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Littera occidit, Spiritus vivificat.[1]

The letter kills but the spirit gives life

Vipereos Cadmus dentes ut credidit arvis,
Sevit & Aonio semina dira solo:
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [F8r f35r]Terrigenum Clypeata cohors exorta virorum est,
Hostili inter se qui cecidere manu.
Evasere quibus monitu Tritonidos armis
Abiectis data pax, dextraque iuncta fuit.[2]
Primus Agenorides[3] elementa notasque magistris,
Tradidit, iis suavem iunxit & Harmoniam,[4]
Quorum discipulos contraria plurima vexant
Non nisi Palladia quae dirimuntur ope.

When Cadmus entrusted the dragon’s teeth to the furrows and sowed the dread seed in Aonian [Theban] soil, there sprang up a shield-bearing band of earth-born men, who fell by fighting among themselves. Those escaped who at Tritonia’s [Athena’s] command threw down their arms, granted peace and joined right hands. Agenor’s son first gave to teachers letters and symbols and also put together for them sweet musical concord. Many adversities assail those who follow these disciplines, adversities which are resolved only by Pallas Athena’s aid.

Das LI.

Der Buchstab tödt, der Geist macht

Als Cadmus deß Drachen Zän hett
In dem Aonischen Landt gseht
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [F8v f35v] Und dem Boden ein Samen Graß
Befolhen uber all maß
Ist entsprungen ein Gharnischter hauff
Und kün Mann auß der Erd herauff
Die einander haben zur fart
Erwürgt und erstochen ungespart
Allein davon kommen seind die
So auß geheiß Minerve hie
Ir Waffen weg warffen, den wart
Die hand geben und fried beschart
Ageners Son der erst ist gwesen
Der dLeut hat lehrnen schreibn und lesen
Und erfunden das A B C
Zusammen Reimn und stimmen mehr
Deren Junger einander hart
Umbtreibn und halten widerbart
Die nicht geschlicht werden kan frey
Es sey dann die Pallas dabey.


1.  II Corinthians 3:6.

2.  For the story of Cadmus, founder of Thebes (in Aonia, or less correctly in the French, in Thessaly), and the dragon’s teeth, see Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.99ff. Athena, goddess of wisdom - here called Tritonia, from the place of her birth in North Africa - brought the internecine struggle between the earth-born warriors to an end.

3.  Agenorides, ‘Agenor’s son’, i.e. Cadmus, who supposedly introduced writing to Greece. The scattering of the dragon’s teeth was interpreted as the invention of the alphabet.

4.  harmoniam, ‘musical concord’. Cadmus’ wife was called Harmonia.

5.  Held cites this Biblical quoatation after the Luther translation.

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