Switch to Dual Emblem Display

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B6v p28]


Adulator saluti reipublicae gravis.

The flatterer is damaging to the health of the commonwealth.

Ut Leo, quem caeci vis lancinat effera morbi,
Sentit opem, si Simium edat, citam:
Palponem & dirum sycophantam qui eiicit aula,
Rex viru regnum vacuat gravi.

As the Lion, whom the savage strength of blind sickness is weakening, Feels his vigour swiftly renewed, if he eats the Monkey: So a king who casts from his hall the toady and the dreadful sycophant rids his kingdom of a grave sickness.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G3r p101]

Carmen est Heroicum cum dactylico Alemanio[1] [=Alcmanio] te-
trametro acatalectico, cuiusmodi est illud Boėtii:

Tunc me discussa liquerunt nocte tenebrae
Luminibusque prior rediit vigor.
Orus Apollo qui Hieroglyphica scripsit,
refert Leonem, ubi febricitarit (familiaris autem
huic ferae morbus febris est, praesertim quartana,
si Phileti,[2] qui de animantibus graecč scripsit car-
mine, credendum est) simia solere vesci, saluber-
rimae escae loco. Non repugnat Plinius, nisi quod
morbi vim elevans, aegritudinem fastidii tantłm
sentire dicit, in qua medetur sibi, gustato simia-
rum sanguine, quae lascivia immodica in rabiem
eum agunt. Confirmaet [=Confirmat] idem & Philostratus lib.
de vita Apollonii tertio: Leones medicinae gratia
simiis insidiari scribens. Quin & Aelianus om-
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G3v p102]nigenae historiae lib. 1. cap. 9 aegrotanti leoni cete-
ra remedia inutilia scribit, praeter simiam, cuius
esu pristinam valetudinem recuperet. Idem in li-
bro de animalibus lib. 5. cap. 39. medelae ratio-
nem & morbi discrimen distinctius his ferč verbis
aperit, Leo, inquit, supra modum ingurgitato ci-
bo, remedium quaerit, aut ą quiete abstinentiaque
aut simiam nactus devorat: quo cibo alvi prolu-
vium excitatur, molestaque saburra exoneratur.
Simiis aptissimč comparari possunt impostores,
assentatores, & parasiti, qui ad gratiam loquun-
tur, & principum auribus insidias faciunt: siqui-
dem δημοπιθήκους velut populares Simias vocat
Aristophanes eos qui plebi assentantur & obse-
cundant, quando & πιθηκίζειν, quod Simiari no-
tat, pro fallere, graeca lingua usurpat: est enim
animal istud ad imitandum omnia dextrum,
& habile. Tales autem pestes si quis aula extur-
baret princeps, nae ille verč Augiae stabulum re-
purgaret, & cum Hercule ac Constantino mon
strorum domitor dici posset: hoc enim Aurelius Victor[3] Constantino tribuit, qui aulicas illas perni
cies, tineas soricesque palatii appellare solebat, ut
Anaxilaus[4] opum vermes: quibus confectis &
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G4r p103]expulsis, ad incolumitatem rerum & sanitatem
cuncta redire posse, non iniqua spes est.

The verse-form is a hexameter followed by an Alcmanian dactylic tetrameter acatalectic, of the sort exemplified by the lines of Boethius: “Then the shadows of the waning night left me, and my previous strength came back with the light”
Horapollo, the author of the Hieroglyphica, says that when the Lion falls ill with a fever (and this feverish sickness is a familiar one to that beast, even occurring every fourth day, if Philes, who wrote a poem on animals in Greek, is to be believed) his custom is to feed off a monkey, for a source of most health-giving food. Pliny does not contradict this, except to say that as the Lion fights off the fever, he feels a nauseous distaste for food, of which he cures himself by tasting the blood of monkeys, which drive him into a rage because of their excessive lewd behaviour. Philostratus too, in bk. 3 of the Life of Apollonius, confirms the same thing, writing that Lions lie in ambush for monkeys on account of their medicinal properties. Indeed, Aelian, in bk. 1, ch. 9 of his [p.102] universal natural history, also writes that other remedies are of no use to a sick lion, but only the monkey, by eating which the lion will recover its full strength. The same writer bk. 5, ch. 39 of his books On the Animals gives an account of the cure and a rather different analysis of the sickness in [more or less] these words: a Lion, he says, that has overeaten, looks for a remedy, either curing itself by peace and quiet and a period of abstinence, or, having caught a monkey, by eating it; and this food causes an overflowing of the belly, whereby the painful load is discharged.* The monkeys can be very aptly compared to the impostors, yes-men and parasites, who speak flatteries and craftily ensnare the ears of princes: indeed Aristophanes calls demopithekoi [or ‘mob-monkeys’] those people who speak flatteries to and sweet-talk the crowd, since the Greek language uses the word pithekizein [i.e. ‘simiari’: to play the monkey], to mean ‘to deceive’. For that beast is expertly skilled at imitating everything. But if some prince should drive out these pests from his court, by golly he has mucked out an Augean stable, and deserves to be called a tamer of monsters, along with Hercules and Constantine: for this is what Aurelius Victor called Constantine, who was in the habit of referring to those damnable courtiers as palace moths [or woodworms] and shrews, as Anaxilaus called them the worms of wealth. When they have been dealt with and [p.103] driven out, it is not unreasonable to hope that it might be possible to have everything safe and sound, and sane, once more.
* Saburra: strictly speaking, a load of sand, for ballast in a ship; the related word saburratus was occasionally used comically to mean ‘stuffed’.


1.  Reading Alcmanio for Alemanio. For Alcman and Alcmanian verse, see emblems XII ([FJUb012]) and XIX ([FJUb019]).

2.  The identity of the poet Philes is uncertain, possibly the 13th-century Byzantine poet.

3.  The fourth-century (and mightily unreliable) imperial historian.

4.  Anaxilaus of Larissa, physician and Pythagorean philosopher, 1st century BC, banished from Rome for practicing magic.

Iconclass Keywords

Relating to the image:

Relating to the text:

Hint: You can turn translations and name underlining on or off using the preferences page.


Back to top