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non posse.

The firmest things cannot be uprooted

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Occeanus quamvis fluctus pater excitet omnes,[1]
Danubiumque omnem barbare Turca bibas,[2]
Non tu[3] irrumpes perfracto limite, Caesar
Dum Charolus populis bellica signa dabit.[4]
Sic sacrae quercus[5] firmis radicibus adstant.
Sicca licent [=licet] venti concutiant folia.

Though Father Ocean rouses all his waves, though, barbarous Turk, you drink the Danube dry, yet you shall not break through the boundary and burst in, while Emperor Charles shall give to his peoples the signal for war. Even so, holy oaks stand firm with tenacious roots, though the winds rattle the dry leaves.


1. This poem is based on Anthologia graeca 9.291, which refers to a threat to ancient Rome from invading German tribes.

2. The Turks invaded along the Danube and reached Hungary, winning the battle of Mohacs in 1526. When Alciato was writing, they continued to threaten Vienna and Central Europe.

3. Later editions correct to tamen, no doubt to improve the scansion.

4. Caesar...Charlus, i.e. Emperor Charles V, led the charge to recover the lost territory.

5. ‘holy oaks’. Oaks were holy because sacred to Zeus, especially at his sanctuary at Dodona in Greece ([A50a199]). The image of the dry leaves is already present in the Greek poem, but see also Vergil, Aeneid 4.441-4.

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  • withering, leaves or flowers falling off [25G(+35)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • trees: oak (+ withering, leaves or flowers falling off) [25G3(OAK)(+35)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Asiatic races and peoples: Turks [32B33(TURKS)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Constancy, Tenacity; 'Costanza', 'Tenacità' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [53A21(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Stability, Firmness; 'Fermezza', 'Stabilimento', 'Stabilità' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [53A22(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Invincibility (+ emblematical representation of concept) [54A71(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • historical person (with NAME) other representations to which the NAME of a historical person may be attached (with NAME of person) [61B2(CHARLES V [of Holy Roman Empire])3] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • geographical names of countries, regions, mountains, rivers, etc. (names of cities and villages excepted) (with NAME) [61D(DANUBE)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • (story of) Oceanus [91B112] Search | Browse Iconclass

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