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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [n1v p194]

Senex puellam amans.

An old man in love with a girl

XV.

Dum Sophocles, quamvis affecta aetate, puellam
A quaestu Archippen ad sua vota trahit,
Allicit & pretio, tulit aegrè insana iuventus
Ob zelum, & tali carmine utrunque notat.
Noctua ut in tumulis, super utque cadavera bubo,
Talis apud Sophoclem nostra puella sedet.[1]

When Sophocles, in spite of his advanced years, induced the courtesan [Aganippe] to fulfil his desires, winning her over by the reward he offered, Archippus [her lover, the comic poet] was filled with indignation. Mad with jealousy, he lampooned both of them with this verse: As a night owl perches on a tomb, as an eagle owl on corpses, so my girl sits with Sophocles.

Notes:

1.  A story taken from Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, 13.592b. Sophocles is the great tragic poet, of whom several such tales were told. He made Aganippe the beneficiary under his will. But Alciato (and so his translators) confuse Aganippe (the courtesan) with Archippus (the comic poet).


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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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