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EMBLEMA CLXXV [=174] .

Fatuitas.

Stupidity.

Miraris nostro quòd carmine diceris Otus,[1]
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [Q4v f111v]Sit vetus à proavis cum tibi nomen Otho.[2]
Aurita est, similes, & habet ceu noctua plumas,[3]
Saltantemque auceps mancipat aptus avem.[4]
Hinc fatuos, captu & faciles, nos dicimus othos,
Hoc tibi conveniens tu quoque nomen habe.

You are surprised that in my poem you are called Otus, when your ancient family name, handed down for generations, is Otho. The otus is eared and has feathers like the little owl. The skilful birdcatcher gets the bird into his power as it dances. For this reason we call stupid people, easy to catch, oti. You too can have this name, which suits you.

Das CLXXV [=174] .

Torheit.

Das ich dich hab gnannt ein Nachtrab
Der du doch heissest der Nachtrab
Und hast den namm von deim Gschlecht her
Verwunderts sich hefftig und sehr
Der Nachtrab am kopff Oren hat
Am Plaum ist er gleich der Eulspat
Der Vogler in zu fahen weist
So er vor im her tantzen heist
Daher wir die törechte Leut
Die andern bald werden zur beut
Nennen Nachtrabn, diesn namen dir
Auch haben solt, der dir gebür.

Notes:

1.  Otus, the long-eared owl.

2.  It is unclear exactly what Alciato is referring to here. As is made clearer by Mignault in the commentary it is not the Emperor Otho (see note 5, below), but the bustard (otis in Latin, otide in French), a large tufted bird that has interesting mating habits, which (following the commentary in the 1615 edition) consists of strutting and preening to such an extent that the bird is easy to catch. It is there likened to a man named Otho known for his haughty manner, who came from an ancient lineage, in which instance Alciato could originally have been referring in a punning manner to Lucius Roscius Otho, a Roman tribune who authored the law that the knights should occupy the premier seats in a theatre and was much abused for it.

3.  See Pliny, Natural History, 11.50.137: only the eagle-owl and the long-eared owl have feathers like ears (the little owl - noctua - does not in fact have ear-tufts).

4.  See Pliny, Natural History, 10.33.68: ‘The otus is an imitator of other birds and a hanger-on, performing a kind of dance; like the little owl, it is easily caught, when its attention is fixed on one person while another person circles round it’. See also Plutarch, Moralia, Bruta animalia ratione uti, 951E.


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    EMBLEMA CLXXIX [=178] .

    Vespertilio.

    The bat

    Assumpsisse suum volucri ex Meneide nomen,[1]
    Socraticum authores Choerephoonta ferunt[2]
    Fusca viro facies, & stridens vocula, tali
    Hunc hominem potuit commaculare nota.

    Writers tell us that Chaerephon, Socrates’ follower, got his particular name from the winged daughter of Minyas. It was his sallow complexion and squeaky little voice that gave rise to such a slur to sully his reputation.

    Das CLXXIX [=178] .

    Fledermauß.

    Die Gschichtschreiber geben zuverston
    Daß der Socratisch Cherophon
    Sein namen empfangen hab drauß
    Von der Meneischen Fledermauß
    Ein Mann so hat ein braun angsicht
    Und ein stimm zu zischen gericht
    Disen Menschen man mercken kan
    Mit diesem zeichen, und verstan.

    Notes:

    1.  For the transformation of the daughters of Minyas (the founder of the earliest race of Greeks) into bats - for refusing to worship Dionysus - see Ovid, Metamorphoses, 4.389ff.

    2.  Chaerophon, a distinguished disciple of Socrates, was nick-named ‘The Bat’ and ‘Boxwood’ for his pale complexion and poor health, supposedly brought on by excessive study. See Aristophanes, Aves, 1564; Philostratus, Vitae sophistarum, 1.482.


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      • flying mammals: bat [25F28(BAT)] Search | Browse Iconclass
      • study and diversion [49A1] Search | Browse Iconclass
      • studying at night [49B4411] Search | Browse Iconclass
      • Minyas' daughters changed into bats: having aroused Bacchus' anger by weaving instead of worshipping him, the daughters of Minyas, Leuconoe (Leucippe), Alcithoe and Arsippe, are changed into bats by the god (Ovid, Metamorphoses IV 399) [97CC7] Search | Browse Iconclass
      • male persons from classical history (with NAME) representations to which the NAME of a person from classical history may be attached [98B(CHAEREPHON)3] Search | Browse Iconclass

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