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Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [n3v p198]

Sapientia humana stultitia
est apud Deum.[1]

The Wisdom of Man is folly to God

XXVII.

Quid dicam? quonam hoc compellem nomine monstrum?
Biforme quod non est homo, nec est draco:[2]
Sed sine vir pedibus, summis sine partibus anguis,
Vir anguipes dici, & homiceps anguis potest.
Anguem pedit homo, hominem eructavit & anguis,
Nec finis hominis est, initium nec est ferae.
Sic olim Cecrops[3] doctis regnavit Athenis,
Sic & gigantes terra mater protulit.
Haec vafrum species, sed relligione carentem,
Terrena tamtum quique curet,[4] indicat.

What shall I say? By what name call this monster? a two-fold thing that is neither man nor snake? A man without feet, a snake without its upper parts - this can be called a snake-footed man, a man-headed snake. The man farts a snake, the snake has vomited a man, the man has no end, the beast no beginning. In such a form did Cecrops once rule in learned Athens, in such a form did Mother Earth once bring forth the Giants. This is an image of clever men, but indicating one without religion, who cares only for the things of the earth.

Notes:

1. This epigram is based on Anthologia Graeca, 16.115-6, descriptions of a hippocentaur, the second of which was translated by Alciato at Sel. Ep. p.335. Metre: dactylic hexameters paired with iambic senarii.

2. Variant reading, ‘monstrum Biforme quod...’, ‘ two-fold monster that is neither ...’.

3. Cecrops, the mythical wise first king of Athens, the city of Pallas Athene, the goddess of wisdom. Cecrops, like the Giants (l.8) was born of the earth and was represented as half-man, half snake.

4. Terrena tantum quique curet, ‘who cares only for the things of earth’. See Macrobius, Saturnalia, 1.20.9: the fact that the Giants’ bodies terminated as snakes shows that they had not a single thought that was right or elevated, but that their life in all its comings and goings tended to what was base.


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    Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [O5v p218]

    Musicam Diis curae esse.

    The gods care for music

    EMBLEMA CLXXXIV.

    Locrensis posuit tibi Delphice Phoebe cicadam
    Eunomus hanc, palmae signa decora suae.
    Certabat plectro Sparthyn commissus in hostem,
    Et percussa sonum pollice fila dabant.
    Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [O6r p219]Trita fides rauco coepit cm stridere bombo,
    Legitimum harmonias & vitiare melos:
    Tum citharae argutans suavis sese intulit ales,
    Quae fractam impleret voce cicada fidem:
    Quaeque allecta, soni ad legem descendit ab altis
    Saltibus, ut nobis garrula ferret opem.
    Ergo tuae ut firmus stet honos, sancte, cicadae,
    Pro cithara hic fidicen aeneus ipsa sedet.[1]

    Phoebus, god of Delphi, Locrian Eunomus set up this cicada in your honour, an appropriate symbol of his victory. He was competing in the lyre contest against his rival Sparthys and the strings resounded as he plucked them with the plectrum. A worn string began to buzz with a hoarse rattle and spoil the true melody of the music. Then a sweet-voiced creature, a cicada, flew chirping onto the lyre to supply with its song the broken string. Recruited to follow the rules of musical sound, it flew down from the high glades to bring us aid with its chirping song. Accordingly, so that the honour due to your cicada, o holy god, may last undiminished, on top of the lyre she sits here herself, a minstrel in bronze.

    Notes:

    1. This is a translation of Anthologia graeca 6.54. See Strabo, Geography 6.1.9 for the story of Eunomus and the statue he set up at his home town of Locri commemorating this incident in the song contest at the Pythian Games (celebrated near Delphi, in honour of Apollo, Artemis and their mother Leto); also Erasmus, Adagia 414, Acanthia Cicada.


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