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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [C8r p47]


Linguam compescito.

Hold your tongue.

Pigram quid alvum comprimis cava manu,
Quid uda labra, quid salax inguen Scytha?[1]
Abdominis studium, & gravem luxum fuge,
Linguamque frena prodigam vel maximè.

Why are you holding your sluggish belly in your cupped hand, Why your wet lips, Scythian, why your lustful genitals? Fight shy of a fondness for gratifying the senses and troublesome self-indulgence, And above all put a check on your babbling tongue.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [I1v p130]

Senarii sunt Iambici acatalectici.
Clemens Alexander li. 5. stromatum,[2] refert ex
Pherecydis Syrii auctoritate Anacharsim Scytham
pingi solere, laeva manu genitalia operientem, de-
xtra os compescentem, ad modum Harpocratis
Aegyptii: eoque symbolo innui, debere nos supe-
rare utrumque quidem, & libidinem nimirum
seu voluptatum seminarium, & linguae petulan-
tiam. sed hanc potissimum. Laërtius[3] ait statuis
huius philosophi additam fuisse sequentem inscri-
ptionem, Linguae, ventri, pudendis impera: quo
symbolo ostenditur garrulam & effrenem linguam
infinitorum malorum esse caussam: luxu foedius ni-
hil aut scropha dignius: & libidinis incentivum,
velut Circeum poculum ex hominibus belluas
nos facere.[4]

The trimeters are iambic acatalectic.
Clement of Alexandria, in bk 5 of the Stromata, records on the authority of Pherecydes of Syros that Anacharsis the Scythian was customarily portrayed covering his genitals with his left hand, and with a finger of his right hand on his lips, in the manner of the Egyptian Harpocrates. This emblem I take to mean that we should be in control of both: that is, both our libido, or the seed-bed of our lusts, and of the carelessness of our tongue - but most of all, the latter. Diogenes Laertius says that the following inscription was added to statues of this philosopher: ‘Govern your tongue, your belly, your genitals’. This emblem shows that a talkative and unrestrained tongue is the cause of endless evils: nothing is more shameful than excess, or behaviour that is worthier of a pig; and the temptations of our carnal appetites, like Circe’s potion, make beasts of us men.


1.  The Scythian in question is the distinguished philosopher Anacharsis, a contemporary of Solon, who apparently taught that one should keep under control one’s appetite, one’s lusts, and one’s tongue. See also La Perriere, Morosophie, no. 16 ([FLPb016]).

2.  i.e. Miscellanea.

3.  Diogenes Laertius, author of a history of philosophy, 2nd/3rd century AD.

4.  Circe turned Ulysses’ companions into pigs.

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