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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  [m7r p189]

    In Iuventam

    On youth

    II.

    Natus uterque Iovis tener, atque imberbis uterque,
    Quem Latona tulit, quem tulit & Semele. [1]
    Salvete, aeterna simul & florete iuventa,
    Numine sit vestro quae diuturna mihi.
    Tu vino curas, tu victu dilue morbos,
    Ut lento accedat sera senecta pede.

    Sons of Jove, each of you, each of you tender and beardless, one born of Latona, one of Semele, hail! Be glorious together in your everlasting youth, and may youth by your divine assent last long for me. You wash away my cares with wine, and you dissolve my bodily ills with [disciplined] living, that old age may approach late and with slow footsteps.

    Notes:

    1.  Apollo (son of Latona) and Dionysus (son of Semele), gods of healing and of wine. Beautiful and ever young, they were often linked, e.g. Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.421; 4.18; Epistulae (Heroides), 1.14.31. For Dionysus (Bacchus), see Emblem 67 ([A56a067]).


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