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Commentary on Emblem 103

Prometheus is now being punished for having made man and for having brought him fire, stolen from the gods on Olympus. He has been placed in the Caucasus mountains by Jupiter, and there the eagle, the "sacred bird" of Jupiter, comes every day to devour his liver, which, every night, grows back. He "detests potters" because he, like a potter, moulded (fingo) man before he brought him fire. The warning is not to attempt things beyond ourselves; Prometheus is the traditional figure of the seeker after knowledge whose excessive desire to know brings ruin upon himself and others.

This emblem first appeared in the unauthorized edition of 1531. We give the illustration which first appeared on sig B4r. In the first authorized edition of 1534 the illustration appeared on page 32.

There is a French translation of this emblem by Lefevre, conventionally numbered 28 in the unpaged edition of Paris: Wechel, 1536 at the Glasgow University emblem site. You may compare the Latin and French in frames.

Geffrey Whitney's Choice of Emblemes (1586) has an English imitation at page 75. You may compare the Latin and Whitney's English in frames.

Last modified 25 November 1997