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Principis clementia.

Clemency in a ruler

Vesparum quod nulla unquam Rex spicula figet:[1]
Quódque aliis duplo corpore maior erit.
Arguet imperium clemens, moderataque regna.
Sanctaque iudicibus credita iura bonis.

The king of the wasps will never implant any sting and will be twice as big as the rest. This will be a sign of mild dominion, a disciplined kingdom, and inviolable law entrusted to good judges.

Das IX.

Fürstliche Gnad.

Das der Wespen König nimmer
Mit seim Angel sticht, und daß er
An seinem Leib zweymal ist groß
Dann die andern Wespen genoß
Zeigt an ein gnedig Regiment
Und stilles Reich darinn man lendt
All Hendel und sachen nach recht
Wie es vertrauwt ist dem Richter schlecht.


1.  According to Pliny, Natural History, 11.21.74, wasps do not have ‘kings’: it is the ‘mother’ wasps that are without stings. On the other hand, the ‘king’ bee (the ancients believed the queen bee to be male) and its lack of sting, or refusal to use its sting, was often mentioned; e.g. Aelian, De natura animalium, 5.10; Pliny, ibid., 17.52. For the analogy with kingship, see e.g. Seneca, De Clementia, 1.19; Erasmus, Adagia, 2601 (Scarabaeus aquilam quaerit).

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