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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B3v p22]


Cuncta complecti velle, stultum.

To want to be master of every subject is folly.

Ventosas pueri bullas per inane volantes
Prendere dum satagunt, opera exit inanis.
Qui varia attrectat studia, aut venatur honores
Ambiguos, pueris mihi stultior ille est.

While the boys are busy chasing airy bubbles through the air, their efforts are spent in vain. He who appropriates a multitude of subjects for himself, or chases after doubtful* honours, in my opinion is more foolish than those boys.
* With the suggestion of going in two directions at once, rather than of dubious repute.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [F7r p93]

Metrum hexametrum, cui subiungitur dactylicum
Stesichorium, ą Stesichoro, cui familiare fuit, no-
men sortitum, constans pentimerro [=pentimetro] acatalectico,
quale est illud ą Mario Honorato[1] recensitum:

Marsya cede Deo, tua carmina flebis.

Pingatur puerorum grex geminus, quo-
rum altera pars bullas sive pompholygas č con-
chylio (in quo smegma, quem saponem dicimus,
cum momento aquae commistum sit) in aėra dif-
flet: altera easdem iridis in modum discolores &
purpurascentes sectetur atque comprehendere stu-
deat, sub quorum pedibus non malč subscribi possit
diverbium illud Italis in ore frequens, et tu-
to abbraccio, et nulla strin
.[2] Nemo nescit bulla nihil esse vanius aut ina-
nius, comparata illi iam olim caducae mortalitatis
umbra. Itaque quadrabit aptissimč in eos qui diver
sis artibus scientiisve animum adiiciunt simul,
varia in studia distracti: aut qui pluribus mu-
niis honoribusque simul inhiant: aut quacunque
tandem in re insatiabili animo nusquam satisfa-
cientes huc illuc nutant. hi namque parum profi-
ciunt, suaque spe elusi saepenumero discedunt.

The metre is a hexameter, to which is joined a Stesichorian dactylic, which gets its name from Stesichorus, to whom it was a familiar form; it consists of an acatalectic pentameter, like the line quoted by Marius Honoratus: “Marsyas, give in to the God: you will rue your songs.”
A band of little boys - sets of twins - should be portrayed, in which the one half are blowing bubbles or pompholygas from sea-shells (in which detergent, which we call soap, has been mixed with a drop of water) into the air. The other half are chasing them as they change colour like a rainbow and go purplish, and try to grasp them. Under their feet it would be rather good to have an inscription with that saying,* which is often on the lips of the Italians: “ET TUTTO ABBRACCIO, ET NULLA STRINGO”. As everyone knows, nothing is more empty or futile than a bubble, and for a long time now it has been likened to the shadow of passing mortality. And so it fits particularly well as an emblem for those who set their heart on different arts or sciences simultaneously, and are torn between different disciplines; or those who strive to fulfil many duties and to achieve many honours at the same time; or finally those who stagger indecisively to and fro after one thing or another, their voracious spirit never satisfied. For truly such people make too little headway, and deceived by their hopes, again and again they give up.
*The literal translation of diverbium is [a line of] comic dialogue.


1.  Marius Servius Honoratus, as in emblem VI ([FJUb006]).

2.  ‘I try to embrace everything and get hold of nothing’, after a line of Petrarch, Canzoniere, 134 (‘Pace non trovo’), line 4 (‘e nulla stringo, e tutto ’l mondo abbraccio’).

Iconclass Keywords

Relating to the image:

Relating to the text:

  • (personifications of) 'Vanitas', the vanity of human life; Fragilitą humana, Fugacitą delle grandezze & della gloria mondana, Meditatione della morte, Opera vana, Piacere vano, Vana gloria, Vanitą (Ripa) [11R5] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Folly, Foolishness; 'Pazzia', 'Sciocchezza', 'Stoltitia' (Ripa) [52AA51] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Self-indulgence [53BB3] Search | Browse Iconclass
  • Totality, the Whole (+ emblematical representation of concept) [51H1(+4):53A1(+4)] Search | Browse Iconclass

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