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EMBLEMA CXXXVII.

Insani gladius.

The madman’s sword

Setigeri medius stabat gregis ensifer Aiax,[1]
Caede suum, credens caedere Tantalidas,[2]
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [N5v f88v]Hostia sic tamquam sus succedanea[3] poenas
Pro Laërtiade,[4] pro caveaque dabat.
Nescit obesse suis furor hostibus, errat ab ictu,
Consiliisque impos in sua damna ruit.

Ajax was standing sword in hand in the midst of the bristled herd, thinking that in killing the pigs he was killing the descendants of Tantalus. The victim, like the substitute pig, was paying the penalty for the son of Laertes and for the assembled crowd. Madness does not know how to disadvantage its real foes; it misdirects its blows, and, lacking judgement, rushes headlong to its own destruction.

Das CXXXVII.

Eines unsinnigen Waffen.

Damitten underm hauffen Schwein
Stund der Held Ajax biß und grein
Das börstig Vich zerheuwt, zerstuckt
Meint wer ob Tantalis Nefen ruck
Also ward für Laerts Son hafft
Und die gantz Griechisch Ritterschafft
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [N6r f89r] Gleich als ein versön Opffer frey
Geschlachtet die wolgmeste Seuw
Das grimm wüten weng schaden bringt
Dem Feind, sonder dem der da ringt
Hader und schlagen unbedacht
Hat manchen in groß unglück bracht.

Notes:

1.  See Emblem 66 ([A67a066]) for Ajax’ madness and suicide. In his madness, he slaughtered a herd of sheep, thinking them to be the Greeks. The two largest rams he took to be Agamemnon and Menelaus. See Zenobius, Proverbs, 1.43; Horace, Satires, 2.3.197-8; Erasmus, Adagia, 646 (Aiacis risus) - Erasmus makes the animals pigs, which Alciato here follows.

2.  Tantalidas, ‘the descendants of Tantalus’ i.e. Agamemnon and Menelaus, whom Ajax blamed for his humiliation.

3.  A substitute animal was sacrificed when the first offering was rejected by the gods or, as here, in place of the proper victim. See Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 4.6.5.

4.  pro Laërtiade, ‘for the son of Laërtes’, i.e. Odysseus, to whom the Greek assembly awarded the splendid armour of the dead Achilles, not to Ajax.


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EMBLEMA CXXXVI.

Fortuna virtutem superans.

Fortune triumphant over virtue

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Caesareo postquàm superatus milite, vidit
Civili undantem sanguine Pharsaliam.
Iamiam stricturus moribunda in pectora ferrum,
Audaci hos Brutus protulit ore sonos.
Infelix virtus & solis provida verbis,
Fortunam in rebus cur sequeris dominam?[1]

Brutus, defeated by the Caesarean troops, saw Pharsalia flowing with citizen blood. As he was about to plunge the sword into his dying heart, he spoke these words with undaunted voice: ‘Unhappy virtue, prudent only in word - why do you in reality submit to dominating fortune?’

Das CXXXVI.

Das Glück das die Tugend uber-
windt.

Als Brutus sach das hett den Sieg
Der Keysrisch hauff im Burger Krieg
Und gantz Pharsali ward befleckt
Mit Bürgerlichem Blut bedeckt
Auch jetzund gleich wolt in sein Hertz
Sein Wehr stossen tapffer on schertz
Trutzlich und keck auß seinem Mundt
Diß red erschal und wurde kundt
O Tugend wie unselig bist
Und nur allein mit worten grüst
Warumb erkennst sglück für den Herrn
Und folgst im in den wercken gern?

Notes:

1.  After the assassination of Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius became the leaders of the Republican cause. The Caesarean troops, led by Mark Antony and Octavian, Caesar’s heir, defeated them in 42 BC in two battles at Philippi in Macedonia. (Pharsalus in Thessaly was the site of the battle in 48 BC in which Julius Caesar had defeated Pompey in a previous round of the Civil Wars. Pharsalia is here loosely used, as in the Roman poets, to refer to both sites of similar civil conflict.) For Brutus’ suicide after the defeat, see the end of Plutarch’s Life of Brutus.


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  • Luck, Fortune, Lot; 'Fato', 'Fortuna', 'Fortuna aurea', 'Fortuna buona', 'Fortuna pacifica overo clemente', 'Sorte' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54F12(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Virtuousness; 'Amor di Virtù', 'Attione virtuosa', 'Guida sicura de' veri honori', 'Virtù', 'Virtù insuperabile' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57A6(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • geographical names of countries, regions, mountains, rivers, etc. (names of cities and villages excepted) (with NAME) [61D(PHARSALIA)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • (story of) Marcus Junius Brutus death of person from classical history [98B(BRUTUS, M.J.)68] Search | Browse Iconclass

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