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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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EMBLEMA CIX.

In temerarios.

The reckless

Aspicis Aurigam currus Phatonta[1] paterni
Ignivomos ausum flectere Solis equos.
Maxima qui postqum terris incendia sparsit:
Est temer infesso [=insesso] lapsus ab axe miser.
Sic plerique rotis fortunae ad sydera Reges
Evecti, ambitio quos iuvenilis agit:
Post magnam humani generis clademque suamque,
Cunctorum poenas denique dant scelerum.

You see here Phaethon, driving his father’s chariot, and daring to guide the fire-breathing steeds of the Sun. After spreading great conflagrations over the earth, the wretched boy fell from the car he had so rashly mounted. - Even so, the majority of kings are borne up to heaven on the wheels of Fortune, driven by youth’s ambition. After they have brought great disaster on the human race and themselves, they finally pay the penalty for all their crimes.

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Das CIX.

Wider die verwegnen.

Sichst an den Furmann Phaetont
Wie er sich freidig understondt
Seins Vatters der Son feuwrige Ro
Zu leiten und den Wagen gro
Welcher nach dem er hett die erd
Mit unleidlicher Hitz beschwert
Ist er erbermlich von der hch
De Himmels gestrtzt worden jch
Also werden gemeinlich gfrt
Durchs glck bi an de Himmels ziert
Die groen Herrn so das jung Blut
Und hoffart bey in herrschen thut
Die empfahend dann irer schand
Damit sie sich beladen hand
Verdienten lohn, und setzen sich
Und ander mit in in den stich.

Notes:

1. Phaethon, the son of Apollo, the sun-god. The myth referred to here is told in Ovid, Metamorphoses 1.748 - 2.349. Both Phaethon and Icarus (Emblem 107 [A67a107]) are types of those who aim too high and do not recognise their proper sphere.


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