Thursday, January 29, 2009

Alciato LVIII: In eos qui supra vires quicquam audent

Alciato LVIII:
In eos qui supra vires quicquam audent

Dum dormit, dulci recreat dum corpora somno
Sub picea, et clavam caeteraque arma tenet,
Alciden Pygmaea manus prosternere letho
Posse putat, vires non bene docta suas.
Excitus ipse, velut pulices, sic proterit hostem,
Et saevi implicitum pelle leonis agit.

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:
Dum dormit,
dum sub picea
dulci somno recreat corpora
et tenet clavam et cetera arma,
Pygmaea manus,
non bene docta vires suas,
putat posse
letho prosternere Alciden.
Excitus ipse,
sic proterit et agit hostem
saevi pelle leonis implicitum,
velut pulices.
To learn more about the ancient Pygmies, see this article. This is also one of the emblems from Alciato included in Geffrey Whitney's Choice of Emblemes (published in 1586). Here is Whitney's English adaptation:

While, HERCULES, with mightie clubbe in hande
In Lyons skinne did sleepe, and take his ease:
About him straighte approch'de the Pigmeis bande,
And for to kill this conquerour assaies,
But foolishe dwarffes; theire force was all to smalle,
For when he wak'de, like gnattes hee crush'd them all.

This warneth us, that nothinge paste our strengthe
Wee shoulde attempte: nor anie worke pretende,
Above our power: lest that with shame at lengthe
Wee weakelinges proove, and fainte before the ende.
The pore, that strive with mightie, this doth blame:
And sottes, that seeke the learned to defame.

Below you can see some more images from other editions of Alciato's Emblemata:

Emblematum liber (28th February, 1531), Augsburg

Emblematum libellus (1542), Paris

Emblematum libri II (Stockhamer) (1556), Lyon

1 comment:

  1. i does like your blog very much!