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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [i6r p139]


The impossible


Abluis Aethiopem quid frustra? ah desine, noctis
Illustrare nigrae nemo potest tenebras.[1]

Why are you washing an Ethiopian in vain? Oh, do stop. No one can turn the shades of black night into light.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [i6v p140]


Aethiops à natura nigerrimus, Solis enim
vicinitate suae regionis cremantur. ideoque etiamsi
plurimum lavetur, nigredo tamen non tolli-
tur, & in vanum laboratur, nemo enim un-
quam illustrare poterit obscuras tenebras no
ctis, & in proverbium abiit, Aethiopem la-
vas. Erasmus in Chiliadibus.


1.  This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 11.428. See also Aesop, Fables 11; Erasmus, Adagia 350, Aethiopen lavas.

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  • (personifications of) 'Vanitas', the vanity of human life; Fragilit� humana, Fugacit� delle grandezze & della gloria mondana, Meditatione della morte, Opera vana, Piacere vano, Vana gloria, Vanit� (Ripa) [11R5] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • day and night [23R] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Impossibility (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52BB42(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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