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Section: ARBORES (Trees). View all emblems in this section.

Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [P1v p226]

Populus alba.

The white poplar

Herculeos crines bicolor qud populus ornet,[1]
Temporis alternat noxque, diesque vices.[2]

The two-coloured poplar wreathes the locks of Hercules - and so its dark and light show time’s alternating changes.

Notes:

1. The white poplar was dedicated to Hercules. According to Pausanias, Periegesis, 5.14.2, Hercules introduced it to Greece. According to another story, Hercules on his way back from the Underworld garlanded his head with stems from a white poplar growing beside the Acheron, a memorial of the nymph Leuke (White) carried off by Pluto.

2. noxque diesque, ‘its dark and light’ (lit. night and day), a reference to the dark green surface and white underside of the white poplar leaf. According to Pliny, Natural History, 16.36.87, the leaves of the white poplar turn over at the summer solstice. Hercules was equated with the sun: Macrobius, Saturnalia, 1.20.6 and 10.


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Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [n6v p204]

Νῆφε, καὶ μέμνησ’ἀπιστεῖν ἄρθρα
ταῦτα τῶν φρενῶν.

Be sober and remember to withhold belief. These are the sinews of the mind.

LII.

Ne credas ne, Epicharmus ait,[1] non sobrius esto.
Hi nervi, humanae membraque mentis erunt.
Ecce oculata manus[2] credens id quod videt, ecce
Pulegium antiquae sobrietatis olus,
Quo turbam ostenso sedaverit Heraclitus,[3]
Mulxerit & tumida seditione gravem.

Don’t give easy credence; don’t be intemperate. So said Epicharmus, and these maxims will prove the sinews and limbs of man’s mind. See here a hand with an eye, believing what it can see. See the pennyroyal, the plant of ancient soberness. By showing it, Heraclitus calmed the mob and milked it when heavy with bursting sedition

Notes:

1. Epicharmus ait, ‘So said Epicharmus’. The saying is quoted in Polybius, The Histories, 18.40.

2. oculata manus, ‘a hand with an eye’. See Plautus, Asinaria, 202: ‘our hands always have eyes - seeing is believing for them’; Erasmus, Adagia, 73 (Oculatae manus).

3. turbam...sedaverit Heraclitus, ‘Heraclitus calmed the mob’. For this incident concerning the sixth-century BC philosopher Heraclitus, see Plutarch, De garrulitate, 511C: when faced with a discordant mob, Heraclitus said nothing but took a cup of cold water, sprinkled on barley-meal and stirred it with a sprig of pennyroyal. Pennyroyal represents modest fare, contentment and control. Cf. Emblem 258 ([A56a258]), line 8. Heraclitus lived on a diet of herbs. For his pessimistic view of life see Emblem 96 ([A56a096]).


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    • plants and herbs: pennyroyal (+ plants used symbolically) [25G4(PENNYROYAL)(+1)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • Precaution (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52A24(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • Wisdom; 'Sapienza', 'Sapienza humana', 'Sapienza vera' (Ripa) [52A51] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • Folly, Foolishness; 'Pazzia', 'Sciocchezza', 'Stoltitia' (Ripa) [52AA51] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • Carefulness, Diligence; 'Diligenza' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54A2(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • Temperance, Moderation; 'Misura' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54A43(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • male persons from classical history (with NAME) representations to which the NAME of a person from classical history may be attached [98B(EPICHARMUS)3] Search | Browse Iconclass
    • (story of) Heraclitus, the philosopher representations to which the NAME of a person from classical history may be attached [98B(HERACLITUS)3] Search | Browse Iconclass

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