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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [n3r p197]

XII. certamina Herculis[1]

The twelve labours of Hercules

ἀλληγορικῶς.

An allegorical treatment.

XXV.

Roboris invicti superat facundia laudes:
Dicta Sophistarum laqueosque resolvit inanes.
Non furor, aut rabies virtute potentior ulla est:
Continuum ob cursum sapienti opulentia cedit:
Spernit avaritiam, nec rapto aut foenore gaudet:
Vincit, foemineos spoliatque insignibus astus:
Expurgat sordes, & cultum mentibus addit:
Illicitos odit coitus, abigitque nocentes:
Barbaries feritasque dat impia denique poenam:
Unius virtus collectos dissipat hostes:
Invehit in patriam externis bona plurima ab oris:
Docta per ora virûm volat[2] et non interit unquam.

Eloquence surpasses the fame of untamed strength and unravels the sayings of sophists and their vain tricky problems. No rage nor madness of any sort has more power than virtue. Because of his continual exertion, wealth comes the way of the wise. Virtue scorns avarice and takes no pleasure in theft or usury. It overcomes the wiles of women and robs them of their triumph. It cleans out filth and brings culture to the mind. It hates illicit unions and repels them, with all their harm. Barbaric acts and godless savagery in the end pay the penalty. The virtue of one man scatters massed enemies. Virtue brings many good things from abroad to its own country. It passes from one man’ learned lips to another’s and does not perish ever.

Notes:

1.  Hercules was accredited with many victories over men and monsters, but eventually a list of twelve major ones was compiled. See e.g. Anthologia Graeca, 16.92. These ‘Labours’ he carried out at the behest of Eurystheus, incited by Hera (see next emblem, note 2). Alciato’s epigram follows this order: i. the Nemean lion; ii. the Hydra; iii. the Erymanthean boar; iv. the golden-antlered Arcadian stag; v. the birds of the Stymphalian Marsh; vi. the belt of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons; vii. the Augean stables; viii. the Cretan bull; ix. the mares of Diomedes; x. the cattle of the three-bodied giant Geryones (see Emblem 218 [A56a218]); xi. the golden apples of the Hesperides; and xii. the three-headed watchdog Cerberus. The Labours were given various allegorical interpretations both in antiquity and later, and Hercules himself becomes a wise man and philosopher, overcoming folly and sin. See Emblem 093 ([A56a093]).

2.  docta per ora virum volat, ‘It passes from one man’s learned lips to another’s’. Cf. the epitaph of the poet Ennius (Epigrams, Loeb edition, p. 402): ‘volito vivus per ora virum’ (still living, from one man’s mouth to another I fly).


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    Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [R1v f116v]

    EMBLEMA CLXXXVII [=186] .

    In occasionem.

    Opportunity.

    Διαλογιστικῶς

    In dialogue form.

    Iysippi[1] hoc opus est, Sycion[2] cui patria. Tu, quis?[3]
    Cuncta domans capti temporis articulus:
    Cur pennis[4] stas? usque rotor. Talaria plantis
    Cui [=Cur] retines? Passim me levis aura rapit.
    In dextra est tenuis dic unde novacula? Acutum
    Omni acie hoc signum me magis esse docet.
    Cur in fronte coma? Occurrens ut prendar. At heus tu
    Dic cur pars calva est posterior capitis?
    Ne [=Me] semel alipedem si quis permittat abire,
    Ne possim apprehenso postmodo crine capi.
    Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [R2r f117r]Tali opifex nos arte, tui causa, edidit hospes:
    Utque omnes moneam: pergula aperta tenet.

    This image is the work of Lysippus, whose home was Sicyon. - Who are you? - I am the moment of seized opportunity that governs all. - Why do you stand on points? - I am always whirling about. - Why do you have winged sandals on your feet? - The fickle breeze bears me in all directions. - Tell us, what is the reason for the sharp razor in your right hand? - This sign indicates that I am keener than any cutting edge. - Why is there a lock of hair on your brow? - So that I may be seized as I run towards you. - But come, tell us now, why ever is the back of your head bald? - So that if any person once lets me depart on my winged feet, I may not thereafter be caught by having my hair seized. It was for your sake, stranger, that the craftsman produced me with such art, and, so that I should warn all, it is an open portico that holds me.

    Das CLXXXVII [=186] .

    Die Gelegenheit.

    Diß Bild hat der Meister erdacht
    Iysipp von Sycion und gmacht
    Wer bistu aber mir das sag?
    Die Gelegenheit der zeit on zag.
    Warumb stehst auffs Rads Felgen rund?
    Weil ich alles verker zur stund.
    Was thun dFlügel an Füssen dein?
    Dmit ich belder von hin köndt seyn.
    Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [R2v f117v] Warumb helst in der rechten Hand
    Ein scharpffen Scharsach one band?
    Damit gib ich zuverstehn ja
    Das ich scherpffer sey dann diß da.
    Was thust an der Stirn mit dem Har?
    Das man mich kommend greiffe zwar.
    Warumb ist aber hinden sGnick
    So kal? Und hast kein Haar zu rück?
    So einer mich last also schnell
    Wegfahren, und ficht nicht auff hell
    Derselbs kan nachmal mich nit mehr
    Greiffen und zu rück ziehen her.
    Also hat der Meister kunstrich
    Gemacht und außgestrichen mich
    Damit ich jederman verman
    So thu ich auff den Felgen stan.

    Notes:

    1.  Greek sculptor, 4th century BC.

    2.  A town west of Corinth.

    3.  This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 16.275. See also Erasmus, Adagia 670, Nosce tempus, where Erasmus too gives a verse translation of the Greek epigram.

    4.  ‘on points’. Alciato here agrees with Erasmus, who similarly translates the phrase ep’ akra, ‘on tiptoe’, in the Greek original. Thomas More translates more obviously with summis digitis. See Selecta epigrammata (Cornarius, ed.) p. 372ff.


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