Switch to Dual Emblem Display

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [C4r p39]


Boni adulterium.

The adulteration of what is good.

Ad Ioannem Zurenum Harlem.[1]

Funesto Arachnen flos idem succo replet,
Apique mella sufficit liquentia.
Concordiae litisque idem dictum est parens:
Scriptura pravis sica, fit scutum bonis.[2]

The same flower fills the Spider with her poisonous juice, As provides liquid honey for the Bee. The same phrase gives rise to unity and discord: Scripture that is a dagger in the hands of the wicked becomes a shield to defend the good.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [H5r p121]

Iambicum trimetrum Archilochium monocolon, Ho-
illi simile:

Iam iam efficaci do manus scientiae.[3]
Verissime dictum est ab Ovidio poëta:
Naturae sequitur semina quisque suae:
nimirum ita fermè comparatum videmus, ut ni-
hil tam commodè fiat aut dicatur, quod non de-
torqueat, depravet, ac sinistrè interpretetur ca-
lumnia. Proptereà scitè & festivè dictum est à
Theodoro Atheniensi, cùm illi fuisset obiectum,
quòd multos sua doctrina deteriores redderet, a-
liorum id vitio accidere, qui sinistra ipsius doctri-
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [H5v p122]nam acciperent, quam ipse dextra porrigeret.
Neque malè sonat vulgatum proverbium: Volu-
cres pro suo quamque rostri modulo cantillare:
cùm velit innuere improbos non posse non impro-
bè loqui, bonos verò benè. Nempe rosa utilem mel
lificio materiam api suggerit, araneae venenum:
Quam [=quam] saepe fit ut dictum innoxium, ac sine fuco
expressum, huis risus & leporis seminarium sit;
illi Vatiniani[4] odii fomes & incentivum. Scriptu-
ra sacra
, inquit Nazianzenus, in prima Steliteu
tice: probis est virtutis armamentum; at scelera-
tis nequitiae stimulus.

An Archilochian iambic trimeter monocolon, like that line of Horace’s: “Now, now do I turn my hand to the powerful skill [of magic]”.
It is most true, what the poet Ovid said: “Each man follows the seeds of his own nature.” Certainly we see that the natural order of things is pretty much that there is nothing that can be, or be said, that is so good that some slander cannot twist, degrade, and perversely misrepresent it. So it was shrewd and witty of Theodorus the Athenian, to say, when the complaint was made that he made many men worse by his teaching, that this was a result of other peoples’ wickedness, since they accepted his teaching with their left hand, [p.122] when he offered it with his right. Nor does the common proverb sound a wrong note, that says ‘Each bird sings according to the melody that its beak makes’, since its meaning is that the wicked can only speak wickedly, and the good truly speak good. The rose assuredly provides a useful substance for the honey-bee, but poison for the spider. How often does it happen that a harmless statement, and one expressed ingenuously, should be a seed-bed of laughter and humour for the honey-bees of the world: but to the spider it is a tinderbox and enticement to Vatinian enmity. Holy Scripture, says St. Gregory of Nazianzus, in the first Steliteutice, is an armour of virtue for the righteous, but a spur to wickedness for the impious.


1.  Jan van Zuren, printer in Haarlem, in Holland (d. 1591).

2.  On this topic, cf. emblem XXXI ([FJUb031]).

3.  Epodes 17.1.

4.  P. Vatinius, a tribune in the last days of the Republic, was a man whom Cicero vehemently denounced (Oratio in Vatinium); his name became a byword for disrepute. Cf. Catullus 14.3 ‘Vatinianum odium’. Strictly speaking, the opposition of ‘huis’ and ‘illi’ would normally suggest the opposite, i.e. that in the bees it inspires enmity and in the spiders, merriment, but this is surely contrary to the meaning of the passage.

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