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Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [B4v p24]


Audito multa, loquitor pauca.

Hear much, say little.

Aure concipit, parit
Mustela foetum postea in lucem ore.
Aure dicta concipe,
Diu at recocta parcis prome ore.

The weasel conceives her young in her ear, and afterwards brings it to the light of day through her mouth. Conceive your words through your ear, But remould and produce them at length through your mouth only sparingly.

Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [F8r p95]

Metrum est Archilochium acatalecticum, comita-
tum Iambico Hipponactio [=Hipponacteo] , cuiusmodi est illud

Non ebur, neque aureum
Mea renidet in domo lacunar.[1]

Mustelam (inquit Plutarchus libro
de Iside & Osiri[2]) plerique arbitrantur & affirmant
per aurem initum pati atque concipere, sed ore
partum edere, natalium sermonis quadam simi-
litudine. Anaxagoras, aliique nonnulli phisici
prodiderunt Mustelam pariter & Ibin ore pa-
rere; teste Aristotele libro de generatione ani-
malium tertio, cap. 6. quorum sententiam illc con-
vellit. Aristeas ut istud ipsum confirmat; ita pau
lulum detorquet symboli explicationem. sic enim
sonant eius verba. Mustela auribus concipit, quod
ore parturit: itaque eius esu interdictum est Le-
vitici ii. Iudaeis; ut hoc symbolo insinuaretur, perni-
ciosissimum esse homini morem, qud, quae auribus
acceperit, eadem verbis exaggerans maioribus
malis involvat. Hugo Cardinalis in superiorem Levi-
tici locum evariat nonnihil praedicta opinione;
siquidem mustelam marem ore generare, femi-
nam aure concipere annotat: qum fideliter, ipse
viderit. Orus etiam mustelum piscem huic cogno-
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [F8v p96]minem ore parere scribit: similiter & Zezes.
Huc allusum videtur Lycophrone in Alexan-
tenebrosissimo pomate,[3] cm Medusam Gor
gonem appellat δειρόπαιδα γαλῆν, id est, Muste-
lam iuguliparam, velut collopuerperam, pro-
pter fabulam, quae fingit Chrysaorem & Pegasum
cervice eius exstitisse, truncato illius capite.
Ad symbolum faciunt Epicteti verba admonen-
tis natura mortalibus unicam datam esse lin-
guam, aures geminas; ut loquendis audita duplo
sint plura. Demonactis apud Lucianum docu-
mentum est auribus saepius qum lingua uten-
dum. Epaminondas[4] Pindaro laudatur hoc no-
mine, quod haud facil alter inveniretur, qui plu-
ra sciret ac pauciora loqueretur. Picturae ratio per
se evidens est.

The metre is an Archilochian acatalectic, accompanying a Hipponactian iambic, in the manner of the lines of Horace: “Not of shining ivory, nor of gold, is the ceiling in my house.”
The weasel (says Plutarch in On Isis and Osiris), many people believe and assert, is subject to penetration, and conceives, through her ear, but brings forth its young through her mouth: and this has some similarity to how the things we say are born. Anaxagoras and several other natural historians related that that the Weasel, just like the Ibis, gave birth through its mouth (this is according to Aristotle - On the Reproduction of Animals, book three, ch. 6 - where he pulls their story to pieces). Aristeas asseverates the same thing, just as he twists the meaning of the emblem a very little. For this is how his version goes: The weasel conceives through her ears, that which she will give birth to through her mouth. Consequently its consumption was forbidden to the Jews in Leviticus 11. As is implied in this emblem, it is a most pernicious habit in a man, to whip up whatever he picks up through his ears, into something bigger and worse by his exaggerated speech. Hugo Cardinalis, commenting on an earlier part of Leviticus, differs somewhat from the aforesaid opinions, saying that the male weasel procreates through his mouth, and the female conceives through her ear - how faithfully, he himself has seen. Horapollo writes that the mustelus, a similarly-named fish, [p.96] also gives birth through its mouth; so too does Tzetzes. This seems to be what is referred to by Lycophron in his very obscure poem on Alexander, when he calls the Gorgon Medusa deiropaida galn, that is, ‘throat-conceiving (or throat-childbearing) Weasel’, on account of the story which has Chrysaores and Pegasus coming into existence from out of her throat, when her head had been cut off. It is to this emblem that the words of the Stoic Epictetus refer when he warns that mortals are given but a single tongue by nature, and two ears: so that one should hear twice as many things as one speaks. It was a doctrine of Demonax (recorded by Lucian) that one should use one’s ears more often than one’s tongue. Epaminondas is praised by Pindar with this name, which otherwise would not easily have been thought of, since he knew much and spoke little. The meaning of the picture is self-evident.


1. Horace, Odes, 2.18.1-2. The Hipponactean is an iambic line, named after the satirist Hipponax of Ephesus.

2. De Iside et Osiride, 74.381A.

3. Isaac Tzetzes, 12th-century Greek grammarian. Lycophron, the Alexandrian poet, was (and is) particularly known for the obscurity of his style.

4. The Spartan general; see Emblem III ([FJUb003]).

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