Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Alciato XVIII: Prudentes

Alciato XVIII: Prudentes

Iane bifrons, qui iam transacta futuraque calles,
Quique retro sannas, sicut et ante, vides:
Te tot cur oculis, cur fingunt vultibus? An quod
Circumspectum hominem forma fuisse docet?

This image comes from a 1621 edition of the emblems (click on the image for a larger view), and you can also read an English translation online. For help with the Latin, here is the poem presented in an easier-to-read format, with the word order rearranged (the word order in poetry often serves the sound more than the sense), and with the phrase segments clearly marked:
Iane bifrons,
qui calles
iam transacta et futura,
et qui sannas vides,
retro sicut et ante:
Cur te fingunt
tot oculis, tot vultibus?
An quod
forma hominem docet
circumspectum fuisse?
To learn more about the two-faced Roman god Janus, the god of the New Year (from whom we get the name of the month "January"), see this Wikipedia article. Below you can see some more images from other editions of Alciato's Emblemata:





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