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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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Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [M5v p186]

De la vie humaine.

Apostrophe.

Pleure (Heraclit) la vie de ce monde:
Car plus en mal que jamais elle abonde.
Ry Democrit, si tu ris onquesmais:
Car plus y ha mocquer que jamais.
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [M6r p187] Cela voyant ne say que faire doy.
Avec toy rire, ou plorer avec toy.[1]

Heraclit perdit les yeulx force
de plorer les calamitez du monde,
Democrit se fendit la gueulle jus-
que aulx oreilles, force de rire
des follies du monde. Or est il enco
re doubte s’il y ha plus plorer, ou
plus ha [=a] rire, des maulx, ou des fol-
lies qui y sont, ou lequel estoit le
plus sage, ou le plus fol des deux.

Notes:

1. This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 9.148. For Heraclitus, cf. [A58a016]. For the contrast between the despairing tears of Heraclitus (who withdrew from human society) and the sardonic laughter of Democritus when faced with the folly of men, see, among many sources, e.g. Juvenal, Satires 10, 28ff.


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