Alciato's Book of Emblems
The Order of the Emblems

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The Order of the Emblems

The emblems were first published in 1531 in an unauthorized edition; through several subsequent editions Alciato added to the collection and rearranged it. A canonical order of the emblems was established in an edition of 1548, where the poems were organized thematically. The standard divisions follow immediately below.

Deus, sive Religio (God or Religion) [4-8]
Fides (Faith) [9-13]
Prudentia (Prudence) [14-26]
Justitia (Justice) [27-32]
Fortitudo (Strength) [33-37]
Concordia (Harmony) [38-42]
Spes (Hope) [43-47]
Perfidia (Falsehood) [49-54]
Stultitia (Stupidity) [55-66]
Superbia (Pride) [67-71]
Luxuria (Lechery) [72-80]
Desidia (Idleness) [81-84]
Avaritia (Avarice) [85-90]
Gula (Gluttony) [91-97]
Natura (Nature) [98-101]
Astrologia (Astrology) [102-105]
Amor (Love) [106-118]
Fortuna (Fortune) [119-131]
Honor (Honour) [132-143]
Princeps (The Prince) [144-149]
Respublica (The Republic) [150-151]
Vita (Life) [152-153]
Mors (Death) [154-159]
Amicitia (Friendship) [160-163]
Hostilitas (Enmity) [164-171]
Vindicta (Vengeance) [172-176]
Pax (Peace) [177-179]
Scientia (Knowledge) [180-187]
Ignorantia (Ignorance) [188-190]
Matrimonia (Marriage) [191-198]
Arbores (Trees) [199-212]

The Emblem Titles

Praefatio / Preface

Insignia Ducatus Mediolanensis / On the shield of the Duke of Milan [snake, infant] / 1

Mediolanum / Milan [building of Milan; pig recovered from the ground] / 2

Nunquam procrastinandum / One ought never to procrastinate [elk] / 3

Deus sive religio (God or religion)

In Deo laetandum / One ought to delight in God [Ganymede] / 4

Sapientia humana, stultitia est apud Deum / Human wisdom is folly before the Lord [Cecrops] / 5

Ficta religio / False religion [Whore of Babylon] / 6

Non tibi, sed religioni / Not for you, but for religion [ass bearing mysteries] / 7

Qua Dii vocant, eundum / Where the gods call, there one must go [Mercury at the crossroads] / 8


Fides (Faith)

Fidei symbolum / Symbol of faithfulness [Truth, Love, Honour] / 9

Foedera / Treaties [lute] / 10

Silentium / Silence [scholar] / 11

Non vulganda consilia / Plans ought not to be divulged [Roman standard] / 12

Nec quaestioni quidem cedendum / One ought not to yield, even under torture [lioness] / 13

Prudentia (Prudence)

Consilio et virtute Chimaeram superari, hoc est, fortiores et deceptores / The Chimaera (those who are stronger and more deceptive) are to be overcome by judgment and courage [Bellerophon against the Chimera] / 14

Vigilantia et custodia / Wakefulness and watchfulness [lions, cocks] / 15

[Nephe, kai memnes apizein arthra tauta ton phrenon] Sobrius esto, et memineris non temere credere: haec sunt membra mentis / Be sober and remember not to be too rashly credulous; these are the limbs of the mind [hand with eye] / 16

[Pê parebên; ti d' erexa; ti moi deon ouk etelesthê;] Lapsus ubi? quid feci? aut officii quid omissum est? / Where did I err? what did I accomplish? or what duty was left undone? [Pythagoras observes flying cranes who carry stones in their talons] / 17

Prudentes / Prudent ones [Janus] / 18

Prudens magis quam loquax / Wise, more than wordy [shield with owl] / 19

Maturandum / One ought to move swiftly [javelin entwined by remora] / 20

In deprehensum / On one having been caught [fisherman traps eel with fig-leaves] / 21

Custodiendas virgines / Virgins must be protected [Athena] / 22

Vino prudentiam augeri / That foresight is improved by wine [two statues: Athena and Bacchus] / 23

Prudentes vino absinent / Wise men abstain from wine [olive-tree entwined by grape-vine] / 24

In statuam Bacchi / On a statue of Bacchus [Bacchus in arbour beats on drum] / 25

Gramen / Grass [Quintus Fabius Maximus points to lark nesting in grass as garland of grass is placed upon his head] / 26

Iustitia (Justice)

Nec verbo, nec facto quemquam laedandum / Harm no one, by word or deed [Nemesis holds bridle and rule] / 27

Tandem tandem iustitia obtinet / At last, at last, justice prevails [tomb of Ajax on seashore, shield of Achilles is washed towards it] / 28

Etiam ferocissimos domari / Even the fiercest are overcome [Marc Antony in chariot pulled by lions] / 29

Gratiam referendam / A favour ought to be returned [stork brings food to young who nest on chimney top] / 30

Abstinentia / Abstinence [tomb with pitcher and basin] / 31

Bonis a divitibus nihil timendum / Good men ought to fear nothing from the rich [Zetes and Calais pursue three Harpies] / 32

Fortitudo (Strength)

Signa fortium / Signs of the brave [eagle on tomb of Aristomenes] / 33

[Anechou kai apechou] Sustine et abstine / Bear, and forbear [bull separated from cows by farmer] / 34

In adulari nescientem / On one who knows not how to flatter [horseman restrains his horse] / 35

Obdurandum adversus urgentia / One must persist against oppressions [date-palm weighted down by boy] 36

Omnia mea mecum porto / I carry all my things with me [naked Scythian (odd, because the emblem is about the clothing of the Scythian)] / 37

Concordia (Harmony)

Concordiae symbolum / Symbol of harmony [sceptre on pedestal; two crows stand on it, two fly overhead] / 38

Concordia / Harmony [armed soldiers shake hands] / 39

Concordia insuperabilis / Unconquerable harmony [six-armed Geryon ready for battle] / 40

Unum nihil, duos plurimum posse / One man can do nothing, two can do much [Diomedes and Ulysses] / 41

Firmissima convelli non posse / What stands firmest cannot be overthrown [two winds blow off its leaves, but the oak-tree stands firm] 42

Spes (Hope)

Spes proxima / Hope is near [ship in rough seas, constellation of the Gemini overhead] / 43

In simulacrum Spei / On an image of Hope [Hope holding weapons is seated on cask, her companions a crow, Nemesis, Good Outcome, and Cupid are nearby] / 44

In dies meliora / Better things to come [pig roots in earth, farmer points to columns "plus oltre [ultra]"] / 45

Illicitum non sperandum / The forbidden is not be hoped for [Hope with bow, wand, and barrel; Nemesis with bridle and rule] / 46

Pudicitia / Chastity [shield with bird ("porphyrio")] / 47


Perfidia (Falsehood)

In victoriam dolo partam / On victory born of deceit [Virtue, on tomb of Ajax, pulls out her hair] / 48

In fraudulentos / Against deceivers [spotted lizard] / 49

Dolus in suos / Deceit against one's own [fowlers use decoy to trap birds with net] / 50

Maledicentia / Slanderous words [wasps on tomb of Archilocus] / 51

In receptatores sicariorum / Against those who harbour assassins [Actaeon] / 52

In adulatores / Against flatterers [chameleon] / 53

Ei, qui semel sua prodegerit, aliena credi non oportere / It does not behoove one who has been careless with his own to be trusted with the things of others [Medea] / 54

Stultitia (Stupidity)

Temeritas / Recklessness [charioteer with two horses] / 55

In temerarios / Against the reckless [Phaeton] / 56

Furor et rabies / Anger and rage [Agamemnon] / 57

In eos, qui supra vires quicquam audent / Against those who dare anything beyond their strength [Hercules and pygmies] / 58

Impossibile / The impossible [Ethiopian] / 59

Cuculi / Cuckoos [Cuckoo] / 60

Vespertilio / The bat [bat] / 61

Aliud de eodem [vespertilio] / Another, on the bat [bat] / 62

Ira / Wrath [lion cornered by dogs and hunters beats himself with this tail] / 63

In eum, qui sibi damnum apparat / On one who seems damned by himself [she-goat nursing wolf-cub] / 64

Fatuitas / Foolishness [fowler seizes owl] / 65

Oblivio paupertatis parens / Forgetfulness, parent of poverty [lynx neglects food in favour of other prey] / 66

Superbia (Pride)

Superbia / Pride [Niobe sees the slaughter of her children] / 67

Impudentia / Shamelessness [Scylla] / 68

[Philautia] / Self-love [Narcissus] / 69

Garrulitas / Chattiness [reclining man addresses swallow] / 70

Invidia / Envy [Envy] / 71

Luxuria (Lechery)

Luxuria / Lechery [Faunus, satyr and maiden] / 72

Luxuriosorum opes / The wealth of the dissolute [fig-tree with crows and ravens] / 73

Tumulus meretricis / The tomb of a prostitute [tomb; lionness attacks ram] / 74

In amatores meretricum / Against the lovers of prostitutes [fisherman, as goat, nets fish] / 75

Cavendum a meretricibus / One ought to beware of prostitutes [Circe] / 76

Amuletum Veneris / The amulet of Venus [Venus covers Adonis with lettuce] / 77

Inviolabiles telo Cupidinis / Those immune to Cupid's arrow [bird (the "motacilla") flies within two narrow circles] / 78

Lascivia / Lasciviousness [richly attired woman] / 79

Adversus naturam peccantes / Those sinning against nature [woman defecates in vessel for food] / 80

Desidia (Idleness)

Desidia / Idleness [Essene looks at stars while he sits on barrel, fire beneath] / 81

Desidiam abiiciendam / That idleness ought to be thrown aside [idle men in conversation] / 82

In facile a virtute desciscentes / Against those who fall easily from virtue [remora holds back ship] / 83

Ignavi / Lazy men [Asterias the slave, transformed to heron; Ardelio, the busybody, flies overhead as falcon] / 84

Avaritia (Avarice)

Avaritia / Avarice [Tantalus] / 85

In avaros / Against misers [ass with food on back eats thistles] / 86

In aulicos / Against courtiers [courtier in stocks] / 87

In sordidos / Against unclean men [ibis puts beak in anus] / 88

In divites publico malo / Against the wealthy, by public mischief [eel fisherman muddy waters] / 89

In avaros, vel quibus melior conditio ab extraneis offertur / Against greedy men: or, those to whom a better situation is offered by strangers [Arion and dolphin] / 90

Gula (Gluttony)

Gula / Gluttony [man with long neck holds birds] / 91

Ocni effigies, de iis qui meretricibus donant, quod in bonos usus verti debeat / 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] / 92

In parasitos / On parasites / 93

Parvam culinam duobus ganeonibus non sufficere / For two gluttons, a small kitchen does not suffice [two birds fight over possession of a tree] / 94

Captivus ob gulam / Trapped by gluttony [mouse trapped in oyster shell] / 95

In garrulam et gulosum / Against the garrulous and the gluttonous man [pelican] / 96

Doctorum agnomina / The nicknames of professors [professor addressing scholars from podium] / 97

Natura (Nature)

Natura / Natura [Pan] / 98

Ars naturam adiuvans / Art aiding nature [Mercury with caduceus, Fortune on globe, with cornucopia] / 99

In iuventam / On youth [Apollo and Bacchus] / 100

In quatuor anni tempora / On the four seasons of the year [four birds: fringilla, hirundo, cuculus, ficedula (robin, swallow, cuckoo, beccaficos)] / 101

Astrologia (Astrology)

Scyphus Nestoris / The cup of Nestor [Nestor, holding cup] / 102

Quae supra nos, nihil ad nos / That which is above us is nothing to us [Prometheus] / 103

In astrologos / On astrologers [Icarus] / 104

Qui alta contemplantur, cadere / Those who contemplate the heights, fall [hunter looses bow at crane; snake bites his leg] / 105

Amor (Love)

Potentissimus affectus amor / Love, the most powerful passion [Amor drives team of lions] / 106

Potentia Amoris / The power of Love [Amor holds fish and bunch of flowers] / 107

Vis amoris / The force of Love [Amor holds broken thunder-bolt] / 108

In studiosum, captum amore / On a scholar, overcome by love [scholar with Athena on one side points to Venus and Amor on the other] / 109

[Anteros], id est, Amor virtutis / Anteros, which is the love of virtue [Anteros seated with four garlands] / 110

[Anteros], Amor virtutis, alium Cupidinem superans / Anteros: the love of virtue overcoming the other Cupid [Anteros binds Amor to tree while Amor's weapons burn] / 111

Dulcia quandoque amara fieri / Sometimes sweet things become bitter [Amor, chased by bees, runs to Venus] / 112

Fere simile ex Theocrito / Almost the same, out of Theocritus [Amor, chased by bees, flies to his mother] / 113

In statuam Amoris / On a statue of Love [Amor stands holding shield with figure of pomegranate] / 114

In oblivionem patriae / On forgetting one's homeland [Ulysses stands over his men, sleeping at base of lotus tree] / 115

Sirenes / Sirens [Sirens, Ulysses tied to mast of ship] / 116

Senex puellam amans / 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] / 117

In colores / On colours [Dyer at work before a steaming dying tank] / 118

Fortuna (Fortune)

Virtuti fortuna comes / Fortune, companion of virtue [caduceus crowned by the winged hat of Mercury, two cornucopia, one on each side] / 119

Fortuna virtutem superans / Fortune overcoming virtue [Brutus stabs himself with dagger] / 120

Paupertatem summis ingeniis obesse, ne provehantur / Poverty hinders the greatest talents from advancing [man, winged arm raised upward, other arm weighed down by stone] / 121

In Occasionem / On Opportunity [Occasion, bald with forelock, razor, on winged globe] / 122

In subitum terrorem / On sudden terror [Pan with horn, horsemen flee] / 123

In illaudata laudantes / On those who praise what is not worthy of praise [elephant, trophies of war] / 124

In momentaneam felicitatem / On brief happiness [pine-tree encircled by vine with gourds] / 125

Ex damno alterius, alterius utilitas / One man's loss is another man's gain [vulture looks down at battling lion and boar] / 126

Bonis auspiciis incipiendum / One ought to begin with good omens [man with pack on back confronted by weasel] / 127

Nihil reliqui / Nothing's left [locusts on cornfield] / 128

Male parte, male dilabuntur / Ill gotten, ill spent [kite regurgitates intestines while another kite looks on] / 129

Semper praesto esse infortunia / Misfortunes are always at hand [three women at gambling table, one just having been struck by a collapsing roof] / 130

Remedia in arduo, mala in prono esse / There are benefits in what is difficult, evils in what is easy [three litae wave at the flying Ate] / 131

Honor (Honor) Ex arduis perpetuum nomen / From difficulties, lasting fame [snake devours the sparrow's young] / 132

Ex litterarum studiis immortalitatem acquiri / That immortality is attained by literary studies [Triton blows his horn, surrounded by oroboros] / 133

Tumulus Ioannis Galeacii Vicecomitis / 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] / 134

Optimus civis / The finest citizen [Thrasybulus is crowned with olive] / 135

Strenuorum immortale nomen / The immortal fame of men of action [Thetis places amaranth on the tomb of Achilles] / 136

Nobiles et generosi / 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] / 137

Duodecim certamiva Herculis. [Allegorikos] / The twelve labours of Hercules. Allegorically. [Hercules, surrounded by signs of his twelve labours] / 138

In nothos / On bastards [Jupiter holds the baby Hercules to the breast of sleeping Juno] / 139

Imparilitas / Inequality [duck, goose, jackdaw feed on the ground, while the falcon flies overhead] / 140

In desciscentes / On those who fall away [she-goat knocks over pail of her own milk] / 141

Aemulatio impar / Unequal rivalry [kite bothers falcon holding rabbit; in sea below, a large fish chases smaller fish] / 142

Albutii ad D. Alciatum, suadentis, et de tumultibus Italicis se subducat, et in Gallia profiteatur / 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] / 143

Princeps (The Prince)

Princeps subditorum incolumitatem procurans / The prince, ensuring the safety of his subjects [dolphin wrapped around anchor] / 144

In Senatum boni princeps / On the senate of a good prince [blind king sits before advisors without hands, also seated] / 145

Consiliarii principum / The counsellors of princes [Chiron the centaur schoolmaster of Achilles] / 146

Opulentia tyranni, paupertas subiectorum / The wealth of a tyrant is the poverty of his subjects [naked woman reclines on bed] / 147

Quod non capit Christus, rapit fiscus / What Christ does not take, the treasury seizes [king squeezes sponge; thieves (the king had himself advanced) hang from a distant gibbet] / 148

Principis clementia / The mercy of the prince [king of the wasps (sic, for bees) before his hive] / 149

Respublica (The Republic)

Salus publica / The public good [snake of Aesculapius worshipped by sick men] / 150

Respublica liberata / The republic set free [coin of Brutus, with two daggers, freedman's cap, and "id"(ibus) "mar"(tiis) or ides of March written between] / 151

Vita (Life)

In vitam humanam / On human life [laughing Democritus, weeping Heraclitus] / 152

Aere quandoque salutem redimendam / Safety should at times be bought with money [beaver pursued by hunter and dogs bites off its testicles] / 153

Mors (Death)

Cum larvis non luctandum / One ought not to wrestle with ghosts [hares play about and bite a dead lion] / 154

De Morte et Amore / 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] / 155

In formosam fato praereptam / 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] / 156

In mortem praeproperam / On too early death [tomb, decorated with Gorgon's head flanked by two dolphins] / 157

Terminus / Terminus [terminus on pedestal] / 158

Opulenti haereditas / 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] / 159

Amicitia (Friendship)

Amicitia etiam post mortem durans / Friendship lasting even after death [grape-vine coils about the trunk of a dead elm] / 160

Mutuum auxilium / Mutual support [lame man leads way from the shoulders of blind man] / 161

Auxilium numquam deficiens / Support that is never wanting [Myrtilus escapes by floating away on his shield] / 162

Gratiae / The Graces [the Graces, Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia, with winged feet] / 163

Hostilitas (Enmity)

In detractores / Against detractors [one hand holds a cricket by one wing, the other hand holds a pennant-like whisk to chase away surrounding flies] / 164

Inania impetus / Futile effort [dog bays at full moon] / 165

Aliquid mali propter vicinum malum / Something evil, from an evil neighbour [copper pot and earthenware pot float side-by side in a stream] / 166

In eum, qui truculentia suorum perierit / On one who will perish, from the harshness of his own [dolphin beached on shore] / 167

[Echthron adora dora] In dona hostium / On the gifts of enemies [Ajax offers Hector a belt, Hector offers Ajax a sword] / 168

A minimis quoque timendum / One ought to fear even the tiniest creatures [eagle is attacked by beetle] / 169

Obnoxia infirmitas / Weakness subject to harm [sardines attacked from below by the "orata" (a large fish), from above by two birds, the "mergus" and "fulica"] / 170

Vel post mortem formidolosi / Terrifying, even after death [two drummers, one with wolf-skin, one with sheep-skin drumhead] / 171

Vindicta (Vengeance)

Iusta vindicta / A just vengeance [cyclops Polyphemus blinded by Ulysses] / 172

Iusta ultio / A just revenge [raven holds scorpion, who in turn stings raven] / 173

Parem delinquentis et suasoris culpam esse / The fault belongs alike to the wrong-doer and to the persuader [herald who sounded the call to arms is captured in battle] / 174

Alius peccat, alias plectitur / One man sins, the other is punished [dog attacks stone, not the man who threw the stone] / 175

Insani gladius / The sword of a madman [mad Ajax kills pigs, not descendants of the Greeks] / 176

Pax (Peace)

Pax / Peace [elephant, hitched to wagon, and driven on by trainer, steps on shield] / 177

Ex bello pax / From war, peace [helmet used as hive by bees] / 178

Ex pace ubertas / From peace, plenty [a sea bird, the "alcyon," cares for its young in a nest by the sea] / 179

Scientia (Knowledge)

Doctos doctis obloqui nefas esse / It is a sacrilege for scholars to malign scholars [swallow (a chatterer) carries a cricket (another chatterer) as food for her young] / 180

Eloquentia fortitudine praestantior / Eloquence, surpassing strength [A chain from the mouth of Hercules holds the ears of two captives] / 181

Facundia difficilis / Eloquence is difficult [Mercury hands the plant moly to Ulysses] / 182

Antiquissima quaeque commenticia / All that is most ancient is a lie [Proteus] / 183

Insignia poetarum / The badges of the poets [swan on shield] / 184

Musicam Diis curae esse / Music is in the care of the gods [cricket sits on a lyre] / 185

Littera occidit, spiritus vivicat / The letter kills, the spirit breathes life [Cadmus sows the teeth of the dead dragon] / 186

Dicta septem Sapientum / Sayings of the seven wise men [cluster of images representing the saying: man on ass, pennyroyal ("pulegium"), balance, mirror, coriander, terminus, bird-cage] / 187

Ignorantia (Ignorance)

Submovendam ignorantiam / That ignorance must be banished [sphinx] / 188

Mentem, non formam, plus pollere / The mind, not the outward form, is more promising [fox holds mask] / 189

Dives indoctus / The ignorant rich man [Phrixus rides the golden ram] / 190

Matrimonium (Marriage)

In fidem uxoriam / On wifely fidelity [man and woman, dog] / 191

Reverentiam in matrimonio requiri / That respect is to be sought in marriage [viper approaches an eel] / 192

In foecunditatem sibi ipsi damnosam / On fertility that is harmful to itself [boys try to knock fruit from nut-tree] / 193

Amor filiorum / Love of one's children [dove nests in barren tree] / 194

Pietas filiorum in parentes / Devotion of children to their parents [Aeneas carries Anchises from burning Troy] / 195

Mulieris famam, non formam, vulgatans esse oportere / That the reputation of a woman, not her beauty, ought to be proclaimed [Venus, one foot on a tortoise, with Amor standing by] / 196

In Pudoris statuam / On a statue to modesty [Penelope, pulled on one side by Icarius, on the other by Ulysses] / 197

Nupta contagioso / Wife to an infected man [king Mezentius points to two men who bind a naked man to a corpse] / 198

Arbores (Trees)

Cupressus / The cypress [cypress with two funeral pyres, one with cypress, one with parsley] / 199

Quercus / The oak [oak tree, two sides of a coin of Juppiter on each side] / 200

Salix / The willow [willow tree, beneath man leaning over two nude women] / 201

Abies / The fir-tree [silver fir, beneath sailing boats and a stack of lumber] / 202

Picea / The pitch pine [pine tree, below an ass, and six bees] / 203

Coronea / The quince tree [quince tree, below Amor with basket of quinces approaches an old man] / 204

Hedera / The ivy [ivy bush, below, garlanded, a lyre on side, a scroll on the other] / 205

Ilex / The holm oak [holm oak, beneath armed men battle] / 206

Malus medica / The citron tree [citron tree, beneath Venus on one side, Amor next to a bee-hive on the other] / 207

Buxus / The box tree [shaped box tree, beneath a flute and a shepherd's pipe] / 208

Amygdalus / The almond tree [almond tree, beneath a man with a pin-wheel, swaddled infant, skull, open book] / 209

Morus / The mulberry tree [mulberry tree, beneath figures of winter and summer, latter with cornucopia] / 210

Laurus / The laurel tree [laurel tree, beneath coin of Charles V, a burning altar, and complex tripod structure with image of dolphin / 211

Populus alba / The white poplar [poplar tree, beneath two sides of coin, on one side Hercules, on the other images of day and night] / 212

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Last modified 19 November 1997