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Inanis impetus.

Antagonism that achieves nothing

LXXXI [=82] .

Lunarem noctu, ut speculum,[1] canis inspicit orbem:
Seque videns, alium credit inesse canem,[2]
Et latrat: sed frustra agitur vox irritas ventis,
Et peragit cursus surda Diana suos.[3]

A dog at night is looking into the moon’s disk as into a mirror and seeing himself, thinks there is another dog there; and he barks - but the sound is carried away, ineffectual, on the winds. Diana, unhearing, pursues her course.

Notes:

1. For the theory of the moon’s disk as a mirror reflecting things on earth, see Plutarch, De facie in orbe lunae, Moralia, 920ff.

2. Variant reading: altum credit inesse canem, ‘thinks there is a dog up there’.

3. Diana is of course goddess of the moon.


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    Philautia.

    Self-satisfaction.

    LXX [=71] .

    Qud nimium tua sorma [=forma] tibi Narcisse placebat,
    In florem, & noti est versa stuporis olus.[1]
    Ingenii est marcor, cladesque philautia, doctos
    Quae pessum plures datque deditque viros,
    Qui veterum abiecta methodo, nova dogmata quaerunt
    Nilque suas praeter tradere phantasias.

    Because your beauty gave you too much satisfaction, Narcissus, it was turned both into a flower and into a plant of acknowledged insensibility. Self-satisfaction is the rot and destruction of the mind. Learned men in plenty it has ruined, and ruins still, men who cast off the method of teachers of old and aim to pass on new doctrines, nothing more than their own imaginings.

    Notes:

    1. For the story of Narcissus, see Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.344ff. On the flower, see Pliny, Natural History, 21.75.128: “there are two kinds of narcissus... The leafy one ... makes the head thick and is called narcissus from narce (‘numbness’), not from the boy in the story.” (cf. ‘narcotic’).


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