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Alciato's Book of Emblems

Emblem 25

On a statue of Bacchus

A Dialogue

Father Bacchus, who, with mortal gaze, has come to know you, and who, with well trained hand, has fashioned forth your limbs?

Praxiteles, who saw me ravish the Gnossian maid, and at that time painted me, just as I was.

Why does your soft, young beard blossom even with down, when you are able to surpass in years the old man from Pylos?

Whenever you learn to leave off my gifts, you will be always young and strong of heart.

Drums are not lacking in your hands, nor horns on your head: such signs are right for whom, if not the mad?

This I teach: that he who wastes my gifts wears horns, and madly shakes the unmanly metal rattle.

What means the almost fiery colour of your limbs? You yourself burn at the human hearth. Is the omen true to this?

When my father drew me forth from the womb of Semele, with her fire-belching lightning, he immersed me, covered with ashes, into the water. Hence he is wise who dilutes me well with water. Who does not, his liver is seared with burning flames.

But teach me now, how do you wish to be mixed? And by what rule can a wise man take you safely?

He who desires to take a cup of Falernian, let him add a fourth of water. It is pleasing for the cup to be drunk like this. Contain yourself with a halfpint - for whoever is inclined to go beyond is lively, but soon drunk, then mad.

This is too harsh. Our throats hang open, you flow sweetly. Alas, do pleasant things never happen easily?