws in crowds of scoundrels. - Here’s a fresh Actaeon - he, after he grew his horns, became the prey of his own hunting dogs.

Notes:

1.  Other editions read scaeva, ‘evil-minded’. The capital letter in some editions suggests that the Latin word could be taken as a proper name in the vocative case, i.e addressing one Scaeva.

2.  For the story of Actaeon turned into a stag and killed by his own hounds, see Ovid, Metamorphoses 3.138ff. Similarly, the hangers-on will destroy the one who has fed them.


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Section: STULTITIA (Folly). View all emblems in this section.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [E5v p73]

Fatuitas.

Stupidity.

Miraris nostro quòd carmine diceris Otus,[1]
Sit vetus à proavis cum tibi nomen Otho.[2]
Aurita est, similes, & habet ceu noctua plumas,[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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