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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [I7v p142]

Grammaticae, Dialecticae, Rhetoricae, Historiae differentia.

The difference between grammar, dialectic, rhetoric and history

Ad Carolum Sigonium.[1]

Sunt tres praestantes diversa veste Puellae,
Nituntur hae puellula ut crepidine.
Simplex historia est, lux, custos temporis, atque
Veri parens, quae gloriam tribuit bonis.
Gratia non ducit, propriis affectibus obstat:
Nil iudicans, alios reliquit iudices.
Ordine simpliciter geritur quod narrat ab ovo,
Hanc ponè Rhetorica est sequens loquacior.
Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [I8r p143]Quae coram recitat foecundas iudice lites,
Vestita longo syrmate[2] atque obambulat.
Et studet efficto lucrari schemate caussas,
Dum se venustis venditat coloribus.
Quòd manibus tantum planis, longa & petit hasta:
Premendo nil urgens suaviter liget.
Aspera, non habitu sequitur Dialectica culto,
Sagaciter verum eruens puteo abditum.
Cominus adgreditur, vitum & complexibus arctat,
Nunquam remittere iure de suo volens.
Nam pungit, laqueo & captat, ratione regitque,
Trux vinculo illigat potenter anxio.
Assimilata fuit variae quoque lumine Phoebi,
His sed parum iuvabere absque grammatis.
Illa etenim solidi sunt fundamenta laboris,
Grammaticae iners statuet nihil perenniter.
Historia ut canis alatus, Rhetorque Chimaera,
Sphynx Logice,[3] tenet has Virgo, columna teres.[4]

Here are three outstanding girls with different clothes, and these stand on a little girl as a base. History is plain, a light, guard of time, and mother of truth - she grants glory to the virtuous. Favour [sc. Partiality] does not lead her; she resists her own emotions; judging nothing, she leaves others to be the judge. What she tells from the beginning is openly presented. Following her from behind is the more talkative Rhetoric. And she delivers abundant lawcases in front of the judge, and walks about, dressed in a long syrma-robe. And she applies herself to gain her causes with a fashioned manner, while she tries to sell herself with charming colours [appearances]. She even approaches with a long spear what she could be done with open hands; she can bind up without pressing anything, pushing in a agreeable way. Dialectic follows, in a rough, unrefined style of dress perceptively digging out the truth that is hidden in a well. She approaches at close quarters, and binds the defeated with encirclings and never wants to let go of her law. For she jabs, catches with a snare, and rules through reason; with a meticulous chain the harsh lady forcefully ties up. She also was variously likened to the brightness of Apollo, but without grammar you will find insufficient help from these ladies. Those are the foundations of solid work, but when it lacks grammar, nothing will stand forever. History is like a winged dog, the Orator like a chimaera, Logic a sphinx, the virgin (girl) who holds them is like a rounded pillar.


1.  Carlo Sigonio: philologist and humanist from Modena (d. 1584).

2.  A syrma is a robe with a train, especially worn by actors in tragedies

3.  ‘Logice’ is a form influenced by Greek.

4.  The Errata here adds: Pentameter pro Iambico adiectus.

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