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Facundia difficilis.

Eloquence is hard

XXII.

Antidotum Aeaeae medicata in pocula Circes
Mercurium hoc Ithaco fama dedisse fuit.[1]
Moly vocant. id vix radice evellitur atra,
Purpureus sed flos, lactis & instar habet.
Eloquii candor facundiaque allicit omnes,
Sed multi res est tanta laboris opus.

According to the story, Mercury gave to the man from Ithaca this antidote to the poisoned cup of Aeaean Circe. They call it moly. It is hard to pull up by its black root. The plant is dark, but its flower is white as milk. The brilliance of eloquence and readiness of speech attracts all men, but this mighty thing is a work of much labour.

Notes:

1. See Homer, Odyssey, 10.270ff. for the story of the encounter of Ulysses (the man from Ithaca) and his crew with the sorceress Circe on the island of Aeaea. The plant moly is described ibid, 302-6. See Emblem 216 ([A56a216]), for the effect of Circe’s poisoned cup. Cf. Erasmus, De Copia (Loeb edition, 1.91 D), where moly is interpreted as wisdom rather than eloquence. Cf. Coustau, ‘In herbam Moly, ex Homero’ ([FCPb073]).


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    Les vauneants.

    XXI.

    Les anciens ont dit que l’estoil heron
    Representoit les moeurs d’un maistre alliboron:[1]
    Qui pensant tout savoir, n’est qu’une vraye buse,
    Ressemblant au faucon forlignant, qui s’amuse
    A bransler cuisse en l’air: pour ceste occasion
    Les vauriens sont nomms du nom d’ardelion.[2]

    Commentaires.

    Qui est par tout, n’est en aucun lieu. Cest embleme
    est faict contre les ardelions, ou maistres alliborons,
    lesquels, quoy qu’ils ne sachent aucun art ny science
    parfaictement, si veulent-ils qu’on croye qu’ils les
    savent toutes. Le heron est un oiseau paresseux &
    faineant: & pource les Grecs l’appellent ὄκνος. Le
    faucon forlignant, au lieu de chasser, perd le temps
    se bransler les jambes & les aisles.

    Notes:

    1. The ‘little starred heron’, which, according to the story, had once been human and a slave, was, because of its sluggish nature, called ocnus, i.e. ‘idleness’. (Cf. [FALd017]). As it understood human speech, it hated to be called this, or ‘slave’. See Pausanias, 10.29.2; Aelian, De natura animalium 5.36; Aristotle, Historia animalium, 9.18.617.

    2. ardelion: ‘a fussing busybody’. See Martial, Epigrams, 2.7.7.; 4.78.9: Phaedrus, Fables, 2.5.1. Cf. Erasmus, Adagia, 543, Callipides, on someone who expends a great deal of energy achieving nothing.


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