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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [n5r p201]

Salix.

The willow

XLII.

Qụd frugisperdam salicem vocitarit Homerus.[1]
Clitoriis homines moribus adsimulat.[2]

When Homer called the willow ‘seed-loser’, he made it like men with Clitorian habits.

Notes:

1.  Homer, Odyssey, 10.510. See Pliny, Natural History, 16.46.110: the willow drops its seed before it is absolutely ripe, and for that reason was called by Homer ‘seed-loser’.

2.  The waters of Lake Clitorius in Arcadia generated an aversion to wine in those who drank of them. See Pliny, Natural History, 31.13.16; Ovid, Metamorphoses, 15.322ff. The combination of the two images here may symbolise minds and characters gone to the bad and producing nothing of value. See Erasmus, Parabolae, p. 268: “As willow-seed, shed before it ripens, is not only itself barren but when used as a drug causes barrenness in women by preventing conception, so the words of those who teach before they have truly learnt sense not only make them no better in themselves, but corrupt their audience and render it unteachable”; and p. 230: “Those who have drunk of the Clitorian Lake develop a distaste for wine, and those who have once tasted poetry reject the counsels of philosophy, or the other way round. Equally, those who gorge themselves with fashionable pleasures reject those satisfactions which are honourable and genuine.”


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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 cùm 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, ô 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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