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Commentary on Whitney 121

This celebrated motto is more often accompanied by the anchor and dolphin. See Alciato 144 (or compare in frames) for the standard image, though with a different motto, and some explanation in the Alciato commentary.

This emblem in Whitney is based on Paradin's account of the motto in antiquity:

Augustus Caesar ... commmanded a butterflie cleaving to a sea crabbe to be ingraven in gold, insinuating by the slownesse of one, a kind of temperancie and slow deliberation: and by the fast flying of the other a certaine rashnesse or headlong fury. By both which joined together he signified that a certaine meane or temperature in all things is verie needefull for a prince. (Heroicall Devises [1591] 324)
Queen Elizabeth was given a jewel in this shape in the New Year's Gift of 1578, described as
being a lylly of golde, with a butterflye in the same, and a sea crabbe, garneshed with small ophalls, rubys, and diamunds with rooses of mother-of-perle and sparkes of rubyes; brought into the said chamber by Mrs Skydmore, without report made by whom it was given. (Progresses of Queen Elizabeth ii, 79)
All this is from Janet Arnold's remarkable edition of Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd: The Inventories of the Wardrobe of Robes Prepared in July 1600 Edited from Stowe MS 557 in the British Library, MS LR 2/121 in the Public Record Office, London, and MS V.b.72 in the Folger Shakspeare Library, Washington DC (Leeds: Maney 1988) 72.


Last modified 28 August 1996