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In silentium.



Cm tacet, haud quicquam differt sapientibus amens,
Stultitiae est index linguaque voxque suae.
Ergo premat labias, digitoque silentia signet,
Et sese Pharium vertat in Harpocratem[1].

When he is silent, the fool differs no whit from the wise. It is tongue and voice that betray his stupidity. Let him therefore put his finger to his lips and so mark silence, and turn himself into Egyptian Harpocrates.

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A Silence.


Quand ung ignorant ne dit mot,
Il est bien pareil au scavant,
Et n’est de saigesse remot,
Sinon quant il parle souvent.
Ta bouche ayt donc le doy devant,
Pour tenir de parler science,[2]
Ou seras Harpocras suyvant,
Dont l’ymage monstroit silence.


1. Harpocrates, also known as Horus, was the son of the Egyptian divinity Isis. He avenged the murder of his father Osiris by Set/Typhon. He is often represented as an infant with his finger held to his mouth as a sign of silence and economy of words. See Plutarch, De Iside et Osiride 68.

2. The last 3 lines differ significantly from the 1536 edition.

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  • Wisdom; 'Sapienza', 'Sapienza humana', 'Sapienza vera' (Ripa) [52A51] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Ignorance; 'Ignoranza', 'Ignoranza di tutte le cose', 'Ignoranza in un ricco senza lettere' (Ripa) [52AA5] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Folly, Foolishness; 'Pazzia', 'Sciocchezza', 'Stoltitia' (Ripa) [52AA51] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Taciturnity; 'Secretezza', 'Secretezza overo Taciturnità' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [52DD3(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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