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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [o2v p212]

Fatuitas.

Stupidity.

LXXVIII [=79] .

Miraris nostro quòd carmine diceris Otus,[1]
Sit vetus à proavis cùm tibi nomen Otho.[2]
Aurita est, similes & habet ceu noctua plumas, [3]
Saltantemque auceps mancipat aptus avem.[4]
Hinc fatuos, captu & faciles, nos dicimus otos,
Hoc tibi conveniens tu quoque nomen habe.

You are surprised that in my poem you are called Otus, when your ancient family name, handed down for generations, is Otho. The otus is eared and has feathers like the little owl. The skilful birdcatcher gets the bird into his power as it dances. For this reason we call stupid people, easy to catch, oti. You too can have this name, which suits you.

Notes:

1.  Otus, the long-eared owl.

2.  It is unclear exactly what Alciato is referring to here. As is made clearer by Mignault in the commentary in other editions, it is not the Emperor Otho, but the bustard (otis in Latin, otide in French), a large tufted bird that has interesting mating habits, which (following the commentary in the 1615 edition) consists of strutting and preening to such an extent that the bird is easy to catch. It is there likened to a man named Otho known for his haughty manner, who came from an ancient lineage, in which instance Alciato could originally have been referring in a punning manner to Lucius Roscius Otho, a Roman tribune who authored the law that the knights should occupy the premier seats in a theatre and was much abused for it.

3.  See Pliny, Natural History, 11.50.137: only the eagle-owl and the long-eared owl have feathers like ears (the little owl - noctua - does not in fact have ear-tufts).

4.  See Pliny, Natural History, 10.33.68: ‘The otus is an imitator of other birds and a hanger-on, performing a kind of dance; like the little owl, it is easily caught, when its attention is fixed on one person while another person circles round it’. See also Plutarch, Moralia, Bruta animalia ratione uti, 951E.



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    Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [o2r p211]

    Vino prudentiam augeri.[1]

    Wisdom increased by wine.

    LXXIIII [=75] .

    Haec Bacchus pater, & Pallas communiter ambo
    Templa tenent: soboles utraque vera Iovis:
    Haec caput, ille femur solvit:[2] huic usus olivi
    Debitus, invenit primus at ille merum.
    Iunguntur merito. quòd si qui abstemius odit
    Vina, deae nullum sentiet auxilium.

    This temple Father Bacchus and Pallas both possess in common, each of them the true off-spring of Jove: she split Jove’s head, he his thigh. To her we owe the use of the olive; but he first discovered wine. They are rightly joined together, because if anyone in abstinence hates wine, he will know no help from the goddess.

    Notes:

    1.  This emblem uses material from Anthologia Graeca, 16.183, concerning a statue of Bacchus beside one of Pallas Athene.

    2.  Haec caput, ille femur solvit, ‘she split Jove’s head, he his thigh’. For the birth of Pallas Athene from the head of Jove and of Bacchus from his thigh, see emblems 1 ([A56a001]), and 25 ([A56a025]). Pallas is the virgin goddess, patroness of intellectual pursuits, who presented Athens with the gift of the olive tree. Bacchus discovered the vine during his wanderings about the earth and taught men its use. He also introduced various other features of civilisation.


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