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IN ADULATORES.

Flatterers

Emblema. 53.

Semper hîat: semper tenuem qua vescitur auram.
Reciprocat cameleon[1],
Et mutat faciem: varios sumitque colores,
Praeter rubrum, vel candidum.[2]
Sic & adulator populari vescitur aura,[3]
Hiansque cuncta devorat.
Et solum mores imitatur principis atros,
Albi, & pudici nescius.

The Chameleon is always breathing in and out with open mouth the bodiless air on which it feeds; it changes its appearance and takes on various colours, except for red and white. - Even so the flatterer feeds on the wind of popular approval and gulps down all with open mouth. He imitates only the black features of the prince, knowing nothing of the white and pure.

Notes:

1.  This creature was supposed to feed only on air, keeping its mouth wide open to suck it in. See Pliny, Natural History 8.51.122. For the chameleon cf. Erasmus, Parabolae pp.144, 241, 252.

2.  ‘except for red and white’. See Pliny, ib.

3.  ‘the wind of popular approval’. This is a common metaphor in Latin, e.g. Horace, Odes 3.2.20, ‘at the behest of the wind of popular approval.’


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EMBLEMA CXIX.

Opulentia tyranni, paupertas sub-
iectorum.

A wealthy ruler means poor subjects

Humani quod splen est corporis, in populi re
Hoc Caesar[1] fiscum dixerat esse suum.
Splene aucto, reliqui tabescunt corporis artus,
Fisco aucto, arguitur civica pauperies.

It was a saying of Caesar that the imperial treasury has the same relation to the people as the spleen has to the human body: if the spleen is enlarged, all the other members of the body waste away. A swollen treasury is proof of poverty among the citizens.

Das CXIX.

Reich Herrn, arm Underthanen.

Das ins Menschen Leib sMiltz ist diß
In den Regimenten ist gwiß
Der Oberkeit Schatzkammer schwer
Wie gsprochen hat der Keyser
So sich das Miltz mehrt nemmen ab
All ander Glieder biß ins Grab
So sich mehrt der Schatz in der Rennt
Würd der Bürger armut erkennt.

Notes:

1.  The Emperor Trajan (as clarified in the commentary), one of the five ‘Good Emperors’. See Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus, 42.21; Erasmus, Apophthegmata, 8.


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