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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B5v f13v]

Facundia difficilis.

Eloquence is hard

Antidotum Aeaeae medicata in pocula Circes
Mercurium hoc Ithaco fama dedisse fuit.[1]
Moly vocant. id vix radice evellitur atra,
Purpureus sed flos, lactis & instar habet.
Eloquii candor facundiaque allicit omnes,
Sed multi res est tanta laboris opus.

According to the story, Mercury gave to the man from Ithaca this antidote to the poisoned cup of Aeaean Circe. They call it moly. It is hard to pull up by its black root. The plant is dark, but its flower is white as milk. The brilliance of eloquence and readiness of speech attracts all men, but this mighty thing is a work of much labour.

Notes:

1.  See Homer, Odyssey, 10.270ff. for the story of the encounter of Ulysses (the man from Ithaca) and his crew with the sorceress Circe on the island of Aeaea. The plant moly is described ibid, 302-6. Cf. Erasmus, De Copia (Loeb edition, 1.91 D), where moly is interpreted as wisdom rather than eloquence. Cf. Coustau, ‘In herbam Moly, ex Homero’ ([FCPb073]).


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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [P4v p232]

Les Antiquitez sont controuvées.[1]

Apologie. Dialogisme.

D. Vieillard Proteu[2], qui has forme muable:
Homme par fois, puys beste dissemblable:
Quelle raison toute espece en toy mue:
Tant que tu n’has figure de tenue?
R. Je represente antique Poësie,
De qui chascun songe à sa phantasie.

Des choses anciennes, & mises hors de toute memoire: cha-
scun en songe, & en divine à sa phantasie: tellement que les au-
theurs ne s’ac
cordans, font une monstrueuse histoire ou fable
de variables formes, tel que les Poëtes faignent estre Proteus
dieu marin, fort vieulx, & muable en toutes formes.

Notes:

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

2.  Proteus was ‘the Old Man of the Sea’, who evaded capture by constantly changing his shape. See e.g. Homer, Odyssey, 4.400ff.; Vergil, Georgics, 4. 405-10, 440-2; Erasmus, Adagia, 1174 (Proteo mutabilior). Vergil (Georgics, 4.391) describes him living near the headland of Pallene (on the Macedonian coast). The idea of Proteus as a gifted actor or mime-artist is taken from Lucian, Saltatio, 19.


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