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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [Nn6v p572]

Tumulus Ioannis Galeacii Vicecomitis,
primi Ducis Mediolanensis.[1]

The tomb of Jovanne Galeazzo Visconti, first Duke of Milan

EMBLEMA CXXXIV.

Pro tumulo pone Italiam, pone arma ducesque,[2]
Et mare, quod geminos mugit adusque sinus.
Adde his Barbariem[3] conantem irrumpere frustrà,
Et mercede emptas in fera bella manus.
Anguiger[4] ast[5] summo sistens in culmine, dicat:
Quis parvis magnum me superimposuit?

Instead of the tomb, put Italy, put weapons and leaders, and the sea which roars right up to the twin curving coasts. Add to these the barbarian host, trying in vain to burst in, and forces hired with money for savage wars. But the one holding a snake, standing on the roof of the tomb, may well say: Who has put me, great as I am, on top of little things?

Notes:

1.  Gian Galeazzo Visconti (1351-1402), created first Duke of Milan in 1395. Noted for his ruthlessness, he united most of the Po valley under the rule of Milan for the first time, defeated Bologna, and set his sights on Florence until his death saved that city.

2.  This epigram is based on Anthologia graeca 7.73 (by Geminos, but wrongly attributed to Germanicus in the sixteenth century). The Greek epigram is concerned with what would be a worthy tomb for the Greek hero Themistocles, who was buried in a very simple grave. It suggests one with representations of Salamis and the Persians, recalling the hero’s most famous exploit, the victory over the Persians at the battle of Salamis. Likewise, memorials of Visconti’s achievements are proposed here.

3.  ‘the barbarian host’, i.e. the ‘barbarian’ French, who were induced to become involved in the Milan/Florence conflict and were defeated by Visconti. The French are mentioned specifically in the version of this poem found in Selecta epigrammata p.254, where 1.4 reads: Gallus ut et Theuton Alpe et Hyberus aquis, ‘like the Gaul and the Teuton via the Alps and the Spaniard via the sea’. In Alciato’s day, the French continued to overrun the Italian peninsula and attempt to dictate its internal affairs.

4.  This is presumably a figure of the Duke of Milan, whose arms included a snake; see [A21a001]. In the accompanying woodcut, we have written on a snaking ribbon held by a figure the Greek version (taken from the original Greek epigram) of the Latin words quoted in l.6.

5.  The marginal note indicates alternative readings & and est.


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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [L1v p162]

Strenuorum immortale nomen.

Achievers have an immortal name

EMBLEMA CXXXV.

Aeacide tumulum Rhetaeo in littore cernis,[1]
Quem plerumque pedes visitat alba Thetis.[2]
Obtegitur semper viridi lapis hic amaranto,[3]
Quòd numquam heroïs sit moriturus honos.
Hic Graium murus,[4] magni nex Hectoris. Haud plus
Debet Maeonidae, quàm sibi Maeonides.[5]

You see the tomb of Aeacus’ descendant on the Rhoetean shore, which white-footed Thetis often visits. This stone is always covered with green amaranth, because the honour due to heroes shall never die. This man was‘the wall of the Greeks’, and the destruction of great Hector, and he owes no more to the Lydian poet than the poet does to him.

Notes:

1.  ‘Aeacus’ descendant’, i.e. Achilles, the greatest warrior on the Greek side in the Trojan War. Rhoeteum was a promontory on the Trojan coast (though normally associated with the tomb of Ajax).

2.  Thetis, a sea-nymph, mother of Achilles, called ‘silver-footed’ by Homer.

3.  amarantho: the name of the plant means ‘never-fading’. See Pliny, Natural History, 21.23.47.

4.  ‘the wall of the Greeks’, translating Homer’s description of Achilles at Iliad, 3.229.

5.  Maeonidae, ‘to the Lydian poet’, i.e. Homer, who told in the Iliad the famous story of Achilles’ wrath and refusal to fight during the Trojan War, and of his eventual slaying of Hector, the chief warrior on the Trojan side. (For which see Emblem 153, [A91a153]). For the sentiment that great deeds need to be sung in order not to be forgotten, see Horace, Odes, 4.8.20ff; and that great literature needs great themes, see Tacitus, Dialogus de oratoribus, 37.


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