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Alciato's Book of Emblems

Emblem 116


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.