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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [m8r p191]

Antiquissima quaeque com-
mentitia.

The oldest things are all invented

VII.

Pellenaee senex, cui forma est histrica, Proteu, [1]
Qui modò membra viri fers, modò membra feri.
Dic agè quae species ratio te vertit in omnes,
Nulla sit ut vario certa figura tibi?
Signa vetustatis, primaevi & praefero secli: [2]
De quo quisque suo somniat arbitrio.

Proteus, old man of Pallene, whose outward appearance changes like an actor’s, assuming sometimes the body of a man, sometimes that of a beast, come, tell me, what is your reason for turning into all kinds of shapes, so that you have no permanent form as you constantly alter? I offer symbols of antiquity and the very first times, concerning which everyone dreams up what he will.

Notes:

1.  Proteus was ‘the Old Man of the Sea’, who evaded capture by constantly changing his shape. See e.g. Homer, Odyssey, 4.400ff.; Vergil, Georgics, 4. 405-10, 440-2; Erasmus, Adagia, 1174 (Proteo mutabilior). Vergil (Georgics, 4.391) describes him living near the headland of Pallene (on the Macedonian coast). The idea of Proteus as a gifted actor or mime-artist is taken from Lucian, Saltatio, 19.

2.  signa vetustatis primaevi et...secli, ‘symbols of antiquity and the very first times’. Pallene (see n.1.) suggested a connection with the Greek word παλαιός ‘ancient’, as the name Proteus was supposedly connected with πρώτιστος, ‘the very first’.


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    Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [m6r p187]

    ἐχθρῶν ἄδωρα δῶρα. In do-
    na hostium.[1]

    The gifts of enemies are no gifts. On the gifts of enemies.

    CXIII.

    Bellorum cepisse ferunt monumenta vicissim
    Scutiferum Aiacem Hectoraque Iliacum.
    Balthea Priamides, rigidum Telamonius ensem,
    Instrumenta suae cepit uterque necis.
    Ensis enim Aiacem confecit, at Hectora functum
    Traxere Aemoniis cingula nexa rotis.
    Sic titulo obsequii quae mittunt hostibus hostes
    Munera, venturi praescia fata ferunt.[2]

    The story tells that shield-bearing Ajax and Hector of Troy exchanged souvenirs of battle. Priam’s son took the sword-belt, Telamon’s descendant the rigid sword, each accepting the instrument of his own death. For the sword destroyed Ajax, and the belt, attached to Thessalian wheels, dragged the dead Hector. So the gifts which enemies give to enemies, seemingly doing honour, knowing what is to come, bring doom.

    COMMENTARIA.

    Fertur Aiacem (qui inter Graecorum Du-
    ces post Achillem omnium fortissimus exti-
    tit, de quo etiam plura suprà in Embl. 38.[3] di-
    Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [m6v p188]citur autem scutiferus quia scutum seu cly-
    peum habuit septem boum coriis tectum, ut
    testatur Ovidius lib. 13. Metamorphoseon in principio
    inquiens, Surgit ad hos clypei dominus se-
    ptemplicis Aiax.) & Hectorem Troianorum
    principem praestantissimum, mutuò bellica
    dona dedisse, hic ensem egregium, ille verò
    cingulum militare ornatissimum exhibuit, &
    uterque suae mortis instrumentum accepit.
    Aiax enim gladio semetipsum interemit, ut
    apud Ovidium in dicto lib. 13. Metamorphoseon Hector
    verò ab Achille superatus, cingulo illo ad
    currum religatus ac circa urbis moenia tra-
    ctus, misereque laceratus fuit. de quo Homerus
    & Vergilius lib. 1. Aeneidos. Ter circum Iliacos
    raptaverat Hectora muros. & prolixius haec
    suprà Emblem. 57.[4] Sic plerunque mune-
    ra, quae licet sub specie obsequio-
    rum hosti ab hoste missa,
    futuras calamita-
    tes praesa-
    giunt.
    FINIS LIBRI PRIMI.

    Notes:

    1.  The gifts of enemies are no gifts. See Sophocles, Ajax 665, where Ajax so speaks of the ill-fated sword he had received from Hector.

    2.  See Homer Iliad 7.299, for the occasion in the Trojan War when Hector (the Trojan hero, son of Priam) and Ajax (Telamon’s descendant, one of the best fighters on the Greek side) met in single combat and afterwards, the honours being even, exchanged gifts. (Ajax was carrying the vast shield for which he was famed). Later, he committed suicide by falling on the sword he received from Hector ([A56a038] notes and [A56a223] notes). Hector was later killed in single combat by Achilles (prince of Thessaly, the Greek champion), who desecrated the body by tying it behind his chariot (it is suggested here that he used the sword-belt Hector had received from Ajax) and dragging it about before the eyes of the Trojans. See [A56a057].

    3.  See [A56a038]

    4.  See [A56a057]


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