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Cavendum meretricibus.

Beware of whores

XVI.

Sole satae Circes tam magna potentia fertur,
Verterit ut multos in nova monstra viros.
Testis equus domitor Picus,[1] tum Scylla biformis,[2]
Atque Ithaci postquam vina bibere sues.[3]
Indicat illustri meretricem nomine Circe, [4]
Et rationem animi perdere, quisquis amat.

So great, we are told, was the power of Circe, daughter of the Sun, that she turned many persons into new monstrous shapes. A witness to this is Picus, tamer of horses, and Scylla with her double form, and the Ithacans who became pigs after drinking the wine. Circe with her famous name indicates a whore and shows that any man who loves such a one loses his reason.

Notes:

1. Picus, an Italian king, a breeder of horses, turned into a woodpecker by Circe. See Ovid, Metamorphoses, 14.320ff.

2. Scylla was transformed into a figure that was half girl, half barking dogs. See Ovid, Metamorphoses, 14.51ff. Cf. Emblem 68 ([A50a068]).

3. Ithacans: See Homer, Odyssey, 10.229ff. for the story of Ulysses’ sailors (from the island of Ithaca), who were turned into pigs by Circe with a magic potion of wine.

4. Indicat...meretricem: ‘indicates a whore’. See Anthologia Graeca, 10.50 for this rationalisation of the Circe story.


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    Ex damno alterius utilitas.

    One man’s loss is another man’s gain

    XII.

    Dum saevis ruerent in mutua vulnera telis,
    Ungue leaena ferox, dente timendus aper,
    Accurrit vultur spectatum, & prandia captat.
    Gloria victoris, praeda futura sua est.[1]

    While a lioness, vicious in claw, and a boar, fearsome for its tusks, were setting upon each other, inflicting mutual wounds with their savage weapons, a vulture hurried up to watch, lurking in expectation of a meal. The victor’s glory will belong to the one that gets the spoil.

    Notes:

    1. Cf. Aesop 200 and 203.


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