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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [D1v f25v]

Salus publica.

The nation’s health

Phoebigena erectis Epidaurius insidet aris,[1]
Mitis & immani conditur angue deus.
Accurrunt aegri, veniatque salutifer orant:
Annuit, atque ratas efficit ille preces.

The Epidaurian scion of Phoebus broods on the altars built for him, and the god, all gentle, is concealed in a huge snake. The sick come running and beg him to draw near with healing. He consents and ratifies their prayers.

Notes:

1.  ‘The Epidaurian scion of Phoebus’, i.e. Aesculapius, son of Phoebus [Apollo] and god of medicine and healing. His main sanctuary and centre of healing was near Epidaurus in Greece. The god’s epiphany and symbol was a snake, and a number of sacred snakes were kept at the sanctuary. One of these was brought to Rome in 293 BC in hopes of stopping an outbreak of plague. The snake made its home on the Island in the Tiber, where a shrine and medical centre was subsequently built. See Ovid, Metamorphoses, 15.626ff.


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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O7v p222]

Dicta septem sapientum.[1]

Sayings of the Seven Sages

EMBLEMA CLXXXVI.

Haec habeas, septem sapientum effingere dicta,
Atque ea picturis qui celebrare velis,
Optimus in rebus modus est, Cleobulus ut inquit:
Hoc trutinae examen, sive libella docet.
Noscere se Chilon Spartanus quemque iubebat:
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O8r p223]Hoc speculum in manibus, vitraque sumpta dabunt.
Quod Periander ait, frena adde, Corinthius, irae:
Pulegium[2] admotum naribus efficiet.
Pittacus, at ne quid, dixit, nimis. haec eadem aiunt,
Contracto qui gith[3] ore liquefaciunt.
Respexisse Solon finem iubet.[4] ultimus agris
Terminus[5] haud magno cesserit ipse Iovi.
Heu quàm vera Bias, Est copia magna malorum:
Musimoni insideat effice Sardus eques.[6]
Ne praes esto,[7] Thales dixit; sic illita visco
In laqueos sociam parra, meropsque trahit.

If you wish to represent the sayings of the Seven Sages and celebrate them in picture, you may have the following suggestions. - ‘Moderation is best’, as Cleobulus said. This the balance teaches or the plumbline. - Chilon of Sparta bade each man know himself. A mirror or glass taken in the hand will represent this. - The saying of Periander of Corinth, ‘Rein in your wrath’, pennyroyal held to the nostrils will show. - Pittacus said, ‘Nothing in excess’. The same thing is said by those who suck cassia with wry mouth. - Solon bids us look to the end. Set at the field end is Terminus, who would not yield to mighty Jove. - How truly did Bias say, ‘There is great store of evil men’. Make a Sardinian rider sit upon a wild sheep. - ‘Do not stand surety’, said Thales. Even so, smeared with bird-lime, the lapwing or bee-eater draws its fellow-bird into the snare.

Notes:

1.  The list of the Seven Sages of the ancient Greek world was not fixed: various selections were made from up to seventeen names (though this one is the most common). Their utterances were variously reported and attributed now to one, now to the other. See Diogenes Laertius, De Clarorum philosophorum vitis, 1.40-42. The list here is derived from Anthologia Graeca, 9.366.

2.  pulegium, ‘pennyroyal’. See Emblem 16, line 4 ([A91a016]).

3.  gith, ‘cassia’ or ‘senna’. See Pliny, Natural History, 20.71.182ff. for its medicinal and culinary uses. It is so bitter that a little goes a long way.

4.  Respexisse finem, ‘look to the end’, i.e.only when his life is over can a man be judged to have been happy. See the story of Solon and Croesus in Plutarch, Solon, 27-8.

5.  Terminus, see Emblem 157 ([A91a157]).

6.  Musmoni insideat effice Sardus eques, ‘make a Sardinian rider sit upon a wild sheep’, i.e. a worthless rider on a worthless beast. Cf. Erasmus, Adagia, 505 (Sardi venales, ‘Sardinians for sale’).

7.  Ne praes esto, ‘Do not stand surety’. See Erasmus, Adagia, 597 (Sponde, noxa praesto est, ‘Stand surety and disaster is at hand’).


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