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Vigilantia & Custodia.

Vigilance and protection


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Instantis quòd signa canens det gallus Eoi,
Et revocet famulas ad nova pensa manus:
Turribus in sacris effingitur, aerea pelvis,
Ad superos mentem[1] quòd revocet vigilem.
Est leo sed custos, oculis quia dormit apertis,[2]
Templorum idcircò ponitur ante fores.

Because the cock by its crowing gives the signal of approaching dawn and recalls working hands to fresh tasks, it is placed on top of church towers. A bronze bell (is hung there) because it recalls the waking mind to heaven. But a lion is on guard because it sleeps with its eyes open. For that reason it is placed before church doors.


1.  In most editions pelvis and mentem are the other way round.

2.  oculis quia dormit apertis, ‘because it sleeps with its eyes open’. See Isidore, Etymologiae, 12.2.5: when lions are asleep, their eyes remain awake. See also Aelian, De natura animalium, 5.39.

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View emblem in Mason Tung: Variorum Edition of Alciato. (PDF)

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