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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B2r p19]


Prudentia cum robore coniuncta.

Prudence joined to strength.

Ad clarissimum virum Philippum Cobe-
Regium Consiliarium.[1]

Viribus Cyllenius integris stat
Iunctus cum senio gravi.
Robur invictum est, sapientia si
Firmes: qua sine, concidet.

Mercury stands in the flower of his youth joined to troublesome old age. Strength is invincible, if you secure it with wisdom: without it, it will collapse.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [F4v P88]

Carmen est Sapphicum praepositum Glyconio, quale
illud Boëtii:

Cùm polo Phoebus roseis quadrigis
Lucem spargere coeperit.
Synesius libro de Regno administrando
ad Arcadium, vel, uti Nicephorus vult, ad Theo
iuniorem scripto,[2] negans in viribus solis
positam esse felicatem [=felicitatem] principis, eam praedicat esse
absolutam omnibus numeris vitam, quae poten-
tiam prudentiae consociat: quae res coniunctae ro-
bur inexpugnabile conciliant; disiunctae verò inva
lidum & inutile: quando videlicet aut robur pru-
dentia sit destitum, aut prudentia viribus defe-
cta. Quapropter, inquit, sapientes Aegyptios in
hoc sum admiratus frequenter, qui geminum Mer
simulachrum simul constituunt; alterum iu-
venta florentis, alterum maturo senio venerandi:
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [F5r p89]volentes innuere, eum, qui rectè Rempublicam aut re-
gnum sit administraturus, coniunctam cum pru-
dentia fortitudinem habere debere, quasi alteru-
trum inutile sit absque alterius ope. Neque alia
de caussa Sphinx apud illos pro templorum foribus
posita visitur, & quae sequuntur infra XLII emble-
mata recitata. Huc spectat Horatius illud: l.3 Ode 4.[3]
Vis consilii expers mole ruit sua.
Vim temperatam Dii quoque provehunt
In maius: iidem odere vires
Omne nefas animo moventes.
Eandem sententiam comprobat Isocrates ad De-
scribens. Robur cum prudentia coniun
ctum prodest, qua sine, plus habenti incommo-
dat. Quod ipsum & Milonis Crotoniatae exitus
abundè docuit.[4]

The verse form is a Sapphic set next to a Glyconic, as in the lines of Boethius: “When Phoebus began to spread light across the sky from his rosy chariot.”
Synesius, in his book on administrating the Empire written for Arcadius or (as Nicephorus prefers) for Theodosius the younger, denying that success for princes is based on might alone, maintains that for men of all ranks, the complete life is the one in which physical strength is married with wisdom. When these two are joined together, they produce unbeatable muscle; but when they are not, that muscle is weak and useless: that is, either when strength is devoid of wisdom, or wisdom lacking in strength. As a result, he says, I have rather often admired the wisdom of the Egyptians in this matter, who set up a double statue of Mercury: the one of the god flourishing in youth, the other of him venerable in mature old age. [p.89] By this they meant to signify that the man who would skilfully govern a state or kingdom, should possess might admixed with prudence, as if the one would be useless without the assistance of the other. And for the same reason a Sphinx is seen placed beside them in front of the doors of the temple, and what follows [i.e. in Synesius] is given below (Emblem XLII, [FJUb042]). It is this that Horace refers to in that ode (book 3, Ode 4):
Strength devoid of judgment collapses under its own weight.
Strength that is under control the gods make yet higher
And greater; the same [gods] hate strength
That plots all manner of evil in its heart.
Isocrates assents to the same sentiment in his letter to Demonicus: strength joined with wisdom is of benefit, but without it, it is more trouble to the one who has it [than it’s worth]; which the death of Milo of Croton also taught him, emphatically.


1.  Philipp Cobelius, royal counsellor in the Netherlands, has not been further identified. He is likely to be a relative of Arnold Cobelius, treasurer of the County of Holland, to whom this book is dedicated.

2.  Arcadius and Theodosius II were Eastern Roman emperors of the late fourth and fifth centuries. Synesius was Bishop of Ptolemais and advisor to these emperors.

3.  Horace, Odes, 3.4.65-9.

4.  The celebrated athlete. See Boissard, 1593, emblem XXIII ([FBOb023]).

Iconclass Keywords

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Relating to the text:

  • historical person (with NAME) other representations to which the NAME of a historical person may be attached (with NAME of person) [61B2(COBEL, Filips)3] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Prudence, 'Prudentia'; 'Prudenza' (Ripa) ~ one of the Four Cardinal Virtues [11M41] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Strength, Power; 'Fortezza', 'Fortezza d'Animo e di corpo', 'Fortezza del corpo congiunta con la generosità dell'animo', 'Fortezza & valore del corpo congiunto con la prudenza & virtù del animo', 'Forza' (Ripa) [54A7] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Wisdom; 'Sapienza', 'Sapienza humana', 'Sapienza vera' (Ripa) [52A51] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • youth, adolescent [31D12] Search | Browse Iconclass

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