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Alciato's Book of Emblems

Emblem 185

Music is in the care of the gods

Eunomus of Locris has fashioned a symbol worthy of his victory, this cicada for you, Phoebus of Delphi. He was competing against his Spartan rival on the lyre, and the strings were resounding as they were struck by his thumb. A string wore down, and the lyre began to twang with a loud grating, spoiling the regular melody and harmony. Then a sweet winged insect arrived chirping on the lyre to fill the broken instrument with its voice. Attracted to the measures of the music from high glades, it descended to provide us tunefully with riches. So that the honour of your cicada might last, o holy one, this minstrel of bronze herself therefore sits atop the lyre.