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The Iconologia of Cesare Ripa
The Iconologia of Cesare Ripa was conceived as a guide to the symbolism in emblem books. It was very influential in the 17th century and went through a number of editions.
Back to Iconologia page.
A lusty, lively young virgin; clothed in white; holding in her right hand, a Rapier; and in her left hand, four keyes; with a helmet upon her head; and upon the comb of the same, a strange falcon.
Logic is a knowledge, which considers the nature and property of the working of the understanding; whereby she attains the easiness to distinguish the true from the false. Wherefore -- because the same has very sharp witted and diverse methods to understand -- she is made with a Rapier or stoccado, which is a figure of a sharp witt. And the helmet upon her head, shows the firmness and verity of the knowledge. And as the falcon, upon sight of the prey takes flight: so Logic reasons very high, to catch a prey of other peoples reasons; which she voluntarily, by her reasons, subdues.
The four keys: the four Methods to open the truth in every Syllogistical figure; which are taught by the masters of this art with great diligence.
She is clothed in white, through the similtude which purity has with truth. And as white, among all colors, is the most complete: so is this art, among all completenesses of the soul, the most complete and noblest. And this must be the eyemark of every one who will be a good Logician, and no sophister or babler.
A woman who has her face covered; clothed in white, with an upper coat of diverse colors; showing as if she would by the main power of her hands tie a knot in a [rude] thick rope; and by her side lays flax or Hemp, to make the[ir] ropes.
The covered face of this figure shows the difficulty, how it is impossible to know the same at first sight: as some think which believe that when they have employed their understanding only six months in it, that it is yet too much; when in six years after that, they know not their extent. To signify the first [sight], the face is shown, because the sight is the first whereupon a man looks.
The white garment, because of the similtude of the truth, is added as above is mentioned: which is covered with many truth-like similtudes of things; whereupon many staring, they see the truth through it, and that she is covered over with many colors. For the truth, by veritable things and due means being brought forth from step to step: then comes Logic, which is like a case wherein truth is locked up, and is afterwards opened by the keyes, as we have said, of sudden conclusions; which are signified by the diverse colors which have some resemblance with the light -- but they have not so much light as the white, which is their most pure working.
The rope wherein she makes the knot, shows that that is a firm conclusion, which especially consists in the meaning of the Logicioner. And of the similtude of the rope, it is said that the logicioner ties men in such a manner that he can answer nothing but yea. And to the contrary, in the truth which is shown by him and in his proof which is grounded in this art, they are in untiable knots for other arts; whatsoever they may be, whether they do it by force or understanding. And the roughness of the rope, signifies the ponderousness of the stuff.
The Hemp which lays upon the ground, signifies that the office of Logic is not only to tie a knot in a made rope; but also, to secure the same rope by her own art -- assisting it by some beginnings of nature, teaching to know their names, propositions, and all other parts -- as an instrument of Logic, which is the true and real engine.
A pale virgin; with entangled hair, spread abroad to the usual length; in her right hand she shall have some flowers, with a sentance "verum & falsum" -- that is, "true and false"; and in the left hand, a snake.
The virgin looks pale by continual watchings and the great exercises which are necessary in this art: being commonly the occasion of paleness and discomposure of life.
The entangled hair spread abroad, signifies that a man who is given over to the speculation of intelligible things, use to set all things aside and totally forget the cherishing of the body.
The flowers are a sign that through diligence in this art, we see the true arise and the false pressed down: as in the work of nature, between the herbs we see the flowers arise, which afterwards are covered.
The snake figures out wisdom; which is very necessary in this art, as also in all others; being occupied and diligent in nothing, but to distinguish the true from the false; to work after by this difference, with an even equality to the known and beloved truth. The snake discovers also, that Logic is held for a venomous and unattainable matter for those who have no great understanding, and is bitter to them who taste of it. Yea, she bites and kills those who ruggedly oppose her.
Confirmatione dell Amicitia (Confirmation of Friendship)
A virgin with a garland of diverse flowers; being very beautifully clothed in green; holding in her right hand a crystalline glass, full of red wine; which she with a sweet gracefulness, and amiable modesty, proffers to another.
Young she is made, with a garland of flowers and green garments, for a sign of mirth; as becomes those who will knit and unite themselves in friendship.
She is painted that she proffers a glass of wine unto another, because the glass or chalice -- in which they drink one unto another in banquets, and whereby they mutually invite one another to drinking -- is not only an use of our time, but an ancient custom. And by this are the spirits and minds of the friends stirred up to unite together, and to confirm themselves in friendship. And for an example of this: Homerus saith in his "Illiades", that Achillis contrived that they should give unto his best friend, Patroculus, the biggest cup he had; and that he should give it to Ulysses and the other Grecians to drink of it; and that of the strongest wine: for nothing else than to make them to understand that he held these for his best friends. And a little lower, Ajax beckoned unto Ulysses to drink unto Achilles, which Ulysses did. And what further followed upon this drinking bout, Homerus is full of, as for a sign of union of friendship.
Custodia (Custody, keeping)
An Armed woman; who has in her right hand a naked sword; and by her side a Dragon.
To Custody, are two things especially necessary: The first, is to foresee the danger and to stand ready; not to be suddenly surprised. The second, is the power to resist the violence if the same (because it comes so suddenly) cannot, with reason nor ripe counsel, be avoided. Therefore, she is only painted with a dragon -- as Alciatus figures out the same in his emblems: "The Dragon is the true figure of the goddess Pallas."
Confessione Sacramentale (Sacramental confession or Auricular confession)
A naked woman; neatly with a white thin garment cast about her, covering with fine pleats, the privy parts; having wings on her shoulders; her mouth open, showing that she would confess her sins. She shall stand kneeling against the Basis or foot of a column; separated and alone; with a naked head without any ornament; having her temples tied about with a red ribbon; many tears run out of her eyes; striking with her right hand before her breast; the left is stretched out. Upon the Basis shall stand a white pidgeon; and by her side upon the ground shall stand a dog; and on the other side shall lay a lamb.
D. Thomas puts 16 conditions to confess well: viz, that is must be simplicit, humble, pure, true, often, really, orderly, willingly, shamefacedly, sincere, silently, lamenting, making haste to it, powerfully, accusing, and readiness to obey.
Wherefore I say for the declaring of these parts, that she is painted naked because the confession must be naked. And not with colors, because the ponderousness of the sins must not be hidden nor overshadowed. Therefore she must be clear and naked, so that the confessor gives notice of all his sins and that the priest may understand all circumstances of place, time, qualities, persons, and so on.
She is wound about with a white garment, because this action of confession must be pure and sincere, with a firm resolution to make an attonement with God; and so to obtain mercy and forgiveness of sins, as well of the debt as of the punishment.
She must stand winged, because the confession must not only be hastened; but shows also, that it elevates us other ways to eternal glory.
She stands with her mouth open, as being ready to confess her committed sins; for he that confesses ought to be just: viz, that he confesses all his sins to the same priest -- that he may not be accounted vile that he confesses one part to one and another to another.
She is set by a Basis or foot of a pillar, for a sign of firmness and valiantness -- that is, to overcome ourselves, and to subject her own affections through obedience unto reason -- which makes the sinner say that which the devil would fain have him to omit for shame.
She is put in a quiet and separate place, because confession must be made privately and not openly; and that the priest may not reveal unto another what is confessed to him, but all must abide in secret.
Her forehead shall be tied with a red ribbon, because the sinner, knowing himself guilty and his conscience accusing him, he reddens for shame of so many sins committed. "For Shame", saith Aristotle, "is a fear of a just condemnation", where the affections are honest.
That she looks up to heaven with her eyes full of tears, signifies that the confession must be lamentable: full of anguish and discontent because they have offended God. Wherefore she also strikes her breast with her right hand, counting herself worthy of punishment for her sins committed. For Q. Curtius saith: "Tears are the demonstrators of penance." And Cassiod, upon the Psalms, saith: "Tears are the food of the soul, a strengthening of the senses, a forgiveness of sins, and a gain of the debt." She stands kneeling and the left arm stretched out, to signify the free willing action; as also the readiness willingly to do the penance which shall be put upon him. The white pidgeon signifies simplicity, for the scripture saith: "Be harmless as doves" -- and especially in the confession: "Simplicity is an uprightness of the purifying of the heart, without dissimulation." A dog lays by her for a sign of fidelity; so he that confesses must be true to reveal all his sins with their circumstances: keeping nothing of what he has done, and telling nothing that he has not done. A lamb is put on the other side, because this is a figure of humility and meekness -- and that not only in the wordly Egyptian writings, but also in the holy scriptures. And the Heathen soothsayers used a lamb also in their sacrifices, only for the acceptableness of a pure humble and meek mind: which the kneeling penitent, with a bare head without ornament, must do before the priest for a sign of humility and subjection. Barnardus saith: "The true humility is to frame oneself to ammend the debt or sin."
of Giov. Zaratino Castellini
An Old woman; having an owl upon her head; and at her feet, a screech owl on her right side [and] on her left a crow; on her neck she has a ribbon whereon hang many papers with charms; in her left hand she holds a burning candle; and [holds] under the same arm, a hare; in her right hand she has a circle full of stars, with the planets, which she beholds with a fearful look.
Superstition has its original in the Land of Tuscany; which by Arnobius, in his 7 book, is called the mother of superstition. She is called superstition from the Latin word "superstes", or "longest living". Of which M. Cicero, in the nature of the Gods, saith that the superstitious are also called, because they prayed to God all the day long that their children might outlive them. But Lactantius, in his 4 book 28 chapt., saith that these were not superstitious, because every one desires that their children may outlive them: but that those are called superstitious who celebrate the memory of the dead; or those who, having outlived father and mother, put their figures into their homes as house Gods. Wherefore, those who accepted of new customs, or those who instead of God, prayed to the dead, were called superstitious. Religious were they called, who celebrated the open and ancient Gods. Which Lactantius proves out of that verse of Virgil: "The vain superstitious acknowledge no ancient Gods." Servius expounded the above named very best of all, saying that superstition is a superfluous and sottish fear of ancient people, called superstition; and because they live long and through age grow childish, they are foolish: and therefore she is painted old.
It is a clear case that old people are most superstitious, because they are most fearful. Tiraguellus, in his conjugial laws, saith that old people especially, are given to superstition. Wherefore Cicero in many places calls the same -- "old women"; adscribing this particularly unto old women. Wherefore it comes to pass, that women are most given to witchcraft and Sorcery: as Apulegus relates in his 9 book of the golden ass.
The owl is put upon her head; for she is taken by fearful and superstitious men, for a bird of misfortune. And because she is a bird of the night, she is made for an image of death. And as Pierius relates, she threatens always by her song, some ill or misfortune. Upon which, he relates the unfortunate history of Pyrrhus, king of the Epirots, who held it for an ill sign of his approaching and shameful death, that when he went to fight against Argos, that in his journey, he saw an owl standing on the top of his spear. Whereupon he following it in mind to assault his enemies, he was a little wounded by the son of a certain old woman; who, looking down from above, espied that her son was persued by Pyrrhus; wherefore she with both her hands, snatched a tile from the house, and threw it upon Pyrrhus that he died. And this is superstitious to believe that this death of Pyrrhus, should be foretold by this owl. For the same purpose, are also a Screech owl and a crow -- which are held for ill omens by the superstitious -- put at her feet. As Virgil saith of the crow, Plinius holds the crow and the owl for birds of an unfortunate song. Isidorus saith the same also, alleging the words of Ovid, that "the screech owl is an ill omen unto man." In the counselship of Servius Flaccus and Q. Calphormus, they heard an owl sing in the Ca[m]pidoglio; and then the business of the Romans in Numantia went very badly. And because it was such a terrible thing, saith [Plinius], that in the counselship of Sextus Pallejus Istro, and  Pedianus, an owl came running [in the] chamber of the Ca[m]pidoglio; for which the  all that year long with sacrifices: fancies which were very superstitious. For it is superstition, when it is believed that any thing must happen by some signs, which naturally [do] not seem to concern the same things. I say naturally, for there are creatures whereby in a natural way, some things are foreseen: as by the bird Alcion, or Kingfisher, because the sea then becomes calm. Which bird makes his nest in the winter and breeds out his eggs in 7 days while the sea holds very calm; of which Isidorus relates more at large. And Plutarchus saith of this also, that there is no creature more to be beloved than that. As they say also, that when the sea men meet a swan with their ship, that it is a good sign; for then the ship is not swallowed up by the waves. The swan was a good sign unto AEneas in his journey. And to the contrary, when a Tempest is observed by the fish AEschines; he then covers himself with sand and small stones, to be secure against the Tempest. And when this is seen by the mariners, they let fall their anchors and make ready against the approaching storm. Which Plinius also relates of many other creatures. And of the fish Polipus also, Plutarchus relates in his natural questions, that this fish foreseeing the storm, runs towards the shore and seeks to sustain himself against a stone. And this is no wonder, for these water creatures know the nature of the water; and they feel it before, by the alteration of the sea; and this being the right moving cause, we may without superstition know of the storm before. But of the owl, crow, screetch owl and other creatures, we cannot without superstition prognosticate any good or evil to come. But the superstitious, cowardly men observe such like trifles and show very well that they have the brain of an owl; which we also have put upon the head of the superstition. And therefore they are like the ignorant crows, or as the Screetch owl and koekows [Cuckoos?], which stand before her feet; for they put all their diligence and fancies upon idle observations. Isidorus holds such superstitions [to be] vanity and madness. Yea, he counts it a vile thing "that we should believe that God should reveal his counsels to the crows." She wears about her neck many papers, this being the manner of fearful persons; to carry about them many Characters, letters and words, cox claws, etc.; for health, against arms, to escape danger, and many other things; from which they can expect no help at all because they have neither force nor power. The emperor Caracalla, for all he was an Heathen, hated such like superstitions; and punished with death, such as carried notes about their necks for the third and fourth days agues. I would to God that this superstition had been extinguished with heathenism; but we find, the more pitty, enough of it among the Christians everywhere. Yea, there want not some, who aggrevate the sin of superstition to make use in things, where to the words of the Holy scriptures are not lawful to be used: which should be used only with reverence and simplicity. As also Navarra saith in his table book: "That those who ask counsel, or carry any letters about them, in a firm hope to receive the desired thing, sin deadly; because such names have no power at all, except it were only who carried any sentences out of the scripture, out of devotion, etc."
She carries the lighted candle to signify the burning zeal which the superstitious think they have: imagining that they fear God, being very Religious, like the Hypocrites. "For superstition agrees the nearest with Hypocrisy", saith Tiraguellus. But these beggars feel not that they are bereaved of Religion, and that their fear is a shameful fear. For superstition, as Polidorus Virgilius saith, is nothing else but an impudent and sottish Religion, intermixt with never or tittle of truth nor holiness. For as the true Religion honors God and adores him; so to the contrary, superstition angers God and too shamefully leaves the trace of true Religion. For Religion as all the other virtues, is put between two evil vices: as between superstition and ungodliness. Whereof one of these vices sins in too much, and the other in too little: "The superstitious fears more than he should, and the ungodly fears not at all", as F. Conanus saith. Which also agrees with Seneca, saying: "Superstition is a sottish error, and nothing else than the service of a false God; and as Religion honors God, so the superstitious dishonors and shames him." These things all Christians should fear the more, because this use is come from the heathens, as we may read in several ancient Poets. As by Ovid, in the 7 book of his "Metamorphosis", is to be seen: that he dipped the torches in ditches of black blood; he lighted them and set them upon both the altars; and cleansed the old man three times with fire, three times with water, and three times with brimstone. Lucianus, in his colloquium of "Menippus", saith: "At midnight they carried me silently to the River Tigris, cleansed and dried me, and lighted round about with torches." -- and a little lower -- "In the mean time holding the burning torches, no more silently mumbling, but called as loud as she could; invoking all the Erynnes, Hecate, the Furies, and Proserpine, together." Formerly this Heathen misuse being estranged from the wholesome saving light of our saviour; which in all and through all, extinguishes the hellish and perditious torch of superstition, maintains religion, and honors Gods service; to the contrary it spoils superstitiousness. The religious superstitious, is by this sign distinguished, because the superstitious man is affrighted of God: but the true Religious, fears God with reverence, as his father not as his enemy. Whereof Budaeus, in his Pandects, by the authority of , makes a fine difference; so that the superstitious man, by the terror they have of divine power, think that they are true fearers of God, burning in good Religion. But they deceive themselves, because they are quite cold and frozen in the service of God; strangulated by chilly fear which they have. For it is not enough that we pray unto God for fear; but we must together fear and love him, and with an enflamed zeal honor and fear him. The tyrants and wicked men are feared, but then they are not beloved, but hated. And every where they honor them for fear; not that they do the same with a good heart, for they have no [love for him.] But God must be feared yet with love; for we must love God according to the prime commandment, with an enflamed love above all things. But the superstitious man, loves not God, but fears him. For all that this fear makes them fast and be busy in prayer, and do other Religious exercises: yet for all that, they are not zealous in Religion, for all they seem to at the outside; but they are rather extinguished and dead, being bereaved of  to God -- against whom they often commit sacriledge, using the holy and well spoken things, to an ungodly and cursed misuse; fitting them to their superstitious fancies, to flee that which they fear and to get that which they hope; to the profit and ease of this mortal life -- where Teraquellus saith with great Reason, that it is like unto Hypocrisie. And Budaeus saith that it also is held for heresy. Plutarchus saith, in his relation of superstition, that it follows of necessity that the superstitious do hate and fear the Gods, etc. It is also no marvel that he fears them, honors them, adores them, and sits by their temples; for we see also that Tyrants are honored and saluted, and that golden images are put up for their honor: and that, by those who privately hate and curse them. And he proves in the same relation, that the superstitious are the ungodliest of all; and that superstition is the original of all ungodliness. So that they cannot be burning in zeal of Religion -- for all they make a show as if they were enflamed in the service of the same -- being [as] superstition [is] separated from the service of God: as St. Augustine shows at large in his 4 and 6 book of the city of God. For Religion maintains the true service of God, but superstition the false: as Lactanius relates.
We have also made a hare under the same left arm wherein she holds the burning candle, because the Imitable zeal of Religion -- of the superstitious -- is mixed with a shameful fear which he keeps hidden in his breast: of which the Hare is a figure. Standing on the left side by the heart, because the superstitious men's hearts beat as the fearful hare. Cornificius, the Poet, used to call the cowardly soldiers, armed Hares; and Suidas relates that the Calabrians of Reggio were as fearful Hares. Besides that, fearful people are also superstitious; for when they see a Hare cross the way, they hold the same for an evil and unfortunate sign.
She holds in her right hand, a circle with stars and Planets which she beholds with fear. Lucretius saith that superstition is a superfluous and idle fear of things which are above us; as of heavenly and godly things, as Servius relates. For this is proper unto them, that they are afraid of the heavenly signs: rather doing a business upon wednesday or thursday, than upon friday or saturday; putting one day above another and in a wrong order, they adscribe that day unto the planet which runs. Which error proceeds from Astrology or the star gazers, and from hence proceeds the superstition; as C. Rhodiginus saith. Let these fearful superstitious, leave their vain superstition and the idle fear of the stars and planets; for they can do neither good nor harm. But let them rather, believe on the father of truth, than on the Astrologers which are children of lies. As Jeremias admonishes them in his 10 chapt.: "Learn not after the manner of the Heathens, and fear not the signs of heaven, Etc." And a little lower, he saith: "For they can do neither good nor harm." And therefore saith St. Gregory: "Man was not created for the stars, but the stars were created for man."
after the Medal of Gordianus
A woman clothed in white; who holds in her right hand a Scale; and in the left, a Cornucopia.
She is painted in white, because of the justness of her mind. Without letting herself be bribed, or for self interest, she judges the merits and faults of other people; rewarding and punishing the same. Yet all in friendliness and remittance, which are signified by the Scale and Cornucopia.
A virgin that is girded about; holding in one hand, a scale which hangs even; and with the other, a yard or measure.
in many Medals
A woman who has a lesbian lineall, or ruler of lead, in her hand. For those of Lesbos, build with ruff hollow stones and smoothed them only at the botton and top; and because this ruler was of lead, it bowed according to the hollowness of the stone, without losing any thing of its straightness. So bowes Equity according to human infirmities, but therefore she abandons not the straight rule of justice. This figure is made by P. Ignatius, Bishop of Alatria.
of P. Frat. Ignatius
Soccorso (Succor, help)
An armed man; who has a naked sword in his right hand; and in his left, an oaken branch with the fruit.
Succor has two principal parts: the one helps and assists the other with necessaries to maintain life and assuage hunger; the other resists his enemy by force, to the saving of him whom he helps. Therefore he is painted armed, because he shall help the week and needy against all the force of his enemies. We have loaded him with a branch of acorns, to assist with it in the time of famines; for by the help of this fruit, men in ancient times have maintained themselves. For this fruit is dedicated unto Jupiter, because he assists and succors the whole world: Jupiter being the pure and refined air, by which we breathe and live.
To express bitterness, by some is painted a Maiden clothed in black; who in both her hands holds a Beehive full of honey; out of which grows a plant of Wormwood. Perhaps therefore, that when we are in the most prosperity of life, that then we find ourselves in the most aversness of fortune; or because we then know all the qualifications of the contrary, that we may have better and fuller knowledge of the sweetness, when we have tasted any outward bitterness. As also therefore, because by the similtude of the Wormwood, a bitter and stiff necked man was expressed. Therefore saith Ariosto: "We know not peace nor esteem it, before we have seen the war and felt it."
Cecita delle Mente (Blindness of understanding)
A woman clothed in green; going in a meadow full of fair flowers; her head hanging downwards; with a Mole before her feet.
Blindness is taken for the deprivation of the sight of the eyes, and by similtude it is understood for the blindness of the understanding. Wherefore it is represented unto us by the Egyptians by a mole, as Orus Appollo saith. The other by the hanging down of her head, which to the terrestrial and quick perishing flowers is bowed -- which are the worldly wantonnesses which entice our minds and without any profit, keep it busied and employed. For how much good soever this deceitful world promises us, it is but a little clay; which not only under a false hope of a short pleasure is covered, but which also brings us in great danger all our life time. Of which Lucretius sings: "In what blindness and danger, swarves man year by year." And Ovid also: "O what dark nights brings the blind understanding along with her."
A woman meanly clothed; and lays in a dirty place upon the ground; holding in one hand a clod bird; standing as if she dare not lift up her eyes from the ground; by her stands a rabbit.
A man is counted a coward who esteems himself less than he can perform; and who dares not undertake that which he may perform with honor and commendation; and will not be brought out of this mind; and that through the small confidences he has, that it would consist with valiantness. And therefore cowardice is figured out by a woman which lays upon the ground, evil clothed; for women faint in their minds sooner than men, to perform anything honorably.
The tattered clothes, signify that in a cowardly body, are no fancies to adorn the body -- as doubting whether they shall be able to maintain their gravity and clothing in an estate which appertains to it, because the common proverb saith: "Fortune brings treasures to the valiant, but cowards she pushes far from it." And because the man has no audacity, because of his cowardice, to perform any thing considerable: the woman lays in dirt and mire, with a foul and sluttish life; never coming in the light, or to the knowledge of men who might supply her with necessaries.
The clod bird is held by many writers for a base and foul bird: feeding himself with dung and other filthiness; having not the heart to seek his victuals with labor abroad. That she holds her eyes downwards, signifies the faint heart and mind; as we may see the product of it. The Rabbit is by nature, very foul; as is clearly known to many who have described the nature of them.
Sceleratezza (Roguery, villainy)
A deformed dwarf; squint eyed and brown of color; with red hair; embracing a seven headed Hydra or snake.
The deformity of the body is taken for a default of nature. For as a man who is fitting to do good, yet gives himself to evil; that evil is called a baseness. For the same evil depends on the will, because he chooses the evil through an inrooted ill nature: so that is called a default which is not in a body, according to the proportion or measure. Therefore the figure is painted as having a default of nature. For the contrary we do in a beautiful body, when virtue is expressed. For as the Philosophers say: the proportion or uniformity of the beautiful lineaments of the body, are a figure of a beautiful active mind. And as the cloth fits about the back, so must the lineaments and qualifications of the body agree with the completeness of the soul. Wherefore Socrates is also of opinion, that the qualifications of the body and the soul, have an agreement.
Squinted, ugly and with red hair is he figured, because these qualifications most commonly signify something wanting in a man. Wherefore Martialis saith: "O Zoile, it is strange if you are good natured, seeing as you are lame and squint-eyed, black mouthed and a red beard."
He is painted embracing a seven headed Hydra; by which are signified the 7 deadly sins. For if it happens that one of these heads is cut off, there yet others grow instead of it; they resume their vigor again, to resist those who would oppose them. So does also evil in the body: which, for all it seems totally struck down by virtue, nevertheless -- because she has more heads by her, which through the mind are infected with evil -- she rises presently again; and comes with her wrong working, more powerful and stiff necked than before. But it is at last necessary that we overpower baseness totally; with resisting or flying from it -- as that which from the beginning of the world deceived our first parents, and yet is the destruction of us miserable men.
Stampa (Book printing)
A grave woman clothed in white; whose garment is cut into Lozenges, wherein stand the letters of the Alphabet; in the right hand, she shall hold a pipe -- about which is twisted a scroll with the word "Ubique" (that is, "everywhere"); in the left hand, she shall hold a flower of Semper Vive, with the word "Semper" (that is, "always"); on one side shall stand a printing press with all the printer's instruments.
In what great honor and esteem the art of book printing is, the whole world can wittness. For by her, is the knowledge of good and evil, virtue and vice, of learning and ignorance, proceeding. By her men become imortal; for before she was known, were the noble understandings as buried, and many works of illustrious men perished. Wherefore we have cause continually to praise the Lord God, that for a common benefit, the invention of such a noble and high art is found: whereby fame flies, and with a loud and smooth trumpet, represents unto the world diverse works of learned men. O, what could we not say for the excellency of book printing? And for all, I am so bold as to busy myself to describe so noble a business; yet I am very sorry that my understanding is too weak for it to find out matter which is fitting to express such high commendations as is merited by her. I shall say then, that the first who has found out this art, as Polidorus Virgilius relates, was John Guthenbergh, a German Knight: who in the year 1442, or as others say 1451, first set to work the printing press in the city of Mentz. Having also found the printers ink which the printers use to this day. And in the year 1458, she was by another German, called Conradus, brought into Italy; yet first at Rome, and from thence she is wonderfully increased and spread everywhere. But Jovius saith that the Germans are not the finders of it, but that it is more ancient than is thought. And of this opinion are many others, because of the Reason they give of the old Medals; wherein the Grecian and Roman letters are imprinted -- not counting the seals and other antiquities, with their superscriptions. But it be how it will, he that has found out this art first, has been a man of an high and noble understanding.
She is made grave, to show that the masters of printing ought to be men of knowledge and judgment; because their works may be printed in a full perfectness.
The white garments, show that their work must be pure and neat. And the letters of the Alphabet in the Lozenges, signify the letters which are dispersed in the cases; to find every one in his place; to make thereof a complete work.
The pipe with the word "Ubique", is to express the fame the printing causes, to spread any work every where.
The flower with the superscription "Semper", signifies the perpetuity which printing occassions; comparing this with the same herb, which through her own nature is continually green.
The printing press is put by her side, with the letter case, etc.; being together, necessary instruments of this noble art.
This must be read after the figure of book printing
For all the Author of this book was instructed by the book of Polidoras Virgilius -- that the art of book printing was found out first at Mentz, by one Hans Guttenbergh, about the year 1442, or as others say, in the year 1451 -- yet the Author, through ignorance, was much deceived. But we will discover the truth of it more clearly: how perfidiously one Hans, a German, carried away his master's instruments, and secretly settled himself at Mentz. Harlem can testify this from hand to hand. It is then Harlem, that as long as the sun shall take its course, shall carry away the Glory of it. For one Lawrence Janssen Koster, citizen of an honest family, has been the first inventor hereof, in the year 1440. Who, being an ingenious man, walking often in the woods at Harlem and cutting there several letters out of the bark of beech trees, and having put them together, printed some sentences with it, and presented them to his nephews. Which falling out according to his mind, made him to undertake greater things. So that he found out the firm and tuff printing ink: wherewith he printed in large forms and tablets, with the aforesaid letters. Whereof I have seen myself, a book in Low Dutch called "The Mirror of Our Salvation", in folio, reasonably well printed. But at that time, he had not the knowledge to print on both sides; so that the leaves between being white, were pasted together. But after that, increasing in his invention by degrees, he amended his stuff and what was amiss; so that increasing by gain, he took workmen under an oath of fidelity and secrecy. Among whom, was a German called John or Hans: who, after he had well insinuated himself in the art of setting and casting of letters and printing and what further belonged unto it, he made up all his master's instruments upon a Christmas night while all the family were at church celebrating the festival, and villainously carried away all the things; fleeing through Amsterdam unto [Collen], and from thence unto Mentz: where, thinking himself secure, he reaped a good harvest of his stolen art. For the year after, with the same letters which Lawrence Janssen Koster had used at Harlem, he printed at Mentz, the "Grammatica Alexandri Galli". And in this manner, this art was spread and after that brought to Rome. Whoso will be better informed in this, may read the Learned and diligent search of P. Scrivorius, in his crown of laurel in honor of the Inventor of the Art.
But concerning Jovius: who seems to adscribe this invention with the art of printing of Medals and old superscriptions and cutting of seals, unto the Grecians and Romans -- as if this art had been known unto them long before: the same is more rediculous than reprovable. For if this had been so, the learning and name of so many eminent men whose writings time and envy have darkened, would have remained unto their successors to their eternal glory, and not have been suppressed by time.
An ugly, pale woman; with clothes like the rust; holding a quail, with his head towards heaven and his wing spreaded abroad.
Ugly she is made, because the works of base natured people are ugly and Abhorrible for all civil conversation.
The paleness, signifies that when the inward parts are infected by a malignant moistness, then it spreads towards the outward parts.
The color of the garments, signifies that as the rust consumes all metals where it lays near; so malignity ceases never, through his bad nature, to hinder all laudible and virtuous works.
The quail signifies Malignity by the Egyptians, as Pierius saith, because she is of a base nature. For when she has drunk, she disturbs the water with her bill and claws, that no other creature may drink of it. To the same purpose saith Ezechiell, 34 ch., upbraiding the Jews with their baseness: "When you have drunk clear water, you disturb the rest."
A woman who holds her right hand upon the head of a goat, having the herb "Eringion" in its mouth; she holds in her left hand, a Narcisse flower; wherewith she is also crowned.
Stupidity is a laziness of the senses or understanding, as well in speaking as in doing; and thus she is bounded by Theophrastes, in his Moral signs. And Aristotle, his master, differs not from this sentiment in his ethica, where he saith: "The stupid are afraid of everyone, and of everthing, as well in doing as in speaking, without any diligence; and is so qualified that he abides before everything abashed and stupid." Then elsewhere he saith, the dunce prates every where to no purpose; or the dunce is of the one side in good -- against quickness and diligence, on the other side in bad -- impudent: for the impudent is rubustical and bold in all places and against all, as well in speaking as in doing. But the stupid is cold and fearful, as well in good as in bad, through the dullness of his understanding and laziness of the senses. Stupidity is in men either by nature or by accident. By nature, he is stupid of his senses who is of a gross understanding and of a fearful mind. By accident, it comes many ways: either by sickness; or by admiration; or by frightfulness of a never heard of thing -- which he hears or sees in others, or proves in himself; or by too much contemplating in learning -- those that study, abiding so long by their books, that they grow dull, mad, and seem distracted. The emperor Claudius, as Suetonius relates, was dull, unmindful, and as without memory. The natural dullness, is overcome by the exercise of virtue; as it increases by idleness, because the understanding dries up in the same and grows dull, and through the darkness of ignorance it is darkened. Zopirus, the knower of visagnomies, being brought before Socrates and by him viewed in the face, he said: this man by nature is dull and lumpish. The standers by, knowing the wisdom of Socrates and that he did everything with a sharp judgment, began to laugh. But Socrates answered: laugh not, for Zopirus speaks the truth; for such an one I should have been, if I had not overcome my corrupt nature by the exercise of Philosophy. There is a proverb which is taken from Galenus, where Mercurius himself and the Muses could not help him. Which is said to one who is extreemly dull and ignorant -- meaning that he is so stupid, that he is not to be cured; for Mercurius himself, the finder of knowledge, and all the Muses, were not able to do it. So that the exercise of virtue and knowledge are good to sharpen the understanding, and take away stupidity and dullness.
The goat on the left side is a figure of dullness. Aristotle saith, in his knowledge of man, that whosoever has eyes like unto the color of wine, is dull; for those are like unto goats. He saith further, that if any one takes a goat by the beard amongst a great many, all the rest shall stand as dumb and look upon it. The herb "Eringion", which it has in its mouth, has a long stalk with pricks and thorny leaves. Whereof you may read in Mathealus, as also in Plinius. Plutarchus relates, that if a goat take the herb "Eringion" in the mouth, will first himself, and after all the whole flock, be dumb until the time that the shepherd takes the herb out of the mouth of it.
The Narcis which she has in her left hand, as also upon her head, is a flower which makes the head heavy and dull. And therefore she is called Narcissus, not after the story of the young man Narcissus, but after the Greek word "Narce"; which signifies dull and stupid. Also takes the fabel of the young man, her name from "Narce"; for he looking in the fountain, was so admired of his own figure that he melted and turned into a flower; while he admired himself, he seemed to be a figure of marble. Plutarchus saith that it comes from the Grecian word "Narce", and makes the limbs stupid. Wherefore Sophocles called the Narcis, an old crown of the great hellish Gods: viz, the dead.
Indocilita (Indocility, dullness of learning)
A woman with a red face; laying upon the ground; holding in her left hand the bridle of an ass, which stands by her; leaning with her right elbow upon a swine, which lays also upon the ground; having upon her head a black dressing.
She is painted laying upon the ground, because indocility is not qualified to walk in the ways of virtue; but stands always lazily by the known ignorance, which is figured out by the ass. Also the Egyptians paint the ass with a bridle in the mouth, for indocility; as a creature that is very unfit to learn anything. And for this reason, say the Astrologers or star gazers, that when a man is born under the 16 degree of Leo, that it is a prognostication of his unaptness in learning; feigning that then an ass is born with a bridle in the mouth.
She leans upon the hog, for as Pierius saith, so is this creature above all others, without senses and indocible; and not as other creatures, who while they live, have some particular diligence.
The black dressing which covers her head, shows that as that color will never take any other color: that also the indocile, being fitting nor apt to take any learning nor instruction. Nor there is none so expert a master, who can draw them from those vile and base things, unto any higher matters.
Architettura (Architecture, or the art of building)
A stately woman, of a grave age; her sleeves tucked up unto the elbows; clothed in changeable silk; having in her one hand, a line with lead at the bottom, or plummet line, a square, and a compass; and in the other hand, a draft of a great building, divided according to the art of Geometry.
Vitruvius saith, in the beginning of his work, that architecture is a knowledge adorned with diverse sciences; by means whereof, all other arts are completed. Plato used to say, that the Architects or master builders, are above those who exercise themselves in other arts. For this is their proper office to each in the art -- to demonstrate, to distinguish, to describe, to limit, to judge, and to teach others the manner of it. Therefore, they only must have the learning of Geometry and Arithmetic; because by this, all other artificial arts must receive their nobility. Therefore she holds the square and the compass, as instruments of the Geometry and the numbers which appertain to Arithmetic; which she uses in the draft which she has in her hand. The plummet line, signifies that a good Architect must always have an eye to the taking notice of the center or middle point; upon which the firm foundation of all things which are of any weight, must be framed. As clearly may be seen in that noble genius of the Knight Dominicus Fontana, and of Carolus Madernus; men of great judgment and esteem, leaving many others who are more praise worthy than mine.
Of a grave age she is painted, to signify the manly experience and the height and consequence of the work. The changeable garments, signify the uniform alteration of things which delight the eye in this art; as the beautiful musical voice does to the ear. The naked arms, signify the work which he does to the art of building; keeping also the name of the art, and of the artificial work.
Architettura Militare (Fortification)
A woman of grave aspect; nobly clothed with many colors; she shall have a gold chain about her neck, with a beautiful Diamond; she shall in her right hand, hold a compass to measure the situation; and in the other, a plane upon which is drawn a fortification with six corners, which form is held the completest amongst all -- upon the top of it shall stand a swallow, and upon the ground a spade and pickaxe.
Fortification is found out for nothing else but that a few may defend themselves against a great many; as also to bridle people and to keep the enemies out of their bounds. And therefore, fortification is not only held for an art, but for a great science. For she is that which know, as well what is necessary for the defence, as for the assault; as well to defend the prince, as the people.
She is made grave, for in that age is the true knowledge of wisdom: what is best for the common good and necessary for defence.
The noble garment of many colors, signifies the diversity of many inventions which consist in the art of war.
The gold chain and Diamond is given her, because as the gold among all metals is the most noble; so is fortification among all sciences, of the most worth and power. And as the Diamond among all noble stones is the firmest and hardest; so is also fortification the noblest jewel of a prince, as that which secures him from the assault of his enemies.
She holds with her right hand, the compass which is divided into 360 degrees with the motion of the loadstone: by which they work according to the minds, as to the situation where they will make a fortification; and serves also to make the platform of the fortification.
The plane upon which the swallow stands, signifies that when they will fortify any place, they must well consider the situation and take advantage of the ground; and by this they must make the draft, which the work of such great concern requires. And in this follow the swallow: for Pierius Valer would signify a man by it who is sharp witted and wholly addicted to fortification; and who had made great drafts of fortifications, as of castles, cities and others of art and ingenuity.
The spade and pickaxe are put by it, for these are the first instruments of fortification: as those whereby they begin to break ground and make the ditches: and wherewith they make the trenches to assault the forifications of the enemy.
Crapula (Feasting, banqueting)
A fat, ugly, bad clothed woman, with her stomach quite naked; being bound about the head to the eyes; holding in her hand a lion's head with his mouth open; upon the ground shall lay some dead fowls, as also pasties and other things.
She is made ugly, because feasting effeminates the senses of men and keeps them down; caring for nothing but what belongs to feasting and the kitchen.
Poorly she is dressed, to show that feasters most commonly are men who dispise all neatness, and only wait upon the fat kitchen to fill their belly; being thereby bereaved of virtue, stretching their thoughts no further than feastings.
The naked stomach, shows that the feaster must be of a sound nature to digest all manner of victuals. And therefore he is bound about the head, unto which the vapors arise and dull the brain.
The fatness is a working which is occassioned by feasting; and which thinks not on any troubles, by which the face grows lean.
The Lion's head is an ancient figure of feasting. For this creature fills himself with such greediness, that he can fast for three days after; and through his bad digesting, his breath stinks always, as Picrius relates.
The dead fowls and Pasties, etc., are taken for things wherein the feaster delights.
Crapula (Feasting, banqueting)
A woman clothed badly in green, fat and reddish; she leans with her right hand upon a shield -- in which is painted a table with several sorts of victuals, with a superscription "vera felicitas" (that is, "true happiness"); the other shall lay upon a hog.
Feasting is a work of gluttony and consists in the quantity and quality of victuals; and used commonly to govern in gross and dull men, who can think on nothing else than things which do not touch the senses.
She is clothed in green, because she has a continual hope for alteration of victuals; to lead a merry life from time to time.
The shield after the aforesaid manner, is to express the end of those who are given to feasting: viz, the taste which they believe brings the happiness of this world along with it, as Epicurus saith.
The hog is taken by many writers for feasting, because it thinks of nothing else than to devour; and whilest it hates the nastiness, out of the mire it never holds its head up; never turning back, but seeks always forward to find better victuals.
A woman who holds in every hand, some Cicuta [hemlock tree]: which Virgill, in his stable of oxen, calls frail. Unto which every thing may be compared, which have the name of frail.
A woman with a thin garment; having in her right hand, a branch of Tiglio; and in her left hand, a great glass which hangs on a thread. The thread fits very well to it, because it breaks easily. The Tiglio is used by Virgill for the same. Of the glass hanging on a thin thread, needs no explanation, because the glass is thin and breaks easily. Also women are frail, and so we may compare the one with the other.
Fragilita Humana (Human frailty)
A woman wth a lean and sour countenance; nobly clothed; holding with both her hands, many icicles, which in winter season freeze on the houses. Which icicles were (as Pierius saith) held by the ancient Egyptians as a figure of the frailty of man's life. And it would not be amiss to express her great age better, that she was made stooping, leaning upon a feeble rod: which is a right figure as well of frailty, as of age. For when a man is come to that, the least hurt strikes him so that he often dies of it, and is crushed down by it. Some figure out human frailty, and not without a cause, by water bladders: which seem a little in the eye, but immediately vanish away.
Seditione Civile (Civil sedition)
An armed woman, with a spear in her right hand; in her left hand, an oaken branch; before her feet, shall stand two dogs who bark against one another, showing their teeth.
No other cause occassions sedition, war and civil dissention, but the body with its lusts and desires. All wars proceed to get riches. They seek riches by force to serve the body and to bring it to ease. And therefore, they seek to satisfy their lusts, to follow their own will and desires; which then also are provoked by their senses; either by hope of riches, or for the love of his beloved, or by ambition to govern, or by impounding of eminence: not willing to give way to any one, but to lord it over all. And by this means, the citizens disturb the quiet of their own state, sowing misunderstandings in the city; and by a common commotion, rise up in arms. Wherefore she is painted in arms. Of this sedition, every good citizen ought to desist, because of the common quiet, and to root out the same: as Philostratus saith. Therefore it is an ungodly thing that citizens among themselves should study evil, as Homerus saith. Solon certainly is not to be commended in his law, when he counts a man dishonest who takes not the one party or the other when any civil sedition arises. Whereof Plutarchus to Appollonius remembers, in his transaction of the common good, saith he: we may not accuse anybody that he will not join on the one side, to use force, separating himself from the citizens; but the rather, an ordinary citizen is to be accused who helps to instigate sedition. And that man ought not to be blamed, because he had no part in the seditious misery. For it appears that this man, most commonly is sad for the unhappy condition of the citizens. And we ought, saith Plutarchus, to strive above all that never any sedition may happen. And this is, as a civil policy, highly to be esteemed. Therefore, a good citizen ought to interpose himself in the beginning between differences, for all they are but particular; because no tumult should arise among the citizens -- for it proceeds from particular to the common business. All fires do not begin in great houses. But often a dispised spark or neglected candle, fires a whole house; which after, breaks forth to a common loss. Therefore Plutarchus adds: "This alone is wanting in a Politic citizen: that out of duty he teaches his fellow citizens to use unity and common friendship; and that he strives that all debates, discords, tummults and enmities, may be laid down and destroyed."
The branch of the oak which she holds in her left hand, is put for a figure of Civil Sedition; because these trees do push and strike together until they break. Wherefore Aristotle, in the behalf of Pericles, said: "that the Beotians were like these oaks; for as these did tear one another to pieces, so the Beotians did destroy one another." By which figure was understood that, as these trees were great, strong, firm, thick, hard and heavy to cut down and cleave with the axe; yet nevertheless pushing together, they did easily break. So was also a Republic, for all it is provided and fenced, not easily to be overcome by the sword, nor the power of enemies; but when the Citizens did push at one another, then they fall easily; and are totally, by Civil Sedition, thrown down to the ground.
The dogs, which bark one at another before her feet, serve for a figure of Civil Sedition. For all they are both domestic creatures, and of one nature; nevertheless, they are used to bark one at another, and to fight together -- either for victuals or for jealousy of a bitch. And to aggrevate themselves, they bark and show their teeth; the one not willing to give place to the other. Also the men, who for all they are fellow citizens of one city, come through the before said causes in dissention and difference: dispersing in their own country, hurtful seditions and tumults; like mad beasts and house dogs, thirsting after the blood of their fellow citizens: who are held by all men for impudent, base and evil men. Wherefore Cicero saith, in his oration  for Sestius: "These are counted evil and hurtful citizens, who stir up the minds of the citizens to Sedition."
Unione Civile (Civil union, civil concord)
A woman of a merry aspect; holding in her right hand an Olive branch, which is environed with a garland of Myrtle; and in her left hand, she holds the fish "Searus".
Concord is a preserver of cities. For Austine saith, in his "City of God", that a city is nothing else than a multitude of men who are united in concord. And take it, that this city grows into discord -- there will arise divisions, and procure the destruction of the same. Of what force concord is, we may learn by the history of Seilurus, the king of the Schytians. Who, when he was going to die, caused his 0 sons to be brought before him, and commanded every one that he should break a bundle of arrows tied together. But when they acknowledged their impotency in this, he half dying, separated them assunder and broke them easily one by one, saying: "O sons, if you unite your forces in unity together, you will be strong; but if you separate them by discord, you shall easily be overcome." This counsel of Seilurus is highly necessary in a civil government. The concord of the citizens, brings always amiableness and sweetness; like an instrument, with many well tuned strings and a great many voices, makes a sweet harmony.
The Olive branch, twisted round by the Myrtle, is a sign of well pleasing; and is taken for concord and lovely peace amongst citizens. Being these trees are united by nature in mutual love: their roots by changeable embracings, twisting together: and the Myrtle branches, through the Olive tree with an amiable union spreading, defends the Olive tree: that her fruit -- neither by the powerful strength of the sun, nor the great force of the winds -- are hurted; that they may attain their tender and sweet ripeness. Also should the Citizens, by kind embracings and brotherly love, be united together; that attaining to a lovely rest and amiable prosperity, they may defend one another from all harm.
The fish "Searus", admonishes us also to concord: to be ready with a mutual love and a willing mind to help one another. And this these fishes take notice of, that when one fish swallows the bait, another comes immediately and bites the line in pieces; or if they are caught in a net, another fish will put his tail to the fish that is caught, and when he bites it, he pulls him with great force through the net: as Plutarchus relates the same. Of the like love and affections, should be the minds of the citizens; which are united together, not to suppress one another, but to ease one another and to deliver them from the tempest of misery and persecution. Which godly duties, bind the hearts of men; by which the minds are mightily united; by which the body of the city gets a great increase and strength -- which she, during these civil unions, happily shall enjoy.
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