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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [n3r p197]

Bonis auspiciis incipien-
dum.

Begin with good auspices

XXIIII.

Auspiciis res coepta malis, bene cedere nescit.
Felici quae sunt omine facta, iuvant.
Quidquid agis, mustela tibi si occurrat, omitte:
Signa malae haec sortis bestia prava gerit. [1]

A business begun with bad auspices cannot turn out well. Things done with good omens bring happiness. Whatever you are doing, if a weasel crosses your path, abandon it. This evil creature bears signs of ill luck.

Notes:

1.  For the weasel as a creature of ill omen, see Erasmus, Adagia, 173, (Mustelam habes).


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    Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [n1r p193]

    Scyphus Nestoris.

    Nestor’s cup

    XIIII.

    Nestoreum geminis cratera hunc accipe fundis, [1]
    Quod gravis argenti massa profudit opus.
    Claviculi ex auro: stant circum quattuor ansae:
    Unamquanque super fulva columba sedet.
    Solus eum potuit longaevus tollere Nestor.
    Maeonidae doceas quid sibi musa velit.
    Est coelum scyphus ipse, color argenteus illi est:
    Aurea sunt coeli sidera claviculi.
    Pleiadas esse putant, quas dixerit ille columbas.[2]
    Umblici [=Umbilici] gemini,[3] magna minorque fera est.[4]
    Haec Nestor longo sapiens intelligit usu.
    Bella gerunt fortes, callidus astra tenet.

    Receive this bowl of Nestor with its double support, a work which a heavy mass of silver shaped. Its studs are of gold. Four handles stand about it. Above each one sits a yellow dove. Only aged Nestor was able to lift it. Do tell us what Homer’s Muse intended. The cup itself is the heavens; its colour is silvery; the studs are the golden stars of heaven. They think that what he called doves are the Pleiades. The twin bosses are the great and lesser beast. The wise Nestor understood this by long experience: the strong wage war, the wise man grasps the stars.

    Notes:

    1.  Nestor’s bowl is described at Homer, Iliad, 11.632-7. Only Nestor, for all his great age (see Emblem 67. n.5, [A56a067]) could lift it when full. For the interpretation of Nestor’s cup (or mixing bowl) given here, see Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, 11.487 F ff.

    2.  The Greek word for ‘doves’ is πελειάδες.

    3.  ‘twin bosses’, i.e. possibly the protuberances inside the bowl where it was joined to the two supports.

    4.  ‘great and lesser beast’, i.e. the Great and Little Bear, a phrase based on Ovid, Tristia, 4.3.1: ‘magna minorque ferae’.


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