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Exercitus fusos sequuntur vultures,[1]
Corvi loquaces, garrulae Corniculae,
Escam iacentum odorantes cadaverum,
Ac morsibus convellicant suis viros
Virtutibus fortissimos,[2] sed mortuos.
Vivis quibus nihil nocere fas erat.
Ac splendidos primům petunt hominum oculos,
Tales aves inauspicatae, denotant
Clandestinos hostes, hiantes funeri.
Qui quos timebant: cům forent superstites:
His mortuis calumniosč detrahunt.
Conviciis, iniuriisque maledicis.
Tollunt & in primis honorum lumina.[3]

Vultures, noisy ravens, and gibbering rooks all follow beaten armies, for they smell the lure of bodies prone, and tear to shreds those who in their courage were very brave, but who are dead, men they could not harm in life. They seek out first their shining eyes to eat. These accursed birds of ill omen signify our hidden enemies, who gape after our ruin, who, when they have survived the ones they fear, traduce them brutally once they are dead with lying words: they criticize, and heckle, and curse their memory, stealing first and foremost the splendour of their honour.


1.  Comic iambic trimeters.

2.  Note the etymological pun on vir and virtus, glossed finally by fortis.

3.  A play on the double meaning of lumen, which can mean both ‘light’ and ‘eye’.

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  • Calumny, Detraction; 'Biasimo vitioso', 'Calunnia', 'Detrattione', 'Maledicenza' (Ripa) [57BB25] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Courage, Bravery, Valiance, Manliness; 'Ardire magnanimo et generoso', 'Gagliardezza', 'Valore', 'Virtů heroica', 'Virtů dell'animo e del corpo' (Ripa) [54A8] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Fear, Dread; 'Paura', 'Timiditŕ o Timore', 'Timore' (Ripa) [56DD1] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Honour, Glory; 'Ampiezza della Gloria', 'Gloria', 'Gloria de prencipi', 'Gloria & Honore', 'Honore', 'Sublimatŕ della Gloria' (Ripa) [59B31] Search | Browse Iconclass

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