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Vel post mortem formidolosi.

Terrifying even after death


Caetera mutescent, coriumque silebit ovillum,
Si confecta lupi tympana pelle sonent.
Hanc membrana ovium sic exhorrescit, ut hostem
Exanimis quamvis non ferat exanimem.
Sic cute detracta Ziscas, in tympana versus,
Boemos potuit vincere Pontifices.[1]

All others will fall mute, the skin of sheep will be silent, if drums made of wolf-hide resound. The vellum of sheep so fears the wolf-skin, that though dead it cannot endure its dead enemy. Even so Cischas, flayed and turned into a drum, was able to triumph over the priests of Bohemia.


1.  For the story behind this epigram, see the commentary. ‘Cischas’ is Jan Ziska (c.1370-1425), a Bohemian military leader who supported the Hussites, destroying Catholic churches and attacking the clergy. He waged a long and successful military campaign which compelled the Emperor Sigismund to offer the Hussites religious liberty. Ziska died of plague, and is said to have ordered that his corpse be flayed and the skin made into a drum, the sound of which would put the enemy to flight. (His real name was Jan z Trocnova (‘of Trocnov’), Zizka being Czech for ‘one-eyed’, having lost an eye in a skirmish during the Battle of Grunwald in 1410).

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

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  • Alarm, Fright; 'Spavento', 'Terrore' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [56DD32(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Authority, Power; 'Dominio', 'Giurisdittione' (Ripa) (+ emblematical representation of concept) [53C11(+4):31E30] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • beasts of prey, predatory animals: wolf (+ skin, fleece, hide, fur, leather) [25F23(WOLF)(+351)] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • geographical names of countries, regions, mountains, rivers, etc. (names of cities and villages excepted) (with NAME) [61D(BOHEMIA)] 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(ZIZCA, Jan)3] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • priest (Roman Catholic) [11P3121] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • sheep (+ skin, fleece, hide, fur, leather) [47I213(+9351)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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