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Littera occdit, spiritus vivificat.[1]

The letter kills but the spirit gives life

EMBLEMA CLXXXV.

Vipereos Cadmus dentes ut credidit arvis,
Sevit & Aonio semina dira solo:
Terrigenm clypeata cohors exorta virorum est,
Hostili inter se qui cecidere manu.
Evasere quibus monitu Tritonidos armis
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [O7r p221]Abiectis data pax, dextraque iuncta fuit.[2]
Primus Agenorides[3] elementa, notasque magistris
Tradidit, iis suavem iunxit & harmoniam.[4]
Quorum discipulos contraria plurima vexant,
Non nisi Palladia quae dirimuntur ope.

When Cadmus entrusted the dragon’s teeth to the furrows and sowed the dread seed in Aonian [Theban] soil, there sprang up a shield-bearing band of earth-born men, who fell by fighting among themselves. Those escaped who at Tritonia’s [Athena’s] command threw down their arms, granted peace and joined right hands. Agenor’s son first gave to teachers letters and symbols and also put together for them sweet musical concord. Many adversities assail those who follow these disciplines, adversities which are resolved only by Pallas Athena’s aid.

Notes:

1. II Corinthians 3:6.

2. For the story of Cadmus, founder of Thebes (in Aonia, or less correctly in the French, in Thessaly), and the dragon’s teeth, see Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.99ff. Athena, goddess of wisdom - here called Tritonia, from the place of her birth in North Africa - brought the internecine struggle between the earth-born warriors to an end.

3. Agenorides, ‘Agenor’s son’, i.e. Cadmus, who supposedly introduced writing to Greece. The scattering of the dragon’s teeth was interpreted as the invention of the alphabet.

4. harmoniam, ‘musical concord’. Cadmus’ wife was called Harmonia.


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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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