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Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [B6r p27]


Eruditionis decor concordia, merces gloria.

The charm of learning is harmony, its reward is glory.

Ad doctissimum Ioannem Sambucum

Cor pedibus iunctis, rostris concordibus aurum
Naupliadae prendunt, munera sancta, grues.
Gloria debetur studiis, atque assecla merces,
Concordesque animos candor ubique decet.[2]

The cranes take hold of Palamedes’ heart with joined feet, and his gold with united bills: they are holy gifts. Glory is due to studies, and its attendant reward, And openness is becoming to those whose spirits are in harmony, the world over.

Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [G2r p99]

Insignium usus pervetustus est, quando
Anubin & Macedona,[3] Osiridis filios armorum
insignibus usos fuisse iam tum memoriae prodidit
Diodorus, canis exuvio alterum, lupi rostro alte-
rum, tanquam animalibus ab ipsorum natura non
alienis. sic Tydeus apud Aeschylum in clypeo de-
pictum praefert caelum stellatum, cum luna me-
dium umbonem occupante: Hippomedon Typho-nem[4] fumos ore efflantem: Parthenopaeus Sphingem:
Perseus Gorgonis colubriferum caput; Veneris ge
netricis Iulius,[5] alii Pegasos, Minotauros, Har-
, Leones, Ursos, Aquilas, Angues, Fuscinas,
alius aliud. At gentis tuae istud insigne aut sym-
bolum, Sambuce doctissime, non otiosum ac iners
aut inglorium existimo, in quo visuntur binae grues
(non sine caussa Palamedis, unius inter omnes
Graecos sollertissimi artium insignium inventoris,
aves nuncupatae) hinc pedibus saxum, firmitatis
argumento, illinc cor, fontem & retinaculum om-
nium honestarum actionum, concorditer com-
plexae, rostrisque annulum aureum, ceu debitam
sibi mercedem appetentes. Multiplex hc cogni-
tio animum simul praestringit: nam uti Grues al-
tivolae sunt, nubila volatu tranantes; ita doctissi-
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [G2v p100]mus quisque non humo assidet, sed mente caelestes
etiam sedes adit, im penetrat; neque id solm,
verumetiam gloria aeternitatis affectatrice, sidera
pulsat, & nubibus caput inserit. Eaedem etiam
vigiles, quod noctu lapidem pede sustinent, ut op-
pressas somno, laxatis nervis, strepitus cadentis
lapidis expergefaciat, diligentiae summae indicium
faciunt. Quam istarum avium sollertiam in exem
plum rapuisse mihi videtur Alexander Macedo,
non abs re Magni nomen adeptus, qui globum
argenteum brachio capiti subdito tantisper con-
tinebat (quoties lucubrandum illi erat) dum re-
misso nervorum tenore delapsus, tinnitu pelvis
subiectae, somnum illi abrupisset.[6] Annulus ver
(quem Promethei inventum perperam, ut quo
ipse Caucaso alligatus fuerit, alii Lacedaemoniis
fals attribuunt, qud ferreus illis in usu fuisse
legatur) in se recurrens & ἀπείρων, immortalita-
tis nunquam ullo saeculorum spatio finiendae index
esse meo quidem iudicio videtur. Qud si hario-
lari in re mihi obscura licebit, crediderim duorum
coniunctissimorum fratrum operam praeclaram
Principi aliquando suo navatam, maxima con-
stantia parique concordia, ista genti tuae peperisse
Link to an image of this page Link to an image of this page [G3r p101]insignia, laudabiliore ratione, qum cicatricum
insignia Salustianus ille commendarit, ut, quibus
gloriae infinitas, annuli opes, adamantis argumen-
to Principis liberalitate honestamentum ac de-
cus accesserint. Effigiationem quid attineat prae-
scribere, cm per se ipsa superioribus abunde

The use of insignia is extremely old, seeing as Diodorus records that Anubis and Macedo, the sons of Osiris made use of devices on their armour as long ago as that: the one using the hide of a dog, the other the muzzle of a wolf, those being animals that were similar in nature to them. In the same way in Aeschylus, Tydeus carries a shield decorated with a starry sky, with the boss in the middle representing the moon; Hippomedon had Typhon, breathing fire from his mouth; Parthenopaeus had the Sphinx; Perseus the head of the snake-ridden Gorgon; Julius had his ancestress Venus; others had Pegasuses, Minotaurs, Harpies, Lions, Bears, Eagles, Snakes, Tridents, and so on. But I think, most learned Sambucus, that your family’s device or badge is neither useless, meaningless nor dishonourable: in it you see two cranes (not without reason called the birds of Palamedes, one of the most cunning artificers of insignia among all the Greeks), which join in clasping in their feet, in one place a rock, as a symbol of steadfastness, in another a heart, the source and (as it were) reservoir of all honourable actions; while in their beaks they clasp a gold ring, as if eager for the rewards that are due to them. In this a multitude of meanings are bound up. For just as Cranes are high-fliers, passing through the clouds in their flight, so [p.100] any really learned man is not earthbound, but in his mind he soars to the mansions of the heavens, yes, and sets foot inside. Nor that alone, for he touches the stars with glory that strives for immortality, and lifts his head to the clouds. The cranes are also wakeful, because they hold a stone in one foot by night, so that the noise of the falling stone will wake them when they are overcome by sleep and their sinews are relaxed: thus they are a symbol for the utmost diligence. Alexander the Macedonian (not for nothing aptly known as the Great) seems to me to have followed the example of these birds’ cunning trick; he would hold a silver ball with his head propped on his arm (whenever he had to stay up at night to work); then, whenever the tension of his sinews relaxed, it dropped, and woke him from sleep with the noise of it striking a bowl placed beneath. The ring, meanwhile (which is falsely said to have been an invention of Prometheus, as he was himself tied to one in the Caucasus; others wrongly attribute its invention to the Spartans, because one reads that an iron ring was used by them), runs endlessly into itself, seems in my judgment to be a symbol of immortality that is never-ending through all ages. If I were allowed to make a guess concerning an obscure matter, I would hazard that the famous deed of two most loving brothers, that was accomplished for their Prince, with the greatest diligence and just as great a unity of purpose, gave rise to that device for your family, [p.101] a cause more praiseworthy than the badge of battle-scars that is extolled in that famous passage of Sallust, with the result that endless glory, and wealth symbolised by the ring with a representation of a diamond, was bestowed upon them as an honour and an ornament by the generosity of the Prince. As far as concerns the representation [of this emblem], [it is not necessary] to spell it out, since it is abundantly self-evident from the foregoing.


1. Sambucus (Jnos Zsmboky), the Hungarian emblematicist. See his Emblemata (1564) and Les Emblmes (1567) on this site. This woodcut of his family coat-of-arms is actually the same as the one used in Sambucus’ own work: [FSAa143], [FSAb145].

2. Palamedes, son of Nauplius, was said to have invented certain letters of the alphabet by watching cranes in flight.

3. Anubis is well-known as the son of the Egyptian god of the dead, Osiris, but Macedo has been less easy to track down: Horus is the other son of Osiris, but was not a wolf (as inidicated in this text), he did have an epithet ‘Mekhenty’ (no-eyes). One source on the history of pantomime identifies Macedo as one of the usual followers of Osiris.

4. Also known as Typhoeus, he was a giant who was buried under Mount Etna. These would seem to be references to Aeschylus’ Seven against Thebes.

5. Julius Caesar presumably. The Julius family claimed descent from Iulus, the son of Aeneas, whose mother was Venus.

6. Cf. emblem V ([FJUb012]).

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