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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [o1v p210]

Lascivia.

Wantonness

LXXI [=72] .

Delicias, & mollitiem mus creditur albus
Arguere, at ratio non sat aperta mihi est.[1]
An qụd ei natura salax, & multa libido est?
Ornat Romanas an quia pelle nurus?
Sarmaticum murem vocitant plerique zibellum,[2]
Et celebris suavi est unguine muscus Arabae.[3]

The white mouse is supposed to represent self-indulgence and licentiousness, but the reason is not very clear to me. Is it because it is highly sexed and has strong sexual appetities? Or because it adorns Roman women with its fur? Many people call the civet-cat the Sarmatian mouse, and famous for its sweet oil is the Arabian musk.

Notes:

1.  The white mouse was a proverbial example of the effeminate and the promiscuous. See the Suda s.v. mus, and Apostolius, Proverbs, 11,87, who also reports its sexual proclivities.

2.  zibellum, ‘civet cat’, one source of musk, an ingredient in many perfumes. Sarmatia was the region north of the Black Sea.

3.  murem...muscus, ‘mouse...musk’. The words ‘mouse’ and ‘musk’ (late Latin muscus) are connected, from the mouse-shaped sac of the male animals which produce musk. Some plants have a musky smell. Muscus also means ‘moss’ - Arabia was famous for plants which produced aromatic gums (e.g. incense and nard).


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    Single Emblem View

    Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [o2r p211]

    Vino prudentiam augeri.[1]

    Wisdom increased by wine.

    LXXIIII [=75] .

    Haec Bacchus pater, & Pallas communiter ambo
    Templa tenent: soboles utraque vera Iovis:
    Haec caput, ille femur solvit:[2] huic usus olivi
    Debitus, invenit primus at ille merum.
    Iunguntur merito. qụd si qui abstemius odit
    Vina, deae nullum sentiet auxilium.

    This temple Father Bacchus and Pallas both possess in common, each of them the true off-spring of Jove: she split Jove’s head, he his thigh. To her we owe the use of the olive; but he first discovered wine. They are rightly joined together, because if anyone in abstinence hates wine, he will know no help from the goddess.

    Notes:

    1.  This emblem uses material from Anthologia Graeca, 16.183, concerning a statue of Bacchus beside one of Pallas Athene.

    2.  Haec caput, ille femur solvit, ‘she split Jove’s head, he his thigh’. For the birth of Pallas Athene from the head of Jove and of Bacchus from his thigh, see emblems 1 ([A56a001]), and 25 ([A56a025]). Pallas is the virgin goddess, patroness of intellectual pursuits, who presented Athens with the gift of the olive tree. Bacchus discovered the vine during his wanderings about the earth and taught men its use. He also introduced various other features of civilisation.


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