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

Hedera.

Ivy

XXXVIII.

Haudquaquam arescens hederae est arbuscula, Cisso[1]
Quae puero Bacchum dona dedisse ferunt:
Errabunda, procax, auratis fulva corymbis,
Exterius viridis, caetera pallor habet.
Hinc aptis vates cingunt sua tempora sertis:[2]
Pallescunt studiis, laus diuturna viret.

There is a bushy plant which never withers, the ivy which Bacchus, they say, gave as a gift to the boy Cissos. It goes where it will, uncontrollable; tawny where the golden berry-clusters hang; green on the outside but pale everywhere else. Poets use it to wreathe their brows with garlands that fit them well - poets are pale with study, but their praise remains green for ever.

Notes:

1.  Κισσός is the Greek word for ‘ivy’. For the story of Cissos, beloved of Bacchus, and his transformation into the ivy, see Nonnus, Dionysiaca, 12.188ff.

2.  vates cingunt sua tempora, ‘Poets use it to wreathe their brows’. See Pliny, Natural History, 16.62.147: poets use the species with yellow berries for garlands.


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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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