Switch to Dual Emblem Display

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [B7v p30]


Virginem pudicitiae, matronam
domus satagere.

That the maiden is busy with modesty, the matron with her household.

Cernuus armisonae praebet Draco colla Minervae:[1]
Domiportam at exterit Venus testudinem.
Virgo sui satagit decoris bene provida: at uxor
Frugi silet, nec limen excedit domus.

The Dragon offers its neck in submission to Minerva of the clanging armour: Venus, on the other hand, is crushing the house-carrying turtle. The prudent maid occupies herself in behaving with seemliness; but the wife who is virtuous keeps quiet, and does not stray beyond the threshold of her home.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G6r p107]

Carmen est hexametrum cum trimetro senarióve

Proditum est ą Plutarcho libro de Isi-
de, Phidiam clarissimi nominis statuarium, fin-
xisse Palladis simulacrum, pedibus prementis
Draconem; & alterum Veneris apud Elaeos, pede
calcantis testudinem: argumento in illa custodiae
sui, quae virginem deceat; in hac silentii curaeque
rei domesticae, quae matronam deceant. Draco au
tem appositae Palladis (quam perpetuae virginitatis
honore insigniverunt poėtae) pedibus substernitur,
ut sedulam pudicitiae, cui mille tenduntur insi-
diae, curam virgini incumbere significetur; siquidem
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G6v p108]acerrima oculorum acie praestare Draco perhi-
betur: quo nomine thesauris omnibus custodien-
dis (inter quos aureo velleri, hortisque Hesperi-
) eius operam assignavit antiquitas. Pingi-
tur autem Minerva virginis specie, oculis acri-
bus & glaucis, hastam dextra, clypeum laeva te-
nens: cuius umbo Gorgonis anguicomae caput
praefert, veste ad talos usque demissa, galea ca-
put muniente, subiecto pedibus Dracone, cuius
caput hastam attingat, ita enim ferč ą Pausania
in Atticis, & ą Cornuto[2] depingitur. Venus nuda
pingatur, serto myrteo redimita intercurrentibus
rosis, Caesto, hoc est, baltheo vario & pulcerrimo
infra pectus ambiente, dextra tenens tria mala
aurea, laeva columbam, pedibus testudinem cal-
cans. Symbolicč nuditate simplicitatem & aper-
tum pectus uxoris demonstrari existimo: per co-
lumbam, puritatem & blanditias: per aurea ma-
la, casti amoris illicium: per caestum, coniunctio-
nem devinctionemque animorum: per testudi-
nem, & silentium et anxiam rei familiaris curam,
quippe cłm sommo silentio ingrediatur testudo,
domumque suam semper secum circumfert, unde
domiportam dixi, ex Cicerone libro de divina-
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [G7r p109]tione secundo, ubi veteris poėtae versam comme-
morat, aenigmaticč testudinem circumscribentis,
Terrigenam, herbigradam, domiportam, sangui-
ne cassam.[3]

The verse-form is a hexameter followed by an Iambic trimeter or senarius.
Plutarch writes in his book On Isis that Phidias, the most renowned sculptor, made a statue of Minerva crushing a Dragon beneath her feet, and another at Elis of Venus treading down a tortoise with her foot: the meaning of the former being self-control, which is fitting for a maiden, and of the latter, quietude and a care for domestic affairs, as befits a married woman. The Dragon is trodden in submission under the feet of Minerva (whom the poets honoured as the personification of perpetual virginity), to signify that it behoves a maiden to be unceasingly careful to be chaste and modest, when a thousand traps are set to ensnare her. [p.108] The Dragon, indeed, is said to be especially notable for the fiercest keenness of its sight; and on account of this reputation the ancients assigned it the task of watching over all kinds of treasure-hoards (including the golden fleece and the gardens of the Hesperides). Minerva, meanwhile, should be portrayed as a virgin in appearance, with keen, grey eyes, holding a spear in her right hand and a shield in her left, the boss of which bears the snake-haired Gorgon’s head; her drapery goes right down to her ankles; a helmet protects her head; and beneath her feet the Dragon lies in submission, to whose head she holds her spear, pretty much as is depicted by Pausanias in his Description of Attica and by Cornutus. Venus should be portrayed naked, garlanded with a myrtle wreath interwoven with roses, a Girdle, that is to say, a decorated and very pretty belt, tied round her below the chest; in her right hand she should hold three golden apples, in her left a dove and she should tread a tortoise beneath her feet. I think that by her nakedness the simplicity and open-hearted nature of a wife is symbolically depicted; by the dove, purity and the blandishments of love; by the golden apples, the bond of chaste love; by the girdle, the union and binding together of two souls; by the tortoise, both quietude and the careful concern for domestic matters, since the tortoise moves as quietly as may be, and always carries its home with it, as a result of which I have called it ‘house-carrying’, from Cicero’s On Divination, book two, where he records a line of an old poet, who riddlingly wrote of the tortoise: ‘Earth-born, grass-going, house-carrying, without blood.’


1.  Minerva here represents virginity.

2.  For Cornutus, see emblem XI ([FJUb011]), n.3.

3.  Cicero, De Divinatione ad M. Brutum, 2.64.133. In fact this seems to refer to the snail.

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