Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Latin Reader (12): Arbor inest hortis Sophiae

OH MY GOSH: look what Sandy Brown Jensen has done with this! It's a beautiful story to go with the beautifully re-colored image: The Greenhouse: An Alchemical Fable. A must-read! :-)

I already did Emblem VIII (about the egg), so today I can move on to Emblem IX from Michael Maier's Atalanta fugiens: Arbor inest hortis Sophiae. It features a famous mythological motif — golden apples — and the alchemical quest to extend human life (a very modern obsession also).

Arborem cum sene conclude in rorida domo et comedens de fructu eius fiet iuvenis.

Enclose a tree (arborem conclude) with an old man (cum sene) in a dewy house (in rorida domo) and by eating from its fruit (comedens de fructu eius), he will become young (fiet iuvenis).

For a hand-colored version, see Adam McLean's website: Emblem IX.

And here's the poem:

Arbor inest hortis Sophiae dans aurea mala,
Haec tibi cum nostro sit capienda sene;
Inque domo vitrea claudantur, roreque plena,
Et sine per multos haec duo juncta dies:
Tum fructu (mirum!) satiabitur arboris ille
Ut fiat juvenis qui fuit ante senex.

In the gardens of Wisdom (hortis Sophiae) there is a tree (arbor inest) bearing golden apples (dans aurea mala); you should take this tree (haec tibi sit capienda) together with our old man (cum nostro sene) and let them be enclosed (claudantur) in a house made of glass (inque domo vitrea) and full of dew (roreque plena). Allow these two to be together there (sine haec duo juncta) for many days (per multos dies); then — amazing! — (tum mirum!) that man will be fed (satiabitur ille) by the fruit of the tree (fructu arboris) so that he who was previously old (qui fuit ante senex) will become young (fiat iuvenis).

The commentary rejects the idea of literally regaining youth, while offering various allegorical interpretations, plus some funny observations, like this one:

Marsilio Ficino (Marsilius Ficinus) in his book about preserving the lives of scholars (in libro de studiosorum vita conservanda) writes that to attain long life (scribit ad aetatem longam attingendam) it is useful (utile esse) to suck the milk daily (ut quis lac exugat quotidie) from the breasts (ex uberibus) of a woman who is young and beautiful (cuiusdam feminae pulchae et iuvenis), while instead others praise (cuius vice alii laudant) eating the flesh of vipers (viperinam carnem comestam). But honestly (sed sane) these remedies are more taxing (haec media sunt rigidiora) than old age itself (ipsa senectute).

And now for your listening pleasure — a choral performance or just the musical fugue:

And the following is a list of the emblems I have completed so far:

Emblem I: Portavit eum ventus in ventre suo
Emblem II: Nutrius ejus terra est
Emblem III: Vade ad mulierem
Emblem IV: Conjunge fratrem cum sorore
Emblem V: Appone mulieri super mammas bufonem
Emblem VI: Seminate aurum vestrum
Emblem VII: Pullus a nido volans
Emblem VIII: Accipe ovum
Emblem IX: Arbor inest hortis Sophiae
Emblem XXXVI: Lapis projectus

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