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Aemulatio impar.

Competing on unequal terms

LXVIII [=69] .

Altivolam miluus comitatur degener harpam, [1]
Et praedae partem saepe cadentis habet.
Mullum prosequitur qui spretas sargus ab illo, [2]
Praeteritasque avidus devorat ore dapes.
Sic mecum Oenocrates agit: at deserta studentum
Utitur hoc lippo curia tanquam oculo.[3]

An ignoble kite accompanies the soaring hawk and often gets a piece of the prey as it falls. The sargus follows the mudfish and greedily devours the food that it scorns and passes by. Oenocrates behaves like this with me - but the lecture-hall I’ve abandoned treats him like a runny eye.


1. For the association of the kite and the hawk see Aristotle, Historia animalium, 9.1.609.

2. For the sargus see Emblem 29 ([A56a029]). For its habit of following the lutarius (the mudfish) and eating the food it disturbs as it burrows in the mud, see Pliny, Natural History, 9.30.65; Erasmus, Parabolae, p. 253.

3. lippo...tamquam oculo, ‘like a runny eye’, a proverbial expression. See Erasmus, Adagia, 4100 (Lippo oculo similis): a runny eye is something you would prefer to be rid of, but while you have it you cannot leave it alone; similarly there are people you do not like, but you find yourself obliged to make use of them.

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