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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [D7v p62]


Animi scrinium servitus.

Servitude is a cage for the spirit.

Luscinia veris nuncia,
Mutescit inclusa caveae.
Est servitus scrinium animi,
Linguamque vinclo praepedit.

The nightingale, herald of spring, Shut up in a cage, grows silent. Servitude is a cage for the spirit, And shackles the tongue with a chain.

Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [K1v p146]

Citavimus in Adagiorum nostrorum
octava Centuria, proverbium à Dionysio Longi-
rhetore usurpatum, ψυχῆς γλωττόκομον δουλεία
Animi scrinium servitus: quòd ea sit animi reti-
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [K2r p147]naculum, neque sinat libero nos ore eloqui, & libe
raliter expromere, quae animo concepimus, addi-
cti magnatum servitio, vel saltem eorum tyran-
nide prohibiti, velut iniecto ori freno, cum liber-
tas eloquentiae nutrix sit ac parens. Nimirum ea
tyrannis ab antiquissimis temporibus inolevit à
principibus usurpata, volentibus flagitia sua vir-
tutum velaminibus tegi, perfidiam specioso fidei
fuco induci. Ea favendi vitiis consuetudo, usu sta-
bilita, atque in mores recepta, ingenia scribentium
servitute degeneri ita corrupit, ut nihil sit ab hac
parte sani, ut sacrosancta illa historiarum fides
penitus interierit, ut illaudatos Busires[1] & porten
ta caelestibus propè aequemus. Inde excogitata fuit
ingeniosa illa poena et animadversio, qua libri in-
cendio absumi iussi sunt Senatusconsulto in Impera
, ne dicam orbis pestium, gratiam; quod de
Labieni scriptis memorat Seneca, de Cremutii
Tacitus.[2] Emblema petitum est ex Philostra-
in Scopeliani[3] sophistae imagine, qui deprecatus
operam à Clazomeniis imperatam, qua domi lu-
dum aperiret, respondet, Lusciniam in cavea can
tillare. Pictura per se evidens, lusciniam caveae
inclusam, postulat, sed desidem, non volucrem.

We have referred in the eighth Century of our book of Adages to a maxim taken from Dionysius Longinus, psuchês glôttokomon douleia: ‘Servitude is a cage for the spirit’. For it is a binding of the soul, [p.147] preventing us from speaking with a free tongue and freely putting into words what we think in our heart, devoted as we are to the service of the great, or at any rate kept in check by their tyrannical behaviour of putting (as it were) a bridle in our mouth, since freedom is the nurse and mother of eloquence. To be sure that tyrannical behaviour has from time immemorial come to be employed by princes, wanting to hide their crimes behind a veil of virtue, or to dress up their duplicity with a cosmetic semblance of good faith. That habit of indulging great men’s vices, confirmed by long custom and considered ethically acceptable, has corrupted the minds of writers with degenerate slavery to such an extent that there is nothing healthy in this business; that trustworthiness that is sacrosanct in history-writing is utterly dead; and detestable Busirises and monsters of depravity are well-nigh equal to gods in our minds. And on top of this someone thought up that clever penalty and punishment by which books were ordered by Senatorial decree to be put to flames, so as to gratify the [Roman] Emperors - or should I say those banes of the earth - as Seneca records of the writings of Labienus, and Tacitus of Cremutius Cordus. The emblem comes from Philostratus and draws on an image of the sophist Scopelian, who, deprecating the work demand of him by the people of Clazomenae where he opened a school at his home, replied that the Nightingale was singing in a cage. The picture is self-evident, and requires a nightingale to be portrayed shut up in a cage, but immobile, and not flying about.


1.  Busiris was a particularly nasty tyrant of Egypt (for his cruel policy of sacrificing strangers to prevent famine), slain by Hercules. The word illaudatus is used by Vergil (Georgics, 3.5) to describe him. (Technically, the accusative plural should be ‘Busirides’.)

2.  Titus Labienus, a rhetorician in the time of Augustus, famous for his boldness and fierce temperament. Aulus Cremutius Cordus, a historian under Tiberius, known for his frankness.

3.  Scopelianus of Clazomenae, a city on the Ionian coast of Asia Minor, where he ran a school. See Philostratus’ Vitae sophistarum.

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