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secrecy from Pluto, and foresight from Pallas. It also contains an excellent allegory, that the wings given him by Mercury were for his heels, not for his shoulders; because expedition is not so much required in the first preparations for war, as in the subsequent matters, that administer to the first; for there is no error more frequent in war, than, after brisk preparations, to halt for subsidiary forces and effective supplies.
The allegory of Pluto's helmet, rendering men invisible and secret, is sufficiently evident of itself; but the mystery of the shield and the mirror lies deeper; and denotes, that not only a prudent caution must be had to defend, like the shield, but also such an address and penetration as may discover the strength, the motions, the counsels, and designs of the enemy; like the mirror of Pallas.
But though Perseus may now seem extremely well prepared, there still remains the most important thing of all; before he enters upon the war, he must of necessity consult the Greæ. These Greæ are treasons; half, but degenerate sisters of the Gorgons; who are representatives of wars; for wars are generous and noble; but treasons base and vile. The Grea are elegantly described as hoary-headed, and like old women from their birth; on account of the perpetual cares, fears, and trepidations attending traitors. Their force, also, before it breaks out into open revolt, consists either in an eye or a tooth; for all faction, alienated from a state, is both watchful and biting; and this eye and tooth are, as it were, common to all the disaffected; because whatever they learn and know is transmitted from one to another, as by the hands of faction. And for the tooth, they all bite with the same;
with one throat; so that each of them singly expresses the multitude.
These Grea, therefore, must be prevailed upon by Perseus to lend him their eye and their tooth; the eye to give him indications, and make discoveries; the tooth for sowing rumors, raising envy, and stirring up the minds of the people. And when all these things are thus disposed and prepared, then follows the action of the war.
He finds Medusa asleep; for whoever undertakes a war with prudence, generally falls upon the enemy unprepared, and nearly in a state of security; and here is the occasion for Pallas's mirror: for it is common enough, before the danger presents itself, to see exactly into the state and posture of the enemy; but the principal use of the glass is, in the very instant of danger, to discover the manner thereof, and prevent consternation; which is the thing intended by Perseus's turning his head aside, and viewing the enemy in the glass.1
Two effects here follow the conquest: 1. The darting forth of Pegasus; which evidently denotes fame, that flies abroad, proclaiming the victory far and near. 2. The bearing of Medusa's head in the shield, which is the greatest possible defence and safeguard; for one grand and memorable enterprise, happily accomplished, bridles all the motions and attempts of the enemy, stupefies disaffection, and quells commotions.
1 Thus it is the excellence of a general, early to discover what turn the battle is likely to take; and looking prudently behind, as well as before, to pursue a victory so as not to be unprovided for a retreat.
VIII.-ENDYMION, OR A FAVORITE.
EXPLAINED OF COURT FAVORITES.
THE goddess Luna is said to have fallen in love with the shepherd Endymion, and to have carried on her amours with him in a new and singular manner; it being her custom, whilst he lay reposing in his native cave, under Mount Latmus, to descend frequently from her sphere, enjoy his company whilst he slept, and then go up to heaven again. And all this while, Endymion's fortune was no way prejudiced by his unactive and sleepy life, the goddess causing his flocks to thrive, and grow so exceeding numerous, that none of the other shepherds could compare with him.
EXPLANATION.-This fable seems to describe the tempers and dispositions of princes, who, being thoughtful and suspicious, do not easily admit to their privacies such men as are prying, curious, and vigilant, or, as it were, sleepless; but rather such as are of an easy, obliging nature, and indulge them in their pleasures, without seeking any thing further; but seeming ignorant, insensible, or, as it were,. lulled asleep before them.1 Princes usually treat
1 It may be remembered that the Athenian peasant voted for the banishment of Aristides, because he was called the Just. Shakspeare forcibly expresses the same thought:
"Let me have men about me that are fat;
If Bacon had completed his intended work upon Sympathy and Antipathy," the constant hatred evinced by ignorance of
such persons familiarly; and quitting their throne, like Luna, think they may, with safety, unbosom to them. This temper was very remarkable in Tiberius, a prince exceedingly difficult to please, and who had no favorites but those that perfectly understood his way, and, at the same time, obstinately dissembled their knowledge, almost to a degree of stupidity.
The cave is not improperly mentioned in the fable; it being a common thing for the favorites of a prince to have their pleasant retreats, whither to invite him, by way of relaxation, though without prejudice to their own fortunes; these favorites usually making a good provision for themselves.
For though their prince should not, perhaps, promote them to dignities, yet, out of real affection, and not only for convenience, they generally feel the enriching influence of his bounty.
IX. THE SISTER OF THE GIANTS, OR FAME.
EXPLAINED Of public deTRACTION.
THE poets relate, that the giants, produced from the earth, made war upon Jupiter, and the other gods, but were repulsed and conquered by thunder; whereat the earth, provoked, brought forth Fame, the youngest sister of the giants, in revenge for the death of her sons.
EXPLANATION.-The meaning of the fable seems
intellectual superiority, originating sometimes in the painful feeling of inferiority, sometimes in the fear of worldly injury, would not have escaped his notice.
to be this: the earth denotes the nature of the vulgar, who are always swelling, and rising against their rulers, and endeavoring at changes. This disposition, getting a fit opportunity, breeds rebels and traitors, who, with impetuous rage, threaten and contrive the overthrow and destruction of princes.
And when brought under and subdued, the same vile and restless nature of the people, impatient of peace, produces rumors, detractions, slanders, libels, &c., to blacken those in authority; so that rebellious actions and seditious rumors, differ not in origin and stock, but only, as it were, in sex; treasons and rebellions being the brothers, and scandal or detraction the sister.
X.-ACTEON AND PENTHEUS, OR A CURIOUS ΜΑΝ.
EXPLAINED OF CURIOSITY, OR PRYING INTO THE SECRETS OF PRINCES AND DIVINE MYSTERIES.
THE ancients afford us two examples for suppressing the impertinent curiosity of mankind, in diving into secrets, and imprudently longing and endeavoring to discover them. The one of these is in the person of Acteon, and the other in that of Pentheus. Acteon, undesignedly chancing to see Diana naked, was turned into a stag, and torn to pieces by his own hounds. And Pentheus, desiring to pry into the hidden mysteries of Bacchus's sacrifice, and climbing a tree for that purpose, was struck with a frenzy. This frenzy of Pentheus caused him to see things double, particularly the