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.
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Pentimento (Sorrow, repentance)

A man who stands with both his hands on a plow, as if he would plow; and looks with his face backwards; and so bowed down, that he seems to have an abhorring of his trade unto which he was ordained. According to the speach of Jesus Christ in the gospel: "Whoso put his hand to the plow....etc."

Pentimenti de Peccati (Repentance, or sorrow for sin)

A man clothed in black, lined with tawny; laying upon his knees; striking his breast with his right hand; holding his head a little aside; his eyes lifted up to heaven, lamenting without ceasing; having a Pelican by his side.

Repentance is such a sorrow and such a sting, which tortures a man with anguish through the ugliness, shamefulness and harmfulness of the committed sin; who by conscience is condemned. Therefore saith David in his 28 Psalm: "There is no rest in my bones, because of my sin."

The color of the garment and the striking of his breast, signify the sadness and conviction of guilt of the committed sin, for the cause above said.

That he lays upon his knees, looking up to heaven; is because he prays for mercy from God, and forgiveness for his committed sins.

The Pelican, saith St. Hieronimus, after he has killed his young ones with his bill, he abides three days in his nest, continually lamenting: which is a certain work of repentance, as Rufcellus saith. Ovidius saith in his "Methamorphosis" -- upon the allegory of Biblis, who was transformed into a fountain for a figure of tears -- that when we are brought unto repentance for sin, that we should then melt in tears as a sign that we have truly repented.

Penitenza (Penitence, penance)

A woman clothed in blue, which is all torn into rags; standing very solemn and lamenting; with a hand full of thorns in one, and a fish in the other hand. For repentance must be baptized with fasting and sighing.

Penitenza (Penitence, repentance)

A thin, lean woman, with a lamentable old garment; looking with great attention towards heaven; holding with both her hands a gridiron: which by the divines is taken for a sign of penitence; for as the same is in the middle, between the fire and that which is broiled upon it. Also is penitence the middle between the grief of the sinner and the love of God, which is the mover of the same. Penitence or Repentance has three especial parts: viz. a broken heart, acknowledgment, and satisfaction. Therefore the breaking of the heart is expressed with sadness and heaviness of countenance. The acknowledgment is expressed with the sight up towards heaven, as if she did crave forgiveness from God. The satisfaction is expressed by the gridiron, which is an instrument whereby bodily punishment is expressed: whereby the merits of this living virtue are measured.

Penitenza (Penitence, repentance)

An old grey woman; clothed in white, yet full of spots; sitting in a solitary place upon a stone, out of which springs a fountain upon which she looks; with her neck bowed; shedding many tears; and seems as if she would pull her clothes off.

Penitence is an anguish for sin, arising rather through the love of God, than for fear of punishment. Which anguish, when we behold ourselves, proceeds from the heart seeing the ugliness of the committed sin. And therefore this woman is made, that she beholds herself in the fountain -- seeing that her years are already worn out by age, lamenting over the ill spent time: which is expressed by the spots upon the white garment. The same being the innocence which is given us by the holy Baptism, and which is now spotted by our sins.

The stone whereupon she sits, is nothing else but Christ our saviour. Upon whom a sinner resting, has his mind occupied in the beholding of the fountain: which is the mercy which flows from him, as he said to the woman of Samaria. She puts off her fowle [foul or fowl?... 'foul' has been consistently spelt: foule.] garment, to wash it in this fountain, making her soul white by repentance: which is a sealing which he has, out of mere mercy, instituted for us. And therefore sings David to God: "Lord wash me and I shall be whiter than snow."

The solitary place, signifies the hidden things of the heart: unto which turning, and purging the mind from the vanities of the world, it finds peace with God; and comes also, through the anguish of sin, again to Mercy.

Penitenza (Penitence)

A lean woman, in an ash colored garment; holding in her right hand a scourge; and in her left hand, a cross; upon which, she attentively looks.

The Ash color, signifies that the penitent must separate his life far from wordly lusts, and not indulge the flesh.

The scourge is the amending of ourselves. And the cross, is the sufferings; through the likeness which the penitent has with Christ Jesus, by the dispising of the world; according to his words: "Whosoever taketh not up his cross and follows me, cannot be my Disciple."

Discretione (Discretion)

A middle aged woman of a venerable visage; her garments of gold, and her mantle of a red-purple; holding her head aside, towards her left shoulder; and the left arm lifted up, and the hand open, as if she had compassion with another; holding in her right hand a lesbian leaden plummet; upon her knees shall lay a Camel.

She is made middle aged and venerable, because in a full age is judgment and discretion. Wherefore Barnardus, speaking of discretion, calls her a mother of virtue.

The golden garment and the red-purple mantle, signify not only the wisdom and gravity; but also the right reason about the truth of the just causes, which are found in a just and discrete man. Wherefore D. Thomas saith: discretion belongs to wisdom, and is a procurator, keeper, and mistress of the virtues.

She holds her head towards her left side, and her left arm lifted up and her hand open as if she had a compassion with another. For Aristotle relates, that discretion easily shows herself pity filled to those who go astray; holding with great judgment some human frailties, in whom they are found for the best.

She holds the Lesbian leaden plummet in her right hand, to signify that a discrete man maintains equity with all diligence: as this plummet does, which those of Lesbos used to measure their stones. Withall, moving the same as well downwards as upwards -- and because it was of lead, it fitted for the top and bottom -- without losing its straightness; also bowes right discretion according to human frailty. Yet therefore, he leaves not the right way of justice; being grounded in his judgment and accompanied with equity: of which, according to her power, she is a just executress.

The Camel, as above said, shows the discrete nature of the creature; which will have no more burden upon him than he can carry. And therefore shall a reasonable man, in the imitation of this creature, do good with discretion. For all what he does with discretion, is a virtue; and all what is done without discretion, is a vice. And as Isidorus saith: an indiscrete virtue is esteemed a vice.

Riparo da i Tradimenti (Defence or protection against treachery)

A man with a stork in his arms, which has a sprig of Platanus in his mouth. The stork has a natural enmity with the night owl; wherefore the night owl often seeks to entrap her, and to break her nest, and to breed out her eggs herself: a thing which is very hurtful to the stork, proceeding from a private hatred which they have to one another. The stork, to hinder all this, provides his nest with a sprig of Platanus; for she knows very well that the night owl has a great hatred to this plant. Wherefore, when he comes to the nest, he smells the sprig; and by this defence, he is freed from all treachery and cunning wiles of the night owl.

Difesa contra nimici, malefici, venefici (Defence against enemies, malefactors, and poisoners)

A woman who has an ornament upon her head, put together of these precious stones, as Diamonds and Agates; having Corals about her neck; and in her hand an onion which is grown; and by her feet shall stand a weasel, which holds a branch of rue in his mouth. Of the Diamond saith Isidorus, that she is good against all sorceries of the black art. Of the Agate, saith Barth. Anglicus, that she is good against the hag, and troubles of evil spirits by night; and yet he adds, that the Eagle brings the Agate in his nest, to keep himself from the venomous bitings of snakes. Plinius wittnesses that she resists the biting of scorpions. Plinius and Isidorus relate of the Diamond, that she expels all fear, and hinders witchcraft. Of the Coral, saith B. Anglicus, that it is powerful against the devil's art and diverse superstitions. And the herb Squilla or the Onion, is good against evil spirits and night apparitions. For Plinius, speaking of this herb, saith that Pythagoras wittnesses that when they hang onions above the entrance of the door, that it drives away all evil spirits that would enter the house. Of the Weasel which carries rue in his mouth, all naturalists relate that it provides himself therewith against the Basilisk and all venomous snakes, and this is the opinion of some of the ancient.

Difesa contra i Pericoli (Defence against Danger)

A young woman who holds in her right hand a naked sword; and on her left arm a shield, in which is painted a Porcus pinus.

She is painted young, because youth is quick and nimble to defend himself against all assaults. The sword and shield, signify that they must not only defend themselves therewith; but also, assault and hurt their enemies. The shield is taken for defence. And the Egyptians figure out by this, a man who is secure against all ambushes, danger, and all accidents of fortune. And for this also, they painted the Porcus pinus in it; because that this creature, as soon as it smells any wild beasts or hears the barking of dogs, draws himself into a round ball: drawing his head and legs into his body, as the tortises do: turning and winding himself that wheresoever you touch it, you find that all sides are equally fenced; to the terror of those that will touch it.

Contagione (Contagion, infection)

A young, lean, pale woman; with ugly ragged clothes of darkish color; she shall hold in her right hand, a branch of a nut tree; and the left, upon a Basilisk; which stands by her with a terrible countenance; on her other side, shall be a young man languishing, sick and half dead, lying upon the ground.

Contagium, infection, comes from the latin word "contactu" -- which is "touching" -- because the same of one malady in the body, goes over into another.

The Contagion, according to the mind of Averrois, is twofold: viz. Mathematical and Natural. The first happens not always between two bodies; but according to the magnitude of the bodies -- the Mathematical being nothing else but the superficial, flat and other measures. The other happen always between two bodies in an appointed place; otherwise it is said that naturally they are not found.

Describing then the Contagion, we say that it is an evil and putrified quality of the disease which either through the air, or from one body into the other, is transplanted; and this description is set down by Mercuriales in the 17 chapt. of the agues and fevers. But Joan Baptista Montanus, upon the book "Fenn" of Avicenna, gives us a more complete position; containing the cause of the stuff, of the being, and of the working power: saying that Contagion is a Malady which goes from one body into the other; either by means of touching, or without means; by the agreement of the stuff, or by the contrariety of the part of the form, caused by the alteration of the heat, which the moist parts unaptly digests.

To declare this, I say that a Malady which shall go from one body into another, has need that it be done by means of some motion. And if there be motion, it must be one of these four which are related by Aristotle in his art of nature: viz. or the putrefactive, or the multiplicative, or the alterative, or dislocative. There is no dislocative motion, for we see not that she moves from her place. There is no multiplicative motion, for there comes nothing to it. Then it must remain certain that there is alterative and putrefactive motion: going always alteration before all putrifaction (as we have said) from one body into another. It is then necessary that there is one "agens" that is active, and one "particus" that is passive: viz. one part that touches, and another part which is touched. The working part, is from whence the contagion proceeds; and the passive, is which revceives the contagion. Then it is necessary that the passive has the same malady and affections with the active. The touching without medium, is that which happens between two bodies so that there is nothing between them: as happens in the Morbus Gallicus or pox. The touching by means, is that which happens between two bodies by the interposition of some other body: as when through means of the air, two bodies touch one another in that manner that the one transmits his Malady unto the other. For first the air suffers, who after that, transfers her contagion or Malady unto a firmer body. The aforesaid Mercurialis, striving after this truth in the before mentioned place, saith that the Malady which happens by touching, happens by the blowing of the breath, or by the moist touching. And therefore, it is impossible that firm parts, by intermutual touching, can be infected. And this is the cause wherefore love contagion is most easily transmitted; from which arises afterwards, a great plague: as Ficinus, upon the convivium of Plato, saith. But how is it possible that a fine stream, or an airy spirit, or a blowing, or a little drop of blood of a much beloved she friend, so suddenly with such quickness and power, may so hurtfully torment a longing lover? The cause of this is nothing else but the blowing breath, and the flowing blood -- which has four properties: viz. that is clear, thin, hot, and sweet. For the clear agrees with the eyes of the lover; enticing and drawing the same in such a manner that it thereby most vehemently is provoked. And because it is fine, it flies quickly into the entrails; and from thence is spread into the veins and arteries; and from thence through the whole body, working powerfully through the heat. Moving by this perforce the lover, in that manner that he is transmutated in the same nature -- which Lucretius very well said: "Sweet venus stole in the heart; upon which follows sorrow and smart."

Being that this, with its sweetness, feeds and gives taste to the entrails; it proceeds from this, that whosoever is tormented with this evil, at once feels pleasure and smart; and this because of the clearness and sweetness of the moist and flowing blood of the beloved: and that through the heat and thinness. It is then necessary to do that which Lucretius bids us: "To drive away the image of love, and to have a terror of that which she feeds on."

But let us return again to Mercurialis, who saith that [of] the moistness (for all they may occassion evil and sickly qualities), it is also necessary that she must have these two qualifications: viz. that they must be upon the flat of the body, and thereunto be tuff and clinging; as Aristotle and Alexander relate. And through which cause, the itch or scurvy transfers itself easily from one body into another. But how then are the inward Maladies contagious; as the consumption, malignant fevers and others? By means of the damps, and the breathing out and in: by which the inward parts of the lights, etc., are easily infected; and the near body made partaker of the same. But by this is not said that the pestilence and contagion are one and the same thing, for the pestilence is a common evil. Whereby we must understand, that there are some maladies which are called "Sporadici", that is "dispersed", and others which are in common. The dispersed, are when several maladies fall upon diverse people and nations. The common, are of two sorts: The first are called by the grecians "Endimii", and by the Latins "Inquilini", that is "habitual", and are common unto all; but more familiar with the one people or nation, than the other. The second sort is called "Epidemii", and are common unto all men. And of this sort, is the pestilence: in which time, men are infected through a hidden power, so that she never shows herself, but when the air is infected -- as Pater Alexander said unto the Astrologers.

But to return to the description, it is necessary for us to consider the equality of the stuff and the inequality of the form or figure. And because the work is acted through contrariety and inequality, and because the one contrary does not accept of the other; there must of necessity be an interject which accepts of this contrariety. And this is the stuff, which is as well common to one body as the other. Out of which, the active beginning of this putrefation proceeds; and by this motion -- which is the contrary putrefying form of the infected body, which will promote the contagion; and the passive beginning -- that is, the stuff of the putrified body which is ready to accept of the putrified contra form. But let us see how the alteration is necessary in this contagion: It is a clear case among the Philosophers, that alteration goes before all putrefaction, and the alteration happens in the quality: then it must be warmness -- which happens by the means of her instrument, which is the heat which uses force to the moist and dry: which are passive qualifications which it does not finish, nor decocts wholly. And therefore it is said, that when the passive parts over-master the active parts: from thence proceeds putrifaction. For when often times the heat is too weak that she cannot overmaster the moist, and that there is too great a superfluity of moistness: then happens a co-working, as Aristotle calls the same, upon which then follows putrefaction. And this may come together in two ways of cooking: either in boiling or roasting. Whereby, we see that things which have an extreme heat, do not putrify; but dry. Hereof we have an example: of which it is said, that under the third "clime" or third situation of the earth -- viz. in Arabia -- are some places, near unto the sea, which are full of sand. Through which, when the Merchants travel towards the east, and so by the heat of the sand as by the burning of the sun, come to die in this place; they dry up through the burning beams of the sun; in that manner that, losing all their moistness, the Mummy, as it is held, is made by it: which never putrefies, and which afterwards is brought over into our countries. Yea, we know also, that through the extreme cold, many things do not putrefy nor perish. Whereof we see that those who die in the mountains of St. Barnard in France, abide many years in their being, without putrefaction. Hitherto we have declared the contagion, and from whence the same proceeds: now there wants only that we explain the figure.

She is painted young, because youth, by the excess and heat of the blood, has more heat in it; which has power to make lean and thin, and to attract; and which by consequence, is a great help to the cause of the stuff, and of the active power. The rather, because young people easier attract the contagion: because of their Libidiousness and small care they have of their life.

Her clothes are torn through the great uneasiness, which because of this contagion arises; which brings men at last unto great poverty, as the sad clothes do notify; which in this occassion cannot administer mirth, but often is followed by death.

She is made lean and pale, to express the malignant contagious sickness which consumes men by degrees: among which are the pox or venerial disease, consumption, leprosy, and many others.

She has a branch of a nut tree in her hand, the same being infectious with her shadow, as Plinius saith in his 17 book: following in this, the Tasso in Narbona. Which, according to the testimony of Dioscorides, is so hurtful, that whoso ever sleeps under it or sits in the shadow of it, is mightily troubled. As Fernelius, in his hidden causes, wittnesses the same of the nut tree. Also Ovidius, who saith that they are planted on the borders of the field, because they should do no hurt to the corn.

The Basilisk, as it is written, is a sort of snake. Whereof, not only the breath, but also the sight, are infectious. And the creatures which are killed by her poison, are not touched by other creatures; how hungry and gluttonous soever they may be. And if by mere hunger they do touch the same, they die immediately. Wherefore, the Basilisk is avoided of all other creatures, how poisonous soever they may be, as surpassing all other creatures by her poison; as AEtius and Plinius relate.

The pale, lean and half dead young man, is put by her for the reasons above named: as the body that received the contagion, and that which gave it him.

Tregua (Truce, cessation of Arms) of the Sr. Giov. Zaratino Castellini

A woman in the midst of a quiet sea; sitting upon an isle, upon a heap of spears or pikes or other instruments of war, tied together; she shall have a breastplate like a Bellona; with a head piece upon her right knee; and her right hand upon it, in which she holds a stick on which these two fishes -- the sea pike and the shepherd -- are tied together; in the left hand she has a cat and a dog on a string, who sit silently and quiet together.

Marcus Varro comprehends the truce, these two manner of ways: Cessation of Arms, saith he, is a peace of an army for a few days; or a truce, is a repose of the war. Which limitations do not please A. Gellius: but he is rather pleased with short and sweet descriptions, than complete limitations. And for that which concerns the second, he saith that it is more grateful, than clearly limited. Because the Grecians say that the word "Ecechiria" signifies that you must keep your hands at home, for you must not fight then. So much as concerns the first, he saith, that it cannot be called a peace; because the war stands yet upon the same terms. For all the actions do cease, she cannot be called the peace of an army, or that [which] is made in the field or entrenchments or in the tents of soldiers: for they are made also without the field, and without the tents of soldiers. She is not also of a few days, but of months also. Livius relates in his 10 book, that the Romans have given a truce of three months unto the Carthagenians; and six months unto the Tyrant Mabides of Lacedemonia. Quadrigatius saith also, in the first of his year books, that Cajus Pontius Samnitus required of the Roman Dictator, a cessation of arms for six hours. So that the cessation, as Varro saith, is not always of certain days; but also of certain hours and months. We read also in Titus Livius, that Perugia, Cortona, and Arezzo -- which were as the heads of Tuscany -- did sue for peace of the Romans. A truce was granted unto them for 30 years. And such a truce of 30 years was made between the Athenians and Lacedemonians, when they had subdued Eubea. The same Livius, relates that the Romans granted unto the Vejetans, a truce of 20 and another of 40 years. The same Livius, relates that the Vejantes sent Ambassadors to Rome, and made a truce for 100 years: as unto Cerus also, a truce of 100 years was granted. Being then the truce, of hours, days, months, years, of a short or long time: it may be said, that a truce is an agreement of a cessation of Arms for a certain limited time. We must not also forget the description, in which are comprehended the conditions of the truce: for, in that, is given security unto the thing and unto the persons. Because the difference is not yet ended, the signification of the word truce or cessation, is clear: for so as the agreement and agitation is in hand, they cease from making of war unto the time of the agreement.

The finder of the Truce, according to Plinius in the 7 book the 5 chap., has been Licanor; and Theseus, of the covenants. The judges, as well of the truce as of the covenants, were the Fecials or Heralds. But I am of opinion, that the first that promoted a truce was Priamus, king of the Trojans: who after a mortal battle fought with the Greeks, sent his Ambassadors unto Agamemnon, General of the Greeks, to make a cessation of arms, that every one might burn their dead. As Homerus relates in the 7 of his Iliads, that they should send Idaeus to burn their dead; but that after that, they should fight again to see unto whom should be the victory. Which truce was accepted by Agamemnon, and holding up his Scepter towards heaven, he swore that he would keep this truce inviolably. The difference between "foedus", a covenant, and "inducia", a truce, is great. For they make a truce for a short or longer time; but "foedus", is an eternal covenant of peace and Amity.

She sits upon an isle in the midst of a quiet sea, to show that while the cessation lasts, the sea is also quiet; but not always, for at last she bursts out into storms and Tempests. And as when the storm ceases, we may sail securely in the midst of the sea; so we may also, when the tempest of Arms ceases, as long as the truce lasts, in the midst of the enemy's country, sail or travel.

She sits upon a bundle of pikes tied together, because for all the arms, in the time of the truce, are at rest and put by. Yet they are united again when the truce is at an end, and then the war stands upon his free legs again.

She has her breast armed like Bellona, because the people, in the time of the truce, have the care of the war yet in their breast, for all they cease of hostility.

She holds, sitting, her helmet upon her knee, and not upon her head; to signify the greater part of the rest they enjoy in the time of the cessation. And she has her hand upon it, to show that she is ready, the truce being ended, to put it on her head again.

The sea pike and the shepherd, are a figure of the truce; for these fishes, for all they are deadly enemies, used to come together on a certain time, as the naturalists relate. And therefore, they are hung on the staff to show that through the agreeing of the truce, the parties are bound to live in unity, without hurting one another. It being not admitted to hinder or do violence to one another, and to break the staff of the peace: viz, the law of the truce. For whosoever breaks the truce, does violence to the Law of nations. As T. Livius relates in his 11 book, holding them for deceivers: "The general", saith he, "goes into all the ranks and admonishes the soldiers, aggrevating their hatred with sharp words and upbraiding the enemy with deceit; that they have inquired for peace, and that they had granted them a truce; and that they at the time of the truce, against the law of Nations, were come to assault their camp."

The Carthagenians were deceitful, who violated the truce with the Romans, which was expired saving one day. As Livius relates in his 20 book: Deceitful were the Longobardi, who in the reign of Mauritius, did often break the truce in Italy. Deceitful were the Thracians, who being overcome by the Beotians near the bogs of Copaide, fled into Aeliconia and made a truce with the Beotians for five days, as Suidas relates. And the Beotians, in the mean time, by premeditated counsel departed, being assured of the victory and of the Truce. And while they were offering unto Minerva Iconia and kept their feasts, as Polisenus saith, they were set upon by the Thracians by night, and partly killed and the rest taken prisoners. The Beotians, complaining to their enemies that they had violated the truce, the Thracians answered them that they had made a truce for days and not for nights. With great reason were these reprehended by Cicero in the first book of his civil duties; because they did unjustly, by a malignant and cunning exposition of the Law. As those who had made a truce with his enemies for 30 days, and came by night and destroyed the fields, saying that he had made a truce for days and not for nights.

The better to express the contract which is made in the Truce or cessation, we have tied a dog and a cat together; because the contract of the Truce, ties the minds of the enemies and adversaries together: who in the time of truce do rest, and abide in peace. But this being expired, they are like dogs and cats; who often do agree together, but in a short time after, they fight together.

Tregua (Truce of war, according to the description of the P.C.Hooft)

He painted a grave woman which was richly adorned; having in her right hand a sword, which was sealed into the scabbard with the seal of the King of Spain and of the States of the united provinces; where round about was written: "ad duo decim annos" - that is, "for twelve years". In her left hand she had a chain, unto which was fast tied the God of war, Mars, who lingering, followed. And after him, a company of soldiers chained, who turned the head of their muskets and pikes downwards. She sat upon the carriage of a cannon; upon which lay a cannon with some pikes, muskets, drums, and other instruments of war. Near her side sat Discipline; and on her right side, Prosperitas, "prosperity". Under the chariot lay down underfoot, Licentia, "licentiousness", and Calamitas, "calamity". Henricus the 4th, king in france, by moving of the foremost wheel, set the chariot a going; and Jacobus 6, king of great Brittain, moved the hindermost -- both promoters of this truce. Pater John Ney sat upon the chariot with the bridle in his hand and guided the horses. Upon the one horse sat Albertus, Duke of Austria and Braband; and upon the other horse, sat Isabella Clara Eugenia, wife to the Duke and sister to the king: stadtholders for the king. The horses were led by Amor Patria, that is "the love of the country", and by Modestia, "modesty". Suspitio, that is "suspicion", and Cura, "care", did hang on the chariot. Just over against the horses, sat a beautiful maiden under a rich canopy: representing the countries which are yet under the command of the king. And above her, the arms of Burgundy; by her side, hung the arms of every province. And before it, stood Philippus the third, king of Hispania, with a crown and scepter, neatly figured. And under his left hand he had a shield touching the ground, wherein was painted his arms. On the king's left side, stood Ambrosius Spinola, being his general. On the other side, sat also the virgin of the united Neatherlands, in a beautiful seat. And above her, hung the arms of the united states; and by her side, the arms of several provinces. On her right hand appeared some grave men, as the states of the same countries; and on her left side stood Mauritius of Nassaw, as general of the united states -- who had his right hand upon the hilt of his sword, and his left upon a shield, wherein stood his arms. In the sky was Mars, who leaving his bloody chariot, came unto Venus into her chariot, kindly embracing her; where Cupid guided the chariot being drawn by two pidgeons. The double tongued Fame, with her trumpets blowing the welcome news over the whole world.

Venusta of Sr. Giov. Zaratino Castellini (Amiableness, gracefulness, lovliness)

A Beautiful Nymph, of an amiable visage; girded with a girdle on which is embroidered Cupid with his burning torch, with the winged snake rod of Mercury; carrying in her right hand an Helichrisus or a clear yellow flower; and in her left hand, the bird Jinge, by the Grecians so called.

Amiableness is a certain grace which brings a complete sauce to beautifulness, for all beutiful persons are not amiable. Suetonius, describing the form of Claudius Nero, makes a difference between beauty and amiableness or gracefulness, saying that "he was more fair than graceful of visage." Catullus, comparing Quintia with his beloved Lesbia, allows well that Quintia was fair; but not very fair, for she had no gracefulness. But he proves that his Lesbia was all fair, for she had all gracefulnesses. From whence it is concluded, that besides the good frame of a large and fair body, gracefulness is highly necessary. And Catullus proves the same, not so much in the word Venustas, "gracefulness", as in the word Mica Salis, that is "a corn of salt": viz, that Quinta was unsavory and unsalted, having neither amiableness nor gracefulness. Upon which Alexander Guarinus saith: "That as far as victuals without salt is unpleasing, also could Quintia, for all she was tall and fair, not be beautiful without gracefulness." Which is nothing but a certain grace, as the writer saith in the same place: "It seems that Lesbia hath robbed all women of gracefulness, because all gracefulness and amiableness did shine in her alone." On the same manner as Zeuxis the Painter, who amongst the Agrigentines in Sicilia, to paint Juno Lacinia, sought out the most beautiful of most fair and graceful virgins which he could find. The same is expressed by the Poet Lucretius, who calls the Amiableness and gracefulness a pure salt; saying that little Pumillio is full of loves and very salt in manners. As if he should say, that unto such a lover who is blinded by love, a little short maid seemed to him to be one of the charities or cupids, and one of the Graces. Which grace of gracefulness, is by many writers comprehended under the name of salt. For gracefulness and amiableness are the sauce of Beauty; as the salt is to the meat, as Plutarchus saith. For this cause, the beauty of a woman must not be unpleasing, but pleasing; and the more to move the minds, she is called salted. And therefore it is feigned, that Venus, who is held for a goddess of Beauty, was born out of the sea: that is, out of salt. Also that gracefulness which Catullus calls the salt and the Veneres, are nothing else but gracefulness and amiableness: a word which proceeds from Venus, for Cicero saith that Venus proceeds from the word Venustas. Therefore saith Catullus, that Lesbia had robbed all the Veneres: that is, all the amiableness and gracefulness. For Venus, as the Goddess of Beauty and the head of all gracefulness, had besides the complete beauty of the body, all gracefulness and amiableness which in a complete woman can be expected. For Gracefulness consists especially in two especial gifts: in the amiableness of the face, and the sweetness of the voice. The aspect or face, consists in a pleasing and amiable color, in a lovely and courtly motion, in a sweet laugh, and in a merry look. The voice consists in a pleasing speech, wherein especially is required a saltiness of wisdom, to speak [merrily, ] to speak like an angel. And therefore saith Quin[ta]lianus, gracefulness is all that which is said with a certain grace and amiableness. And he wittnesses of Isocrates, that he has followed all the gracefulness of eloquence. Also does Petrarcha, throughout in the [idea] of his beloved Laura, where he paints her gracefulness in such a manner that she might easily have moved angry Jupiter to lover her.

In which verses, as also in many others, he looks upon her fair white face, upon her fair hair, upon her brown eye-brows, upon the glaze of her eyes, upon her white teeth, upon the coral of her lips, etc. -- all colors which bring amiableness and gracefulness along with them when the same are found all together with an uniformity of limbs in one person. He notes her going, her visage, her graceful speech and amiable laugh; also her graceful treading and the motion of her feet. In these parts then -- in the color, in the motion, in the laugh, in the visage, and in her speaking -- consists the gracefulness. And therefore, we have clothed her in changeable garments, which is set together of many colors; because of the changeableness of the graces, which in a fair idea of a complete beauty are required. For according to the mind of the Platonian Ficinus, beauty is a certain grace and amiableness which often particularly proceeds from some ornaments and rarities of many things. And these are of three sorts: first, by the ornament of many virtues, gracefulness is brought into the mind; secondly, it comes by the agreement and uniformity of the colors and lineaments of gracefulness and amiableness of the body; thirdly, it proceeds much from the sweetness of the voice and by the sweet even sounding words. So that these three are held for the beauty of the mind, of the body, and of the voice.

The beauty of the mind rejoices by the senses; the beauty of the body, by the eyes; and the beauty of the voice, by the ears. Wherefore the same Ficinus saith: "This gracefulness is fair, which moves and draws the mind by the senses, by the sight, and by the hearing." From which we shall this finally conclude: that beauty consists in these three things and that these three, united one with another, make gracefulness and amiableness. As Petrarcha further saith, calling virtue and honor, the beauty of the mind which in the mind occassion gracefulness; will you see the artificial motion. Behold the gracefulness of her body, the sweet discourses, hear the sweetness of her voice. Behold, saith Petrarcha, how lovingly has she tied my heart; disturbes, entices and draws the mind: by the senses, by the eye and by the hearing.

The pleasant gracefulness, saith Plato in his Laws, is most fit for women. From whence it proceeds that Cicero, in his first book of his civil duties, saith: "We must follow a female gracefulness, and a manly gravity." Shall we think "that gracefulness is an effeminate thing, and that gravity and magnanimity becomes men?" But it is to be believed that this is to be understood of a certain effeminate softness, bashfulness and womanly modesty; not that gracefulness and amiableness does ill become a man. For a man without spirit is ungraceful; and according to the common talk, the man Acharis shall always be an idle proverb in every man's mouth. Acharis is taken for a man without gracefulness: for amiableness and activity, make a man pleasing and merry, how deformed soever he may be. Ulysses was ugly -- nevertheless, overpowered he, by his gracefulness and sweet persuations, the minds of all the Grecians. Yea, he could also, by his pleasing eloquence, cause the Goddesses to love him; as Ovidius saith. Quintus Roslius, the Commedian, was squint eyed and of an ugly visage: wherefore to hide his ugliness, he was the first who with a visard came upon the theater; as C. Rhodiginus saith. But the people would rather see and hear him without a visard; for besides his sweet eloquence, he had yet an especial activity and gracefulness -- as well in motion as in acting -- to express diverse passions by the sight. Here we see how gracefulness in an ugly man is pleasing: how much more shall she be in a beautiful man. Who shall say then that gracefulness becomes not a man, except they did mean a too much effeminate gracefulness. But a manlike gracefulness, as was seen in Panigarola, is to be commended: who, besides the beauty of the body, had such a gracefulness in sweet speaking, that persons would have stood from morning until night, without eating or drinking, to have the fruition of his eloquence. And we have, more than four times, seen Tasso standing by the Theater, forgetting himself with his mouth open, without any motion -- Powers certainly of gracefulness and activity, which bewitch men and ravish away the minds of men. Also the mind of Alcibiades was enchanted by the speech of Socrates -- as ragged and ugly as he was -- that he said he found more sweetness in the words of Socrates, than in the sweet and melodious songs of Marsias and Olympius -- two renowned Musicians -- so forceful and powerful were the pleasantness of his words and actions. Which affability is praised sufficiently by all the orators: not only through the sweetness in speaking, but also through the gracefulness of the sight; and a much as concerns to the person, she is laudable in a man. Plutarchus praises the graceful aspect of Pompeius; which was full of modesty and courteousness, whereby he made his orations acceptable; and that in him, all gracefulness and amiableness, with a gravity and affability, were joined together; and that in the prime and best of his age, there appeared a Royal majesty in him. Suctonius commended in Augustus, the beauty and gracefulness of his presence; and that the same, in all the steps of his age, was commendable.

Of the same complete gracefulness, the Grecians vaunt that their Alcibiades has been. And M. T. Cicero commends such an aspect that brings both reverence and gracefulness. Wherefore, gracefulness is laudable in a man. Of the woman I say nothing; but I would rather woo a maid which was not so very fair, yet virtuous, airy and affable in speaking and conversation, and nimble of her feet; than one which was very beautiful of face, yet without gracefulness, without virtue, a peasant in conversation, lazy in going and unsalted in her speech.

We have girded this figure with the girdle of Venus, that by the Grecians is called "cestum" or "Balteus"; which Venus, the mother of all beauties, used to wear to be graceful, and had such a power in love quarrels that it could appease angry and raging Mars. And Juno, who had borrowed the same of Venus, could therewith appease the thundering God Jupiter. Whereupon Martialis sweetly jeers, having a mind to praise Julia [for] her amiableness and gracefulness, he saith that both Juno and Venus might beg the girdle from her. This precious girdle is described by Homerus: "That she very artificially was embroidered with the needle, wherein were all enticements: viz. love and desire, and the sweet flowing words which ensnares the mind of the wise. This was given unto her hand and said to her: take this girdle, which is wonderfully woven, and gird it about your sides, for all things are made in it, and believe that it will not be impossible for you to execute all what you shall desire." Herby appears, according to the testimony of Homerus, that in this girdle were embroidered with the needle -- love, desire, and sweet flowing and pleasing eloquence.

Love, we have painted after the usual manner of a winged boy; and desire, by the burning torch: which are those who, after the manner of a burning torch, continually enflame the hearts of their lovers. The sweet and loving eloquence, is figured out by the staff of Mercury; because the ancient Poets cry up Mercury for a father of eloquence and the head of gracefulness. Wherefore also Lucianus brings in Mercurius, that he should have stolen the girdle of Venus, by whom he was also embraced, because of the victory which he had gotten by her gracefulness. And not without cause did the Athenians put Mercurius before the entry of their Castle and the graces by him, as Pausanias relates. So that the snakey staff of Mercury, serves for a figure of eloquence and of a smooth well spoken tongue. And by this girdle, Homerus will give us to understand the power of gracefulness, without which beauty has no power. Venus was beautiful, but without the girdle which is a figure of gracefulness, she could not mollify Mars, nor draw him by her side. Juno was beautiful, but without the girdle of Venus, she could not please Jupiter. But by this she did mollify him, as Venus also did Mars, signifying that beauty added to gracefulness can entice every one; how cruel of heart he may be, as Mars, or as high hearted and elevated [of] mind, as Jupiter. But Beauty has not this power without gracefulness, which creates love and desire in the minds of wise men; and that by the pleasantness of speaking, drawing the same in such a manner that they can have of them what they shall desire.

Libanius, the Grecian Philosopher, feigns of the girdle and the rose, a rare fiction, as Angelus Politianus relates: That Pallas and Juno, when they appeared before the shepherd who should be the judge of their beauties, said to Venus that she should lay by her girdle, for it gave her such a gracefulness that she enchanted people by it. Venus answered that she was content to lay by her girdle; but that it was also fitting -- because the one was adorned with a golden helmet and the other with a crown -- that she might choose also for herself some other ornament. Wherewith Pallas and Venus [NB: text has "Venus", but I think "Juno" is intended] were content. Venus, parting from them, went into a fair garden and gathered there lillies, violets, and other flowers to adorn herself. But going further, she smelt the sweet scent of Roses; which she gathering, she thought that these were the fairest of all, rejecting all the others. Wherefore she made of these a garland, and being adorned with this, she appeared before the judge. But Pallas and Juno, seeing her so gracefully adorned with the garland of Roses, would not expect the judgment. Acknowledging themselves overcome, they both came and embraced Venus; kissing the garland of Roses, putting the same upon one another's head, and at last upon the head of Venus again. And hereby, we are moved to paint gracefulness with a garland of Roses. And that also with reason; for the Rose, because of her amiableness, is the queen of flowers, an ornament of the Earth, the glory of all plants, and the eye of the flowers. These distribute Love, and appeases Venus; getting the upper hand of all flowers, in which the poets also most agree. Amongst others, Murtola and Anacreon say, that the ornament of gracefulness is hidden in it.

So the Rose agrees very well with gracefulness; wherefore she is also dedicated to Venus by the Poets as a figure of gracefulness and beauty. Wherein, the above named three things, which complete gracefulness as the Platonici say, are to be found: viz. the power or virtue, the well tempered color, and the sweetness of the voice. Certainly in the Rose are also these three parts to be found: First, her virtue consists in comforting the body by the many preparations of syrups and waters. There is the pleasing flesh color, mingled with white and red: as the Poets feign, that the Roses being all white before, were sprinkled with the blood of Venus. There is the scent of the amiable smell, a figure of sweetness, a scent of the voice; because some Philosophers hold that the smell and the color proceeds from the amiable star of Venus: from whence this proverb proceeds, that under Rose, speaking in a poetical manner, it is said that Venus speaks with her mouth full of Roses. As also Virgil and Petrarcha sing, that the beautiful angelical mouth was full of pearls, Roses, and amiable words; meaning a graceful mouth. Taking the pearls for snow white teeth, and the Roses for the vermilion of the lips: from whence proceed precious speeches, which were related with a sweet eloquence and graceful subjects; as Tasso also sings.

The Helicrisus, which she carries in her hand, is a flower which is called after the Nymph Helicrisa -- as who did first gather it, as Themistagoras Ephesius relates. But I rather think she is called after Helios, which is the Sun, and Chrysos, which signifies Gold: because the shadow of this plant -- which hangs full of Berries, which also never perish, when they are stung by the beams of the sun, they give a shadow or reverberation as if they were of gold. Wherefore, the heathens had a custom to crown their gods therewith; which by Ptolomaeus, king of Egypt, was diligently observed. What flower this Helicrisus is, and the difference of the Chrysanthemus and the Amaranth, you may read in Plinius, Dioscorides, and their expounder Mathictus.

We have given this flower unto her hand, for a figure of gracefulness. For it is a graceful flower which carries her name of gold and of the sun -- under whose beams she is fair and pleasant as gold. Yea, we could name no more grateful thing than that she is pleasant and shining as the gold, when the sun makes a reverberation upon it. Yea, it is said that when they make garlands of it and wear them, it makes one grateful, and they get favor and praise in their life; as Plinius and the ancient Grecian Author Athanaeus relate. Therefore, we give gracefulness this Helichrisus in her hand: for whosoever has gracefulness, has commonly by every one salutations, praise, honor, and favor. And because gracefulness unites favors, by which things are gotten, it is said by the Latins: "He is full of gracefulness" -- and that of a man who is prosperous, when all things fall out according to his mind. For Pamphilus, in his play of "Hecyra", when against his hope he had been fortunate with women, he saith: "Who is more fortunate and fuller of gracefulness than I?" To the contrary, they say that they are ungraceful, and fortune does not favor them, who have not things go according to their minds. Wherefore Pamphilus, in the play of "Andria", saith: "Is there any man more ungraceful and more unfortunate than I?"

From whence it proceeds that he who is graceful, is fortunate; for he finds easily favor and acceptance. For which this flower, as a figure is used, as being a noble, beautiful and acceptable flower; not because that she really makes men acceptable and in favor with princes: as the Judians foolishly think that the Rose does, which is a sottish vanity. It is also foolishness which some say, that a hare should make men acceptable when they eat the flesh thereof. It is also much to be admired that Pierius, who otherwise was a sharp man, comes in this mistake: that he misconstrues the place of Plinius where he saith: "That Hare's flesh, according to the saying of Cato, causes sleep." There he alters the word "somnosos", that is "sleepy", and puts for it "formosos", that is "fair and beautiful"; where yet Satyr-wise [satirically?], the foolishness of the people is reprehended by Plinius. While they held that "hare's flesh, eaten 7 days together, brings a man favor and gracefulness"; which is a great vanity, because the hare was never held by any ancient writers for a figure of gracefulness, but well derided. Yet Pierius seems to take this to his advantage, that in a picture of Philostratus, Cupids were painted under an Orange tree, playing with a hare. But this has no communion with gracefulness: for such like inventions you shall see a thousand times at Rome in the fronts of the houses, and in cornices of Pallaces, and houses of pleasure; where you may see naked Cupids playing with goats, monkeys, dogs, and other pleasant creatures. For the Cupids would not wound the hare with their darts, but they would catch him alive to present it for a gift unto Venus: not for a figure of gracefulness, but because it is a very fruitful creature and much addicted to Venus. Of which Philostratus himself saith: "The foolish lovers have thought that there should be a power in the hare to procure love." Wherefore, Pierius also uses this satyr of Martialis: "Michael sent a hare to Gellia, to eat it for seven days together, to make her fair; and he upbraids her that she had never tasted it."

But here Martialis jeers her, saying: if this be true, what you say -- that the flesh of a hare makes one fair -- so have you, Gellia, never tasted the flesh of a hare: jeering her because she was so ugly. Pierius also makes mention of Alexander Severus, who did often eat hares: but certainly his gracefulness did not proceed from his eating of hares, but of his natural gracefulness. For, let any body who is not naturally graceful, eat as much hare's flesh as he will, he shall not get any gracefulness with it. For amiableness comes by the spirit of nature, which by no eating or delicious dishes can be procured. [A] certain Poet, also jeering the emperor -- taking occassion of his gracefulness and of his eating of hares -- said that his often eating of Hares had made him graceful. Of which Lampridius, in the life of the emperor, to the reprehension of the Poet, relates some verses by which the emperor answered him: "That you think, Miserable Poet, that your king should eat himself fair, as the common talk is... I am not angry at this, but this I would fain have: that you might eat so many Hares, that having expulsed the spots of your soul, might become fair, that you might never more envy any body."

That the emperor did eat Hares, was not to become graceful, for that he was by nature; but because he caught them by hunting and he loved them, as Lampridius saith. But the Poets jeer vehemently with the word "Lepre" and "Lepore", through the similtude of sound: the first being an hare, and the other, gracefulness. And therefore, the Hare can in no wise serve for a figure of gracefulness: because she is in no wise fair, but ugly. Therefore, the garland of Roses and the Helichrisus do fit better; being very beautiful, amiable and fair flowers. Wherefore the ancients have taken occassion, as if by this they might get favor and gracefulness. And therefore they invented this probable sentiment of Libanius, who said that the golden Helmet did make Pallas graceful, as also the crown did to Juno; and yet Venus, for all she was very beautiful by nature, would wear her fair embroidered girdle. But she after chose the garland of Roses, to seem more graceful with that ornament which are becoming to virgins; yet to abide within the bounds of modesty and honesty. But the same being discommendable in an honest woman, that she is drawn away by the over much desire of being beautiful and amiable, through pride and wanton ornaments. And certainly, it did not please the emperor Augustus, for all he held his peace, that he saw his daughter Julia on a certain day, dressed in a sumptuous, wanton garb which did not become her. But when he saw her the next day more modestly dressed, he said, embracing her: oh how much more commendable is this garment to a daughter of Augustus, than the clothing of yesterday. "Tis true", she answered, "for now I am dressed to the eye of my father; but yesterday, I was adorned to the eye of my Husband." Nevertheless, it is better to be adorned to the eye of a father, than to the eyes of other men. But artificial ornaments are not at all becoming to knights, except it were as much as belongs to their valiant order; for a manly beauty must not be much adorned, as Ovid also relates. The knights may be ashamed, who, to seem graceful, seem to adorn themselves with all diligence and art -- curling and powdering their hair; with costly and wanton clothes full of embroiderings; sweet scents and perfumes, framing their going and their countenance; turning their head and eyes; and also with an accustomed smile, framing their speech with much honey-sweet and selected words -- that instead of making themselves graceful, they make themselves odious. Instead that they should grow valiant, they grow effeminate, weak and feeble: so thinking to be esteemed, they are dispised and ridiculed. For all, the knight Mecaenas, because of his great liberality, was praised by the Poets; yet he was dispised by the Philosopher Seneca, because of his too much framing himself, as may be read in his 114 epistle where he derides him: "How Mecaenas hath lived, is better known than it needs to be rehearsed: how he used to walk, how delicate and weak he was, how he loved to be seen, how he would brag of his faults. What then, were his words not as [noble] as himself was [girded] and lazy? Were his arguments as noble as his face stood, as his great frame, his house and his wife, etc.?" This framed knight displeased every one, for all there are some that [flatter] them. It displeased Augustus, in this Tuscan Mecaenas, that he used such framed arguments, when otherwise he loved him: as Suetonius relates. And Macrobius writes -- in his 1 book, the 4 chapter, of his "Saturnalia" -- flouting with this formality after he had related many of his wantonnesses and ornaments, saith that they were all instigations of Adultery. The knights -- who will in such a manner counterfeit gracefulness with artificial ornaments in their persons, clothes and words -- are at the last derided and flouted at by their own friends; and that, with the great loss of their estimation and favor by all wise and valiant men.

The Bird which this figure holds in her left hand, is called by the Grecians, Jinge; but by the Latins, Motacilla: in whose description many writers do err, for all some of them make a long relation of it. It is a bird which bows the neck, standing otherwise with his body upright. The Poets feign that Jinge was a woman, who was transformed by Juno into a bird; because she, by certain sorceries, caused Juptier her husband, to be enamoured of Io, the daughter of Inachus -- as Sextus and others relate. For all, the expounder of Theocritus saith that she did this conjuration to bring him in love with herself. Callimachus saith her to be the daughter of Eccho; others, that she is the daughter of Pitho, which was counted by the Heathens as the Goddess of persuasion. Pindarus, the Grecian Poet -- in his "Pithias", in the 4 song, where he relates the victory of Agiselaus Cirenaeus -- feigns that Venus brought this amiable bird from heaven upon the Earth, and that she had presented it unto Jason to cause Medaea to love him; and so on. And for such like occassions, she was thought fit by the ancient Grecians to procure love by conjuration. Theocritus brings in the Nymph, Cineta -- who was in love with Delphides Mindius -- thus singing: "As this wax is made soft, so let Mindius' love be touched; and as this brazen world is rolled round by Venus, so draw, o Jinge, this man, that he cannot pass by my door."

And because the Grecian Poets feigned that in this bird was an Inborn virtue to procure love; therefore it is, that commonly by the Grecians by comparison, all amiable things which procure love and serve for persuasion, are called Jinges. And that through the power of amiableness and gracefulness, Sextus calls smooth words, Jinges: for the words draw the mind, how hard and unalterable they are, to compliance. And the Grecians say of Helena, that she had powerful Jinges: that is, such pleasant gracefulness that Priamus, the king of Troy, for all he knew that she was the destruction of his kingdom, could never be angry with her; but by a fatherly love, called her daughter. Suidas relates of Cleopatra, that she thought with the same Jinge -- that is, her gracefulness -- to draw to her love, the emperor Augustus; as she had drawn J. Caesar and Antonius. We will now declare the hidden sense of Pindarus: viz. that Venus had brought this bird Jinge out of heaven, which is a figurative sense: viz. that gracefulness and amiableness are an especial favor and gift of heaven, and of nature. Which was afterwards given unto Jason, being a noble and beautiful knight; because he should move Medaea to his love and persuade her -- against the will of the king of Col[chis], her father, and the queen, her mother -- to take him for her bridegroom, as she did. It is appearant that neither nobility nor beauty has the power to draw the affections to them without gracefulness. Wherefore Suetonius, dispising the beauty of the emperor Nero, saith that he was without gracefulness; was bereaved of amiable pleasantness, being heaped up of vile manners; and therefore he was hated by every one. Which happens not, in those who have pleasantness and gracefulness; being of a better nature than beauty -- for beauty of it self, has not the attraction to draw the affections to her without gracefulness. But gracefulness and amiableness, attract the hearts and obtained the favor of other people. Wherefore it is said, in manner of a proverb, "He hath the bird Jinge", of one who is endowed with such gracefulness and amiableness that it seems he forces men to love him. Wherefore we have put this bird Jinge for a pattern of the power and working of amiableness and gracefulness.


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