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Commentary on Emblem 21

To wrap an eel in a fig-leaf is explained in Erasmus' Adages 1.4.95 (Folio ficulno tenes anguillam): "A fig-leaf has a rough surface ... and [is] for that reason perfectly adapted for keeping hold of a slippery eel." The expression became a proverb in English (Tilley E 62 "Hold fast an eel with a fig-leaf"). More in Aristotle History of Animals 6.16 and Caelius Rhodiginus 18.1.

There is a French translation of this emblem by Lefevre, conventionally numbered 60 in the unpaged edition of Paris: Wechel, 1536 at the Glasgow University emblem site. You may compare the Latin and French in frames.

Geffrey Whitney's Choice of Emblemes (1586) has an English imitation at page 77a. You may compare the Latin and Whitney's English in frames.

Last modified 25 November 1997