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Nobiles & generosi.

High born and noble

XX.

Aurea Cecropias[1] nectebat fibula vestes:
Cui coniuncta tenax dente cicada fuit:
Calceus Arcadico suberat cui lunula ritu, [2]
Gestatur patribus mullea Romulidis.[3]
Indigenas qud se adsererent haec signa tulerunt
Antiqua illustres nobilitate viri.

A golden brooch knitted together the robes of Cecrops’ descendants, a brooch which had attached to it a cicada, gripping with a tooth. A shoe called a mullea with a little crescent-shaped ornament below in Arcadian fashion was worn by Romulus’ patrician clans. Because they proclaimed themselves descendants of the earliest inhabitants, men distinguished by ancient noble lineage wore these symbols.

Notes:

1. Cecropias, ‘of Cecrops’ descendants’, i.e. Athenians claiming descent from Cecrops, the autochthonous first king of Athens. See Emblem 227, n.3 ([A56a227]).

2. Arcadico...ritu, ‘in Arcadian fashion’. The Arcadians wore crescent-shaped ornaments because they believed themselves to be the first men on earth and older than the moon. See Ovid, Fastii, 2.290. Evander, who came from Arcadia, was the founder of the primitive settlement on the Palatine hill which preceded Romulus’ Rome. See Vergil, Aeneid, 8.; Plutarch, Quaestiones Romanae, 76.

3. patribus...Romulidis, ‘Romulus’ patrician clans’, i.e. members of the inner circle of noble Roman families claiming descent from the first senators (patres), one hundred in number, appointed by Romulus, founder and first ruler of Rome. These patrician families wore a distinctive black boot with a crescent-shaped ornament. Those members who achieved high political office wore similar red boots, calcei mullei, so called because their colour was like that of a mullet (according to Isidore, Etymologiae (Origines), 19.34.4 and 10).


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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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