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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G1v p98]

Lascivia.

Wantonness

EMBLEMA LXXIX.

Delicias & mollitiem mus creditur albus
Arguere, at ratio non sat aperta mihi est.[1]
An quòd ei natura salax & multa libido est?
Ornat Romanas an quia pelle nurus?
Sarmaticum murem vocitant plerique Zibellum,[2]
Et celebris suavi est unguine muscus Arabs.[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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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [P3v p230]

Temerité.

LXXIII.

Le charretier, qui veut chevaux sans frein mener,
Au precipice, helas! se void par eux trainer.
Ne te fie en celuy, que la raison ne guide,
Et qui rien autre n’a sinon son sens pour guide.[1]

commentaires.

Qui se laisse emporter à la luxure & à la cholere,
à grand’ peine fait-il jamais bonne fin. La raison
doit commander aux sens & à la passion: autrement
nostre condition seroit pire que celle des bestes. Les
chevaux sans mors ny frein, ressemblent au corps:
mais l’ame douëe de raison, resemble au charretier.
Il faut s’opposer aux commencements. Le charretier
qui a commencé à bailler bride longue à ses chevaux,
a grand’ peine s’en pourra-il jamais bien servir. Ceux
qui ne se peuvent commander, ne doyvent jamais estre
employés en l’administration de la republique. Car
comment pourra commander aux autres, & les con-
duire, celuy qui se laisse emporter à ses passions.

Notes:

1.  In general see Plato’s image of the chariot of the soul, Phaedrus, 246, as indicated in the commentary.


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