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IMPOSSIBILE.

The impossible

Abluis Aethiopem quid frustra? ah desine, noctis
Illustrare nigrae nemo potest tenebras.[1]

Why are you washing an Ethiopian in vain? Oh, do stop. No one can turn the shades of black night into light.

Notes:

1. This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 11.428. See also Aesop, Fables 11; Erasmus, Adagia 350, Aethiopen lavas.


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  • (personifications of) 'Vanitas', the vanity of human life; Fragilit� humana, Fugacit� delle grandezze & della gloria mondana, Meditatione della morte, Opera vana, Piacere vano, Vana gloria, Vanit� (Ripa) [11R5] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • day and night [23R] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Impossibility (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52BB42(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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Section: LA REPUBLICQUE. View all emblems in this section.

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La Republicque delivre.[1]

Caesar occis, la libert venge
Par le Duc Brut fut monnoie forge,
Ou une dague, & ung bonnet estoient,
Tel que les serfz affranchiz le portoient.[2]

Brut Capitaine de la republicque Rommaine, pour memoi-
re d’avoir restitu la libert oppresse par la domination de
Caesar, par luy occis, feit forger monnoie la marque d’une
dague, denotant l’occision de Caesar, & d’ung bonnet, signifiant
la libert de la Republicque. Car les libertins. (C’est dire serfz
affranchiz) quand ilz sortoient de servitude, & entroient en li-
bert: Ilz prenoient le bonnet, Comme encore au jourdhuy font les
Maistres es arts Paris, passans de scholasticque discipline, mai-
trise, & laissans la ceincture enseigne de servitude, & subjection.

Notes:

1. In the 1549 French edition, this emblem has no woodcut.

2. Julius Caesar, who had become in effect the sole ruler of Rome, was assassinated on the Ides of March in 44 BC by Marcus and Decimus Brutus, Cassius and other conspirators. Alciato describes the well-known coin-type celebrating the restoration of republican government issued by Brutus after the murder. This bears the legend EID.MAR. (The Ides of March) across the lower section; above this, occupying the upper two thirds of the coin face, are two upright daggers with a cap of liberty between. Alciato had presumably seen or owned such a coin. He wrote a short treatise on ancient coins.


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  • republic; 'Governo della republica' (Ripa) [44B03] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • freedom ~ slavery [46A183] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Freedom, Liberty; 'Libertৠ(Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [51E11(+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(BRUTUS, M.)3] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • death of Caesar, i.e. the murder of Caesar: he is slain in the Senate at the foot of Pompey's statue, exclaiming 'et tu Brute' [98B(CAESAR)68] Search | Browse Iconclass

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