Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cuique Suum

Here is today's emblem and distich by Joachim Camerarius, 3:1. The emblem and the poem juxtapose lightning (fulmen) as a symbol of war and the olive branch (olivae ramus) as a symbol of peace; there is an eagle who holds each in its talons. The emblem seems to have something like a sheaf of hay on the right side, but if you look carefully, you can see that it is actually a rendering of lightning bolts that are streaming fire. Compare the seal of the United States (see below) in which the eagle holds the olive branch in one talon, and arrows in the other. Just as in this emblem, the eagle of the U.S. seal turns its head to the left, symbolically favoring the olive branch of peace over the weapons of war. The title of the emblem, however - cuique suum, "to each his own" - supports the ambivalence expressed in the poem itself: both peace and war have their claims on us.

Cuique Suum
Laeva tenet fulmen, sed olivae dextera ramum,
ut pace et bello sim memor officii.

Here is the vocabulary:

quisque - each, every, anyone
suus - reflexive possessive adjective
laevus - left
teneo - hold
fulmen - lightning bolt
sed - but
oliva - olive
dexter - right
(dextera manus - right hand)
ramus - brand
ut - so, so that, in order to
pax - peace
et - and
bellum - war
sum - be, exist
memor - mindful, remembering
officium - duty, office, obligation

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