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A problem.

Delicias & molliciem mus creditur albus
Arguere, at ratio non sat aperta mihi est.[1]
An quod ei natura salax & multa libido est,
Ornat Romanas an quia pelle nurus
Sarmaticum murem vocitant plerique zibellum[2]
Et celebris suavi est unguine muscus Arabs.[3]

The white mouse is supposed to represent self-indulgence and licentiousness, but the reason is not very clear to me. Is it because it is highly sexed and has strong sexual appetities? Or because it adorns Roman women with its fur? Many people call the civet-cat the Sarmatian mouse, and famous for its sweet oil is the Arabian musk.



Man helts darfür das deß verthur
Deß weicheit und wollustes fur
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [K1r f60r] Ein anzeigung und gmerck, auß was
Ursach aber ist mir nit kundt das
Entweders das von Natur Geil?
Ist brunstsüchtig und der lieb feil?
Oder dieweil die Römischen Bräut
Sich zieren thun in diese Heut?
Ein Mossauwisch Wißlin zu handt
Gmeinlich jetzt wirt ein Zobel gnannt
Seins Edlen Gruchs auch wirt grümbt frey
Der Bisam auß der Barbarey.


1.  The white mouse was a proverbial example of the effeminate and the promiscuous. See the Suda s.v. mus, and Apostolius, Proverbs, 11,87, who also reports its sexual proclivities.

2.  zibellum, ‘civet cat’, one source of musk, an ingredient in many perfumes. Sarmatia was the region north of the Black Sea.

3.  murem...muscus, ‘mouse...musk’. The words ‘mouse’ and ‘musk’ (late Latin muscus) are connected, from the mouse-shaped sac of the male animals which produce musk. Some plants have a musky smell. Muscus also means ‘moss’ - Arabia was famous for plants which produced aromatic gums (e.g. incense and nard).

4.  The German in certain parts of this emblem is particularly puzzling.

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