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HEDERA.

Ivy

Emblema. 203.

Haud quaquam 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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Populus alba.

The white poplar

EMBLEMA CCXI.

Herculeos crines bicolor qụd populus ornet,[1]
Temporis alternat noxque diesque vices.[2]

The two-coloured poplar wreathes the locks of Hercules - and so its dark and light show time’s alternating changes.

Notes:

1.  The white poplar was dedicated to Hercules. According to Pausanias, Periegesis, 5.14.2, Hercules introduced it to Greece. According to another story, Hercules on his way back from the Underworld garlanded his head with stems from a white poplar growing beside the Acheron, a memorial of the nymph Leuke (White) carried off by Pluto.

2.  noxque diesque, ‘its dark and light’ (lit. night and day), a reference to the dark green surface and white underside of the white poplar leaf. According to Pliny, Natural History, 16.36.87, the leaves of the white poplar turn over at the summer solstice. Hercules was equated with the sun: Macrobius, Saturnalia, 1.20.6 and 10.


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