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Amicitia etiam post mortem durans.[1]

Friendship lasting even beyond death

XII.

Arentem senio, nudam quoque frondibus ulmum,
Complexa est viridi vitis opaca coma.[2]
Agnoscitque vices naturae, & grata parenti
Officii reddit mutua iura suo.
Exemploque monet, tales nos quaerere amicos,
Quos neque disiungat foedere summa dies.

A vine shady with green foliage embraced an elm tree that was dried up with age and bare of leaves. The vine recognises the changes wrought by nature and, ever grateful, renders to the one that reared it the duty it owes in return. By the example it offers, the vine tells us to seek friends of such a sort that not even our final day will uncouple them from the bond of friendship.

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Amytie durant apres mort.

XII.

Au temps que jeune estoit la vigne,
Elle fut soustenue de l’orme,
(Qui d’estre aym se rend bien digne.)
A quoy la vigne fut conforme:
Car au temps qu’il devint disforme,
Voire mort, la vigne l’embrasse.
Cherchez donc amy de telle forme,
Dont l’amour pour mort ne sesface.

Notes:

1. See Erasmus’ famous variations on this theme in De copia (CWE 24. pp. 354-64).

2. In ancient Italy young vines were often supported by elm trees. See Vergil, Georgics 1.2.


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Πῆ παρέβην; τί δ’ἔρεξα; τί μοι δέον οὐκ ἐτελέσθῆ;

Where have I transgressed? What have I committed? What thing incumbent on me has been left undone?

EMBLEMA XVII.

Italicae Samius sectae celeberrimus auctor[1]
Ipse suum clausit carmine dogma brevi:
Qu praetergressus? quid agis? quid omittis agendum?[2]
Hanc rationem urgens reddere quemque sibi.
Quod didicisse Gruum volitantum ex agmine fertur,
Arreptum gestant quae pedibus lapidem:[3]
Ne cessent, neu transversas mala flamina raptent.
Qua ratione, hominum vita regenda fuit.

The famous Samian founder of the Italian sect himself put his essential teaching into a short verse: Where have you overstepped the mark? What are you doing? What are you leaving undone that ought to be done? - urging each man to make this reckoning in his own mind. He is said to have learnt this from a skein of flying cranes, which seize a stone and carry it in their claws, to prevent themselves from making no headway, and to stop adverse gusts of wind carrying them off course. Man’s life was ever to be lived on this principle.

Notes:

1. Italicae Samius sectae...autor, ‘Samian founder of the Italian sect’, i.e. Pythagoras. Born in Samos, he emigrated in 531 BC to Croton in South Italy, where he founded a religious/philosophical sect.

2. This is a version of the Greek text in the motto, which is recorded in Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Philosophers, 8.20.

3. Cranes wisely carrying stones as ballast are likened to men of foresight in Suidas (i.e, the Suda), s.v. geranos. Other reasons were suggested by ancient writers for this habit.


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