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Lascivia.

Wantonness

LXXI [=72] .

Delicias, & mollitiem mus creditur albus
Arguere, at ratio non sat aperta mihi est.[1]
An qud ei natura salax, & multa libido est?
Ornat Romanas an quia pelle nurus?
Sarmaticum murem vocitant plerique zibellum,[2]
Et celebris suavi est unguine muscus Arabae.[3]

The white mouse is supposed to represent self-indulgence and licentiousness, but the reason is not very clear to me. Is it because it is highly sexed and has strong sexual appetities? Or because it adorns Roman women with its fur? Many people call the civet-cat the Sarmatian mouse, and famous for its sweet oil is the Arabian musk.

Notes:

1. The white mouse was a proverbial example of the effeminate and the promiscuous. See the Suda s.v. mus, and Apostolius, Proverbs, 11,87, who also reports its sexual proclivities.

2. zibellum, ‘civet cat’, one source of musk, an ingredient in many perfumes. Sarmatia was the region north of the Black Sea.

3. murem...muscus, ‘mouse...musk’. The words ‘mouse’ and ‘musk’ (late Latin muscus) are connected, from the mouse-shaped sac of the male animals which produce musk. Some plants have a musky smell. Muscus also means ‘moss’ - Arabia was famous for plants which produced aromatic gums (e.g. incense and nard).


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    Amour de soymesme.

    LXXI.

    Pourquoy te plaisoit tant, Narcisse, ta forme,
    Puis qu’en fleur tout soudain il faut qu’on te transforme?[1]
    Souvent l’amour de soy les gents doctes transporte,
    Nul bien il ne leur fait, ains blasme il leur apporte:
    Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [P3r p229] Car au lieu d’insister en la methode ancienne,
    Chacun embrasse & suit la fantasie sienne.

    Commentaires.

    Nous sommes appris par cest embleme, que l’a-
    mour de soymesme est tresdangereux. Ceste philautie
    nous rend enfls, envieux, audacieux, faineants, &
    nous entretient en nostre ignorance. Celuy qui se lou
    soymesme, n’est pas bien veu de ses voisins. Ce vice
    sied mal en un chacun, mais principalement aux
    nourrissons des Muses.

    Notes:

    1. For the story of Narcissus, see Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.344ff. On the flower, see Pliny, Natural History, 21.75.128: “there are two kinds of narcissus... The leafy one ... makes the head thick and is called narcissus from narce (‘numbness’), not from the boy in the story.” (cf. ‘narcotic’).


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