Alciato's Book of Emblems

The Complete English Translation

The following gives all the English translations. Brief picture descriptions are given in the square brackets. Every emblem is cross-linked to the main emblem. You may use the search device in your browser, then go directly to the emblem. There is also a full Latin text.

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Preface by Andrea Alciato on his book of emblems, to Konrad Peutinger of Augsburg

While boys are entertained by nuts and youths by dice, so playing-cards fill up the time of lazy men. In the festive season we hammer out these emblems, made by the distinguished hand of craftsmen. Just as one affixes trimmings to clothes and badges to hats, so it behooves every one of us to write in silent marks. Though the supreme emperor may give to you, for you to own, precious coins and finest objects of the ancients, I myself shall give, one poet to another, paper gifts: take these, Konrad, the token of my love.

Emblem 1

On the shield of the Duke of Milan

To the most illustrious Massimiliano, Duke of Milan

[snake, infant ]

An infant springing from the jaws of a curling snake is your family's noble device. We saw the Pellaean king had made such coins, and had celebrated with them his own descent. It teaches that while he was sown from the seed of Ammon, his mother was fooled by the image of a snake and that he was the offspring of divine seed. He comes forth from the mouth. Is it because in this way, some claim, certain snakes bear their young, or because Pallas sprang that way from the head of Jupiter?

Emblem 2


[building of Milan; pig recovered from the ground ]

A castrated sheep is the sign of the Bituriges, a piglet a sign of the Aedui. To these peoples is owed the origin of my homeland Milan which was, they said, sacred to a maiden. For the ancient Gallic tongue proclaims this. Minerva was worshipped, where now Thecla, transformed in divine majesty, is before the house of the Virgin Mother. A woolly pig is the sign, a double-shaped creature, partly with sharp bristles, partly with soft wool.

Emblem 3

One ought never to procrastinate


The elk raises the sign of the Alciato family, and it bears in its hooves "Never postpone anything". It is known that Alexander answered thus to one who asked him how he had accomplished so many deeds in a short time. By never being willing to delay, he said. And that is the meaning of the elk, for you might wonder if it is stronger, or swifter.

Emblem 4

One ought to rejoice in God


See how the extraordinary painter has depicted the Iliacan boy being carried through the highest stars by the bird of Jupiter. Who would believe Jupiter to be touched by youthful love? Tell us, from what has the old Maeonian fashioned these things? Judgment and understanding of God give delights to him who is believed to have been seized by Jupiter most high.

Emblem 5

Human wisdom is folly before the Lord

[Cecrops ]

What should I say? How should I address by name this biform monster, which is not man, and not a snake? Rather a man without feet, a snake without upper parts, he can be called a snake-footed man and man-headed snake. The man farts out a snake; and the snake has belched a man. There is no end to the man, and no beginning to the beast. Thus at one time Cecrops reigned in learned Athens; thus Mother Earth brought forth the giants. This image signifies a cunning man, but one lacking in religion, and one who cares only for earthly things.

Emblem 6

False religion

[Whore of Babylon ]

A most beautiful whore seated upon a royal throne wears the robe of state distinguished by honorific purple. She delivers wine to all from her flowing bowl. Used to their reclining, the drunken crowd sprawls all about. Thus they look to Babylon: which, with alluring form and false religion, possesses the stupid heathens.

Emblem 7

Not for you, but for religion

[ass bearing mysteries ]

A doltish little ass carried a figure of Isis, bearing the revered mysteries upon its curved back. And so everyone in the street adored the goddess reverently, and on bended knee said prayers of worship. But the ass believed such honour was being shown to him, and swelled up, filling entirely with his pride - until the driver, who restrained him with whips, said, "You are not a god, little ass; rather, you bear a god."

Emblem 8

Where the gods call, there one must go

[Mercury at the crossroads ]

At the crossroads is a mountain of stones; the shortened figure of a god rises above it, figured as far down as his chest. This then is the hill of Mercury. Traveller, raise up garlands to the god, that to you he may show the proper road. We are all at the crossroads, and we mistake our course in life, if the God himself does not show the way.

Emblem 9

Symbol of faithfulness

[Truth, Love, Honour ]

Let Honour be shown cloaked in Tyrian robe, let naked Truth clasp Honour's right hand, and let chaste Love be in their midst, with the rose around his brow, more lovely than the Cupid of Dione. These signs represent Faithfulness, which Reverence of Honour cherishes, Love nourishes, and Truth delivers.

Emblem 10


[lute ]

Take, O Duke, this lute whose form is said to come from a fishing boat, and which the Latin Muse claims as her own. May our gift be pleasing to you at this time, as you prepare to undertake new treaties with your allies. It is difficult, unless the man is skilled, to tune so many strings, and if one string is not well stretched, or breaks (which happens easily), all the pleasure of the shell is lost, and the splendid song becomes absurd. So the princes of Italy join together in alliances: there is nothing for you to fear if your love remains harmonious. But if anyone withdraws, then, as we often see, all that harmony diminishes into nothing.

Emblem 11


[scholar ]

When he is silent, a foolish man differs not a bit from the wise. Both tongue and voice are the index of his foolishness - therefore let him press his lips, and with his finger mark his silences, and let him turn himself into a Pharian Harpocrates.

Emblem 12

Plans ought not to be divulged

[Roman standard ]

In the dark lairs of Cnossus with their hidden threshold and thick darkness, Daedalus shut up the monster. This image the Roman phalanx carries into battle, and these standards, with bull that's half a man, shine forth splendidly. They warn us too that the secret plans of leaders ought to lie hidden. A plan that's known harms its author.

Emblem 13

One ought not yield, even under torture

[lioness ]

Laeana, whom you see depicted on the Cecropian fortress, was the lover of Harmodius (or do you not know this, stranger?). So it is pleasing to show the keen spirit of this female warrior in the form of a wild beast, for she actually bore its name. Because she did not betray anyone by her testimony, when she was twisted on the rack, Iphicrates represented her as tongueless.

Emblem 14

The Chimaera (those who are stronger and deceptive) to be overcome by judgment and courage

[Bellerophon against the Chimaera ]

As the courageous horseman Bellerophon was able to overcome the Chimaera and slay the monsters of the Lycian land, so you, carried on Pegasean wings, seek the heavens, and by the judgment of your mind, subdue tyrannical monsters.

Emblem 15

Wakefulness and watchfulness

[lions, cocks ]

The crowing cock - because it gives signs of the coming Dawn and recalls toiling hands to a new day's labour; the bronze bell - because it calls the wakeful mind to higher things: each is fashioned on sacred towers. And here's a lion - but because this guardian sleeps with open eyes, it's therefore placed before the temple doors.

Emblem 16

Be sober and remember not to be too rashly credulous: these are the limbs of the mind

[hand with eye ]

Do not be credulous, do not be incautious, says Epicharmus - these will be the sinews and the limbs of the human mind. Behold the hand with the eye, believing what it sees, behold the pennyroyal, herb of ancient sobriety. By displaying it Heraclitus calmed the crowd and charmed it, though it was threatening with swelling sedition.

Emblem 17

Where did I go astray, what did I do? or what duty was left undone?

[Pythagoras observes flying cranes who carry stones in their talons ]

The Samian, most famous founder of the Italian sect, himself wrapped up his own teaching in a brief verse: "Where have you gone astray? what do you do? and what are you not doing, that you ought to do?" He pressed every man to render this account with himself. It is said he learned this from a flock of flying cranes, who bore in their talons a stone they'd seized in order not to yield, lest ill winds bore them off course. By this rule, the life of men ought to be governed.

Emblem 18

Prudent ones

[Janus ]

Two-faced Janus, you who know the things that have already passed and the things to come, and who can see the grimaces behind you just as well as those before, why do they fashion you with so many eyes and why so many faces? Is it because your image teaches men to have kept an eye open all around them?

Emblem 19

Wise, more than wordy

[shield with owl ]

In Cecropian Athens, its symbol the night-owl excels among birds for her wise counsel. She is deservedly consecrated to the service of arms-bearing Minerva, a post the chattering crow had earlier yielded up.

Emblem 20

One ought to move swiftly

[javelin entwined by remora ]

They command all men to hasten quickly, and to slow down! - neither too hasty, nor too long in delay. May a javelin, wrapped by a remora, show this to you: the remora is sluggish, the darts fly forth, sent by the hand.

Emblem 21

On one having been caught

[fisherman traps eel with fig leaves ]

For a long time wherever you fled, I pursued you: but now here you are, trapped in my snare. No longer will you be able to elude my power. I've caught the eel in a fig-leaf.

Emblem 22

Virgins must be protected

[Athena ]

This is a true picture of unwed Pallas: here is her dragon, standing before the feet of its mistress. Why is this animal companion to the goddess? The protection of things was given to it. Thus it cares for sacred groves and temples. It must watch unwed maidens with especially vigilant care: Love sets his traps everywhere.

Emblem 23

That foresight is improved by wine

[Two statues: Athena and Bacchus ]

Father Bacchus and Pallas, both true children of Jupiter, hold this temple jointly. She was freed from her father's head, he from his thigh; to Pallas is due the use of the olive, while Bacchus first discovered wine. Justly are they joined; for if an abstemious man hates wine, he'll have no help from the goddess.

Emblem 24

Wise men abstain from wine

[Olive tree entwined by grape vine ]

Branches, why do you bother me? I am the tree of Pallas. Away with your grape-clusters! The virgin shuns Bromius.

Emblem 25

On a statue of Bacchus

[Bacchus in arbour beats on drum ]

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?

Emblem 26


[Quintus Fabius Maximus points to lark nesting in grass as garland of grass is placed upon his head ]

After Fabius had broken Hannibal and the Phoenicians by his delays, the senators bestowed on Fabius a garland made of grass.

The lark, they say, conceals her nest in bending grass, and thus she guards her chicks.

Glaucus, son of Polybus, ate the grass sacred to Saturn and to Mars, and is believed to have become a god.

These riddles rightly show guardianship and safety, so much potency has the tiny blade of grass.

Emblem 27

Harm no one, by word or deed

[Nemesis holds bridle and rule ]

Nemesis watches for, and overtakes, the footsteps of men, and holds a ruler and harsh bridle in her hand, lest you do anything evil, or speak dishonest words: She commands moreover that there be due measure in all things.

Emblem 28

At last, at last, justice prevails

[tomb of Ajax on seashore, shield of Achilles is washed towards it ]

The shield of the Aeacidean
drenched with blood of Hector,
the unjust assembly of the Greeks gave to the Ithacan.
But after it in shipwreck had been thrown into the sea,
Neptune, being juster, seized it, so that it found its master.
For a wave bore it to the shore-side tomb of Ajax,
where it cries out and pounds the sepulchre with these words
- You have won, son of Telamon,
you are more deserving of these arms.
Passion ought to yield to justice.

Emblem 29

Even the fiercest are overcome

[Marc Antony in chariot pulled by lions ]

After the bitter plague of his country had destroyed Roman eloquence - for Cicero had been killed - the conqueror mounted his chariot, harnessed lions to it, and compelled them to submit their necks to his harsh yoke. By this riddle Antony wished to show that high-spirited princes had yielded to his arms.

Emblem 30

A favour ought to be returned

[stork brings food to young who nest in chimney top ]

In her airy nest, the stork,
remarkable for tenderness,
nurtures her unclothed chicks, her lovely children.
And this mother looks to the time
when such services will be returned to her,
when, as an old woman she will often need their help.
Nor do her devoted offspring disappoint this hope,
but bear the weakened bodies of their parents on their shoulders,
and offer them food from their very mouths.

Emblem 31


[tomb with pitcher and basin ]

A tomb with marble columns:
on one side stands a pitcher,
on the other you see a wash-basin.
This image teaches:
that the law is to be pronounced without filthiness,
and that the man now dead had clean hands.

Emblem 32

Good men ought to fear nothing from the rich

[Zetes and Calais pursue three Harpies ]

On one side of the wall adjoining me is Marius,
on the other, Subbardus, names known well in the forum.
Very rich, they build and moreover busy themselves - alas! -
to block off all my light.
O woe! I could be like that Phineus
whom the sister harpies harrassed
to drive him from his home -
were not my honesty and spirit
(my spirit - which strives for virtue),
both Zetes and Calais to these neighbours.

Emblem 33

Signs of the brave

[eagle on tomb of Aristomenes ]

In the form of a dialogue

What reason compels you, lofty Saturnian bird, to settle on the tomb of great Aristomenes?

This I say: that as I am distinguished among birds for strength, so is Aristomenes among the demi-gods. Let timid doves rest upon the tombs of timid men. We eagles give our standards freely to the fearless.

Emblem 34

Bear, and forbear

[bull separated from cows by farmer ]

Stern fortune must be endured by man through suffering; likewise too much happy fortune should frequently be feared. Bear, and forbear, Epictetus used to say. We ought to suffer much, and keep our hands away from things forbidden. So the bull, fettered by his right knee, endures his master's rule: and so abstains from pregnant cows.

Emblem 35

On one who knows not to flatter

[horseman restrains his horse ]

Do you want to know why the region of Thessaly so often changes masters and why it seeks to have its different leaders? It knows not how to flatter, how to reach out to cajole anyone, the style which the court of every prince possesses. Instead, like a freeborn steed, it throws off its back every Hippocomon who lacks the ability to control it. Yet it's not proper to for the master to be angry. The only vengeance is to order the beast to endure a bit with harsher teeth.

Emblem 36

One must persist against oppressions

[date palm weighted down by boy ]

A palm-tree struggles up against a weight, and rises in an arc; the more it is pressed down, the more it lifts its burden. It bears fragrant nuts, sweet desserts, to which first honour is given among courses. Go youth, and crawling amidst the branches, gather these things. He who is of constant mind will carry off worthy prizes.

Emblem 37

I carry all my things with me

[naked Scythian (odd, because the emblem is about the clothing of the Scythian) ]

The poor Hun, most miserable inhabitant of Scythian Pontus, is tortured in his livid limbs by perpetual cold. He does not know the wealth of Ceres, nor the gifts of Lyaeus, and nevertheless always had his precious coverings, for the skins of mice wrap him on all sides. Only his eyes are visible, all else is covered. Thus he does not fear the thief, thus he disdains winds and rain: he is safe among men, safe among gods.

Emblem 38

Symbol of harmony

[sceptre on pedestal; two crows stand on it, two fly overhead ]

The crows' harmonious way of life amongst themselves is marvellous, and mutual trust remains undefiled for them. Hence these birds support the sceptre, which is to say - all leaders rise and fall by agreement of the people. Yet if you remove harmony from the midst, discord flies in headlong, and drags with it the fate of kings.

Emblem 39


[armed soldiers shake hands ]

When Rome prepared its leaders for civil war and the land of Mars fell by its own powers, it was the custom, troops coming together into the same place, to offer right hands be joined in mutual giving. This is the sign of alliance: harmony has this as a sign, that whom love unites, the hand itself may also bring together.

Emblem 40

Unconquerable harmony

[six-armed Geryon ready for battle ]

Among the triple brothers there was harmony, at the same time so much mutual devotion and single love, that unconquered by human powers they held vast realms, and were called by one name, Geryon.

Emblem 41

One man can do nothing; two can do much

[Diomedes and Ulysses ]

The son of Laertes, the son of Tydaeus: side by side the talented hand of Zenalis drew them on this wax tablet. The former prevails in the sharpness of his wit, the latter excels in strength. Even so, one is not lacking in the talent of the other. When the two come together, victory is certain. But a mind or right hand by itself, each can fail a man.

Emblem 42

What stands firmest cannot be overthrown

[two winds blow off its leaves, but the oak-tree stands firm ]

Though father Ocean stir up all his waves and you, barbarous Turk, drink the entire Danube, even so you will never penetrate our shattered border so long as the emperor Charles gives signs of war to foreign nations. Thus sacred oaks stand with steadfast roots, even though winds shake the dry leaves violently.

Emblem 43

Hope is near

[ship in rough seas, constellation of the Gemini overhead ]

Our state is shaken by innumerable storms, and there is only one hope for its future safety; just like a ship in the middle of the sea which the winds grasp, it now breaks up in the briny water. But if the brothers of Helen, shining stars, appear, good hope restores those downcast spirits.

Emblem 44

On an image of Hope

In the form of a dialogue

[Hope holding weapons is seated on cask, her companions a crow, Nemesis, Good Outcome, and Cupid are nearby ]

What goddess is this looking to the stars with such a joyous face? By whose brush was her image rendered?

The hands of Elpidius made me. I am named good Hope, she who offers speedy help to the wretched.

Why is your robe green?

Because all things flourish when they are directed by me.

Why do you bear in your hands the broken weapons of Death?

What it is proper for the living to hope for, (those same things) for the dead I break in pieces.

Why do you sit lazily on the cover of a little vat?

I alone remained at home when the evil things flew off everywhere, as was taught by the awe-inspiring muse of the old man of Ascraea.

What bird is that with you?

The crow, most faithful bird of augury. When he cannot speak, it is well, and when he does speak, so it shall be.

Who are your companions?

Good Fortune, and reckless Cupid.

Why do they go before you?

They summon the empty dreams of the wakeful.

Who is standing next to you?

The Rhamnusian avenger of crimes, so that you will not hope for anything unless it is permitted.

Emblem 45

Better things to come

[pig roots in earth, farmer points to columns "plus oltre [ultra ]

At the new year a client brought to me the snouts of a bristling boar. Take these, he said, a gift for your belly. The boar always goes forward, nor does it ever look back, as it voraciously rips apart the grass with its open mouth. This same is the duty of men: that the hope that's slipped does not fall behind, and that what's further ahead, be better.

Emblem 46

The forbidden is not to be hoped for

[Hope with bow, wand, and barrel; Nemesis with bridle and rule ]

Hope and Nemesis are together at the same time upon our altars, doubtless that you may not hope for what is not allowed.

Emblem 47


[shield with bird ("porphyrio") ]

The porphyrion, if its mate commits adultery in the house of her master, declines in spirit and dies from grief. The cause is hidden in the mysteries of nature. Let this bird be the genuine sign of true chastity.

Emblem 48

On victory born of deceit

[Virtue, on tomb of Ajax, pulls out her hair ]

I, Virtue, soak the tomb of Ajax with my tears, alas, wretched, having rent my whitening hair. Certainly this matter still remained, that by a Greek judge I should be vanquished: and that deceit should have the stronger defence.

Emblem 49

Against deceivers

[spotted lizard ]

The little lizard, a newt bestarred on his body with black spots, who inhabits hiding places and hollow tombs, bears in his colouring symbols of envy and depraved deceit, symbols known alas too well by jealous brides. For whoever drinks wine in which a lizard has been immersed is covered on her face with a loathsome spotting. From this, a common revenge: the mistress is deceived by wine, the flower of her beauty's lost, her lover leaves her.

Emblem 50

Deceit against one's own

[fowlers use decoy to trap birds with net ]

A duck fattened as a lure, with feathers of blue, used to come and go to her masters. Seeing numbers of her own kind flying through the air, she quacks, and slips into a flock of them, until she leads the ususpecting birds beneath the nets spread out for them. The captive birds cry out, but the accomplice herself is silent. The treacherous bird has defiled herself with the blood of her kin. Obliging to others, deadly to her own.

Emblem 51

Slanderous words

[wasps on tomb of Archilocus ]

They say that on the tomb of Archilochus wasps were carved with marble, sure signs of an evil tongue.

Emblem 52

Against those who harbour assassins

[Actaeon ]

A band of thieves and criminals accompanies you through the city, Scaeva, your retinue girded with terrible swords. And so, profligate one, you think that you are generous in spirit because your pot draws to it so many evil men. Behold the new Actaeon, who, after he assumed his antlers, gave himself as prey to his own dogs.

Emblem 53

Against flatterers

[Actaeon ]

The chameleon is always gaping, always breathing in and out the thin air it feeds on, and it changes its appearance, takes on diverse colours, except for red or white. Likewise the flatterer feeds on an air of popularity, and, open-mouthed, devours all; he mimics only the dark habits of the Prince, incapable of the pure and the chaste.

Emblem 54

It does not behove one who has been careless with his own to be trusted with the things of others

[Medea ]

Why do you build your nest in the bosom of the Colchian? Alas, ignorant bird, why do you so wrongly entrust your chicks? Medea, a horrid parent, most savagely killed her own children, and do you expect that she will spare yours?

Emblem 55


[charioteer with two horses ]

He's borne headlong, and, in vain, struggles with the reins, that charioteer whose horse with unchecked mouth impells him forward. Do not willingly trust that man whom no reason rules, who's rashly led by his own will.

Emblem 56

Against the reckless

[Phaeton ]

You see Phaeton the driver of his father's chariot who dared to guide the fire-belching horses of the sun. After he spread vast fires across the earth, he was wretched, having fallen from the chariot he rashly mounted. Thus many kings, whom youthful ambition drives on, are raised to the stars by the wheels of fortune. After great disaster for the human race and for themselves, they finally pay for all their crimes.

Emblem 57

Anger and rage

[Agamemnon ]

The shield bears the painted face of a raging lion,
and has this verse inscribed upon its outer edge:
Here is the terror of man, whose owner is the Atridean.
These are the signs the great-souled Agamemnon bore.

Emblem 58

Against those who dare anything beyond their strength

[Hercules and pygmies ]

While he sleeps, while he relaxes his body with sweet sleep beneath the pine tree, and holds his club and other arms, a pygmy band thinks itself able to overwhelm Alcides to the death. They do not know their strength. He, awakened, crushes his enemy like fleas, and drives off those entangled in the savage lion's skin.

Emblem 59

The impossible

[Ethiopian] ]

Why do you wash, in vain, the Ethiopian? Oh forebear: no one can brighten the darkness of black night.

Emblem 60


[Cuckoo ]

Why do many people call rural people or rustic folk cuckoos? What reason then is given for that? The cuckoo sings in the new spring at the time when he who has not set free his vines is rightly called lazy. The cuckoo leaves her eggs in the nests of others, just like the man for whom a wife betrays the marriage chamber with her adultery.

Emblem 61

The bat

[bat ]

The authors say Socratic Chaerophoon received his name from the Meneidan bird. The face of the man was dark, his voice shrill. With such a sign one was able to mark this man.

Emblem 62

Another, on the bat

[bat ]

It flies only in the evening, it is half-blind in the light. Though it bears wings, it has other characteristics of a mouse. The bat is interpreted in several ways. First, it signifies debtors, who are hidden and who fear judgment. And then philosophers, who while they seek heavenly things, are dim in their eyes and see only false things. And, finally, the cunning who, when they might secretly follow both sides, gain the trust of neither.

Emblem 63


[lion cornered by dogs and hunters beats himself with this tail ]

The ancients said that the tail of the lion is Alcaean; when it whips from side to side the lion swells with a mighty anger. As the yellow bile rises up and the distress increases with black gall, unrestrained fury surges up.

Emblem 64

On one who makes trouble for himself

[she-goat nursing wolf-cub ]

I, a she-goat, not by my will but with my milk, suckle a wolf because I am so forced by the careless neglect of the goatherd. As soon as the wolf has grown, he will continue to feed on me - up beyond my udder! Evil is not averted by submission.

Emblem 65


[fowler seizes owl ]

You marvel that in my poem you're called Otus, since the ancient name, from your ancestors, is Otho. It is long-eared, and has feathers like the owl, and the quick fowler seizes the bird as it jumps. Hence, those who are foolish and easy to capture I call Otus. This suits you, so you too -- take this name!

Emblem 66

Forgetfulness, parent of poverty

[lynx neglects food in favour of other prey ]

When the hungry lynx eats its food, devouring a young deer that in its hunger it captured, if by chance it looks in another direction or turns its eyes, having forgotten the present food it holds in its claw, it seeks an unsure prey, so great its forgetfulness. He who has neglected his own stupidly seeks the things of others.

Emblem 67


[Niobe sees the slaughter of her children ]

Behold a statue of a statue, marble drawn from marble. Insolent Niobe dared to compare herself to the Gods. Pride is the vice of woman, and is shown by the hardness of face and by the kind of feeling that's found in a stone.

Emblem 68


[Scylla ]

Scylla was biform: a woman down to her genitals, below girdled by the barking pups of monsters. These monsters are thought to be avarice, boldness, rape, yet she is Scylla, in whose face lies no shame.

Emblem 69


[Narcissus ]

Because your figure pleased you too much, Narcissus, it was changed into a flower, a plant of known senselessness. Self-love is the withering and destruction of natural power which brings and has brought ruin to many learned men, who having thrown away the method of the ancients seek new doctrines and pass on nothing but their own fantasies.

Emblem 70


[reclining man addresses swallow ]

Why garrulous Procne, do you break my morning rests and, Daulian, sing with noisy voice? Tereus was worthy to be a hoopoe. He wished to trim with his sword your excessive tongue rather than tear it out by the roots.

Emblem 71


[ Envy ]

A filthy woman chewing on viper's flesh,
whose eyes are in pain,
who eats her own heart,
who is thin and pale,
who bears in her hand a thorny spear:
so is Envy depicted.

Emblem 72


[Faunus, satyr and maiden ]

Goat-footed Faunus, his temples bound with cole-wort bears the undoubted symbols of immoderate Venus. Cole-wort provokes lust, and the goat is a sign of lechery, and the satyrs are always wont to love the nymphs.

Emblem 73

The wealth of the dissolute

[fig-tree with crows and ravens ]

On airy cliffs, and on the edge of a high rock, the unripe fig-tree produces bitter fruit, which ravens eat, which the wicked crow devours, which have nothing of benefit to man. Thus parasites and whores delight in the wealth of stupid men, and offer just men no good.

Emblem 74

The tomb of a prostitute

[tomb; lionness attacks ram ]

Whose tomb is this, whose urn? Does it belong to Lais of Ephyra? Oh, did the Fate not blush to destroy such beauty? There was no beauty then, age had already seized it; the crafty hag had already dedicated her mirror to Venus. What's the meaning of the carved ram, whose hindquarters a lioness has seized in her claws? She likewise held her lovers captive. A ram is master of the flock, a lover is held by the buttocks.

Emblem 75

Against the lovers of prostitutes

[fisherman, as goat, nets fish ]

The fisherman wrapped himself in the hide of a hairy she-goat and added a pair of horns to his head; standing on the edge of the shores he deceives the sargus, a lover whom desire for the flat-nosed herd draws into the nets. The she-goat reminds one of a harlot; the sargus is like a lover, the wretch who perishes, trapped by an obscene passion.

Emblem 76

One ought to beware of prostitutes

[Circe ]

It is said the powers of Circe, offspring to the Sun, were so great that she turned many men into strange monsters. Picus, tamer of horses, is proof, likewise biform Scylla, and the Ithacans, pigs after they drank the wine. Circe, by her famous name, discloses the prostitute, and whoever loves her, loses the reason of his mind.

Emblem 77

The amulet of Venus

[Venus covers Adonis with lettuce ]

His groin having been pierced by the boar's tusk, Cypris covered her lifeless Adonis with leaves of lettuce. Hence it is that lettuce so exhausts the female genitals, that lust-provoking eruca can scarcely stimulate them.

Emblem 78

Those immune to Cupid's arrow

[bird (the "motacilla") flies within two narrow circles ]

Lest cruel love conquer you, or any woman ravage your mind with her magic arts, let the bird of Bacchus, the motacilla, be made ready to attend you. This quadriradial bird you should place in a circular orb, so that it forms a cross with its beak and its tail and two wings. This shall be an amulet for all enchantment. With this sign of Venus, it is said, Pegasean Jason could be unharmed by Phasian treacheries.

Emblem 79


[richly attired woman ]

It's believed that the white mouse shows pleasure and wantonness, but the reason is not all that clear to me. Is it because its nature is lecherous and its lust is great? Or because with its skin it adorns the young women of Rome? Many call the Sarmatian mouse a sable, and Arabian musk is famous for its delightful ointment.

Emblem 80

Those sinning against nature

[woman defecates in vessel for food ]

It is certainly shocking as a deed, but also a thing wicked to relate, if anyone were to empty the burden of his bowels in a choenix. This would be to exceed the measure and limit of holy law, just as it would be to be defiled by impure adultery.

Emblem 81


[Essene looks at stars while he sits on barrel, fire beneath ]

An Essene sits idly on a bushel, and looks to the stars. Beneath he holds a torch, lit with fire. Sluggishness, in the appearance of the righteous, hidden by a hood, is of use neither to himself nor to others.

Emblem 82

That idleness ought to be thrown aside

[idle men in conversation ]

Whoever's lazy, let him be off. For the sacred doctrine of the old man of Samos does not allow us to sit upon the choenix. So, rouse yourself. Get your hands used to hard labour, that tomorrow may give you measured meals.

Emblem 83

Against those who fall easily from virtue

[remora holds back ship ]

Small as a snail, the remora is able by itself to stop a ship. It's disdainful of the force of wind and oars. So some petty circumstance can check in mid-career certain men who are, by genius and by virtue, headed for the stars. Likewise a tormenting law-suit, or a passion for a prostitute, draws youths from their distinguished studies.

Emblem 84

Lazy men

[Asterias the slave, transformed to heron; Ardelio, the busybody, flies overhead as falcon ]

The old story was that a little heron with the radiance of a star depicted the labours and the habits of a lazy slave, and the story goes that the slave Asterias took on the shape of the bird. It is a fiction. Let there be faith in historians. The degenerate man, who like a falcon minces about in the air, is called Ardelio by the ancient poets.

Emblem 85


[Tantalus ]

Alas, wretched Tantalus, in the middle of the waves, stands there thirsty, and, starving, cannot have the nearby fruit. Change the name, and this will be said of you, o greedy man, you, who, almost as if you had it not, do not enjoy what you have.

Emblem 86

Against misers

[ass with food on back eats thistles ]

Septitius, the richest of them all, no old man has vaster lands than he. He's denied himself both his own enjoyment and prepared his table; he devours nothing but beets and tough turnips. With what shall I compare this man, whom wealth makes poor? Why not an ass? Yes, that's it! That's what he resembles! For an ass bears on its back costly victuals. He's a pauper who feeds himself on brambles and tough reeds.

Emblem 87

Against courtiers

[courtier in stocks ]

It's said the deceptive court binds in golden stocks those favourites it trains as chamberlains.

Emblem 88

Against unclean men

[ibis puts beak in anus ]

The ibis, which cleans its bowels with its own beak, as with a clyster, is well known on the banks of the Nile. It became a name of disgust, by which Publius Naso named his enemy, and the son of Battus, his.

Emblem 89

Against the wealthy, by public mischief

[eel fisherman muddy waters ]

Whoever is trapping eels, if he should sweep the limpid streams, if he should dare to step into mud-free pools, it shall be in vain, and he shall merely play at work: but if he should greatly stir up clay, and agitate the glassy waters with his oar, he shall be rich: so it is that the rebellious state is profitable for those, who in time of peace and checked by laws go hungry.

Emblem 90

Against greedy men; or, those to whom a better situation is offered by strangers

[Arion and dolphin ]

Arion ploughs through the blue waves, seated on a dolphin, soothing its ears and bridling its mouth with a song. The mind of beasts is not so cruel as that of the greedy man: we who are robbed by men, are saved by fish.

Emblem 91


[man with long neck holds birds ]

A man is depicted with the neck of a crane, with swollen belly; in his hands he holds a mew or pelican. Such was the image of Dionysius, and such Apicius, and those whom seductive gluttony makes famous.

Emblem 92

The picture of Ocnus: on those who give to prostitutes what ought to be turned to good use

[Ocnus the rope-maker; ass eats the rope ]

The hardworking man never ceases braiding rope from grass, joining moist strands with his skilful hand; yet, as much as he with difficulty can turn in many hours, the she-ass of slothful stomach devours right away. Woman, that lazy beast, seizes from her good-natured husband the money he heaped up, and wastes it on her own adornment.

Emblem 93

Against parasites

[ ]

Take these river-crabs we give to you; these gifts suit your character. They have watchful eyes, many a row of claws armed with pincer, a vast belly. Thus your gut, with its fat stomach, hangs down; you have agile feet, and stings are fitted to them. As you go about in the cross-roads, you wander by the chairs and tables, and, bitter, hurl sharp taunts at others.

Emblem 94

For two gluttons, a small kitchen does not suffice

[two birds fight over possession of a tree ]

In small things there is nothing to gain; and one orchard does not feed two robins.

The same

In tiny things there is no hope of gain; and two fig-peckers will not dwell happily in a single orchard.

Emblem 95

Trapped by gluttony

[mouse trapped in oyster shell ]

Lord of provisions, and nibbler of the master's table, a mouse saw the oysters gape with lips spread wide. He put his soft beard inside, and bit their deceptive bones: but when the oysters were touched, they suddenly slammed shut their dwelling-place. They held within the hideous prison the captured thief, who had given himself into this darkened tomb.

Emblem 96

Against the garrulous and gluttonous man

[pelican ]

It bellows with a wild cry, its stomach is grotesquely large, and instead of a beak it has a nose, a trumpet of many holes. A deformed ranter, addicted to his stomach and his gullet - so a bird will signify when it is depicted as a pelican.

Emblem 97

On the nicknames of professors

[professor addressing scholars from podium ]

It's a long-standing custom to apply certain names to professors.

Curtius, who explains only easy and obvious texts, is called "The Canon."

The one who wanders about in the same place - as does Parisius - and who repeats himself excessively, is named "Meander."

He who is obscure and confused, as was Picus, will be named "The Labyrinth."

The one who's too brief, who cuts too much, as does Claudius, he will bear the name "The Sword."

Parpalus, who breaks apart even columns with his voice, is by his students named "The Pelican."

Albius is rather differently named. Because he's weak of voice, he's called "The Bat."

But Crassus, who mutilates his syllables by gobbling them, he is called "The Swallow."

The one who's deaf to others, who wishes to be the only one to speak, he's like the starling in the proverb.

This one stammers, that one's hoarse, and that other one's a chatterbox; and this one hisses like a viper.

That one roars with wide-stretched mouth and nostrils; this one's tongue's an auger.

One gasps and, hesitating, coughs. But another spits - just like a hairdresser.

As many faults as are in the human condition, so many names spring up.

Emblem 98


[Pan ]

The people reverence Pan (that is to say, the nature of things), a man who is half-goat, a god who is half-man. He is a man down to his loins because the virtue implanted in us, rising from the heart, is seated in the high citadel of the head. Below, he is a goat, because nature continues us through time by means of copulation, like birds, fish, brute animals and wild beasts. Because this is common to other living creatures, the goat is the sign of lechery and bears the open marks of Venus. Some give wisdom to the heart, others to the brain. No moderation or reason rules the baser things.

Emblem 99

Art aiding nature

[Mercury with caduceus, Fortune on globe, with cornucopia ]

Emblem 100

On youth

[Apollo and Bacchus ]

Both sons of Jupiter, both young and beardless, one born of Latona, the other of Semele: greetings! And, together, flourish in eternal youth, which by your will may - for me - be long-lasting. You (son of Semele) care for us with wine, and you (son of Latona) ease our illness with food so that bent old age may come to us with slow pace.

Emblem 101

On the four seasons of the year

[four birds: fringilla, hirundo, cuculus, ficedula (robin, swallow, cuckoo, beccaficos) ]

The winged robin declares that winter has arrived. The twittering swallow returns to us in early spring. The cuckoo announces that he himself expects the summer. Fig-peckers are seen only in the autumn.

Emblem 102

The cup of Nestor

[Nestor, holding cup ]

Take this Nestorean cup with its double bowl, a work of art produced from a mass of weighty silver. Its studs are made of gold, and four handles surround it; on each of these sits a golden dove. Though he was advanced in years, only Nestor could lift it. Maeonian, would you teach us what the Muse meant thereby? The cup itself is the sky, and it has a silvery colour; the studs are the golden stars of heaven. What he called doves are thought to be the Pleiades; and the bear, both the Greater and the Lesser form its twin centres. From long experience, wise Nestor understands these truths: strong men wage wars, a sage man holds the stars.

Emblem 103

That which is above us is nothing to us

[Prometheus ]

Prometheus hangs eternally on the Caucasian rock; his liver is ripped apart by the talon of the sacred bird. He might regret that he made man; detesting potters, he condemns the flame lit by the stolen fire. The breasts of wise men - those who seek to know the conditions of heaven and the gods - are gnawed by divers cares.

Emblem 104

Against astrologers

[Icarus ]

Icarus, you who were carried off through the heights and air, until the melted wax gave you headlong to the sea, now the same wax and raging fire revive you, that by your example you might teach us sure lessons. Let the astrologer beware of predicting anything. For the imposter will fall headlong, so long as he flies above the stars.

Emblem 105

Those who contemplate the heights, fall

[hunter looses bow at crane; snake bites his leg ]

While he deceives thrushes with lime and larks with a net, and the arrow that he loosed pierces the high-flying crane, the heedless fowler strikes down with his foot upon a snake. That avenger of evil shoots forth from its mouth a venom. Thus the man dies, who looks to the stars with drawn-back bow, untroubled by the destiny that lies before his feet.

Emblem 106

Love, the most powerful passion

[Amor drives team of lions ]

See how the boy Love, unconquered charioteer, engraved on a gem-stone, overcomes the power of the lion. See how with one hand he holds the whip, with the other he directs the reins. See how in the face of this boy there is much beauty. May the dreadful affliction be kept far off. Would he, who overpowers such a beast, ever restrain his hand with us?

Emblem 107

The power of Love

[Amor holds fish and bunch of flowers ]

Do you see how unclothed Love smiles and looks so gentle? He has no torches, nor bows which he could bend. But in one of his hands he bears flowers, in the other a fish. That's to say he sets the law on land and sea.

Emblem 108

The force of Love

[Amor holds broken thunder-bolt ]

The winged god has broken the winged lightning-bolt. Now Love shows that there is fire stronger than fire.

Emblem 109

On a scholar, overcome by love

[scholar with Athena on one side points to Venus and Amor on the other ]

Immersed in his studies, skilled in oratory and law, the most distinguished notary loves Helianira even more than the Thracian king ever loved the concubine he took in her sister's place. O Cyprian, why have you vanquished Pallas, with another judge? Is it not enough to conquer below Mount Ida?

Emblem 110

Anteros, which is the love of virtue

[Anteros seated with four garlands ]

Tell me where are the curving bows? Where are the weapons, Cupid, by which you are accustomed to transfix the tender hearts of the young? Where is your sad torch? Where are your arrows? Why does your hand bear three garlands? Why does your decorated forehead bear another garland?

Nothing in me welcomes the common Venus, and no form of pleasure has captivated me. But I kindle in the uncorruputed minds of men the fires of learning, and draw their spirits to the lofty stars. And out of that very virtue I weave four garlands, of which the first, that of Sophia, decks my temples.

Emblem 111

Anteros: the love of virtue overcoming the other Cupid

[Anteros binds Amor to tree while Amor's weapons burn ]

Nemesis has painted the winged enemy of winged Love, overcoming bow with bow, and fire with fire, so that he suffers what he's done to others. But this boy who once bore his arrows undaunted now weeps wretchedly. Three times he spits in the innermost part of his bosom. A marvelous thing, fire is burned by fire, and Love hates the madness of Love.

Emblem 112

Sometimes sweet things become bitter

[Amor, chased by bees, runs to Venus ]

Having left his mother far off, the Lydian child went off some way. But you, cruel bees, attacked him. He came to you, thinking you were gentle birds, yet a cruel viper would not be so vicious. Ah, you give stings in exchange for the gift of sweet honey; alas, o pain, no favour is given without you.

Emblem 113

Almost the same, out of Theocritus

[Amor, chased by bees, flies to his mother ]

As he gathered honey from the hives, an evil bee stung Amor the thief, and left the sting at his finger's end. The boy distressed with swollen finger moans and, wandering about, stamps the earth, and shows his sore to Venus, and complains bitterly, that a little bee, small creature, can inflict such painful wounds. Venus laughs at him. You also, my son, imitate this creature - you who are small give so many painful wounds.

Emblem 114

On a statue of Love

[Amor stands holding shield with figure of pomegranate ]

Who Amor is many poets have sung in times past, celebrating his deeds under his various names.

It is agreed that he is unclothed, and is small of stature; and though he has weapons and wings, he has no sight in his eyes.

This face, this appearance are those of a god. But if I may pronounce judgment on poets of such stature, I think falsehoods lie concealed.

Why does he go naked? Is it as if a god lacks mantles, though he possesses all the wealth of the world he has subdued;

or, though naked, I ask you, could he have escaped the snows, and Alpine Boreas, and meadows in the tight grasp of cold?

If he is a boy, do you call him a boy who conquers Nestor? Or don't you know the learned poetry of the old Ascraean?

This capricious boy, hardens hearts which once he has passed through, he cannot of his own accord forsake again.

But he carries a quiver and arrows - why the needless weight, or is the child strong enough to bend the fearful bow?

He bears his wings in a curve, but knows not how to raise them into the heavens? He has not the skill to dispatch his arrows into the hearts of flying things.

He creeps on the ground, always wounds the mortal hearts of men, and like a stone, he moves not his wings from there.

If he is blind and wears a garland, why is such a headband useful to a blind god? Surely he will not see less on account of it?

Or who would believe in a sightless arrow-bearer? Though they are the random darts of a blind archer, the arrows this boy sets in motion are inescapable.

He is fiery, they say, and he fans flames in his heart. Come now, why does he still live? Flame devours all.

Why is it not extinguished even by the swelling waves of the Naiads as often as he steals into their gentle hearts?

But lest you fall prey to such gross errors, listen: my verses will tell you what true Love is:

it is delightful labour in lascivious dalliance, and its symbol is a Punic acorn on a black shield.

Emblem 115

On forgetting one's homeland

[Ulysses stands over his men, sleeping at base of lotus tree ]

For a long time, you've neglected your homeland, and forgotten your own, those things whom blood or love gave to you. You live in Rome; nor do you give any thought to returning home, so much has the charm of the immortal city overcome you. Thus the band of Ithacans, who'd been sent ahead, abandoned their country for the delight of lotus, and abandoned their leader too.

Emblem 116


[Sirens, Ulysses tied to mast of ship ]

Birds without wings, maidens without legs, and fish without snouts, who nevertheless sing with a mouth - who would think such things to be. Nature says these parts do not combine, but sirens show it has been possible. This woman who has a tail of a black fish is seductive; for lust brings with it many monsters. Men are attracted by look, by words, by brilliance of spirit - by Parthenope, by Ligia, and by Leucosia. The Muses pluck off their feathers, and Ulysses makes sport with them: which is to say, learned men have nothing to do with harlots.

Emblem 117

An old man in love with a maiden

[Sophocles, an old man, with hand on breast of Archippe, the young maiden; in distance, owl stands on chest of corpse ]

When Sophocles, though much afflicted by age, drew the maid Archippe from prostitution to his own desires, and allured her by money, a young man, mad with jealousy, bore it bitterly, and described both of them with these lines:

like a night-owl among the tombstones,
like a horned owl over corpses,
so my girl now sits with Sophocles.

Emblem 118

On colours

[Sophocles, an old man, with hand on breast of Archippe, the young maiden; in distance, owl stands on chest of corpse ]

The colour dark grey is sign of sadness; we all wear this clothing when we make our sacrifices at the graveside.

But a white robe is sign of an honest soul and pure mind; hence fine linen is pleasing to holy men.

Green teaches us to hope. Hope is said to be in green - how often it falls away unfulfilled.

Yellow is the colour for greedy people. It is right for lovers and prostitutes, and for those whose hope is certain.

But, let a red garment adorn the armed horsemen, and let shame display the boys whose faces redden.

Sea-blue is the the colour of sailors and those prophets who, stunned senseless by too much religion, seek things from heaven.

Natural wool for dun-coloured coverings is cheap; such blankets are commonly owned by men with wooden clogs.

He whom massive cares or jealous love torment - he is believed to be appropriately dressed in yellow cloth.

Whoever is happy with his lot, let him wear violet-coloured garments; likewise he who calmly bears the weariness of fortune.

As nature is varied in producing colours, so different things please different people. But to each of us, our own things are pleasing.

Emblem 119

Fortune, companion of virtue

[caduceus crowned by the winged hat of Mercury, two cornucopia, one on each side ]

Encircled by a pair of snakes and wings, the caduceus rests upright between the horns of Amalthea. Thus it shows that a great abundance of things blesses men who are strong of mind and skilled in speaking.

Emblem 120

Fortune overcoming virtue

[Brutus stabs himself with dagger ]

When Brutus was vanquished by the Caesarean host, he saw Pharsalia awash in the blood of citizens, and now about to draw his sword and plunge it into his breast in death, he delivered from his bold lips these words: Unhappy virtue, wise only in words, why in life's flux do you yield to Mistress Fortune?

Emblem 121

Poverty hinders the greatest talents from advancing

[man, winged arm raised upward, other arm weighed down by stone ]

My right hand holds a stone, my other hand bears wings. As the feathers lift me, so the heavy weight drags me down. With my intellect I could be soaring among the highest peaks, if envious poverty did not pull me down.

Emblem 122

On opportunity

(In the form of a dialogue)

[Occasion, bald with forelock, razor, on winged globe ]

This is the work of Lysippus, whose native city is Sicyon.

Who are you?

A moment of time seized, holding sway over everything.

Why do you stand on tiptoe?

I am constantly moving about.

Why do you keep winged sandals on your feet?

The light breeze carries me hither and thither.

In your right hand is a slender razor. Pray, why?

This symbol teaches that I am keener than every blade.

Why the tuft of hair on your brow?

So that I can be seized as I approach.

But tell me, why is the back of your head bald?

If someone once lets me go, swift as I am, I cannot then be captured by my hair.
It is for your sake that the artist has made me with such skill, stranger;
and that I may be a warning to everyone, I am placed in an open hall.

Emblem 123

On sudden terror

[Pan with horn, horsemen flee ]

Seeing the troops flee in a disorderly throng, Faunus asks, Who now blows my horn?

Emblem 124

On those who praise what is not worthy of praise

[elephant, trophies of war]

Though taken aback, Antiochus had unexpectedly routed the vast hosts of the Galatians with a half-armed soldiery because the savage force, the rage, and the trunks of his Lucarian oxen then for the first time wrought havoc among an enemy's horses. Accordingly, when mounting his trophies he painted them with the image of an elephant, and also spoke thus to his comrades: We had been slaughtered, had not the elephant, most dreadful beast, saved us: while it is pleasing to have won, it is shameful to have won this way.

Emblem 125

On brief happiness

[pine-tree encircled by vine with gourds ]

A gourd is said to have sprung up close to an airy pine tree, and to have grown apace with thick foliage: when it had embraced the pine's branches and even outstripped the top, it thought it was better than other trees. To it spoke the pine: Too brief this glory, for soon to come is that which will completely destroy you - winter!

Emblem 126

One man's loss is another man's gain

While they rushed to wound each other with savage weapons, the lioness with her dangerous claw, the boar with fearsome tooth, a vulture arrived to watch, and to await his feast. His future plunder is the glory of the victor.

Emblem 127

One ought to begin with good omens

[man with pack on back confronted by weasel ]

Something begun with bad omens does not know how to turn out well. What is conducted under a happy omen delights. Whatever you are doing, drop it if a weasel crosses your path: this dreadful beast brings signs of bad fortune.

Emblem 128

Nothing left

[locusts on cornfield ]

Even after so many disasters, this was lacking - that in the end locusts would descend upon whatever was left in our fields. We witnessed innumerable swarms bearing down, with Eurus leading the charge; even the armies of Attila and of Xerxes were not like this. These beasts consumed the corn, the millet, the spelt, all of it: even hope is in difficulties; beyond only prayers remain.

Emblem 129

Ill gotten, ill spent

[kite regurgitates intestines while another kite looks on ]

The greedy kite, tormented by nausea from an excess of food: "Lo mother, my insides are flowing out of my mouth." She in return: "Why are you complaining? Why do you think these insides are yours, since you live by theft, and vomit only what belongs to others?"

Emblem 130

That misfortunes are ever at hand

[three women at gambling table, one just having been struck by a collapsing roof ]

Three girls of the same age once played a dice-game to determine who would go first to the Stygian waters. The girl whom the game of chance had given the unlucky throw was laughing, blind to her fate - when suddenly she was killed by a blow to the head from a falling roof-tile. She paid for her audacious merriment with her life. In life's adversities, you can't escape bad luck: yet even in good times, neither prayers nor deeds suffice.

Emblem 131

That there are benefits in what is difficult, evils in what is easy

[three litae wave at the flying Ate ]

Since Jupiter threw down Ate from his ethereal seat, alas how evil mischief vexes men. She flies about, speedy of foot and swift of wing, and leaves nothing untouched by calamity. Therefore the Litae, offspring of Jove, accompany her as she goes, prepared to repair whatever damage she has done. But because they are slow-footed, half-blind, weary with age, they restore nothing to its rightful condition, except after a long time.

Emblem 132

From difficulties, a lasting fame

[snake devours the sparrow's young ]

A sparrow had entrusted her family to the branches of a plane tree, and safely too, had they not been noticed by a savage snake. All the chicks and their wretched mother this creature devoured. Deserving of such a death, the snake was turned to stone. If Calchas does not lie, these are the records of long labour, whose fame goes on for ever.

Emblem 133

That immortality is attained by literary studies

[Triton blows his horn, surrounded by oroboros ]

Triton, the trumpeter of Neptune (whose lower part shows he is a sea-monster, whose face shows him to be a god), is enclosed in the middle of a circle of a snake, who seizes his tail in his mouth with his teeth. Fame pursues men worthy in spirit and their splendid deeds, and commands that they be read by all the world.

Emblem 134

The tomb of Giangaleazzo Visconti, first Duke of Milan

[funeral mound with soldier at top, holding staff with helmet and snake spitting forth a child, the mound with tryptich, Italy in centre panel ]

Instead of a tomb place Italy, place arms and dukes, and the sea which thunders up the twin gulfs. Add to these the Barbarian attempting in vain to break through, and bands of men bought at a price for fierce wars. Yet the serpent-bearer standing on top may say: who has placed me, a great man, over these tiny things?

Emblem 135

The finest citizen

[Thrasybulus is crowned with olive ]

Because he defends his country with rightful arms, and orders each side to set aside dissension, all ranks together have bestowed upon him, to have as his own, in place of a magnificent gift, the garland of Pallas' greenery. Bind your hair, Thrasybulus! May you alone display this mark of honour. In this great city, you have no peer.

Emblem 136

The immortal fame of men of action

[Thetis places amaranth on the tomb of Achilles ]

You see here on the Rhoetean shore the tomb of the Aeacidean, visited often by the pale foot of Thetis. This tomb is always covered with green-growing amaranth because the hero's honour will never die. This man is the protector of the Greeks, the destroyer of great Hector. He owes no more to the Maeonian than the Maeonian owes to him.

Emblem 137

Noble, and well-born

[An Athenian, marked by a shoulder fastening in form of cricket, and a Roman, with moon on boots, sit facing one another ]

A golden clasp fastened the Cecropian robes; to this a cicada was joined, tenacious of tooth.

A half-boot, with a small moon attached in the Arcadian manner, was worn by the Roman fathers as a shoe denoting high office.

Men distinguished by ancient nobility bore these symbols, to declare themselves native-born.

Emblem 138

The twelve labours of Hercules

[Hercules, surrounded by signs of his twelve labours ]

His eloquence outstrips the praise for his invincible might.

He untangles the sayings of Sophists, and their silly snares.

No fury or madness is more powerful than virtue.

Wealth yields to the wise man because his course is unswerving.

He spurns avarice, and rejoices neither in plunder nor profit.

He outwits feminine wiles and despoils them of their trophies.

He cleans out filth, and brings cultivation to men's minds.

He abhors illicit intercourse, and banishes the offenders.

Barbarity and crass savagery pay a price in the end.

The virtue of one scatters the assembled foe.

He brings into his country a wealth of good things from foreign shores.

In men's learned words he flies, and never perishes.

Emblem 139

On bastards

[Jupiter holds the baby Hercules to the breast of sleeping Juno ]

May you who are illegitimate always celebrate the deeds of Hercules, for of your order he was the chief. Nor could he be a god until, as an infant, he sucked the milk which Juno, ignorant of the deception, gave.

Emblem 140


[duck, goose, jackdaw feed on the ground, while the falcon flies overhead ]

As the falcon flying aloft cuts through the thin air
as the jackdaw, the goose, and the duck feed on the ground,
so the mighty Pindar soars above the highest ether,
and so Bacchylides knows only how to creep on the ground.

Emblem 141

On those who fall away

[she-goat knocks over pail of her own milk ]

In that you have disgraced excellent beginnings with a base outcome and turned your advantage into injury, you have done as the she-goat when she kicks over the pail of her milk, and with her hoof spills her own riches.

Emblem 142

Unequal rivalry

[ ]

The lowly kite accompanies the soaring falcon, and takes part of the prey, which often tumbles down. The bream follows the mullet and greedily takes within his mouth the banquet rejected and bypassed by him. As these, so Oenocrates with me: the students' lecture- hall, when I leave, uses this half-blind man as eye.

Emblem 143

From Albutius to Master Alciatus, persuading him to withdraw from the conflicts of Italy and to teach in France

[man carrying platter of fruit, walks away from fruit-laden tree ]

The tree which supplied these fruits, a newcomer to our region, came earlier from the eastern extremity of Persis. It was improved by its migration, in that while once it yielded poisonous fruits in its own country, here it bears us sweet ones. It has a leaf very like a tongue, and fruit very like a heart. Alciatus, learn from it how to live your life. Far from your country you will be held in higher estimation; for you are most wise in your heart and are no less vigorous in speech.

Emblem 144

The prince, ensuring the safety of his subjects

[dolphin wrapped around anchor ]

Whenever the Titan brothers stir up the the oceans, then an anchor thrown out gives aid to the wretched sailors. This the dolphin, devoted to mankind, embraces so that it can fix more safely in the deepest seas. How fitting that kings bear these insignia mindful that they are to their people what the anchor is to sailors.

Emblem 145

On the senate of a good prince

[blind king sits before advisors without hands, also seated ]

Here, before an altar to the gods, sit statues with their hands cut off, and the foremost among them has no sight. These symbols of the highest authority and of the sacred Senate were devised by the men of Thebes.

Why are they sitting down?

Because it behooves grave judges to be of calm demeanour, and not to waver frivolously.

Why do they have no hands?

So that they should take no bribes, or let themselves be swayed by promises or gifts.

But the Prince is blind.

Because the steadfast Senate carries out what he has decreed without emotion, with his ears alone.

Emblem 146

The counsellors of princes

[Chiron the centaur schoolmaster of Achilles ]

Chiron is said to have instructed in his stables great Achilles and the sons of heroes. Whoever cares for kings should be a teacher who is half a beast. a Centaur who is half a human. He is a beast when he injures his comrades, when he tramples his enemies; and he is a man when he feigns devotion to his people.

Emblem 147

The wealth of a tyrant is the poverty of his subjects

[naked woman reclines on bed ]

What the spleen is to the human body, Caesar said his treasury was to the common weal. If the spleen swells, the other powers of the body dwindle; if the treasury swells, this shows civic poverty.

Emblem 148

What Christ does not take, the treasury seizes

[king squeezes sponge; thieves (the king had himself advanced) hang from a distant gibbet ]

The clenched hand of a greedy ruler squeezes a wet sponge which he had earlier filled with water. He raises thieves to high position, then locks them up, that he may take their ill-gotten gains for his own treasury.

Emblem 149

The mercy of the prince

[king of the wasps (sic, for bees) before his hive ]

That the king of wasps will never sting, and that he'll be twice as large as others - these will declare merciful governance, moderate kingship, and sacred laws entrusted to good judges.

Emblem 150

The public good

[snake of Aesculapius worshipped by sick men ]

The Epidaurian, son of Phoebus, occupies the lofty altar and this gentle god takes the form of a huge serpent. The sick hasten there and implore him to come as healer. The god acquiesces and sees that prayers are answered.

Emblem 151

The republic set free

[coin of Brutus, with two daggers, freedman's cap, and "id"(ibus) "mar"(tiis) or ides of March written between ]

Upon the death of Caesar,as if liberty had been restored, this coin was struck for Brutus' leading men. In the foreground are daggers, over which is set a cap of the kind that slaves receive when they are freed.

Emblem 152

On human life

[laughing Democritus, weeping Heraclitus ]

Weep for the troubles of human life now more than usual, Heraclitus: it overflows with many calamities. You, on the other hand, Democritus, laugh even more, if ever you laughed: life has become more ridiculous. Meanwhile, seeing these things, I wonder: how far in the end, Heraclitus, I may weep with you, or how, Democritus, I may joke merrily with you.

Emblem 153

Safety should at times be bought with money

[beaver pursued by hunter and dogs bites off its testicles ]

Though limping, its swollen underbelly sagging, the beaver nonetheless escapes the trap by this strategy. With its teeth, it rips off its healing genitals, and casts them away, knowing it is being hunted for them. By the example of this animal, learn not to spare your possessions but to give money to your enemies, in order to preserve your life.

Emblem 154

One ought not to wrestle with ghosts

[hares play about and bite a dead lion ]

Dying at a blow from the Aeacidean's spear, Hector who had so often conquered his foes, could not restrain his voice, as his enemies taunted him, preparing chains to bind his feet to his chariot: "Pull me apart as you wish - even timid hares pluck out the beard of the lion when his life is gone!"

Emblem 155

On Death and Love

[Amor and Death have mistakenly confused their arrows; Amor has killed a young man; Death has given love to an old man who escorts a young woman ]

Death was wandering, his arm in that of his companion Cupid: Death was carrying the quiver, little Love his arrows. They stopped at the same time, and at the same time lay down for the night. Love was blind, and Death became blind at this time. Each picked up the other's uncaring arrows, Death the golden ones, and the youth the weapons made of bone. Thus, an old man who should now be in Acheron lo and behold falls in love and prepares floral garlands for his head. And, because Love has struck me with the wrong arrow, I am dying and the fates lay their hand upon me. Spare me, o youth; and Death, holding the standards of victory, spare me: make sure that I am the one who loves, and that the old man goes down to Acheron.

Emblem 156

On a beautiful maiden snatched away by fate

[Eros or Amor or Cupid is asleep under a tree and beside him are hourglass and scythe; Death holds the bow and arrow ]

Why did you dare, o Death, to mislead the boy Love by guile, so that he would shoot your weapons thinking they were his?

Emblem 157

On too early death

[tomb, decorated with Gorgon's head flanked by two dolphins ]

A youth, quite lovely and distinguished throughout the city, who with his beauty attracted tender maidens and wrung their hearts, died before his time. He deserves to be mourned by none more than you, Arestius, to whom he was joined in chaste love. You therefore put up a tomb to him, a monument to your profound sadness, your voice reaching thus in mourning to the stars: "You depart without me my beloved? Shall we go forth together no more? Will you not while away with me pleasant leisure hours in affection? No, the earth will cover you, and the face of the Gorgon and the dolphins will provide the mournful symbols of your fate."

Emblem 158


[terminus on pedestal ]

A squared-off column is dug into the ground, a solid block; on it stands a bust of a man with ringlets, and proclaims he yields to no one. Such is Terminus; this end alone drives our race. The date is unmovable, the time foreordained by fates, and the last days bring a judgment on the first.

Emblem 159

The inheritance of a rich man

[raven and vulture peck at corpse; in distance the Trojans receive the arms and spoils of Patroclus, the Greeks receive the body ]

On one side, the Trojans seize Patroclus in his borrowed armour; on the other, his allies and the whole Pelasgian host oppose the action. Hector gets possession of his arms, the Greeks his body. This drama is played out whenever a rich man dies. A grand dispute arises, but at length the heir settles the matter, allowing something to the ravens and the vultures.

Emblem 160

Friendship lasting even after death

[grape-vine coils about the trunk of a dead elm ]

A vine, covered in vibrant greenery, has embraced an elm, dry with age and even stripped of foliage. It acknowledges natural change, and gratefully gives back to its parent the reciprocal obligations of service. And so by example it counsels us to seek out friends those whose pact of friendship is not broken even by death.

Emblem 161

Mutual support

[lame man leads way from the shoulders of blind man ]

A lame man is carried upon the shoulders of one who has lost his sight. With his eyes, the lame man repays this service of his friend. In what one lacks, it is agreed, the other is superior; one man borrows eyes, the other man borrows feet.

Emblem 162

Support that is never wanting

[Myrtilus escapes by floating away on his shield ]

When I was overwhelmed on land, or overwhelmed at sea, I carefully escaped the double danger by a single piece of armour. My shield kept me safe from the line of battle; when I was shipwrecked, it carried me, as I clung to it, right to shore.

Emblem 163

The Graces

[the Graces, Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, with winged feet ]

The three Graces attend Venus, and follow their mistress, and so prepare delights and things to eat. Euphrosyne brings happiness, Aglaia, glorious radiance, and Pitho is Persuasion herself, winsome and pleasing of speech.

Why are they naked?

Because loveliness resides in honesty of mind and pleases through its utter simplicity.

Is it because the ungrateful give nothing back that the Graces' casket is always empty?

The one who gives gifts goes naked and does without.

Why have their feet been recently attired with winged sandals?

The one who gives quickly, gives twice; generosity that is slow to appear is almost worthless.

Why does one turn with the others' arms around her?

Giving graciously makes interest. When one is let go, two remain to the giver.

Jupiter is father to them all. From heavnly seed Eurynome brought forth the divine creatures, dear to all.

Emblem 164

Against detractors

[one hand holds a cricket by one wing, the other hand holds a pennant-like whisk to chase away surrounding flies ]

Dolts brandishing whips and stupid schoolteachers dare to vomit the bile of their impure hearts against me. What should I do? Return the favour? But will I not be said to have seized the clamorous cricket by one wing? What use is it to banish insects with busy flapping? More satisfactory to ignore what you can't destroy.

Emblem 164

Against detractors

[one hand holds a cricket by one wing, the other hand holds a pennant-like whisk to chase away surrounding flies ]

Dolts brandishing whips and stupid schoolteachers dare to vomit the bile of their impure hearts against me. What should I do? Return the favour? But will I not be said to have seized the clamorous cricket by one wing? What use is it to banish insects with busy flapping? More satisfactory to ignore what you can't destroy.

Emblem 165

Futile effort

[dog bays at full moon ]

A dog gazes at the moon by night, as if at a mirror. And seeing himself, he believes another dog is in the moon. So he barks; but his ineffectual voice is carried away in vain by the winds, and Diana pursues her course without hearing.

Emblem 166

Something evil, from an evil neighbour

[copper pot and earthenware pot float side-by side in a stream ]

A flood carried away two jars, one of which was of metal, the other earthen, made by the hand of the potter. The former asked the latter if she wished to be borne along next to her, so that as one they could withstand the rushing waters. The clay jar replied: "Your concerns are of no consequence to me: let not closeness bring me much bad fortune. For whether a wave carries you against me or me against you, I, being fragile, will break, and you alone will survive."

Emblem 167

On one who will perish, from the harshness of his own

[dolphin beached on shore ]

The ocean swell has driven me, a dolphin, against my will to the seashore, a lesson in how great are dangers held by the treacherous sea. For if Neptune does not spare even his own children, who can imagine that men are safe in boats?

Emblem 168

On the gifts of enemies

[Ajax offers Hector a belt, Hector offers Ajax a sword ]

They say that Ajax the shield-bearer and the Trojan Hector exchanged remembrances of the wars. The son of Priam took a sword-belt, and the son of Telamon a steel sword: each received the instrument of his own death. For the sword killed Ajax, while the belt fastened to the Aemonian chariot wheels dragged Hector to his death. So the gifts which enemies bestow on one another on the pretext of diplomacy bear with them fates that foreshadow what is to come.

Emblem 169

One ought to fear even the tiniest creatures

[eagle is attacked by beetle ]

The beetle wages war and provokes his enemy of his own accord; even though inferior in strength he surpasses her in cunning. For he hides himself in secret and unknown in the feathers of the eagle, to reach his enemy's nest through the highest stars. By piercing the eggs, he puts an end to the hope of the young growing up: and, having avenged in this way the shame inflicted on him, he departs.

Emblem 170

Weakness subject to harm

[sardines attacked from below by the "orata" (a large fish), from above by two birds, the "mergus" and "fulica"]

The gilt-bream seizes the tiny sardines in mid-ocean, if they do not scatter in fear and make for the surface of the water. But, if they do, at the surface they are food for greedy coots and other waterfowl. Alas, weakness remains unsafe from every side.

Emblem 171

Terrifying, even after death

[two drummers, one with wolf-skin, one with sheep-skin drumhead ]

Other things will grow silent, the sheep's hide will be mute, if drums made out of wolfskin sound out. At this the skin of the sheep is so terrified that though lifeless it shrinks from its lifeless enemy. Thus Ziscas, with his skin removed and turned into a drum, could defeat the Bohemian priests.

Emblem 172

A just revenge

[cyclops Polyphemus blinded by Ulysses ]

While the Cyclops rests at the entrance to his deep-winding cave, among his tender flocks, he sings to himself thus: "Feed yourselves upon the grass! - I will feed upon the Achaean comrades, and last of all my stomach will digest Nobody." The Ithacan heard this, and blinded the Cyclops. See how punishment is visited upon the schemer.

Emblem 173

A just revenge

[raven holds scorpion, who in turn stings raven ]

A raven seized a scorpion by the foot and took him high into the rushing air, a reward taken for his own greedy appetite. But the scorpion, injecting his venom gradually into the predator's body, forced him in revenge beneath the Stygian waves. An event worthy of laughter: one who was preparing destruction for others perished himself, succumbing to his own cunning.

Emblem 175

One sins, the other is punished

[dog attacks stone, not the man who threw the stone ]

As a young dog picks up a stone and worries it with his teeth, inflicting no damage in return on the one who tried to strike him with it, so men let their real enemies elude them, and with bared teeth hunt down those not charged with any crime.

Emblem 174

The fault belongs alike to the wrong-doer and the persuader

[herald who sounded the call to arms is captured in battle ]

In a hideous dungeon a victorious throng holds captive a herald for sounding out battle signals on a trumpet. He pleads before them that he does not strive in arms, nor has he with savage sword pierced the side of any man. To him they answer: But in that you stir others to arms with the clangor of your instrument, you, most fearful one, commit a greater sin.

Emblem 176

The sword of a madman

[mad Ajax kills pigs, not descendants of the Greeks ]

Ajax was standing, sword in hand, in the midst of a bristly herd, convinced that his sword was felling in its slaughter the descendants of Tantalus. So such a victim as a pig paid the penalty in the place of Laertes' son and the nobility. Fury does not knows how to confront its enemies: its blows fall wide and, lacking any plan, it rushes to its ruin.

Emblem 177


[elephant, hitched to wagon, and driven on by trainer, steps on shield ]

The elephant, with his tower-bearing shoulders, and ivory tusks, though accustomed to ferocious domination in martial conflict, has placed his neck under a yoke, and driven by goads, he pulls the chariots of Caesar to sacred temples. Even a wild beast recognizes nations everywhere in harmony and, when arms are laid down, he discharges the offices of peace.

Emblem 178

From war, peace

[helmet used as hive by bees ]

Behold a helmet which a fearless soldier had worn, once often splashed with enemy blood; now, with the onset of peace, it has surrendered to bees the use of its little hollow space, and it now yields honey-combs and sweet honey. May weapons lie afar off. May it be lawful to take up arms only when you cannot otherwise enjoy the art of peace.

Emblem 179

From peace, plenty

[a sea bird, the "alcyon," cares for its young in a nest by the sea ]

Weave pliant garlands out of luxuriant stems, around which winds a vine with interwoven shoots. With these, the crested halcyons build nests on the swell of a tranquil ocean, and nurture their fledglings. The year will be joyful for Ceres and fertile for Bacchus too, if the monarch resembles this sea-bird.

Emblem 180

It is a sacrilege for scholars to malign scholars

[swallow (a chatterer) carries a cricket (another chatterer) as food for her young ]

O Procne, alas why do you savagely seize the chirping cicada,
and prepare for your young a ghastly meal?
Do you, prattler, hurt a prattler?
Do you, songster of spring, hurt a songster of spring?
Do you, a guest, hurt a guest?
And do you, winged and flying, hurt another just like you?
Then cast away your prey --
for musical souls, it is a most dreadful crime
that one should perish by the tooth of another.

Emblem 181

Eloquence, surpassing strength

[A chain from the mouth of Hercules holds the ears of two captives ]

His left hand holds a bow, his right carries a rough club, and the Nemean lion cloaks his naked body. Is this therefore the likeness of Hercules? That he is old and his temples hoary with age suggests otherwise. What of his tongue, pierced with light chains, by which he cleaves the ears of men and draws them to him without difficulty? Don't the Gauls say that with his tongue, not with his might, Alcides excelled in providing nations with laws? Arms yield to the toga, and he who is powerful in speech draws to his wishes even the most resistant hearts.

Emblem 182

Eloquence is difficult

[Mercury hands the plant moly to Ulysses ]

There was a story that Mercury gave this to the man from Ithaca as an antidote to the drugged wine of the Aeaean Circe. They call it moly: it is pulled up with difficulty by its black root, but its flower is purple and looks like milk. Brilliance of eloquence and fluency attract everyone: But such a great gift is the result of much effort.

Emblem 184

The insignia of the poets

[swan on shield ]

There are some who bear family shields with the bird of Jupiter; there some whose signs bear a serpent or a lion. But let these dreadful creatures flee the tablets of the poets, and let the graceful swan sustain the learned family tree. The swan is sacred to Phoebus and brought up in our region: once a king, it has kept its ancient titles until now.

Emblem 183

All that is most ancient is a lie

[Proteus ]

O Proteus, old man of Pallene, with the form of an actor, who at one moment takes the limbs of a man, at another those of a beast, come tell us why you turn into all shapes, so that, forever changing, you have no fixed form?

I bring forth symbols of antiquity and a primaeval age, of which each man dreams, according to his wishes.

Emblem 185

Music is in the care of the gods

[cricket sits on a lyre ]

Eunomus of Locris has fashioneded 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.

Emblem 186

The letter kills, the spirit breathes life

[Cadmus sows the teeth of the dead dragon ]

When Cadmus committed those viper's teeth to the fields, he sowed terrible seeds in Aonian soil: an armed band of men arose, born from the earth, and with murderous hands set to killing one another. Some of these men escaped; heeding Tritonian advice, they threw away their arms, made peace, and joined their right hands.

This son of Agenor was first to pass on to teachers the letters of the alphabet and the first principles of learning, and to these he added sweet harmony. But scholars in these matters are vexed by many, many disputes, except when these are solved by the aid of Pallas.

Emblem 187

Sayings of the seven wise men

[cluster of images representing the saying: man on ass, pennyroyal ("pulegium"), balance, mirror, coriander, terminus, bird-cage ]

Take these things, you who wish to portray the sayings of the seven wise men, to celebrate them in pictures.

"Moderation in things is best," as Cleobulus said: the tongue of a balance, or level teaches this lesson.

Chilon the Spartan exhorted each man to know himself: this mirror in your hands, this glass you pick up will provide the image.

As Periander the Corinthian said, "Put reins upon your anger": fleabane applied to the nostrils will show this.

Pittacus advocated "Nothing to excess": they make the same point who dissolve coriander in the mouth.

Solon enjoined that one pay attention to the end: Terminus himself, the last boundary in the fields, will not yield to great Jupiter.

Alas how true what Bias said, "There is a great abundance of disasters": portray a Sardinian rider sitting on a Sardinian ass.

"Do not be an accomplice," said Thales: thus the lapwing smeared with birdlime draws its companion into the snare, and the bee-eater does likewise.

Emblem 188

That ignorance must be banished

[sphinx ]

What monster is that?

It is the Sphinx.

Why does it have the bright face of a virgin, the feathers of a bird, and the limbs of a lion?

Ignorance of things has taken on this appearance: which is to say that the root cause of so much evil is threefold. Some men are made ignorant by levity of mind, some by seductive pleasure, and some by arrogance of spirit. But they who know the power of the Delphic message slit the relentless monster's terrible throat. For man himself is also a two-footed, three-footed, four-footed thing, and the first victory of the prudent man is to know what man is.

Emblem 189

Mind, not outward form, prevails

[fox holds mask ]

A fox entered a theatre director's store-room, and found a human head skilfully finished, so elegantly made that the only thing wanting was breathing; in other ways it was like a living creature. Taking it up in her paws, she said: "Oh, what a head is this! - But it has no brain!"

Emblem 190

The ignorant rich man

[Phrixus rides the golden ram ]

Phryxus, sitting on the priceless fleece, crosses the water. Astride the golden ram he rides fearlessly through the sea. What perchance is this? A man dull of mind, but rich in treasure, governed by the whim of a spouse or servant.

Emblem 191

On wifely fidelity

[man and woman, dog ]

Behold a young woman, who joins right hands with a man; behold how she sits and how a dog plays at her feet. This is the image of fidelity: if the passion of Venus fosters this fidelity, on her left there will be a branch aptly bearing apples. Indeed these are the fruits of Venus. Thus the daughter of Scoeneus conquered Hippomenes; thus Galatea sought her husband.

Emblem 192

That respect is to be sought in marriage

[viper approaches an eel ]

When he burns with love, the viper stands at the shore of the ocean, and from his stomach vomits dreadful poison. Then he sends abroad noisy hisses, to attract the murena fish. But the murena at the very same time desires the caresses of her mate. The greatest respect is due to the marriage chamber: each spouse owes allegiance to the other.

Emblem 193

On fertility that is harmful to itself

[boys try to knock fruit from nut-tree ]

I am a chestnut tree, planted at a fork in the road by the care of a rustic. Now I'm sport for boys throwing stones. Standing tall, my branches mutilated, my bark damaged, I am assaulted on all sides by sling-stones hurled at me eagerly. What greater disgrace could afflict a sterile tree? Alas, I unhappily bear the fruit for my own destruction.

Emblem 194

Love of one's`children

[dove nests in barren tree ]

Before springtime, the white ring-dove makes her nest in the northern cold, and sits on the eggs she laid too soon. And, so that her young can nestle more softly, she plucks her own wings. Now, naked herself, she grows faint in the winter chill. Aren't you ashamed, O Colchian, and you, monstrous Procne, when a bird comes to die out of love for her young?

Emblem 195

Devotion of children to their parents

[Aeneas carries Anchises from burning Troy ]

As Aeneas carried the precious burden of his father on his shoulders from the flames of his native city through the midst of the enemy, he said: "Spare him -- you will get no honour for capturing an old man, but I will have the highest honour for having saved my father."

Emblem 196

The reputation of a woman, not her beauty, ought to be proclaimed

In the form of a dialogue

[Venus, one foot on a tortoise, with Amor standing by ]

Bountiful Venus, what pray is this likeness? What is the significance of that tortoise on which, goddess, you set your gentle foot?

Phidias formed me thus, and he commanded that my sculpture represent the female sex; and because it is appropriate for women to remain at home and be silent, he placed such a symbol beneath my feet.

Emblem 197

On a statue to modesty

[Penelope, pulled on one side by Icarius, on the other by Ulysses ]

When betrothed to Ulysses, Penelope wanted to follow him, but that her father Icarius wished to have it otherwise. The former offers her Ithaca, the latter Sparta. The virgin remains anxious. Her father urges one course, the love of man and woman urges another. Therefore she sits veiling her face, and covers her eyes -- they were the signs of virginal modesty. In them Icarius saw that Ulysses was preferred to him, and built an altar to modesty in the form you see.

Emblem 198

Wife to an infected man

[king Mezentius points to two men who bind a naked man to a corpse ]

Mezentius, may the gods bring better things to those who love them.

Pray, why do you address me in this way?

Because, with a dowry, you bought yourself a son-in-law who burns with the Gallic plague, and the dreadful face rot. Tell me, what else is this, cruel father, than joining dead bodies to living ones, and repeating the savage deeds of the Etruscan leader.

Emblem 199

The cypress

[cypress with two funeral pyres, one with cypress, one with parsley ]

The conical shape and the name of the Cypress indicate that one's offspring should be treated fairly.


The Cypress tree is funereal, and by custom its foliage wreathes memorials to celebrated men, as parsley does for those of lower orders.


Its foliage is beautiful, and its branches ordered in a beautiful shape; but this beautiful foliage bears no fruit.

Emblem 200

The oak

[oak tree, two sides of a coin of Jupiter on each side ]

The oak tree is pleasing to Jupiter, who protects and nurtures us: an oaken crown is given to one who saves a fellow-citizen.


With its acorn it nourished those of old; now it serves by its shade alone. Even in this way Jupiter's tree is of service.

Emblem 201

The willow

[oak tree, two sides of a coin of Jupiter on each side ]

Because Homer called the willow a fruit-losing tree, it resembles men who are of Clitorian habits.

Emblem 202

The fir-tree

[silver fir, beneath sailing boats and a stack of lumber ]

The silver fir tree, though fit for the ocean deeps, is raised in the high mountains: it shows its greatest use in adversity.

Emblem 203

The pitch pine

[pine tree, below an ass, and six bees ]

Indeed because the pitch-pine sends out no sucker-growth from its trunk, it is an image of one who dies without offspring.

Emblem 204

The quince tree

[quince tree, below Amor with basket of quinces approaches an old man ]

Solon of ancient times is said to have decided that Cydonian apples should be presented to newlyweds. Since they are pleasant to the taste and the digestion, their delicious charm stays in the mouth, so that the breath is made sweet by them.

Emblem 205

The ivy

[ivy bush, below, garlanded, a lyre on side, a scroll on the other ]

Since it never shows signs of withering, the ivy is the plant which they say Bacchus gave to the boy Cissus as a gift; restless, provocative, tawny with its golden berries, verdant on the outside, it is pale elsewhere. From it are shaped garlands to crown the poets' temples -- poets become pale from their exertions, though their fame flourishes for a long time.

Emblem 206

The holm oak

[holm oak, beneath armed men battle ]

Because the holm oak would burst from an excess of harshness, it is the symbol of civil war.

Emblem 207

The citron tree

[citron tree, beneath Venus on one side, Amor next to a bee-hive on the other ]

These are the golden apples of Venus. Their pleasing bitterness proclaims that for the Greeks love is likewise bittersweet.

Emblem 208

The box tree

[shaped box tree, beneath a flute and a shepherd's pipe ]

The box tree is always green and has a curly head. From it is made the reed pipe with its uneven harmonies. It is suited to tender delights, and is a tree for lovers -- it has a pale colour, and every lover is pale.

Emblem 209

The almond tree

[almond tree, beneath a man with a pin-wheel, swaddled infant, skull, open book ]

Why in your haste, almond tree, do you put out flowers before foliage? I hate small children of a forward disposition.

Emblem 210

The mulberry tree

[mulberry tree, beneath figures of winter and summer, latter with cornucopia ]

The late-ripening mulberry never blooms before the end of frost; and, since it is no fool, it bears a false name.

Emblem 211

The laurel tree

[laurel tree, beneath coin of Charles V, a burning altar, and complex tripod structure with image of dolphin ]

Knowing what is to come, the laurel tree bears signs of safety: placed under a pillow, it creates dreams that come true.


The laurel tree is owed to Charles for his victory over the Poeni: may such garlands adorn victorious heads.

Emblem 212

The white poplar

[poplar tree, beneath two sides of coin, on one side Hercules, on the other images of day and night ]

Because the two-coloured poplar adorns the hair of Hercules, both night and day take their turns in time.

Last modified 13 November 1997