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Alciato's Book of Emblems

Emblem 186

The letter kills, the spirit breathes life

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.