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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [D3v f27v]

Nupta contagioso.

A woman married to a diseased man

Dii meliora piis,[1] Mezenti. cur age sic me
Compellas?[2] emptus quòd tibi dote gener,
Gallica quem scabies,[3] dira & mentagra perurit.
Hoc est quidnam aliud, dic mihi saeve pater,
Corpora corporibus quàm iungere mortua vivis,
Efferaque Etrusci facta novare ducis?[4]

O Mezentius, God grant a better fate to the dutiful! - Now why do you address me by that name? - Because with a dowry you have purchased a son-in-law seared by the Gallic scab and the dreaded sore on the face. What else is this - o tell me, cruel father - but to join corpses to living bodies and repeat the savage deeds of the Etruscan leader?

Notes:

1.  Vergil, Georgics, 3.513.

2.  sic me compellas, ‘address me by that name’, i.e. Mezentius. This is explained below, note 4.

3.  Gallica...scabies, ‘the Gallic scab’: Osseous lesions caused by syphilis, which was epidemic in Europe following Charles VIII’s first Italian war. Spreading to the French army following its occupation of Naples (February 1495), it became known to the French as “the Neapolitan sickness”, to the Italians as “the French sickness.” It acquired its modern name from a mythological Latin poem on the subject by Girolamo Fracastoro, “Syphilis sive morbus gallicus”, a popular favourite first published in 1530. Fracastoro later used the name Syphilus (a mythical shepherd) when he contributed to the scientific literature on the disease (Liber I de sympathia et antipathia rerum, de contagione et contagiosis morbis, 1550). Note that here the French uses ‘un villain Podagre’ instead, which Cotgrave lists as the gout. Of the two corresponding emblems with this one, the 1549 edition uses verolle (pox), and 1615 uses podagre in the title and verolle in the verse.

4.  See Vergil, Aeneid, 8.483-88, for the crimes of Mezentius, the Etruscan king who opposed Aeneas on his arrival in Italy. He inflicted a dreadful fate on his victims by tying them face to face with a corpse and leaving them to die.


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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [O8v p224]

Submovendam ignorantiam.

Ignorance must be done away with

EMBLEMA CLXXXVII.

Quod monstrum id? Sphinx[1] est. Cur candida virginis ora,
Et volucrum pennas, crura leonis habet?
Hanc faciem assumpsit rerum ignorantia: tanti
Scilicet est triplex caussa & origo mali.
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [P1r p225]Sunt quos ingenium leve, sunt quos blanda voluptas,
Sunt & quos faciunt corda superba rudes.
At quibus est notum, quid Delphica littera[2] possit,
Praecipitis monstri guttura dira secant.
Namque vir ipse bipesque tripesque & quadrupes idem est,
Primaque prudentis laurea, nosse virum.

What monster is that? - It is the Sphinx. - Why has it the bright face of a maiden, the wings of birds, the legs of a lion? - Ignorance has assumed this form, because the cause and origin of this great evil is threefold. There are some whom frivolity makes ignorant, others the blandishments of pleasure, still others arrogance. But those who are aware of the force of the Delphic letter, these cut the dread throat of the lowering monster. For man himself is two-legged, three-legged, four-legged, one and the same, and the first victory of the wise is to know the man.

Notes:

1.  The Sphinx was a monster which lay in wait on the road to Thebes and killed all travellers who could not answer its riddle: What goes on four legs in the morning, two at mid-day, three at evening? Oedipus destroyed the monster by giving the correct answer, ‘Man’ (i.e the baby crawls on all fours , the youth walks upright on his two legs, the old man requires a stick). See below, 1.9 (Namque vir ipse...). See also Erasmus, Adagia 1209, Boeotica aenigmata.

2.  ‘the Delphic letter’, i.e. the letter E. See Plutarch, De E apud Delphos, an essay which discusses various explanations put forward for the ‘E’, a letter cast in bronze. At the end of the essay (392ff.), the letter is brought into connection with the inscription Gnothi sauton, ‘Know thyself’ (cf. 1.10), which greeted those who came to consult the oracle of Apollo at Delphi. See also Macrobius, Saturnalia 1.6.6.


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  • Self-knowledge (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52A53(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Ignorance; 'Ignoranza', 'Ignoranza di tutte le cose', 'Ignoranza in un ricco senza lettere' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52AA5(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Pleasure, Enjoyment, Joy; 'Allegrezza', 'Allegrezza da le medaglie', 'Allegrezza, letitia e giubilo', 'Diletto', 'Piacere', 'Piacere honesto' (Ripa) [56B1] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Licentiousness, Lasciviousness; 'Lascivia', 'Licenza' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57AA51(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Pride, Loftiness; 'Alterezza in persona nata povera civile' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57AA64(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Frivolity (+ emblematical representation of concept) [57AA66(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Delphic oracle [92B3721] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Oedipus and the sphinx; he solves the riddle [94T33] Search | Browse Iconclass

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