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Link to an image of this page  Link to an image of this page  [M2r p179]

Degeneres. Theca loquitur.[1]

Degenerates. The [lute]box speaks.

Nil habeo praeter formam testudinis aptae,
Atque sinu tueor fila canora meo.
Nulla mihi vox est, non chordae, nullus honosque,
Muta sed assimulor, credita dona tego.
Saltem aliqua ornasset miseram me voce Magister,
Ne rupta in flammas turpiter abiicerer.
Degeneres qui sunt, modo avitaque stemmata iactant,
Umbram maiorum nobilitate gerunt.
Nobilis ex virtute suos sectatur honores,
Et proprium factis quaerit habere decus.
Annulus effigie insignis, vultuque paterno
Detrahitur digito non malč scipiadis.[2]

I have nothing except the form of a lyre, and in my curved shape I guard the melodious strings. I have no voice, nor strings, nor honour; though I am mute, I am made to resemble [the lyre], and I protect the gifts entrusted to me. Poor me, if only some master/maestro could have beautified me with a voice, so that I should not be broken and thrown in disgrace on the fire. Those who are degenerate and can do nothing but boast of their noble family line, with their ancestors’ nobility carry only a shadow of their ancestors’ noble birth. A truly noble man pursues his own honours through virtue, and seeks to have his personal glory by his deeds. The ring brilliant with the graven image of a father’s face was rightly pulled from the finger of Scipio’s son.


1.  The last two words added from the Errata.

2.  Cf. Valerius Maximus Nine Books of Memorable Deeds and Sayings, 3.5.1 (Qui a parentibus claris degeneraverunt), in which Lucius (or Caius) Cornelius Scipio, son of the elder Africanus, has a ring with his father’s portrait removed from his finger by members of his family.

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