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Ignavi.

Good for nothing

XXI.

Ignavi aerdeolam stellarem[1] effingere servi
Et studia, & mores fabula prisca fuit,
Quae famulum Asteria[2] volucris sumpsisse figuram
Est commenta, fides sit penes historicos.
Degener hic veluti qui caevet in are falco est
Dictus ab antiquis vatibus ardelio.[3]

There was an old story to the effect that the little starred heron displays the activities and character of a good-for-nothing slave, a story which alleged that the slave Asterias took the form of a bird. Let the [natural] historians vouch for this. This sort of despicable person is like the kestrel quivering in one place in the air, a person called a fussing busybody by the ancient poets.

Notes:

1. The ‘little starred heron’, which, according to the story, had once been human and a slave, was, because of its sluggish nature, called ocnus, i.e. ‘idleness’. Cf. Emblem 17 ([A56a017]). As it understood human speech, it hated to be called this, or ‘slave’. See Pausanias, 10.29.2; Aelian, De natura animalium 5.36; Aristotle, Historia animalium, 9.18.617.

2. Asterias, ‘starred’, is the Greek name for ardea stellaris, possibly a bittern.

3. ardelio: ‘a fussing busybody’. See Martial, Epigrams, 2.7.7.; 4.78.9: Phaedrus, Fables, 2.5.1. Cf. Erasmus, Adagia, 543, Callipides, on someone who expends a great deal of energy achieving nothing.


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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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